14th August, 2012
BY HENRY CHUKWUEMEKA ONYEMA
For once, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan said something that warmed my insides. He bluntly told Boko Haram that he is not going to quit and run; he is going to retain the keys to Aso Rock even if the group nukes Nigeria back to the age of the dinosaur. Their demand is ‘rude’ and he is the president of all Nigerians, irrespective of religion. They elected him and nobody is going to stop him from leading them.
But till date, despite the proclamations of INEC and the Supreme Court, a significant component of Nigerians might not have really elected GEJ in April 2011. Read page 34 of DAILY INDEPENDENT, 7 August, and ask yourself if the elections were as free and fair as widely acclaimed. I am not holding brief for Buhari or the CPC or other opposition parties; I am saying that those deprived of their franchise in 2011 may have legitimate reservations about a GEJ presidency.
So what is the alternative now GEJ says he is not going? Does he have what it takes to take on Boko Haram and other threats to his government?
If I may play the devil’s advocate, what if GEJ resigns? A return to 1967 all over again? I do not doubt the capacity of the likes of Asari Dukubo to meet force with force. Though Boko Haram does not speak for or represent Northern Nigeria or Muslims, the average Southern Nigerian associates the group with the area and people north of the River Niger. Does Boko Haram’s demand translate that Southern Nigerians or Christians have no right to the presidency?
GEJ’s throwing in of the towel equals to Nigerians being force-fed the ideology of Boko Haram. I doubt if most Nigerians want their medicine even though current prescriptions are only aggravating our national malaria. Who will replace GEJ? Definitely not VP Sambo, for he is just as bad as GEJ in the group’s eyes. It is highly unlikely that the farce being enacted in the House of Representatives will send GEJ packing. Even if it does it will not appease a fiercely anti-democracy fundamentalist group such as Boko Haram.
I suggest these options as a way of checking this fast spreading insurgency -having reached Kogi, it is in the middle of Nigeria.
Call them ethnic militias but they are the frontiersmen of the various tribes in this miscountry of ours. They should get into shape militarily NOW. Our security forces have their hands full fighting for their lives to protect us, and our governors and legislators are talking about state police from both sides of their mouths. So the OPC, MASSOB, etc should tool up and safeguard their people and ALL peaceful non-indigenes in their domain till further notice.
With or without the government a National Conference should be worked out and convoked by all Nigerians who do not want a holocaust. I omitted ‘Sovereign’, not because of legal niceties, but because the conference will encompass every detail about the refashioning or controlled dissolution of Nigeria as it currently is and this implies placing the sovereignty where it belongs: in the hands of the people, not political cabals and oligarchies. We may christen the Conference ‘Mutual National Summit’. I will draw up details on modalities for the Summit in subsequent articles. But all who care about Nigeria should start fashioning ideas excluding violence.
Christians, moderate Muslims and all others whose beliefs negate Boko Haram’s tenets, should start working in concert to counter these guys and other like-minded groups. Self-defence is no sin. History may help us here. When King Antiochus Epiphanes, one of Alexander the Great’s successors, seized the Jewish homeland and nearly wiped out the Jewish religion, the Jews did not just pray. Under Matthias and his sons, known as the Maccabaens, the Jews were galvanized to fight after their peace-loving brethren were slaughtered on the Jewish Sabbath day. I HATE BLOODSHED. But every life matters and do we deserve this precious gift of God if we refuse to defend it?
Nothing justifies the extrajudicial killing of Boko Haram members or supporters. Therefore the government must uncover the truth about the killing of the group’s leader in 2009 and punish the perpetrators of the crime. Who knows, there may be Boko Haram members who are ready to see the light if they are sure of a fair treatment at the hands of the Nigerian state.
Unless GEJ and his men know something we ordinary folks do not, I see no reason for their anger at USA’s declaration of the group as a terrorist organization. It threatens all humanity.
The Northern elite, both pro and anti-GEJ factions, must, for their heads’ sake, reach out to the group. Fleeing or backing them or being aloof is just postponing the evil day.
Skip the patriotism trash: Nigeria’s intelligence and security agencies need foreign help to quell this threat. Call in the following: CIA and M16 (USA and Britain); Israel’s Mossad and agencies from moderate Middle Eastern states who have lived in the shadow of terrorism.
Can GEJ and Co. oversee these efforts to save Nigeria if the national pastime of looting does not derail Naija first?
•Onyema is a Lagos-based writer. Email: [email protected]