12th May, 2014
Nigerian public office holders have a fantastic appetite for talk. It’s good for leaders to keep their citizens abreast of the methods and tactics they are bringing to bear on governance. Problem however sets in when such talk amounts to vanity. A huge percentage of Nigerian leaders fall prey to this. Pitifully, they appear to talk long even before they think.
The Boko Haram insurgents inflicting carnage of unimaginable dimension in the northern part of Nigeria and Abuja have provided such officers enough raw materials to feed their egos. Sometimes these officials behave like rabble-rousers given the manner they talk about policies of government. It has been a routine to hear ministers talk glibly about exterminating Boko Haram as if they have unimpeachable information about the group on their fingertips.
Even security personnel who should know better how to use the principles of counter-insurgency have been enmeshed in empty talk. Take for example, not long ago, Hafiz Ringim, then Inspector –General of Police bragged that Boko Haram was going to be exterminated in no time at all, after receiving a donation of Armoured Personnel Carriers from the Borno State government. On the spur of the excitement, he was reported to have said “No stone will be left unturned, until the menace of Boko Haram is unraveled.”
That, as we now know, was an expensive gaffe that nearly cost the IGP his life. Days after that boast, Boko Haram went after him, detonating vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices while the police boss was on his way to work at the Police Headquarters, Abuja.
As if they forgot what led to Ringim’s disgrace from the police, the military took over the war song without caution. At the change of baton after President Goodluck Jonathan replaced the Service Chiefs, Air Marshal Alex Badeh, the Chief of Defence Staff, let-off a salvo that appears to be haunting the very military he is presiding over. At a ceremony where he assumed office officially as CDS, Badeh was reported to have said: “The security situation in the North East must be brought to a complete stop before April 2014.We must bring it to a stop before April so that we will not have constitutional problems on our hands. We don’t want to go back to the Senate to start begging and lobbying. If we do our work cohesively, I can tell you, Gen. Minimah, you will finish your work in no time. I can assure you (Minimah) that the Chief of Naval Staff and the Chief of Air Staff will give you all the support you need.”
Badeh’s impressive speech was to assure General Minimah of the support of other arms of the armed forces in the fight against Boko Haram. A few weeks after that flight of fancy, Boko Haram kidnapped more than 250 girls from a school in Chibok town, Borno State. The inability of the military to respond to that saga has exposed to the world that the Nigerian Army has become nothing but an empty worn-out crone. About four weeks after the girls were taken away, there has been no response from Badeh, Minimah or their men. The most we have come to know is that talk made up for their failings.
Following the intervention of the United States, United Kingdom and other countries to help in the rescue operation of those abducted girls, the northern governors have taken up the gauntlet from where Ringim and Badeh dropped it. Last Saturday, under the aegis of the Northern Governors Forum, the group led by Dr. Muazu Babangida Aliyu gave the Americans an ultimatum to rescue the girls and end the Boko Haram carnage in 90 days.
This is to say the least is mistimed, unfortunate and condemnable given that the Americans may not even understand the terrain. They will require the support of every Nigerian. This is what we should be giving rather than grandstanding and barking orders to people who are giving a helping hand because we, from the beginning, were indifferent to solving our own problems.