by Bamidele Ademola-Olateju
In trying to shame Jonathan, the power grabbers have polarized Nigeria along religious lines. It is now clear except to them, that no one can become the President of this country again unless the Christian South votes for the candidate en masse.
“Patience has its limits. Take it too far, and it’s cowardice.”
This quote came from George Lester Jackson (September 23, 1941 – August 21, 1971). He was an American author, left-wing activist and co-founder of the Black Guerrilla who spent some time in penitentiary. This quote presents what has become the definitive description of Mr. Goodluck Jonathan. But his predicament must be viewed first from the prism of his misfortune of heading a corrupt jungle where anything goes, where there are no institutions, where justice is perverted at the whim of the power elite, a country ruled by caprice and not the law and a place where many individuals and groups are more powerful than the country of their birth.
Secondly, his incompetence and tolerance for corruption plays into the narrative of what Nigeria has become. A vast land of brainiacs governed by fools because they chose not to engage when it was crucial to do so and now the stupid have adapted to power and stupidity has become key governing attribute.
If General Obasanjo with his no-nonsense demeanour could not name and shame these financiers of terrorism, how can Jonathan dare? Mr. Jonathan cannot publicly designate these material supporters and financiers of terrorism nor can he freeze their assets because their tentacles are everywhere and they are powerful. They have stolen wealth from their positions in government or have fed fat from government patronage over the years and in turn they have nurtured a network of loyalists who have benefited from their wealth and positions.
They are a ruthless crop who demand and command loyalty within their community, throughout the Northern states, among their Southern collaborators and enablers and the country’s security apparatuses. We must not think Boko Haram is just a rag tag army that can easily be routed. It is not. This terror group is well financed and co-ordinated with the aim to keep Nigeria prostrate and its people bruised, fearful and divided for their evil intent.
In a White House Press briefing on September 24, 2001, President George W. Bush said “Money is the lifeblood of terrorist operations. Today, we’re asking the world to stop payment.” If the United States wants to help Nigeria through this mess, they must help us in freezing the assets of the material financiers of terrorism in Nigeria. These people are well known to the local and International intelligence agencies.
They must not let these selfish power mongers destroy this country and create serious humanitarian crises for Africa the like of which the world has never seen. Indonesia’s response to the tragic October 2002 Bali bombings is a textbook case on how counterterrorism measures, and following the money trail can be used to decimate terrorism.
The same policy can be applied to Nigeria. This is because terror networks require lots of money to carry operational activities from surveillance to reconnaissance, rehearsal, final preparations, and the attack. In like manner, they need financing for recruitment, procurement, transportation, shelter, communications, training and millions of dollars to develop and sustain their network.
Apart from helping us bring our girls back, our allies can suffocate our indigenous sponsors of terror with public designation, asset freezes and visa ban.
Nigeria needs help. The country is on a willowy reed billowing in the wind. How else can we interpret the deafening silence from Alhaji Aliyu Gusau? Why did Boko Haram turn super deadly after the army chiefs refused to meet the defence Minister until Jonathan brokered a peace deal?
The shifting noncommittal statements from key Northern actors should lead us into what role Boko Haram is playing in this hegemonic battle. This war is about politics, money, power and privilege. It is about losing access to the public till for those whose only occupation is raw power and stealing from government coffers. I can imagine how it rankles them that a woman is heading the petroleum ministry. Unfortunately, the woman does not appreciate the burden of her position, she cruises around in the garb of impunity, misappropriation and outright conversion. Obasanjo was able to face down political sharia, reigned in looting and become the NNPC himself because it is only a thief who can trace the footprints of another thief on a mountainous range.
Obasanjo knows them and they know him. They dare not bare their fangs as they do now or they would have self destruct. We have not forgotten the deafening lull in terror killings when Yar’Adua was there because a Northerner gained the reigns of power. Immediately Jonathan a Southern Christian became president, the terrorist took their bombing campaign to Abuja. We have not forgotten how the cabal took the nation hostage until Yar’Adua died in Saudi Arabia and the charade could not continue.
The international community ought to know that these evil people know that Americans have no stomach for wars and will oppose any form of nation building that will zap its resources. This and many more calculations are going on in the heads of the sponsors. We must help this President to thwart the evil forces bent on shaming him.
In trying to shame Jonathan, the power grabbers have polarized Nigeria along religious lines. It is now clear except to them, that no one can become the President of this country again unless the Christian South votes for the candidate en masse. The Northerners can win all the States in the North but the significant Christian populations up north will continue to guarantee that the Southern candidate will get 25% of the votes that will count towards two thirds of the states in the Federation. Why this demographic fact continues to elude the sponsors of terrorism who wants to destabilize Nigeria because we have a Christian President beats me.
Had Jonathan curbed corruption and worked harder on his agenda, who would have stopped him from getting re-elected? No one! The plurality of votes based on block votes from chiefly Christian South and 25% in several states in the North as obtained in the last election would have done it for him.
For those asking for a negotiated settlement with terrorists; how do you negotiate with a people demanding the impossible? As far as we know, the Jihadists fake demand is the complete Islamization of Nigeria and it will not happen. The time has come for Mr. Jonathan to recognize his place in history and confront the terror monster. The next one month will be crucial to the President’s survival and to the unity of this country. He must not tackle this with levity. He must listen; to himself, our allies and trusted advisers only. He must isolate and ostracize political jobbers who are profiting from the trillions budgeted for security or moles who are working to destabilize his government and Nigeria. He must work hard to re-equip the military. He must put the defense ministry under the presidency and take total responsibility. The military we all depend on to protect us from internal and external aggression is fractured. The threat of a military coup is very real given the humiliation the military has suffered. The mutinies in Maiduguri must be seen as a strong signal towards BAD! The soldiers became mutinous because they understand the distinction between patriotism and self immolation. They understand that their commanders in some cases are veiled terrorists. We cannot expect them to fight and protect us on empty stomach, without requisite equipment, welfare package and guarantees for their families if they die in battle. The mutinies tells the story of embezzlement, rank corruption, sycophancy and an ill equipped and ill motivated force.
My concern is these mutinies might spread and cause a military coup or worse cause Nigeria’s breakup. The President must not think these are isolated cases of disgruntled lower ranks venting their frustrations. The tension in this land is real and it presents a gathering and imminent danger to this country’s democracy. The President can still write his name in gold by facing this threat squarely. By rising to the demands of his job.
Followers of this column know I’m not particularly fond of this President but I support him as the Commander in Chief and I support him in the fight against terror. No individual or group is bigger than this country. If terrorists and their sponsors fails to read the handwriting on the wall and call their bloodhounds off our streets, they must be routed.
They must not forget that if Nigeria manages to survive this pogrom, the Ijaw militants may never allow them to enjoy the proceeds of the oil they love so much, as to kill their own for it.
Perhaps the lessons of Boko Haram and how it has been handled will help us understand the core of this message; “Through electing officials that will protect the Constitution and commit themselves to the rights of the people and the health of the nation, we will be able to ensure that no group of ideologues and no private sector institution can co-opt our rights, take us into senseless wars and steal the nation from its people.” – Harry Belafonte.
This post was published with permission from Premium Times
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