The President, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, has just bought another dummy called state of emergency from his security chiefs.
He thinks it will work. I think it will not.
Jonathan’s state of emergency is different from that of Obasanjo. Unlike under Obasanjo, this one keeps the offices and privileges of political office holders intact in the states where it will operate. The only difference is that the security of the state will be vested in the hands of the military and some constitutional rights of citizens of their citizens will be suspended. This is the interpretation I just heard from Yahaya Mahmud, SAN, on the BBC.
If these are the only differences, it will be difficult to see how they will afford the military victory over Boko Haram.
The military has enjoyed full access and support of the governments in the affected states, effectively subordinating the governors at every given point. Governors had no say in anything, if I can remember very well, except in standing straight to be milked by the khaki boys for logistics, providing relief to victims and appealing to them to accept violations of their rights in good faith, a fate from God or a national sacrifice.
The military also enjoyed the full privileges of using force – many times excessive – on any citizen they without hindrance from the state governments in the past two years. No father has ever taken the JTF to court, to my knowledge, over the arrest of his son who was detained without charge at Giwa Barracks – the Nigerian version of Guantanamo. The son that may not have anything to do with Boko Haram. Nobody has taken them to the International Criminal Court in spite of the war crimes that have been documented by local and international human rights groups: the extrajudicial killings of suspected members of Boko Haram and civilians, the detentions without trial, the tortures of detainees, the burning of neighbourhoods and sections of towns, the alleged rapes, arson, the ransacking of homes, etc.
And I doubt very much if the police, from the Inspector-General of Police to his Commissioners in the states, have constituted any obstacle to the operation of the JTF. Instead, the police have wisely remained pegged in their paramilitary positions in the JTF structure and operations.
Finally, a quarter of our budget goes to security, the largest portion of it obviously to JTF operations. Most Nigerians believe that if any government agency should complain of underfunding, it must not be any of the JTFs. They get money from the federal government above, from the state governments below and from sideways when we citizens make the mistake of falling, or are forcefully dragged, into their net. An idea even occurred to me that one of the best outlets for my Country Yoghurt would be military and police barracks. I will soon be there collecting my own share of the booty before the politicians start their campaigns in 2014 – if Boko Haram will approve them permits!
So what exactly has hindered the military so much that they needed to compel Mr. President to give them a state of emergency to operate under?
The state of emergency is also futile from the records so far. Two days ago, a senator from Borno State revealed that 23 to 24 of the 27 local governments in the state are under the effective control of Boko Haram. If despite the resources, the personnel, the Giwas, Bagas, Maiduguris and Damaturus, government has lost 87% of the territory in Borno to Boko Haram, I wonder what additional powers to the military would achieve.
A significant shift though would be the mass deployment of soldiers to the affected areas. With the sophistication of Boko Haram, our sons in the military will just be turned into cheap targets. There will be so many of them to aim at easily, more to destroy in a spot.
I am at loss here – completely. What has the state of emergency achieved when it was declared under this regime in some local governments including those now under Boko Haram occupation?
I would like to conclude this article by stating a woeful statistics on the incapacity of successive governments to solve our national problems: Government in Nigeria has not been able to solve a single problem in various areas of governance and the economy, to my knowledge, in the past 28 years. A problem at the beginning of a regime will remain there until it ends – accompanied by many news ones. And so our wahala continued to pile up.
I need to be convinced how declaration of the state of emergency could make Boko Haram an exception.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters