Since the swallowing of pride by the Nigerian government and eventually acceptance of foreign intervention in the Boko Haram terror bedeviling the nation, I have read, listened and watched many Nigerians propound different conspiracy theories on the part of those coming to help us particularly the Americans. Some say Boko Haram is a CIA project manufactured by the Americans, others say they would not help us for free. A group of people have written articles on the internet saying America wants to contain us as a nation because of our past peacekeeping success in Liberia and Sierra Leone under ECOMOG, thus they invented all these crises to destroy us as a nation. A popular Nigerian pastor and former vice-presidential candidate Tunde Bakare even went as far as calling it a conspiracy by foreign interventionists against Nigeria to ridicule us as a nation.
The question I would pose to everyone with such a mindset is where is the conspiracy against Nigeria? The truth is, we are a nation of conspirators and have over the years conspired against ourselves to eventually bring Nigeria to this sorry end and make us a source of ridicule in the comity of nations. This further amplified by this Boko Haram madness and the Chibok girls debacle. I grew up in a Nigeria where our fathers, mothers, uncles and aunties riddled us with one conspiracy or the other about the country. From the 1963 ‘operation wetie’ in the southwest to how Awolowo was sent to jail. The 1966 Nzeogwu/Ifeajuna led coup to how Igbos were massacred in the north in the same year. The story of how Ojukwu declared secession and led the east out of Nigeria for three years and how federal forces retook Biafra. The conspiracy story of how Dimka killed Murtala Muhammed and Obasanjo became head of state on a platter of wood. The story of M.K.O Abiola’s friendship with IBB whom he supposedly encouraged to take-over from Buhari/Idiagbon and how IBB later betrayed Abiola by annulling his June 12 Presidential mandate freely and fairly given to him by Nigerians because of a business deal gone wrong between them.The list of conspiracies one has been regaled with growing up in Nigeria goes on and on….
One thing we haven’t learnt over the years is tell ourselves the truth and understand the changing signs and times. Many of us as Nigerians especially the ruling and thieving elites are still stuck in the past and its no wonder the nation keeps startling backwards rather than progress. If anyone calls Boko Haram a CIA project to ensure their prediction that Nigeria would disintegrate as a nation on or before 2015 comes to past and thus the Americans are the ones conspiring against us, I would like to ask such a person some couple of questions they can answer and statements they can reflect on in their own sober moment. Did America or anyone conspire against us after the 1967 civil war when we failed to address any of the issues that led us to war in the first place? After the war we declared a no victor, no vanquished slogan. What was that all about and where has it led us as a nation? What happened to the Aburi accord and the call for a Confederation with every region of the nation managing its own affairs with devolved powers from the central government. Till date what we still have in Nigeria even despite 15 years of unbroken democracy is a Unitary system of government falsely called a Federal government. I’m struggling to find who conspired against us when Obasanjo in 1979 rigged an election and handed over power crookedly to a Grade Two teacher compared to a more qualified candidate from the south who was prepared for the job and not sponsored for it by a cabal. The same ill-prepared teacher was kicked out in 1983 by the jackboot of Buhari/Idiagbon due to their non-performance. Buhari himself was to be kicked out by IBB who brought the worse form of governance the nation had ever witnessed since independence.
He went all the way destroying every fabric of our nation like he had a vengeance against the country. From devaluing the naira for no good reason, to destabilising the education sector. Turning our hospitals to graveyards, underfunding the army and police, all the way to encouraging organised crime like drug trafficking. It was under his watch an investigative journalist was killed with a letter bomb (the first of such incident in Nigeria). IBB kept moving the terminal date for his transition to civil rule programme and at the end he annulled a free and fair June 12 presidential election won by Abiola leading to widespread protest and the birth of Abacha’s regime. Abiola would go on to die mysteriously, while Abacha died in even more conspiratorial circumstances. Abdusalam came, saw and handed over to Obasanjo who made a second coming to power. Obasanjo’s second coming was again another conspiracy hatched against Nigeria by IBB, Aliyu Gusau and the Hausa/Fulani cabal led by the Kaduna mafia. They saw it as a way to placate the southwest over the annulment of Abiola’s victory who was a southwesterner. Obasanjo went on to be a terrible disappointment for all Nigerians and when the northern cabal and rightly so frustrated his third term agenda, he gave them a dying president who he knew was ailing and dying ( See Adamu Ciroma’s 2013 interview in the Sun Daily reproduced on Naija Pundit:http://www.naijapundit.com/news/ibb-destroyed-the-civil-service-finished-the-economy-his-govt-most-corrupt-adamu-ciroma). Now we have been bequeathed a Jonathan administration that is a waste of space and might be a caretaker for Nigeria's most likely demise.
Add to all these the over-burdening crisis of corruption in Nigeria from the mismanagement of our oil boom under Yakubu Gowon to the N2.8 billion oil money (equivalent then of $2.8 billion) missing under the Obasanjo/Yardua regime in the 70s. The rice importation saga of Umaru Dikko during Shagari’s government. The $12 billion gulf oil windfall scam perpetuated by IBB, and the over $5 billion stolen by Abacha alone. From the depletion of of our foreign reserve by Abdusalam and co in 1998 to the $15 billion looted by Obasanjo (and Abdusalam again) on the promise of regular electricity for Nigerians. The regular looting of our commonwealth through oil imports and fuel subsidy payments, police pension fund embezzlement, numerous scams set-up and still running at the NNPC and in all the different government ministries, agencies and parastatals, with particular mention of the defence ministry as its in the spotlight due to the Boko Haram mayhem, then you know ours is a nation of racketeers. Talk of the defence ministry and I challenge anyone in the ministry to tell Nigerians what our defense policy is as a nation. It took the US designating Boko Haram as a foreign terrorist organisation and offering intervention before we realised the nation had a new enemy in Boko Haram and we are effectively at war with guerilla forces.
An effective defense policy would have involved the foreign ministry, defence ministry (three arms of the armed forces), intelligence agencies (NIA, DSS, Police, Immigration etc.), the senate’s committee on intelligence services and foreign affairs in crafting a Nigerian Defense Policy. If we had such a policy over the years particularly since the advent of democracy in 1999 and constantly updated, we would have noticed the influence of Iran/Hezbollah terror cells in the country and the would have shaped our intelligence, foreign affairs and defense policies towards Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah. Our foreign relations with our neighbours like Cameroon, Chad, and Niger would have shaped how well we defend our porous borders against such countries. The United States since 1997 had been succinctly calling for the establishment of their military base in the northern part of Nigeria. They made more intense calls under Obasanjo’s government in 2000-2001 and as recent as 2007 AFRICOM (The US African Command) still made the same request and yet we rejected it. Guess where the Americans wanted their base established in the north? Maiduguri, Borno state!. This was long before the advent of Boko Haram. With the latitude and longitudinal placement of Borno state and the fact that it shares borders with Chad, Niger, and Cameroon and is accessible by road to Sudan, the Americans saw it as a perfect place to establish a base and surveillance satellite network to check the spread of Al-Qaeda moving into North, West and Central Africa. The Americans have long been concerned about the dense and mammoth nature of the Sambisa Game Reserve and other forest ranges in Borno and Yobe state knowing it can hide perfectly a terrorist contingent. So tell me how they would then go on to manufacture Boko Haram to conspire against Nigeria when they always harboured fears of such a monster starting off in the first place?
We kept turning down their request for a military base in Borno and did not even understand their reasons for such request other than our usual fear and talk of conspiracy. When they warned us in 2004 that Al-Qaeda had infiltrated the northern part of Nigeria, Obasanjo brushed it aside with his usual unseriousness. His nonchalance to Sani Yerima’s (a Sudan trained Al-Qaeda operative) declaration of Sharia in the north as governor of Zamfara shows our lack of a National Defense Policy which would have identified who our enemies were and we would have tackled it headlong. Today no one in the north is practicing Sharia as everyone is avoiding Boko Haram bombs which was the original intention in the first place and declaring Sharia was just the sensitisation phase. Maybe we are now waiting for the US to help us write a Defense Policy and help our nation define who its enemies are. The truth for 50 years or more we have been pretending to have a government or governance in Nigeria, but what we had instead particularly at the centre is a thieving cabal mostly sponsored by the Hausa/Fulani cabal to hijack government for their own personal needs and glory. These men and their cronies who have ruled and ruined Nigeria do not love us, they only love themselves and have brought Nigeria to the edge now. There is no such thing as a conspiracy against Nigeria, we ourselves are the conspirators and the conspiracy against our dear nation.
On the Army, FG And Chibok Girls
My heart still goes out to the over 246 Chibok girls still in Boko Haram’s clutches and its quite disheartening that these whole drama might have an unfortunate ending if not handled properly.
Its also quite disheartening the recent episode that occurred in Maimalari barracks in Maiduguri when soldiers of the 7th division fired at their now ex-commander for sabotaging their efforts. Soldiers sent on an assignment told their ex-commander they wanted to sleep over in Chibok that night and make their way back to Maiduguri the next morning for fear of an ambush. The commander insisted they travelled that night and the soldiers true to their fears ran into a Boko Haram ambush killing 12 of them (military claim its five). To explain the insanity in the decision the commander a certain Major-General Abubakar Muhammed made, lets talk a little about the now famous Chibok town. The trending town has no road access- no single tarred road in the entire council area. So for people like Asari Dokubo, Patience Jonathan and Kema Chikwe who wondered where the parents and teachers of the girls were, the answer is they would have needed a chopper to get into Abuja to protest. According to reports commuters often have to meander through contoured earth-road best described as cattle routes to get anywhere. A Borno state government driver conversant with the area said the road has been like that since 1970’s and each time a driver was sent on a trip there it was like been sent on a journey to hell.
A federal highway leading to the town has remained unattended to for years and the construction of the 20 kilometre Damboa-Chibok-Mbala road was approved in September 2009 for N1.24 billion and yet was not built. The Borno state government in 2013 went on to list the same road (despite being a federal highway) as part of the roads it wants to use in linking 33 towns in the state that would cost N36 billion and has yet to start work on it. So for any commander to have ordered his boys to travel back at night on such a road to Maiduguri, before any probe of the alleged mutiny of soldiers, the commander should be court-martialled and interrogated by security forces for sabotage and treason. He should not just be fired and the case forgotten he should be treated as an enemy of the state. Also, the commander or senior officers that left nine soldiers to guard a military outpost near Gwoza containing heavy weapons including mortar bombs should be tried and treated as enemies of the Nigerian state. On February 12 this year according to sources, dozens of Boko Haram fighters attacked the remote military outpost in the Gwoza hills area. They came with trucks mounted with long range heavy machine guns (BMGs) and opened torrents of fire. The nine gallant soldiers picked off like cherries 50 Boko Haram fighters who had little cover, but they themselves lost their lives ( a video of the dead soldiers is available on Saharareporters). Boko Haram made away with the base’s entire armoury stockpile of 200 mortar bombs, 50 rocket-propelled grenades and lots of ammunition. If no commander is brought to book for these, then the Nigerian military does not love itself and hates its soldiers. Why on earth would just nine soldiers in a remote village be guarding such amount of firepower?
Would it not have been sensible to relocate all such bombs and ammunition to safer territories like Maiduguri including most of the soldiers and only leave soldiers in places or towns you know you can defend? Isn’t time the military realises fighting faceless guerrillas like Boko Haram require special forces who go on specific missions based on intelligence and reconnaissance? When was the last time we heard that the army successfully ambushed a Boko Haram convoy of fighters? The list of questions would go on forever if I have to ask.
As for the Federal Government (FG) it's time to negotiate with Boko Haram but only after we are sure of proof of ownership. That is we are sure Boko Haram have all of the girls and none have been sold off to anybody. The FG must not lose their temper during negotiations no matter the request or provocations from Boko Haram. They should state what conditions they can meet and if that would be enough to get the girls released. Releasing high-value terrorists like Kabiru Sokoto and co back to Boko Haram is a no no. If they want their wives and kids in detention or anybody not directly linked with terrorism fine but no high-value terrorist in detention should be released to them. As for any Nigerian still dreaming of a rescue operation by US or Britain to free the girls, I would say stop dreaming. The Nigerian army do not have such capability in hostage rescue and even the best of US marines cannot rescue over 246 girls who have been separated in different locations and guarded by deranged militants. The option of forced rescue is unfortunately out of the question, we need to either negotiate with Boko Haram or leave the girls with them till Shekau is captured or destroyed like I mentioned in my last article. The earlier we make up our mind what to do to get the girls back the better!
Ola’ Idowu a Management Consultant and Researcher writes in from the UK. Contact him at [email protected]
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters