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Insurgency In The Northeast: How Long Can We Condone The Nigerian Government’s Blame Game? By Ifeanyi Izeze

November 10, 2014

Between cluelessness and a lack of political will, which one can we now say is responsible for the continued senseless killings and destructions by the Boko Haram terrorists in different parts of the country, especially in the Northeast?

There are certain issues that are incontrovertibly acceptable to the two sides of the argument. First, Nigeria is under a dire threat of extremist insurgency and desperately needs to act fast to halt the audacity of these terrorists that are making life miserable for the ordinary citizens, especially in the Northeast geopolitical zone.


Secondly, despite what the military has been telling us and wants us to believe, the situation on the ground makes it clear that the nation’s armed forces words do not correspond to their actions. Does anybody dispute these?

Is it disputable that so far, Nigeria has lost a total of 16 local government areas to Boko Haram: nine in Borno state, two in Yobe state and five in Adamawa state? The total landmass occupied is the equivalent of three states of the federation. It would then amount to madness to sing the Lord’s song in this strange annexation of our land!

Does anybody argue whether the territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is at stake or not? Whose responsibility is it to restore it and what tangible steps is the government taking to achieve that?

Does anybody also argue that Nigeria never lost any portion of its territory since the north and south came together in 1914 to form the present entity? We should ask our dear president, Goodluck Jonathan, if he would like to go down in history as the first and maybe the only Nigerian commander-in-chief to have ever lost territory to anybody since the beginning of Nigeria as a nation. Of course, he would not. He still has a chance to reverse this legacy of shame.

Whether politicians are capitalizing on the situation to make cheap political gains is very immaterial now because at this critical stage in Nigeria’s history, trading insults is a waste of time. We should instead think about how to muzzle efforts to recover our lost territories, unless, of course, the people living in the northeast do not matter to the rest of the country, particularly the government at the centre.

At a time like this, when Nigeria is not engaged in any international war, thousands of our people are internally displaced while thousands more are refugees in neighbouring countries. Even many top federal government officials can no longer return to their homes. Is this not worrying or rather disturbing to our leaders?

Being concerned about these issues should be the focus of the Nigerian government, rather than disparaging concerned citizens (whether in opposition or ruling parties) who expressed their displeasure over the now ever-increasing audacity of the insurgents to commit heinous acts against the ordinary and defenseless citizens.

How do you reconcile that despite the extremist Boko Haram sect revving up its deadly attacks on communities around the troubled Northeast region and the federal government’s seeming helplessness in stemming the attacks, the National Council of State announced on Tuesday, November 4, that it was satisfied with the government’s effort in checking the insurgency in the country?

The Council, which advises the federal executive on policymaking, has as members President Goodluck Jonathan (Chairman); Vice President Namadi Sambo (Deputy Chairman); all former presidents and heads of government of the Federation; all former Chief Justices of Nigeria; the President of the Senate; the Speaker of the House of Representatives; all the governors of the states of the Federation; and the Attorney-General of the Federation.

How does these people’s mind work? After the council meeting, Mr. Akpabio, an Awka Ibom state governor said the following to the media:

“A major issue discussed today was the issue of the security of the nation. We received a report from the National Security Adviser on the security of the nation. He briefed [the] council on the current war on insurgency and explanations were given on [the] issue of [the] Chibok girls. [The] Council was satisfied that the Defence ministry and all the agencies have taken the right steps and the President is on course and we are very hopeful that sooner or later Nigerians will hear good news. But we urge Nigerians to be patient, that the issues of terrorism are not issues that could be finished within a day of two.”

The issue is that they know what we don’t know and also do not want to tell us. How could this gang that call themselves “the council” commend the president and security agencies for a job well done so far when the situation is deteriorating rather than improving every day? Was it a fair assessment to have given the president and his security chiefs a “high-five” just as the Boko Haram sect continues to kill, maim and sack towns and villages?

As Okupe said, the president will not be distracted by negative comments from a few people “whose only concern is politics rather than Nation building but he (Jonathan) will continue to work assiduously with security chiefs and community stakeholders to restore peace to Northern Nigeria in the shortest possible time.” If Okupe had told us this a few years ago, Nigerians would have listened but the problem now is that it is taking a little longer to achieve this and our leaders should be told that Nigerians are worried over the now ever-increasing audacity of the dare-devil terrorists to steal, kill and destroy. Must we play politics with every issue? There are people who are pleased that this menace continues. But shouldn’t all hands be on deck to address these issues?

So if former Vice President Atiku Abubakar believes that the insurgency had remained largely protracted due to the crisis of leadership in the country, could he be faulted on that assessment? Does the situation on ground prove him wrong? If the federal government does not want anybody to profit from the crisis for political gains, they should wake up and be more proactive about engaging these miscreants who are becoming more emboldened by the day.

If somebody was not known to have taken any hard position on terrorism in the past and now decides to do so, what is criminal in that? If the federal government was effectively containing or even constructively managing the situation in the northeast, can we be talking of people wanting to gain political mileage from the unfortunate killings and kidnappings in that part of the country? Abeg, the federal government has no explanation for its failure and its expressed inability to tackle this Boko Haram scourge.

Whether or not Atiku’s comments in the past may have contributed to the escalation of terrorism in the northeast is not the issue at the present time. President Jonathan is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces and the chief security officer of the nation-state called Nigeria. He should take responsibility for the failure to stern the increasing boldness and dastardly acts of the terrorists rather than fold his hands blaming everybody but himself. People are dying every moment in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe. We want results, not excuses, as excuses diminish a leader.

Ifeanyi Izeze lives in Abuja. He can be reached at [email protected].