Boko Haram: Is the Nigerian Government Sincere? By Karo Orovboni
Well, Boko Haram no longer need an introduction, the group announced itself in a way that thousands of Nigerian families will continue to grieve for their loved ones for many years to come. It would take decades to rebuild (if that’s even possible) the lives and properties that have suffered from Boko Haram devastation. The heinous sect is now a household name. Millions of people around the world who may have never heard of the sect will not forget the abduction of over 200 girls from their school in Chibok, northeast Nigeria, which gave birth to BringBackOurGirls hash tag. It is reported that over 650,000 people have fled their homes in fear of Boko Haram. Virtually every Nigerian “knows someone who knows someone” that was killed or maimed by Boko Haram.
Some months ago, precisely on the 26th of February 2014, the Special Assistant to President Jonathan on new media, Reno Omokri, posed as Wendell Simlin to send an article to some media houses. The article’s intent was to link the then suspended CBN governor (now Emir of Kano) Sanusi Lamido Sanusi as Boko Haram sponsor.
The National Public Secretary of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Olisa Metuh, released a statement on the 14th of April 2014, after the first Nyanya motor park bomb blast. An excerpt of the statement read: “We stand by our earlier statements that these attacks on our people are politically motivated by unpatriotic persons, especially those in the All Progressives Congress (APC) who have been making utterances and comments, promoting violence and blood-letting as a means of achieving political control.”
Femi Fani-Kayode, a member of the PDP tweeted on the 6th of August 2014 “The APC is the political wing of Boko Haram and Boko Haram is the military wing of the APC. Say NO to the Haramite murderers and barbarians.”
The Deputy Director, Public Relations of the Department of State Services (DSS), Marilyn Ogar, on the 14th of August 2014 also weighed in, she accused the APC of complicity in the bombings that followed gubernatorial elections in the states APC had lost. In her words, “at the end of that election [Edo gubernatorial election], permit me to say that there was no bomb blast. We moved to Ondo, the Labour Party won in Ondo, there was bomb blast, we moved to Anambra, APGA won in Anambra, there was bomb blast. We moved to Ekiti, PDP won in Ekiti, there was bomb blast.” She went further to say, “the APC had won [in Osun], I thank God that there has been no bomb blast.”
What puzzles thinking Nigerians is that, with this sort of information and insight at the disposal of the security services, the presidency, and members of the ruling PDP, what is the government waiting for before they arrest and prosecute those within the APC who are complicit in one way or the other in this Boko Haram menace? What has stopped the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria from bringing those that have been linked with Boko Haram to book? What exactly is holding the government from arresting and prosecuting people they claim they know to be sponsors of Boko Haram? The same sect that have killed and maimed thousands of Nigerians they swore an oath to protect? So is the government telling us they know sponsors of Boko Haram but have refused to do anything about it?
If the agents of the government and the security forces keep insisting they know those behind this terror, but yet cannot arrest and prosecute them, how on earth would they expect citizens they govern to trust them when they say they are bent on ending this barbarism?
Or can the government not arrest and prosecute these people because there is no truth in the claims its agents have been disseminating? Are these comments just out to cause division amongst Nigerians? Or do they just want to link the APC to Boko Haram in order to gain advantage in the coming 2015 general elections, seeing that Nigerians can be gullible?
Up until this moment, the Nigerian government have not done enough in convincing Nigerians that Boko Haram is a Nigerian problem. The narrative that has been sold well enough is that Boko Haram is a northeast problem; the incessant attacks are because a Christian/southerner is President. Many Nigerians of course have bought into this narrative.
Other countries that suffered terror attacks intensified the campaign for citizen participation, they will tell you, “report anything suspicious to the police”. Are Nigerians confident enough to do that? Citizens have become indifferent to this fight, citizens are scared themselves, and they do not trust the security agents. Nigerians are not confident enough to report suspicious movements to them. Some have said they fear the security agents would take them into custody as suspects if they reported anything.
The truth is there is a broken relationship (self-inflicted by the security agents) between citizens and the authorities. It is imperative that the authorities work hard to rebuild this relationship; the collaboration of the Nigerian citizen is needed more than ever. Citizen involvement is extremely important in tackling insurgence; they are your trusted hands in intelligence gathering. It’s important to sensitise Nigerians that Boko Haram is war against the whole of Nigeria and not just against an ethnic group, religion, or because a southerner is President.
An administration that looks to unite Nigerians along ethnic and religious lines will win ANY war. The moment Nigerians at large are on the same page regarding this menace, we would have made a huge psychological step in ending Boko Haram. But do we really want to end it? Is the government sincere in putting an end to this terror?
Karo tweets @Karo_Orovboni
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