Nigeria and Conspiracy Theories: When it is Not a Plot, By Nasiru Suwaid
For Nigeria and most especially Nigerians, this is a season for conspiracy theories, from the warped, nonsensical and idiotic, to the one so irreverently outlandish that it offends commonsense, though, there are some which are so intelligently crafted, that it could have been from the mind of the devil’s incarnate, who must have deceptively conjured the plots and it goes like this; a northern elders so devious that they could create a genocidal Boko Haram, all in a vain effort to undermine the president by blaming him over their malfeasance, who in turn was so devilish that he hijacked the murderous gang and put it to his effective use, while the international community aids in fulfilling their age old year 2015 termination date prophesy, by assisting in its actualization through the destruction of the Nigerian federal union. What they cannot intelligible understood, reasonable comprehend and rationally explain, they attribute to either metaphysical forces or clairvoyant, foreseen and projected plot, engineered to portray an image of incompetency and deficiency, when in the actual fact, it is our habitual and characteristic attitudinal degeneracy coming out unto the open for all the world to see.
One of the fundamental characteristic traits of an average Nigerian is that they usually act on impulse and of course, enlightened self interest, when they talk or act the part of a citizen of this highly challenged nation, where they could in a single breath, condemn others on how they had acted wrongly, while righteously justifying what they did, even though their performances are of a similar deed. The disclosure by the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Marshal Alex Badeh about the Nigerian military having knowledge of the whereabouts of the abducted Chibok girls, before a group called Citizens Initiative for Security Awareness, a seemingly rented crowd of government sympathizers, typifies this apparent contradictory as well as hypocritical stance of an essential Nigerian public official, who had on several occasions shunned the media, since the kidnap of the school girls occurred. Indeed, when the Bring Back Our Girls coalition went to the Defence Headquarters for clarification, they were denied an audience with him, as only some few representatives amongst them met him behind closed door, where he reportedly accused them of being unpatriotic and refused to give them satisfying answers on their several queries.
However, had this being the only problem with the disclosure, it would have been less of an issue to the Nigerian public but in the way he had acted, was the way sympathizers of the terrorist had always communicated with the Nigerian media, that is if the press releases from the Defence Headquarters is ever to be taken seriously. One fundamental grouse of the defence establishment with Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State as well as Senator Ahmed Zanna, as Major General Chris Olukolade would always wont to say is the obnoxious habit of always announcing secretive intelligence materials to the press, where they usually state they had received information about the location of the girls but they would not divulge the specific area of the sightings of the insurgents. On this, the defence spokesperson usually complains about the information only serving as a surreptitious signal to the Boko Haram fighters to shift base, thereby making it much harder to make a productive use of the information given, thus making whatever genuine the intention of the two Borno State officials to be highly suspect.
Unfortunately for the defence chief, they way he had acted, in the manner of announcing to the world, the discovery of the area of domicile of the abducted girls, which with the notoriety of the announcement in the global media, it could have alerted the insurgents thus acting true to type of the often admonished duo, who could at the very least be excused of any collusion, because of their lack of formal training in handling military intelligence matters. But why does conspiracy theories thrive in the Nigerian environment, making it difficult for the security forces to win the fight against terrorism, it is because of the little vestiges of double standard and clear lack of understanding of what declaration of the state of emergency entails and being in a state of war represents. Last week, the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, Sheikh Ibraheem El Zakzaky alleged in the Annual Martyrs Day and before a mammoth crowd, amidst many unsubstantiated allegations, that the leader of Boko Haram, Mr. Abubakar Shekau is hiding in a secret military camp, and for such weighty accusations and in a nation under a state of emergency, where certain democratic Rights to Freedom of Speech are supposed to be curtailed, nobody invited him to clarify and justify the assertion, most necessarily, providing proof of evidence of such a domicile.
Lo and behold, by the beginning of this week and with the disclosure of Air Marshal Alex Badeh, regarding having knowledge of the whereabouts of the kidnapped schools girls, many in the social media, community interaction circuits and even media discussion forums, have started linking the two statements together. When a very powerful Islamic cleric alleges Shekau is hiding in a military camp and within 24 hours of such a disclosure, the defence chief affirms having knowledge of the whereabouts of the man and most importantly, refusing to disclose his specific location but most significantly, the individual who made such weighty allegation was not questioned, interrogated or even publicly upbraided, a highly suspicious population could easily presume his assertions as factual truth and proactively correlate his statement with that of national defence chief, by assuming that perhaps Abubakar Shekau is an honored guest of the Nigerian military.
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