President Jonathan In A Fix Over State Of Emergency In North-East
As the State of Emergency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states expires this week, President Goodluck Jonathan is in a dilemma over what to do. The military wants the emergency rule to continue but the stakeholders in the north-east including governors do not want further extension.
The emergency rule that was further extended by six months would end on April 19. The governors of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe — all of the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) — and the political elites in Borno and Yobe have called for an end to the emergency rule which they believe have failed to achieve the targeted goal.
A serving general told our correspondent during the weekend that, with the way members of the political elite are going about it, if the troops were forced to withdraw, the insurgents may come back and launch fresh attacks on the people with a view to recovering the ground they have lost. He said: “Those governors and the so-called stakeholders are not helping their people. Most of them are not living in their home states or at most they are living in the urban centres that are safe, but they should consider the common people who are being killed by these criminals on a daily basis; and, should we withdraw our troops, it would be suicidal for the masses living in those three states.
“We would make this clear to the commander-in-chief, President Goodluck Jonathan. I am very sure there is going to be a meeting of the security chiefs next week where all the options would be laid bare on the table. Those calling for the withdrawal of the troops are up to something which we do not understand. I wish we knew it or they came out to say it loud and clear instead of attacking the military.”
Addressing defence correspondents in his office, on the 50th anniversary of the Nigerian Air Force, Air Marshal Amosu last week explained that the complexity of the operations against terrorism, anywhere in the world, makes it difficult to predict when it could end. But he gave an assurance that the elusive peace would have been restored before February 2015 to ensure the general election holds there.
“Don’t forget that in the fight against terrorism and the insurgency, there are about four aspects involved: you have the issue of the counter- and the anti-; the issue of political intervention and economic situation. But the first is that if there is no peace, the only thing you can do is the anti-; you can go ahead with the counter- and the anti-terrorism. The aspect of introducing economic activities is almost suspended if the peace is not there. There are variables that would prevent you from achieving your target date.
“But for terrorism and insurgency, you definitely cannot have a target date; even if you have put everything under control, you may still have sporadic attacks, a well-planned organized attack; one or two of these terrorists may show up with AK 47; even if it is one or two shots he fired, you know that is a terrorist attack. So, it is difficult to give a date, but I want to assure you we would continue working hard to ensure that we bring the entire situation under control, stabilise the place in good time before election takes place,” he stated.
Aside from the unpredictability of insurgency, the air chief also listed other variables that could stand on the way of ending the counter-insurgency war and called for cooperation from the citizenry if the war against terror would be over sooner than later.
“But don’t forget that you have variables like weather, breakdown of equipment, machine and even the human beings can fall sick. Some variables are there that may not allow you to achieve your aim. So, we need the cooperation of the citizenry. With the information from the people about terror, 80 per cent of the work is done. But when you do not get the information, it is a great problem.”
A competent Presidency source told our correspondent that President Jonathan is worried over how to handle the situation in a way that would guarantee the lives and property of the people in the three affected states.
“He is much aware of the impact the military presence is making in those states and he knows that, without their presence, there would have been more killings. But these politicians, for a reason best known to them, are asking for the withdrawal of the troops. What happens if the troops are withdrawn and these Boko Haram terrorists stage a comeback? And the opposition may use the National Assembly to stall further extension. This is the situation but, before the week runs out, there would be a way out,” the source said. “Although the emergency rule expires this weekend, the troops may still be asked to remain. The president would ask the National Assembly to extend the emergency rule and, until the National Assembly decides, the troops remain.”
Another source argued that it’s the failure of the Presidency and the National Assembly to suspend the democratic structures in the three states that is making the situation difficult: “If the emergency rule order had suspended the governors and the House of Assembly in each of the three states as it was done during the Obasanjo regime, things would have been different. All these people asking the military to go would have been seen cooperating with the Presidency to ensure the war is over on time. If the military is asked to stop fighting the insurgents, who would do it? Is it the police?”
All attempts made to speak with the director of Information for the Defence Headquarters, Major General Chris Olukolade, failed.
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