The Need to Commend Goodluck & A Time to Challenge Jonathan By Odusote Oluwakayode
When it was made public that the president would deliver an address on the 14th of May, 2013, I didn’t imagine the usual camera jittery leader would be declaring a State of Emergency in some states crippled by the incessant attack of the Boko Haram insurgency
Even though the states involved have been under a State of Emergency through the JTF operations, we must still commend the President for taking the bold step in making an official announcement to that effect and in increasing the presence of troops and artillery.
The president deserves commendation also for retaining the governors of the affected states in power. It is public knowledge that two out of the three state governors included inthe declaration belong to the opposition parties. It would have been a barrage of criticism if he had suspended them.
Over the years, the rate of violence unleashed on the nation by the Boko Haram sect increased daily with most victims being struggling poor masses. It has always been maintained that the sect do not have any ideological basis for their cause not even the defunct –if not resuscitated Niger Delta militants. A group fighting for a genuine course do not happily shed blood of innocent lives in order to possibly achieve a goal of drawing the attention of government, therefore, the President’s powers as declared in section 305(1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is in order to curb the killings and break down of law and order in the affected states in particular and Nigeria in general.
I appreciate the president in agreeing to the fact that “The country is facing not just militancy or criminality, but a rebellion and insurgency by terrorist groups which pose a very serious threat to national unity and territorial integrity”. I will however appreciate him the more if the statements credited to Kingsley Kuku and a pardoned dissident, AsariDokubo now turned sudden billionaire is taken serious by asking the security agencies to question the source of their authority to threaten a nation that belongs to federating units.
The president deserves commendation for opening up the line of dialogue and sustaining the assignment given to the Amnesty committee. I do not understand the political argument that declaring state of emergency would render the beauties of the amnesty useless. Sentiments must be eschewed in a situation where the insurgents have not even embraced the amnesty being offered. The ghost leader of the sect once declared by boasts that it is the Federal government that deserves amnesty.
The commendations are few but the president must be reminded that there are challenges yet to be tackled by his administration. The challenges are enormous and the president is not alien to them. As a nation, Nigeria must not be turned into a political landscape where a region’s interest is recognized the periods some youth are possibly sponsored to take up arms against the state.
“A national dialogue to guide our national existence where every ethnic nationality’s interest will be considered, discussed and respected is important than a dialogue generated by unrest to satisfy a sectional interest. We have had the days of the Niger Delta militant, now we are witnessing the Boko Haram, who knows what the other ethnic minorities and interests will come up with tomorrow. A nation will be progressive when political interests are not selfishly galvanized to cause mayhem”.
In tackling the menace of insecurity as we face often, there is the need to start from the political circle. The government can’t continue paying lips service to these issues. Now that the administration has expressed determination to root out the insurgents in the affected areas, I challenge the presidency to root out the known sponsors of the group and such other groups that exist nationwide. The will to govern should not be by force of thugery, it should be by the convinced will of the electorates.
The fight against insecurity must be taken serious by all Nigerians. The state of emergency should not be condemned but supported with spirited efforts at tackling what threatens the existence of a crippling nation. Our freedom has always been under attack from series of deliberate and deadly terrorist acts. From these acts, the victims were most time going on their daily chores to make a sustainable living. From these acts, mothers have been killed, fathers have been killed, children have been killed and families destroyed. Properties needed to aid socio-economic development are being destroyed while economic activities needed to aid growth is stagnated for no other reason that a selfish ideology.
Beyond political affiliation, tribal, cultural and religious background, what must be collectively stopped are the sad pictures of buses burning, buildings destroyed and decapitated bodies packed with shovels. It is easy for those not directly affected by the insurgency to criticize the declaration even though all these years the much talked about dialogue has yielded no fruit.
We are where we are today as a nation because the political leaders have not done the right things for a nation grappling for the breath of prosperity. With endowed natural resources, the vast populations of Nigerians are living in abject poverty. These are serious challenges that must be tackled; unfortunately, our leaders have preferred to fight each other over political spoils.
Before we woke up to the incessant attacks, most Nigerians never considered the possibility that a small band of frustrated, unemployed and illiterates youth could do such harm as we usually see in Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia. Names for regional militia groups surfaced during the administration of President OlusegunObasanjo without the urgent attention designed to curb their activities. Some of the groups were even celebrated as performing vigilantes only for most of them to be infused into political battles by some wealthy politicians. The burden of these crises must be lifted from our heads and a leader capable of such lifting must be a sincere leader.
President Jonathan must imbibe the zeal if he never had before now, to fight for the difficult and important – freedom. That should be his conviction and reason to govern. The decision to declare state of emergency should not only be against the Boko Haram, he needs to declare same against poverty. Mass unemployment and poverty is the root of insurgency in Nigeria today.
The government needs to protect the innocent lives that live everyday with hope that Nigeria will one day be better. These Nigerians have fired no missiles, why are they left vulnerable to be easily made as sacrifice just to score political goal of a likely vendetta disguised as a course?
I maintained in a piece “My Race, Our Hope” that “Our governments have the mandate and obligation to work for us, not against us. It should ease our pains, not hurt us. It should ensure opportunity for all and not just for the rich and those with influence whether questionable or not.
Those are the qualities of politics – the passion that we are responsible for Nigerians, the courage that in times of challenges, we rise or fall as one nation, the love that I am my brother’s keeper from any tribe. That’s the promise I see in politics and that’s what we need to keep.
The promise in politics must address our tax system that doesn’t meet demands of infrastructure. It must address the stagnancy in our export promotion and agricultural growth. Tax system should stop giving tax breaks to corporations that recruit non Nigerians and should start giving them to companies that create good jobs for the unemployed.
As a nation and for the sake of our economy, our stability, and our heritage, there should be a clear goal when we will finally end our dependence on oil. We need to stop this dependence, and to understand that those corrupt wealthy individuals with oil blocs are the enemies of Nigeria that we must defeat.
The greatest challenge glaring at the President is to ensure the success of all the options tabled to stop the menace of Boko Haram. The last option that was just adopted is the Declaration of the State of Emergency. We’ve had the composition of an Amnesty Committee which is still in place and the option of Dialogue believed to be on going. As usual, we must continue to hope that the present challenge would not escalate.
The President must tackle challenges with courage of hope rather than fears of the unknown and adversaries. He needs to truthfully exercise the powers of a Commander – in – Chief not as a lord but as a servant.
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