Twelve Things Obama Should Tell Jonathan By Chris Aniedobe
No. 1. Surge works – The Igbos say that those who do not know how to make a metal gong should study the tail of a kite. President George Bush Jr. was losing the campaign against Al-Queda in Iraq until he quadrupled the boots and the eyes on the ground.
Fighting Al-Queda from the air with advanced weapons was a tactical error. While that degraded some Al_Queda assets, Al-Queda quickly adjusted by moving its assets into the neighborhoods and continued to wreck havoc on American troops until America put more troops on the grounds. The same tactics of quadrupling the boots on the ground was used by President Obama in Afghanistan to contain the Talibans.
President Jonathan just successfully concluded a World Economic Forum on Africa in Abuja. Keeping Abuja safe meant quadrupling the boots on the ground.
Nigeria does not have enough forces to contain Boko Haram as the Western troops will soon find out. If the President is serious about fighting Boko Haram, then the entire Nigerian Military, Police, and Special Forces should head to the hot zones to work with the US troops. Meanwhile, President Jonathan should understand that this is a marathon not a sprint and begin now to recruit more boots for fighting Boko Haram.
No. 2. Defeat is Impossible; Temporary Containment is the only end point
America never defeated Al Queda nor Taliban; they simply contained them and made a tactical retreat to go back and protect their homeland. There is no way to defeat an opponent whose greatest weapon is their lives. Unlike the Niger Delta militants who valued their own lives, the Boko Haram militants are willing to use their lives as a weapon of war. This is as unconventional and as asymmetric a battle can be. The President announcing that Sambisa showdown will be the mother of all battles to end terrorism in Nigeria shows that he may not have been adequately briefed on the nature of the opponent.
No. 3. It is not Boko Haram, it is now Al Queda or Boko Queda
Boko Haram started off as a group of rag tag fundamentalist Islamic militants who were opposed to the westernization of Northern Nigeria. Then revanchistic militants joined them – meaning those social retributionists who felt threatened by the growing social and cultural influence of non Northerners in the region and needed to take shelter under the umbrella of religious fundamentalism to sack them. Then political militants joined in. Those are groups sponsored by some political elite (emphasis on some) to make the country ungovernable in order to make a case for regime change. Those political militants also took shelter under the umbrella of religious fundamentalism. As long as Boko Haram was doing their Christmas day bombings, destroying Government assets, and targeting Churches in the North, they were considered tolerable.
Where “water pass garri” was when Al Queda saw a fitting vehicle to continue to wage its global campaign against western ideologies. There was a sonic boom effect. The assets and capabilities of Boko Haram took an astronomical leap and overnight it got transformed into an efficient killing machine with the logistics, slush pile of funds and capabilities to wreck havoc in many places at once, covering the entire swath from Abuja to Borno.
The goal of the new Boko Queda has changed. It is now a violent ideological struggle against the West with Nigeria as its operational base. Every killing is targeted at getting the West to take notice. Al Queda is in effect daring the Western World to engage it in another violent showdown as a continuation of the battles elsewhere in Iraq and Afghanistan. There is no doubt at this point that Al Queda is using Northern Nigeria to send a message to the West that it is alive and well.
Meanwhile regime change artists are hoping against hope that Al Queda will pack up once Jonathan is out of power. Sadly, Al Queda of Nigeria is already looking past Jonathan. Not only do they desire to Talibanize Aso Rock, they also do desire to Talibanize the whole of Northern Nigeria and they do not mind the death of all infidels – Northerner or Southerner – as long as their case is being made. Nigeria will sooner break apart than be Talibanized because it is a country that is equal parts Moslems and Christians and the ethnic heterogeneity of Northern Nigeria will no longer tolerate holding all Northerners of Nigeria in one ideological basket. It is now a different Northern Nigeria as many Northern elite have come to realize.
No. 4. Negotiating with Boko Haram is a Waste of Time
The headquarters of the global war against terrorism has shifted to Northern Nigeria. What Al Queda wants is to take Northern Nigeria back into the middle ages where no one went to Western Schools and girls married at nine years old. They do not want money or life’s pleasures that can be bought with money. It is an ideological warfare and it is not a negotiation Nigeria should waste her time with.
No. 5. The Show Down in Sambisa is not likely to happen
The logistical capabilities that allowed Al Queda to kidnap over 200 mostly Christian girls in Chibok informs a common sense conclusion that Al Queda is not keeping the girls in Sambisa waiting for a military showdown with Nigeria and the world. Al Queda has never been known to engage anyone in a smash mouth, face to face shoot out. Nigeria is dealing with a well organized and sophisticated killing machine with an abandoned conscience. As Governor Shettima saw first hand, this is an army that has weapons that Nigerian army does not have. It has lives to use and Nigerian Army has conventional weapons. No match. An outraged world obviously desires to bring closure to the shocking affront to humanity that happened at Chibok but the story of the Chibok girls is one, however it ends, that will not end well. If the girls are slaughtered, Jonathan will take the heat for bringing Westerners whose presence could inflame Boko’s murderous passions. Many parents might say that it is better to keep their kids in sexual servitude than to risk killing them. It is a touchy subject and our hearts should continue to reach out and pray for those girls and their parents.
No. 6. Without Northern Leaders and Northern Masses Revolting Against Boko Queda, Containment will be impossible
The presence of Al Queda in Northern Nigeria has become the biggest existential threat to the region in centuries. Judging from the utterances of people like Murtala Nyako and Paul Unongo, you wonder if they have any clue whatsoever that the presence of Al Queda in the North is rapidly degrading the social and economic fabric of Northern Nigeria. Things are now beyond politics and spinning baseless conspiracy theories is not helpful. Yet the key to containing Al Queda is a Northern citizen’s revolt against them. The attitude that it is Jonathan’s battle to fight and if he can’t fight it, he should quit for a Northerner shows a callous disregard for the devastating consequences of attempting to Talibanize Northern Nigeria. We got to this point because Northern politics was always about the Northern elite and all Nigerians are now paying the price for terrible economic, educational and infrastructural decay following years of wastes in the North. This is a battle that all Nigerians should fight starting with a clear signal that the Northern leaders will stand united against any cell of Al Queda in the North. Without an effective citizen-military engagement against Al Queda, there is no way they can be contained. Meanwhile, Northern Nigeria continues to take a toll in the eyes of the world as a humanitarian disaster zone. Reversing that image is far more important to Northern Nigeria at this point than playing Presidential politics in the face of an unrelenting series of mouth wowing carnages.
No. 7. As long as lack of education and poverty continues to ravage the Youths of Northern Nigeria, Boko Haram will have a fertile recruiting ground
Boko Haram is an offshoot of severe economic hardships in the North mixed with lack of education to become a fertile recruiting ground for Boko Haram/Al Queda. But make no mistake about it, Al Queda has been importing fighters from neighboring countries like Cameroon, Niger, Chad, Mali, Sudan, with logistical assistance and funds coming in from places like Syria, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Afghanistan, Indonesia. It is a global movement that is sweeping many parts of the Middle East and Africa and has cells all across West Africa. That movement is in a violent struggle to establish itself in Northern Nigeria and the generational decay in educational infrastructure in Northern Nigeria led inevitably to the violent radicalism we are all dealing with today. Education up to SS3 should be declared mandatory in Northern Nigeria and parents who refuse to allow their kids to go to school should be punished. Northern leaders should quit playing politics with the destiny of Northerners and get serious about social, educational, and economic transformation of the North starting with free mandatory education up to SS3.
8. National Assembly Cannot Continue to be Missing in this Action
Fighting Boko Haram is not for the Army Chiefs, the SSS, and the Police. The NASS needs to stop counting its fat salaries and create policies that can create jobs and distribute wealth. Nigeria should not only mandate free universal primary and secondary education in the North and South, Nigeria should quadruple her investment in vocational and technical education. Grammar school curriculum should be revised and we have to begin early to mold the character of these kids before religious fanatics get to them. NASS should come up with rules and regulations aimed at creating jobs and redistributing wealth. We cannot continue to run a culture of the super wealthy and the super poor and not expect radical class warfare. Years of corruption and inept political leadership got Nigeria this far. In terms of fighting terrorism, NASS should simply call a recess and have all the representatives from the North go home for one month and immerse themselves in citizen education on how to get responsibly engaged in fighting terrorism. A NASS that is missing in action is the story so far in Nigeria’s fight against terrorism. Citizen revolt against Boko Queda in all corners of Northern Nigeria should be led by their representatives in NASS. One gets the impression that the average Northerner is clueless about the war that is raging right in their neighborhoods and their representatives in the NASS should be blamed for that lack of awareness.
No. 9 The Presence of Western Forces will Escalate the Battle and Bring Saturating Press Coverage to the Ills of Nigeria
Obama should tell Jonathan that when Americans arrived in Iraq, Al Queda pulled fighters from all over Northern Africa and Asia and sent them to Iraq. When America went to Afghanistan, Al Queda went after them. US, France, and Britain are sworn enemies of Al Queda and without a doubt, the presence of Western forces will cause Al Queda to relocate their headquarters to Northern Nigeria. Northern Nigeria should brace for a violent showdown that could leave thousands of innocent people dead in its wake. Obama should advise Jonathan on how to respond.
Particularly, all that was dirty and hidden about the Nigerian society is about to be made public. Nigeria is about to become a global showcase for corruption, infrastructural decay, and waste. It is a country that is tottering on the brinks and the world is about to see Nigeria up close and personal.
No. 10. Objects in the Boko Queda Mirror are Closer than they Appear
Obama should tell Jonathan that he remains the number one target of Boko Queda. If he does not stop them, they will stop him. Boko Queda is getting increasingly bold. There was the Nyanya bombings, Chibok girls, the Nyanya bombings, the killing of 310 villagers in Borno, the blowing up of a key connecting bridge to Cameroon in Borno State. Meanwhile, there was a foiled suicide bombing attempt in Adamawa. Al Queda is going after multiple targets spread over a wide geographical area and there is no war that they have war in mind. Jonathan should have since gone from a civilian President to a war time President and he should put on his military fatigue, polish his AK 47, and join the war as Commander in Chief or ignore all of that and be someday soon dead man in chief.
No. 11. The Southerners Should Quit Acting like Terrorism is a Northern Thing Only
The image of Nigeria is taking a global beating. The bad Press will continue to wrought havoc with capital flight and lack of foreign investment as its first baby. The world does not know the difference between Southern and Northern Nigeria. In the eyes of the world, Nigeria is one hell of a humanitarian disaster that should be avoided. Reversing that image is the responsibility of every Nigerian else there will come a time when Nigerians can neither be kept alife nor free. So far, Southern leaders continue to be passive and believe that keeping their people from the hot zone is the best policy.
No. 12. Nigeria Remains One Inch from Civil War
One Al Queda operation in Lagos, Ilorin or Nsukka, and the entire country can be plunged into another Civil War. One or two high profile assassination of a Northern leader by Al-Queda and the conspiracists will jump out of their holes in the crowd and try to incite a civil war. Nigeria is that close to a civil war. All Nigerians must be united against Boko Queda and brace for more waves of violence of the obscene kind that lie in store. No doubt, some Southerners are hoping that a light at the end of the Boko Haram tunnel is that Boko will make dismemberment of Nigeria inevitable. One hundred years of Nigeria is a terrible thing to waste for all Africans and for humanity. Southerners, beware.
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