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Boko Haram emergency journey to the unknown

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There was no doubt that President Goodluck Jonathan had to display some “gra gra” exploits of a macho aimed at stemming the seeming unstoppable drift to anarchy.

First, Jonathan had to assert himself as a Commander-in-Chief. Second, he had to eventually pander to jaundiced critics whose idea of the only anarchists in the country is the Boko Haram in North-east of the country.

Third, Jonathan needed a world headlines-grabbing distraction from the national and international concern, prevailing on the massacre at Baga, Borno State. This was the background to President Jonathan’s proclamation of emergency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states.

Since the emergency proclamation, whoever (Nigerian or world leader) anymore remembers the Baga genocide? Observers also seem to be unwary of the public relations disaster of the Jonathan regime and Nigerian army over the Baga genocide in Borno State.

At the beginning, the average Nigerian first knew of the Baga tragedly only through foreign media reports. The rather desperate official reaction at Abuja was that Nigerian Army was not responsible and that foreign media reports were exaggerated.

When foreign media quoted over 100 fatal casualties, Nigerian official reaction was that less than 40 died. Then the army further claimed that it was a pre-emptive strike against Boko Haram to save Baga residents from being killed. During the last World War, British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, employed the strategy that “In war, truth is so important that it must be accompanied all the time by a battalion of lies.”

That seemed to have been the strategy of Nigerian authorities, specifically, the Army, in reaction to accusations on the Baga genocide. Hence, the faltering from one questionable defence to another The United Nations and some foreign governments, including United States, then insisted that the Baga genocide must be investigated thoroughly to bring the culprits to trial.

It was, therefore, laughable when the army came up with the story that before the Baga genocide, Boko Haram had planned to attack Southern parts of Nigeria with rocket launchers and aircraft bombings. Neither the Federal Government nor the army needed to go that low in propaganda. Boko Haram insurgents on the other hand not only failed to help themselves but also lost the script with their latest various violent attacks on army and police barracks or police stations in Yobe, Bauchi and Borno states.

Jonathan’s legitimate proclamation of state of emergency to contain and indeed limit these attacks has rendered the probe of Baga genocide demanded by United Nations and United States no longer a priority if thereafter ever a desirability.

The greater loss is Boko Haram’s. Obviously learning from past experiences, Jonathan, in proclaiming the State of Emergency, was careful enough not to set a deadline, even though the constitution provides for a period of up to six months, which is renewable as long as anarchy threatens in the areas under emergency. Hence, the declaration of the emergency is a journey to the unknown, in terms of tenure.

When the Boko Haram insurgency broke out over three years ago, nobody reckoned with such resistance that still keeps the insurgents in world news. When news of the imminent proclamation of the State of Emergency leaked, Jonathan as late as (last) Sunday denied such plans.

And obviously rattled by the news, the authentic Governors’ Forum publicly expressed opposition, just as opposition parties also opposed the planned emergency. State governors, and opposition parties by such stand, might appear to be self-serving or engaged in undue solidarity.

The truth is that even with the need to declare a State of Emergency in some areas, underneath such imperative, even till now, is the suspicion of Jonathan’s politically malicious intent to employ the declaration of emergency weapon to dislodge any state governor, challenging him or not supporting him for the 2015 presidential elections.

He must have copied such tactics from ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo, who, one after another, victimised Jonathan’s predecessor as Bayelsa State governor, D.S.P Alamieyeseigha, and ex-vice president, Atiku Abubakar.

Jonathan’s early victims were ex-Delta State governor, James Ibori, and ex-Bayelsa State governor, Timipre Sylva. The latest victim is Rivers State governor and leader of Governors’ Forum, Rotimi Amaechi. By the way, the President Jonathan, who addressed Nigerians on television while proclaiming the emergency, was an entirely different person.

Belligerent, angry, impatient, moody, intemperate and uncompromising, throughout the broadcast, Jonathan either specially prepared himself or was specially prepared by his handlers to face the nation stern-faced like the Commander-in-Chief he is. Jonathan’s declaration of State of Emergency in the three states raised some curiosity. These days, are security personnel under less attacks in Bayelsa, Taraba and lately, Nasarawa states? It is also clear that Boko Haram are not the culprits, especially in Bayelsa State.

Any continued violence in Bayelsa State, even if against civilians, would engulf Jonathan in such embarrassment he won’t be able to shrug off. And with the latest development, Jonathan has raised the stake in his battle to subdue Boko Haram.

With the plans and logistics announced in his broadcast, Jonathan has put his regime’s much-criticised capability to guarantee security in the country on the line. It is easily recalled that similar determination to normalise the situation in the country had been expressed on a number of times in the past. Yet, here we are today. Jonathan must accordingly have been speaking two years ago when, in his broadcast, he accused Boko Haram of attacking government buildings and facilities, murdering innocent citizens and state officials, setting houses ablaze and taking women and children hostages.

The only new and frightening dimension he revealed on Boko Haram is that the insurgents “seem determined to establish control and authority over parts of Nigeria and to progressively overwhelm the rest of the country. In many places, they have destroyed Nigerian flag and other symbols of state authority and in their place, hoisted strange flags, suggesting the exercise of alternative sovereignty.”

Therefore, Jonathan’s directive to the Chief of Defence Staff to “immediately deploy more troops to these states for more internal security operations…” with “… orders to take all necessary actions within rules of engagement” to end the crisis, must go beyond possible rhetoric.

Why did Jonathan fail to give this directive long time ago when Admiral Petirin was Chief of Defence Staff? If Jonathan did and yet, the crisis did not end, where is the assurance that the renewed directive will achieve the desired purpose under the current Chief of Defence Staff? What is more, army chief, General Azubuike Ihejirika, once lamented that his officers and men were no match for Boko Haram in terms of equipment. If the situation is still the same, with Boko Haram better equipped, how much bite can be placed on Commander-in-Chief Jonathan’s directive to the Chief of Defence Staff?

How about this illusion? That even with the declaration of emergency and pronouncement of Boko Haram as war criminals, the panel hitherto set up to dialogue and arrange amnesty for the dissidents would continue?

Doing what except wasting public fund? Is it logical to expect that, in the light of sweeping emergency powers expected in force soon or the expected aggressive military action, Boko Haram or their agents will be available for any meaningful dialogue leading to amnesty? The only known event is the proclamation of the emergency. Nobody knows when or how it will end. For some time to come, Nigerians will be treated to claims and counter claims of achievements by both sides.

Who is the Nigerian Army trying to impress by flaunting to the world the strength of troops development? That the opponents can know and then adequately plan to neutralise that strength? Or is that part of the “gra gra” mentality?

When soldiers die in action

Major problem with governance in this country is lack of accountability even on the deaths of our fellow citizens unnecessarily forced by Nigerian government to engage in foreign wars, which are of no value or interest to Nigeria.

Successive governments always plunged our soldiers into such wars without regular reports on the sate of our combatants. Not long ago, the United Nations announced that a Nigerian soldier was killed by terrorists while serving in Darfur, Sudan.

Till today, Nigerian government has not disclosed the identity of the deceased. In fact, all we know about him was the announcement of his death by the United Nations. If the government and the army have not reported to the nation, it could only mean that the soldier had been secretly buried.

Who was he and why was he not given the decent burial with military honours as he could have been given were he an American or British soldier killed in action? This unknown and unidentified soldier was only the latest denied such military honour. It is the standard practice of our military.

Before this Unknown Soldier, at least six other Nigerian soldiers serving in peace- keeping force in Sudan were ambushed and killed? Were they identified, and were their deaths officially announced by Nigerian military authorities? Why were they not accorded well-published burials with military honours as their colleagues in other part of the world?

It was bad enough that these guys died while fighting in the name of their country abroad. It’s therefore worse that anytime they met such tragedy, they were never appreciated by their senior ogas. Chief of Army Staff, General Ihejirika must take necessary action.

Churlish Chelsea fans

Whether supporters of English football clubside, Chelsea in England, and Nigeria like it or not, they must swallow their pride and acclaim the modest achievement of the club’s outgoing purported interim manager, Ralph Benitez.

Until Wednesday night at a stadium in Amsterdam, Netherlands, with Benitez as manager, Chelsea won the Europa Cup by defeating Benfica 2 – 1; he (Benitez) was booed by the club’s fans at home or away matches.

Benitez’s offence? Nothing to do with his performance except that he was appointed by maverick club proprietor, Abramovic, after sacking Roberto Di Mateo, the young Italian manager of the club (himself an ex-Chelsea star in the 90’s) who won for the club, the richest prize, European Champions League Cup. Once any manager is sacked, it is neither the fault nor business of a successor who must be employed.

In the light of the prevailing hostility of the fans, Ralph Benitez, a few months ago, told off his enemies to back their club even if they continued booing him. Now Benitez has won for Chelsea the second European Cup in succession, a feat no club in world soccer history, at least in Europe, ever attained.

The outgoing Chelsea manager has made the point, that he, Benitez, is one of the world’s best, by putting the club in unprecedented history – simultaneously holders of Champion League Cup (to be surrendered next twelve months. No club in Europe ever set that record. There lies Raphael Benitez’s achievement as he leaves Chelsea.

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