By Erasmus Ikhide
The president followed this up in May with a promise to release a number of Boko Haram members, including all women in prison custody. Few months after, July to be specific, Nigerians happily looked forward to the end of the insurgency when the Federal Government said it had signed a ceasefire agreement with the militant group. Minister of Special Duties and Chairman of the Peace and Dialogue Committee in the North, Alhaji Tanimu Turaki, announced the ceasefire agreement on the Hausa service of Radio France International.
Then, Turaki assured that the ceasefire was not something that was done for a specific period of time. He asserted that it was something that would be forever. He confidently said it was sure there would be any basis for anybody to renege on the agreement. Unfortunately, people’s hopes were smashed once again as the sect leader, Abubakar Shekau, in a video message denied Kabiru Turaki’s claim. “Let me assure you that we will not enter into any truce with these infidels. We will not enter into any truce with the Nigerian government,” Shekau reportedly said.
Since then, there is no cessation to violent hostility. In May this year, Minister of Youth Development, Boni Haruna, told the country that President Goodluck Jonathan had granted conditional amnesty to the terrorists group with a view to putting permanent halt to insurgency in the North-East. He added that series of integration programmes had been lined up for the members of the sect who would surrender their arms and embrace peace Shortly after he made the statement, the Presidency swiftly debunked the statement. Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, said Jonathan did not mention the word amnesty in his Democracy Day broadcast that Boni Haruna relied on to make the statement.
From the outset, Mr President proudly ventilated his skittishness, say he wouldn’t dialogue with faceless butchers, yet bloodletting has lingers on to date. The questions have been, is it really difficult to put the Boko Haram rabble to rout? Is it just that President Jonathan Administration is profiting politically from the warfare? Nigerians are in the known that hundreds of billion of Naira is yearly budgeted for armaments and welfare of the armed forces. We are also in the known that they are still complaining lack of weapons and non-payment of their allowances, which partly led to mutiny and subsequent Court-Marshall of numerous soldiers, recently.
Now, the conundrum are mixed – tweaking the army in too many ways – making more victims of them and exposing them to ridicules. It’s doubtful to believe that the Nigeria military is equipped enough to step up to the Boko haram’s plague. That is why the purported ceasefire reached between the militia sect and the Federal Government didn’t come as a surprise, if at all there was one. President Goodluck Jonathan has been treating the Chibok girls with contempt like every other issue bordering on the nation’s survival.
Ever since, the madness unleashed by the terrorist sect has left the entire nation scampering and traumatised. The terrorist group has pushed the North-Eastern part of the country to the brink of social and economic collapse, thereby rendering the governors of the states incapacitated and the possibility of steering them on the right economic path has dissipated. It is all part of the grand design to squander a chance to upgrade and equalise the virtually backward states with the rest of the nation. Still the states in the region have lost their franchise to vote in the coming 2015 general elections. It is more so because the State’s are controlled by the opposition political party, the APC. Who is profiting?
Boko Haram has proven itself to be a bloodcurdling terrorist movement, adroitly hiding under the garbs of Islam as its melting port. Nigerians living in the North-Eastern part of the country are now faced with stark choice: they are living in the most desolate fringe of the earth in war and in destitution! Those who managed to slug it through the barren Cameroon or Niger boarders are at the mercies of Marabouts who butcher victims on the dunes in propitiation to the claim of piety.
You can now understand why Nigerians have been hankering for a strongman; a political leader who would stamp out insecurity, corruption, reverse growing inequalities and make the country tall abroad amongst the comity of nations. The international communities are waiting for a Nigerian President who would have the ball to smash insecurity, overhaul the armed forces, stamp out stinging corruption and end years of dithering over economic growth. It is only a president with common touch and toughness who can snare the sacred cows that have fed fat from the common till.
Political and economic reforms would fail without thoroughly stamping out corruption. Such leader must be conscious of the present condition of things: that hospitals are mere consulting clinics; roads are buffeted with deep craters, schools are run-down, power generation has decayed because of mindless graft.
We need a leader who will appreciate that this can only be achieved by reforming the existing anti-corruption institutions and make them completely less beholden of the appointing authority. The cost of achieving this will be rocky and brawling but it will no doubt take the nation to actual its manifest destiny and bring her to political and economic maturation. That is what we need now.Concluded
Erasmus Ikhide via @ErasmusIkhide