By Johnson Momodu
Before we proceed on the controversy that has trailed the statement by Dr. Stephen Davies over people he said were mentioned to him as Boko Haram sponsors, we need first to resolve two issues: what is the veracity of this statement by this Australian man and why has it become for the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC), an issue for self-glorification.
Since that statement by the Australia-based ‘international adviser’, a whole lot of information has sufficed to call the veracity of his claims to question. While some people see him as a rabble rouser who benefits from causing chaos, others believe he has since been compromised in his dealings with Boko Haram. His background arouses a certain excitement: the man who has a PhD in political geography is said to have established extensive contacts with tribes and terrorist groups in Africa, including three small cells of Al Qaeda, while working as a trouble-shooter for oil and gas company, Shell, in the Niger Delta.
He burst into our national consciousness soon after news broke in April about the kidnapping of the Chibok girls. Many thought his offer to assist was curious but for a nation in dire straits, such an offer for assistance was readily accepted: the yarn about having contacts in even the remotest part of Nigeria was tempting. No sooner did he get involved than he claimed to have made contacts with the insurgents who were prepared to release some of the girls to him as a goodwill gesture towards a peace deal with the government. They were never released, though he claimed that 15 minutes before his team arrived to take the girls, they were kidnapped again by another group who wanted to cash in on the reward announced by government.
Some of his revelations are interesting indeed while others are downright suspicious. He said some of the things we already knew, like telling us that the sect had ‘political sponsors’ and that the insurgency was being supported by the opposition elements. He also believes that these political sponsors think they can turn these groups off after the 2015 elections in which they expect President Jonathan to lose on account for perceived inability to contain the insurgency. These are thing Nigerians have long suspected of the opposition parties, especially the APC, but he adds the shocker: “they are going to be surprised to find it (the insurgency) is out of their control.”
The true picture of his ‘revelation’ started unraveling with the claim that former Borno state governor, Ali Modu Sherrif, is a sponsor of the violent Islamic sect, a story that simply feeds into a popular rumour mill. Not only is it a popular stereotype, it also provides an opportune tool for the opposition APC which demanded the immediate trial of the man who recently decamped from their party to the PDP. The chairman of opposition party, Chief John Odigie Oyegun, said revelations by Mr. Davis show the federal government had wrongly accused the APC of being behind Boko Haram, adding that from Davis’ revelations, they are within the ruling PDP, and friends of President Jonathan. The party chairman who has since assuming office been credited with highly incendiary statements that have the potential to dismember the country, chose to be silent on aspects of the Davis statement that some people opposed to President Goodluck Jonathan used their connections with Boko Haram to frustrate his efforts.
While the Davis revelation serves the APC well in its eager efforts to launder its image and exonerate the party of blames for promoting insurgency in the country, it also threw up some contradictions. The mention of the former Army Chief of Staff, Azubuike Ihejirika as a Boko Haram sponsor is ridiculous. It calls to strong question, the whole purpose of Dr. Davis’ activities. As some Nigerians commented, he was simply being mischievous in his effort to link the President himself with the violence which he has done all in his power to stop.
By lumping General Ihejirika, a non-Muslim who hails from the predominantly Christian southeastern part of Nigeria, with Sheriff, Davis was simply employing cheap propaganda tactics to lend credence to the story. Though the APC understands this as an irrational frame-up, its spokesman, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, went to town without bothering to confirm the authenticity of the statement, to call for his trial. It was a most malicious and premeditated act of character assassination. The question is: what motivation does Ihejirika, a Christian and an Igbo from the Southeast, have to sponsor Boko Haram insurgency in the North? Why would a man, who laid down his life in defence of his country against the insurgents, be accused of sponsoring the same?
Surely there is a gap in the narratives; it is a gap the so-called negotiator needs to fill, or forever hold his peace. What he says about the APC and their calculations for the 2015 elections, we already know; but to throw incredulous narratives into the mix is to cause unnecessary distraction from government efforts to unmask the real sponsors of this sect that has taken the lives of thousands of Nigerians. I don’t want to believe, as many people suggest, that Dr Stephen Davies is simply a fraudulent character and a mercenary who distorts information in order to cause chaos from which he ultimately benefits.
Johnson Momodu via linkedIn