The Nigerian Senate must query what President Goodluck Jonathan wants to do with the $1billion dollar loan he wants to take if in the last two years of the campaign against Boko Haram, with more than $14 billion dollars already spent, there is no notable reduction in the activities of the terror group. The fear is that a large chunk of the loan would be used against the opposition in the run to the 2015 elections and such fears are justifiable.
The $1billion loan would not defeat Boko Haram even if effectively utilised by the government in buying equipments provided the army with all its problems are reluctant to fight. The poor leadership and training, poor indoctrination, culture of impunity and corruption cannot be fixed easily with $1 billion, as the soldiers and field commanders in the army are scared of Boko Haram’s fearlessness and readiness to fight back when attacked an attitude our army isn’t used too, having always bullied their fellow defenceless citizens over the years. It would be more annoying if Nigerians thus find out that the borrowed money is used in quenching the opposition rather than fighting the terrorists.
The ruling party, PDP, are carrying on like winning elections and getting into power is all that matters and its business as usual without stopping to see the signs on the wall for Nigeria. Politicians like Tony Anenih are talking unseriously of the PDP winning elections in 2019 when we haven’t even gone past 2015 successfully. The country is being divided into North versus South, Christians versus Muslims all in the name of perpetuating the ruling party in office with all sorts of evil machinations being used against the opposition just to win elections and get into power but not to address the myriads of problems Nigerians are facing.
The future looks bleak and we pretending like there is no problem. When 2015 comes and the nation is split on the lines of North/South, Christian/Muslim divide it might be too late then to save the country. The predictions by the U.S that we might separate as a country by then would look ever so right, as the north already battling with an Islamist militancy may start a civil conflict over the unfairness of the 2015 elections process and results that would push the country over. In the first republic, the civil conflicts started in the South in 1965, the same as in the second republic in 1983 that led to the army intervening.
In 2015, it might be a culmination of corruption – with the $1billion if borrowed, for battling Boko Haram diverted against the opposition – and civil unrest in the North that may give the Nigerian Army the excuse to intervene. It leads to a scenario where the situation deteriorates particularly in the Southern Niger-Delta, international oil companies decide to end their operations in the oil-rich region, wide-spread anarchy grips the land and several separatists group spring up. Politicians in different disguises and suitcases of cash try escaping through the different airports and borders and are arrested by the separatists armies. There is genocidal killings, maiming, raping, dispute over landmass/boundaries and Nigerians turn their long held hatred against each other.
The gates of hell are thrown wide open and chaos pervades the land once called Nigeria. I’m not a prophet of doom but these are all possibilities. The signs are already there with the whole north/south identity card issue and threats – by some northern youths – for people to relocate back to their home states.
Its time for the President and all political gladiators in the country to step back and ask themselves if they really believe in Nigeria and still want the country to continue as one? If they do, then we need to change track and make the process leading up to the 2015 elections truly free and fair. Militarization of our democracy has to stop and the army reminded of its one and only commitment to Nigeria which is to defend its territorial integrity and sovereignty not ballot boxes or politicians.
The Army is trained for warfare not for law enforcements, as the Police are trained to do that but even at that they must do it in a civil and polite way not as barbarians. When you treat Nigerians as animals, they would react that way, but when they are treated civilly and politely by the police they would act that way and behave as sane human beings. Even if the army has to be called into any state it has to be as a last resort when there is genuine break-down of law and order beyond the capability of the police not prior to an election to patrol the streets and lock it down needlessly. We need to give ourselves a chance of surviving as a country beyond 2015 and if indeed the government goes on to borrow the $1 billion then it must be used to effectively fight Boko Haram not as a guise to raise money to quell the opposition ahead of the 2015 elections otherwise we might be heading for a long and dark future.
Ola’ Idowu, a management consultant and researcher, writes in from the UK.