By Babayola M. Toungo
Now that the storm that we intentionally generated in order to obfuscate the issues raised by governor Murtala H. Nyako of Adamawa state is gradually settling down, one may now comment on the issues raised and the predictable reactions from supporters and apologists of a federal government increasingly becoming insensitive, disconnected and haughty to the feelings, yearnings and expectations of Nigerians. It has become very predictable that whoever questioned the way the country is governed, or raised issues of fundamental importance to the well-being and safety of Nigerians, becomes fair game to presidential Rottweilers. Sadly, I am forced to look at the government’s reactions to issues pertaining to the northern region of the country or northerners from a northern perspective. Goodluck Jonathan has ensured that issues are now viewed from sectional prisms, no matter how nationalistic one pretends to be. Much as I dislike being compartmentalised, I am forced to do the compartmentalisation myself. The government of Goodluck Jonathan has succeeded in turning me into a regionalist
The north is under siege by forces which the government may know about. If the government is aware of those bent on destroying the region but chooses to do nothing, then the government is complicit by its inaction. On the other hand if they are not aware of those perpetrating the massacres and destruction, they are equally complicit by their failure to uphold the oath of office they took to protect the lives and properties of Nigerians wherever they may be. Whichever way you look at it, the government must be ready to answer questions posed by Nigerians, whatever their station in life, particularly those who live in and around the epicentre of the killings and destructions.
The questions raised by Nyako in his memo are reflective of everyday discussions by northerners. The way and manner the federal government reacts to misfortunes in the north or to northerners raises concern among the people of the region and leads to such speculations. I have had cause to raise such questions in my past commentaries like how General Shuwa was murdered right in front of soldiers; how these beasts can operate within a specific location for hours without the fear of interruption by security personnel whose main brief in the north east appear to be the harassment of hapless civilians. The Buni Yadi bloodbath, the attack on the Maiduguri Airforce Base, the attack on Bama and other villages and the most heinous of all – the abduction of about 276 school girls. All these happen in a state that is essentially under the jackboots of the military. We are told the insurgents move freely in a convoy of more than twenty cars in the night when a curfew is supposed to be in place. We all know one can hardly take a sick person to a health facility without being molested by the “guardians” of the curfew – how come these killers have safe passage without being challenged?
How do the insurgents replenish their supplies – food, arms, fuel and other daily consumables for them to live the life they are alleged to be living? As a retired Naval four-star general; a former chief security officer; a former Naval chief; a former Deputy Chief of Defence Staff and at his age and with his accomplishments, I find it difficult to comprehend why Nyako should be accused of playing to the gallery. So no matter what politics one professes, when the likes of Nyako speaks on security matters, one is compelled to listen. Presidential attack dogs made up of the likes Ali Gulak, Doyin Okupe and Edwin Clark won’t keep their mouth long enough to appreciate the gravity of what the retired Admiral is saying. The Navy of yore was never involved in oil theft or providing covering fire to oil thieves. They were through bred professionals unlike what we have now – glorified ethnic warlords who happened to find themselves at the right end of a gun.
The other concern raised by many northerners is the “to hell with you attitude” of the federal government on anything or anyone to do with this part of the country. This leads to the insensitivity exhibited by Jonathan and his sidekicks whenever any misfortune befalls the region. A case in point is the act of dancing and rejoicing in Kano a day after over 75 souls were lost to nihilists and about 275 school girls vanished into thin air. To rub it in for the parents of the abductees, Patience Jonathan the president’s uncouth wife came out smoking – practically questioning the veracity of the whole thing. Looking representatives of the anguished parents straight in the eye, she accused the Borno State government of organising the kidnap in order to embarrass her husband. As if they need anybody to embarrass them more than the way they are embarrassing the country in the comity of civilised world. The position taken by Patience re-echoes that of Kema Chikwe, the Women Leader of the PDP, Jonathan’s party. Such heartlessness. I wish their daughters were among them. They wouldn’t have been careless with their mouths.
We were told that Patience’s foster father in-law was kidnapped and we believed and prayed for his release; the nation was informed that the first son of Edwin Clark was equally kidnapped; we again believed and prayed for his safe return. But Jonathan and his spouse are now accusing the victims of “embarrassing” his government by those against his 2015 ambition. Such cheek! Such callousness! For good measure, they tried introducing the religious card by insinuating that the girls were abducted because they are Christians. For those who may not know, Chibok is a predominantly Christian community.
Nyako’s memo succeeded in at least exposing the cowardly streak in our leaders and also reaffirming the belief of the average Joe on the northern streets that the Jonathan administration will be happy seeing him annihilated. While the questions raised by Nyako resonated with the northern poor, their governors and political leadership queued up behind Jonathan in pooh poohing the memo. By this singular act, Nyako came out smelling a bouquet of a million roses, while his colleagues in the north came out smelling like what the cat brought home.
The earlier we accept the fact that no amount of denial and condemnations will make the questions go away, the better for all of us. The questions must be answered, not wished away.
Babayola M. Toungo via email@example.com