Tony Ademiluyi: Boko Haram Insurgency; Buhari’s Volte-face?

There was a popular misconception that the boko haram insurgency was a creation by some powerful members of the northern elite to frustrate former President Goodluck Jonathan out of office. The popular line of thought was that the Otuoke born erstwhile helmsman was a beneficiary of a northern misfortune – the death of Umaru Musa Yar’adua and had to be forced out of power by all means including the shedding of innocent blood.

During the last campaigns, Buhari made a pledge in Adamawa State when he said “Our government will bring to an end the menace of boko haram terror that is plaguing the society. Nigerians are turning into refugees in their country.” Professor Yemi Osinbajo also opined that if elected they will personally lead the war against it. “Fighting insurgency requires the Commander-In-Chief to lead from the front by providing leadership.” This resonated well with the disenchanted populace who were disappointed by the refusal of Jonathan to visit the town of Chibok and his apparent lack of concern at the persistent spate of bombings from the terrorists. The six week postponement of the elections to fight the insurgency was seen as medicine after death and did nothing to sway public opinion against his perceived ineptitude.

Fast forward to over four months after Buhari’s swearing in and the bombs have refused to stop. The blasts have become a daily occurrence in the much troubled North East with an attack in Abuja recently. I remembered the words of an old friend of mine who is also pursuing his doctorate on the boko haram insurgency in England when he told me that boko haram was much deeper than what even our security forces thought and that the change mantra chanted by Buhari and his supporters was inadequate for a magical disappearance of the scourge. On hindsight, he was totally right.

Another campaign promise made by the man fondly known as Sai Baba was that under no circumstances will he give in to any form of negotiation with the terrorists. Barely a month after being sworn in, he granted an interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) where he said “Most wars, however furious or vicious often end up around the negotiation table. So, If boko haram opts for negotiation, the government will not be averse to it.” In an interview with AlJazeera’s English Channel, Up front, He said he would be willing to negotiate with the insurgents to secure the release of the chibok girls and didn’t rule our financial payments or prisoner release. His pro negotiation posture is a sad reminder that politicians are all the same – anything goes just to win elections – morality and principles are usually thrown overboard for expediency or political correctness as the novel buzzword now is to reign supreme. We remember the narrow victory George Bush Sr had over the Democratic Party Candidate; Michael Dukakis in the 1988 American Presidential Election popularized by the slogan “Read my lips no new taxes”. Hilariously, he also said he would not resign from office if he failed to defeat the scourge by the end of December. One is not surprised. We remember the comic Obasanjo once ask Gowon who ran for the Presidency in 1992 what he was still looking for after being once there. After three electoral defeats, One doesn’t expect the Daura born General to quit office so easily because some bloody infidels have made mince-meat of his archaic military strategies.

The ludicrous nature of the last polls which made Buhari shun any form of popular debate did not make us have an insight into whether he even deeply knew the problem that has almost torn the North East into a theatre bloodbath of war.

The economy of the north has collapsed totally. The groundnut pyramids and blossoming textile mills have become relics for students of history. Agriculture and Solid minerals have been utterly neglected with industries folding up with the speed of light. With massive youth unemployment as a concomitant effect of this with the manipulation of religion with some rather bizarre and lustful promises of 72 or more virgins, it’s no surprise that many of her youths have found solace in insurgency as a sordid means of expression of their inner frustrations. The porous nature of the borders especially those shared with Niger Republic and Chad have made the proliferation of arms and ammunition possible. There has been a conspiracy by the past leaders most of them ironically from the north to under develop the region and the chickens are only coming home to roost. The ever widening divide between the haves and the have nots has assumed such a frightening dimension that insurgency and the attack for all the unfair institutions responsible for such institutionalized poverty seems to be the only way out for the hapless youths to vent their pent up frustrations. The collapse of the public sector education also has a lot to do with the menace. Education is no longer a tool for social upward mobility and its worthlessness is most felt in the north where the religion has been used as a deft tool to keep majority of its populace in perpetual serfdom. It’s no surprise that the almajiris who have an education that makes them outsource their thinking faculties to their masters have been willing recruits for this sinister enterprise.

Its high time Buhari thoroughly addressed these fundamental issues that have made terrorism popular rather than make us live in a fools paradise or build castles in the air by setting an unrealistic date for its eventual termination. The problems that gave birth to the suicide bombings were not created in just six months, they took decades to spring up. He needs no soothsayer to tell him that they won’t just go away in less than a year. Nigerians especially the millions displaced and thousands slaughtered in the north have had enough of these political slogans and demand for a critical look into of the crisis plaguing them.

We remember Vision 2000, 2010 and then 2020 which all became worse than an endless wait for Godot. We hope that it would not morph into this by an endless shifting of the goalpost rather than hit the nail on the head and shunning the scoring of cheap political points by unrealistic exit dates.

We demand the drawing up of a security agenda in form of a policy document to tackle the remote and immediate causes of this scourge.


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