ANALYSIS: Confused, Desperate Fellow(s) Fighting, Breeding TerroristsFeatured, Featured Contributors/Columnists, Latest News Friday, March 20th, 2015
By Tajudeen Balogun, Head, Nigeria Bureau, Lagos
“Specifically, the group’s name was first heard in 2009, during late President Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua and incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan as the Vice. Besides its ostracized crusade against western education, the bloody attack by Boko Haram is deep rooted in the politicking of Borno, its state of origin.
It is on record that the resignation from the Former state Governor, Ali Modu Sheriff’s administration, the Boko Haram’s alleged financier and Commissioner for Religion Affairs, Buji Foi did not only foster a frosty relationship between Sheriff, his ex EXCO member as well as his group, but the development sent jitters into the Governor’s camp, this culminating in rancour between the group members and security.
In the end, a leader of the group, Muhammadu Yusuf was arrested and later killed due to bloody confrontation between Boko Haram members and security operatives. The fracas recorded colossus death in all sides – police, insurgents and innocent civilians.
Now began what may be described as an experimental insurgency as Boko Haram rampages, invading security base – sometimes involving arson, killing and looting of armory…”
The above is an extract from one of my previous commentaries with headline: “Editorial; Militants Siege: From Experimentation To Actualization”; posted Friday, August 29, 2014.
Specifically, the essence of this reference is to paint the picture of the unholy union that always exists between the militia groups and the political class; the attendant cold war; the eventual fall out and inevitable bloody war, in which the innocent citizens mostly and often become the victims.
Having established this fact; the long battle with the same insurgents in the North Eastern part of the country; the huge casualties till date; the ongoing and unrelenting fierce battle by the Multinational Force against the terrorists, could anyone in his right senses, ever imagine any arm of government in this country for whatever reason (s), be so insensitive and wicked to engage in any form of alliance with any ethnic militia association or group for political motive? Answer to that I believe is very obvious.
Still, the surprise happened in Lagos this week, Monday (March 16, 2015) when factional members of the Pan Yoruba socio – cultural group, the Odua Peoples Congress (OPC) with their allies filed out on the streets of Lagos to protest against the use of card reader in the coming polls; removal of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega and ultimately seeking the re –election of President Goodluck Jonathan.
The direct link between the Monday anarchy and the reference pointed out earlier concerns with the recklessness of the protesters; their unruly conduct (destroying and tearing of billboards and posters of a particular political party); possession and free display of arms and ammunitions and the most terrifying dimension of the politically motivated procession was the presence and protection provided by the uniformed law enforcement officers (Police), while the meaningless and senseless exercise including rally lasted.
Now the serious questions; Agreed, the disgruntled hired OPC members and their allies are covered by law to protest and express their views, but which rights have they to possess and brazenly brandish the weapons to such an alarming level on? How many of the guns carried during the protest were duly registered? And which laws cover the Nigerian Police to provide such total security to the lawless, irritant and idle miscreants on a mission without any national significant bearing? Above all, who are these angry and misled (touts) working for?
Well, given the subjects of their protest, no doubt, the OPC’s client in its act of lawlessness is the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP); its leaders and members. What further evidence is required as the ruling party members, its Governors’ Forum, its leaders and by extension its supporters have one time or the other rejected the use of card reader device; advocated for Professor Jega’s sack and have fruitlessly rationalized the reasons why their leader, (President Jonathan) deserves one more term in office.
Again, it is true the President has not directly complained he had issues with the INEC boss as well as not “publicly” kicked against the use of card reader. Still, this President cannot be presumed to be innocent of the raging confusion and desperation going on. After all, he is the leader of the PDP and it is very logical to conclude that every decision passes through him and receives his blessings before the implementation. It is very worrisome the situation in the entire PDP family has gone to this level.
It is the same confusion and desperation that had forced the PDP Presidential Campaign Organization and the party as a whole, to quickly derail from the widely – demanded issues based and opted for a self – satisfying electioneering campaign, which largely focuses (till the moment) on personality attack; disgusting public speeches and comments; influencing and prompting violence; act of political intolerance and lack of fair hearing, especially with respect to the first opposition All Progressives Congress (APC), in particular, its Presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari (rted), some key party Chieftains as well as the party in general.
Similarly, it is the same worry which prompted the Monday OPC’s ‘monetized’ protest that set the stage for the previous ignoble moves and attempts by the PDP leaders and their apologists, to lure former Lagos State Governor and the APC National leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu into the alleged plot of installing and involving him in the interim government, which from indications he rebuffed. The whistle was blown in this column, in the piece titled: “Beyond The Council of States’ Opposition To Elections Shift”, posted Friday, February 6, 2015 alongside other media. Recall in it, Tinubu was challenged to “come out very clean” – to clear the air on the serious allegation. He had since (last week) confirmed he was indeed approached and lobbied to be part of the interim arrangement. Of course, the ruling house has denied ever proposing such an advance to him.
Indeed, it is the same confusion and ‘rat racing’ to win at all cost that informed the very belated but shocking recent hobnobbing with the somewhat abandoned former Vice President Atiku Abubakar by the PDP – to woo him back into the family. Why waited till now? Anyway, the Turaki has finally declared (Wednesday) on one of his social media handles (Facebook) that leaving the opposition now was not a decision for him to make.
Well, it won’t be anything amazing and strange to see the PDP now attempting to extend olive branch to Atiku’s former boss and ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo. Please forget about the dramatic recent card tearing show. For now, the PDP family is really exploiting and taking advantage of the principle of “no permanent friend; nor permanent enemy in politics, except interest”.
Also, since democracy is a game of number, I won’t be surprised if moves are initiated by the PDP to corner among the G7 (five of them now in the APC) to make a return journey home. But the possibility and workability of this option is almost non – existing as both the APC and PDP, their leaders and members have exhausted every possible tool and means to outsmart each other in the last 12 months or more. Not even at the present level, in which the most critical aspect of the coming elections (voting) promises to be decisive.
Another dimension to the visible desperation of the ruling house is the fear of punishment against the corrupt politicians if the main opposition candidate (General Buhari) emerges the winner of March 28, Presidential poll. Irrespective of the desperation, meddling and attack, confirmed reports have indicated that the ruling party had been confronted with the bitter reality that the result of the Presidential poll is most unlikely to favour it, yet certain persons within, could not just fathom ordeals of being called and questioned over gross misconducts while in the office, hence must work on all humanly possible stunts to alter the calculations and impending unfavorable result.
Indeed, if the said anxiety in the PDP family were previously regarded as a mere allegation, another bombshell dropped this week by the First lady, Dame Patience, (in Edo?) at the PDP women rally – where she confessed she could not withstand General Buhari winning the election as she was not ready to become a regular visitor to the prison, has actually dissolved the doubt. Such very strong statement from the number one woman, to me has two significant implications. One is that it confirmed that the woman might have admitted her husband (Mr. President) is corrupt and two, that she has equally consented that the incumbent (President Jonathan’s) chances of winning the next Saturday’s poll is very doubtful. Since there appears no one in the ruling party, with the courage to caution her, all I wish to say here is that, for the new role (second PDP Spokesperson) Mrs Jonathan has just assumed, she should just keep the flag fying – keep talking; keep exposing and confirming cases/allegations which so many critiques of the present administration have one time or another cited and mentioned. In the end, the PDP and her husband will pay dearly for many the minuses.
Interestingly, Mrs Jonathan’s counterpart, Hajia Aisha Buhari (the APC Presidential candidate’s wife) replied the First Lady in the same state. She has reportedly sympathized with “Mama Peace” (for real?) that her husband was not all out to jail anybody; rather he (Buhari) was a misunderstood fellow. The General himself has also clarified on the subject. Well, the final decision to probe or not anyone for corruption, might not necessarily rest only on the new President and his wife (if the opposition wins), rather, the people of Nigerian who give their mandate shall again decide. This is in true spirit of democratic government.
Of course, it is the influence of desperation and confusion that prompted the PDP and its Presidential Campaign organization to create an embarrassing scene at Chatam House in London late last month, when some hired persons stormed the premises (Chatam building) while a paper presentation of the opposition candidate was going on, all to misinform; confuse the world and ultimately to discredit their main target. Unfortunately, that show turned out to another disaster, as it failed to achieve the desirable goals.
This level of “very dirty” politics, taking to the extent of indulging militia groups in whatever manner, is too alarming, costly, condemnable, despicable, offensive and unacceptable.
Back to Monday factional OPC sponsored protest; where are the weapons displayed and used kept? In whose possession are they? What reasonable explanations would those that handed over the weapons to the hoodlums offer, especially this time that Nigeria is still battling with the Boko Haram insurgents in the North East and when the continental moves are still ongoing to mop up arms and ammunitions in the circulation as a way of checking the regional act of terrorism?
The issue relating to corruption apart, I dare say here, if at any time after the present administration’ s (tenure), the South Western part of Nigeria faces challenge of any form of insurgency, the present ruling party and its incumbent leader should be held responsible and called to answer questions, as the dreaded Boko Haram enjoyed similar undue privileges from the power that be (then) in Borno State, but later became terror when the same government that had indulged its members fell out with the group leadership, hence members must survive by sustaining what (terrorism) they had been trained for.
Finally, with the Monday horrible and fruitless protest, the ruling class must come terms that Nigerians are fed up and demand that enough is enough of desperate drives to foist support of a particular party or candidate on them; attempts aimed at winning at all cost as well as do or die politics. In line with this and within the available seven days to go, the PDP and its leaders should please allow sanity in the country’s political landscape. On this, the general public also has persistent roles to play. The public needs to be vigilant and politically active, while the leading opposition and its allies, which they still remain on the same page, should be objective and put the interest of people and the country first in their thoughts, plans, comments, actions and reactions. These are the recipes for free, fair and credible elections, which every true Nigerian craves for.
Ministerial Appointment: What Roles Are For The (I) Let Alone The (II)?
Ordinarily, I suppose to have commenced this sub piece with congratulations, but consciously, resist such urge, as I know clearly, that would be diplomatic – ‘deceitful’. But for the issue and the character in question, I definitely do not need that. Lagos Politician, Musiliu Obanikoro after he was controversially screen and confirmed last week Tuesday, by the Senate was on Wednesday (this week) named by President Jonathan, the Minister of State For Foreign Affairs II. This portfolio is very curious not to a few. Probing in the sense that I have no knowledge of it before now and even If I did, of what relevance and significance is it, to the substantive office, the Federal Executive Council (FEC), the Federal Government and the country in general?
If the truth must be told, Obanikoro uninspiring new portfolio is a vindication of the public concern and outcry over the past alleged misgivings against the politician, whose nomination was out rightly rejected by the three Senators from his State and some opposition (Senators) in the red Chamber. It is also a confirmation of an afterthought by President Jonathan, given the general public disgust over Obanikoro’s nomination. Therefore, one would have thought the portfolio to the former Senator was not announced at all in the first place or after the announcement, there followed his rejection, just as the appointment is clearly a demotion, given his current status (before the new appointment). Well, if it is okay by him, fine. Still, that does not nullify the position that he did not merit Ministerial appointment to start with. But beyond the Minister II question, Mr. President and Obanikoro know better the details of the nomination, despite huge allegations; the unimpressive appointment and his acceptance. An important hint here. The Presidential election is just a week from now; it is key the exercise must be very peaceful in Lagos. Given the series of activities by the ruling party’s leader in the last three weeks, in this part (South West) of the country, the public must not be carried away with this appointment – important or otherwise. The romance between the new appointee and his master might actually go beyond the new office portfolio; therefore all hands must be on deck. Again, in Lagos and the entire South West, every vote must count and must be counted and blood must not flow.
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