ANALYSIS: The Chibok Girls Tragedy And Buhari’s AdministrationFeatured, Featured Contributors/Columnists, Latest News Friday, April 17th, 2015
By Tajudeen Balogun, Head, African Examiner, Nigeria Bureau
Regrettably, the heartbreaking and depressed story of the abducted Chibok girls Wednesday (this week) entered into 355 days – a year! On their travails and unpredictable end, the families (of the girls); the country and the world are disturbed and continued to lament. As the country is still distracted over the abduction on one hand, it is on the other hand, engaged in the countdown to exchange of baton – change of government which is about 42 days away from today.
Facts that are related to the girls’ abduction saga are the naivety and levity in the manner the present administration managed the situation. The above were manifested in the poor commitment, intelligence, lack of trust, will, as well as misinformation on issues surrounding the abduction all through the period, even when there were still chances and hope of the girls’ freedom. Perhaps, had this government had the foresight that failure to accord the abduction due attention would wreck on it, a far damaging blow and image, it could have acted faster and as expected. But it is so sad, the ruling class rather paid attention to ‘personal agenda’ – giving the dreaded insurgents to hold sway, destroying the helpless girls and made their fate to keep hanging in the balance.
Now that it appears very certain President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration will not be able to find the missing girls and as the time is clocking fast for the new government to be inaugurated, automatically, the burden becomes inherited, hence, the incoming President, General Muhammadu Buhari (rted) as the Commander – in – Chief, assumes full responsibility in a renewed search for them. Consequently, the #BringBackOurGirls crusade is naturally directed at him as well as his government. This is where my anxiety lies and the reason why the incoming administration must be very careful, mind her actions, reactions and remarks.
I have listened to the concerns and views of many Nigerians (home and in diaspora) of different backgrounds, more importantly, the mindset and appalling state of health of parents of the girls. Summarily, the expectation of everyone is that the girls must not only be found, but rescued safely too. Honestly and ordinarily, I do not think they are asking for too much.
Still, there is need for every stakeholder – the families; government and the general public to exercise some restraints. Fellows, kindly take pains to share in my worries here. I wish to risk recalling that the incoming President promised, during his electioneering campaign that he would battle and wrestle Boko Haram insurgents (but if I may add, any other ones that might surface) if elected. General Buhari (rted) had also been quoted after his victory, assuring that insurgency in the North Eastern part of the country would be totally wiped out in the (first or three months?) of his government assumption in power. Although, the purported assurance has since been contested by his party’s Presidential Campaign Organization. That point, I feel it should be rested as it were, so as to check needless controversies at this level.
Still, another issue I feel it is vital to raise is the question whether General Buhari in his campaigns promised that the girls would be found. Kindly, get me right, I share the common feeling on the ultimate fate of the girls, which is unconditional freedom and safe return, but all that I am doing here, is to get some facts right, majorly for reference and measurement of the performance.
Back to the President – Elect and the girls’ return, I heard Gen Buhari on sad one year occasion (message), saying his government would do all within its capacity to find them. At best, the impression given could be considered “neither here nor there”. More importantly, no time frame provided.
These are the key aspects I strongly hold Nigerians and the entire world must pay attention to. Far from playing the devil advocate, the choice of expression of General Buhari to me, was careful, moderate, yet, to me, is expected.
Given the number of days involved in the tragic missing; series of reported or otherwise of female suicide bombers; alleged cases of rape as well as torture; the reported heartless and ridiculous killings by the insurgents of their wives when about to lose the captured territories to the troops and possible forced marriage of the girls with the militants, nothing could be more unsafe, than being affirmative in this type of chaotic situation. Again, the stress being hazard here is that, so many valuable times have been wasted by the outgoing administration, in locating and rescuing the abducted girls. Therefore, as it is very significant for the incoming government to stress itself and put the issue in the front burner, yet, it must guard its comments and promises over the issue before being ushered into power.
Possibly, the President – Elect should instead of making too many public remarks on the embarrassing abduction, should please be labour himself more, on how to come up with a team that would overhaul and turn around, every aspect of the country’s economy. Side by side with that, the incoming Nigerian leader should (as I expected him to have done) identify the cracks and inanity foisted by the outgoing administration on the Military and various security apparatus, the chief reason, why the story of the dreaded militants had gone this weird!
With respect to solution, General Buhari (rted) might not necessarily make public, the tactics and strategies he will deploy in fighting and trampling Boko Haram as well as rescuing the abducted girls.
In stemming Boko Haram and ensuring freedom for the missing students, the incoming government must be very transparent with respect to managing human and material resources. For instance, the troops who will be deployed to carry out the hectic national assignment must be persistently kitted to be up to task; adequately inspired and motivated. Nothing, that is fundamentally needed and required by them must be missing or lacking.
Information management as related to the operations update is another key aspect. Since constant information is inevitable in human life, the new administration must be keen and very careful in the way update signals are gathered, processed and disseminated from and around the battle fronts to the general public. The laxity and poor commitment on the part of the outgoing administration has largely affected the quality and veracity of information emanating from the Nigerian Defence and information managers in the Presidency over the developments on war against the insurgents as well as efforts exerted to find the girls. Recalled, the Defence Spokesperson once alerted the country (last year) that some of the girls have been released by their abductors and were seen moving into an army barracks in Borno State. The information later turned out to be mere ruse, hence subsequently retracted!
Similarly, the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Alex Badeh was also caught committing similar grievous blunder. The CDS late last year assured the nation that negotiation had been held and concluded with the insurgents while ceasefire has been signed, therefore confirmed an end to deadly attack by the Boko Haram dissidents. Unfortunately, what followed was a renewed and more deadly onslaughts that extended to other zones in the Northern part of the country.
Still on timing. Recall I cautioned earlier that the incoming President must be mindful in allotting time to the period it will take to find the girls. Still, the administration might not be spared after all, with the question by Nigerians and the international community with respect to a clarification on the how long the search will take and achieve the desirable result. The incoming government therefore must bear this in mind as well as prepare for unbiased and convincing responses. These are the reasons why I have repeatedly noted that the Chibok girls’ tragedy, extending to another government is a very disturbing trend and a big burden to Jonathan’s successor.
The path to a successful search for the abducted Chibok girls no doubt is very tough. However, the factors I feel and convinced will work for General Buhari – led Federal Government are his background as a retired Military officer; his courage and most importantly, his pedigree as a discipline, diligent and incorruptible leader. Ability and courage to live by example will go a long way in a successful fight against militant attacks and properly coordinated search for the missing girls.
Less I forget, the incoming government must integrate itself with the communities of the abducted girls. This must be achieved, such that mutual trust and confidence exist between the government, residents, the families (of the girls), community, traditional and religious leaders. When there is trust, certainly there will be cooperation from whichever community the girls are located and the residents will be willing to provide needed information and support. In the past, there have been confirmation that the girls were in Shambisa forest, while the latest information has it that they have been relocated. Wherever their present location may be, it is certain that the community has natives and the task for the government is to earn the residents’ confidence. This is lacking and it has in the past affected progress that could have been attained in bringing the girls back.
In as much as I wish not to sound pessimistic, again, I risk asking that who actually is to receive backlashes, if in the end, if the girls were not found? Please cast your mind back to many hazards earlier pointed out – the likely factors that might dash the hope. If in the end, over the 200 missing girls could not be located and rescued safely, will the blame be directed at an administration which trivialized and frittered away every opportunity capable of salvaging them till the situation got out of hand or the government which inherited the trouble? Indeed, it is a critical matter. But sincerely, I choose to hold that Nigerians will be able to sift the shafts from the grains – will ultimately spare the incoming administration the knocks.
I insist that, I am not totally hopeless nor in any way habour the rude and cruel feeling that the girls were not missing. The reckless views expressed by the repentant MEND leader, Mujahid Asari – Dokubo in an infamous interview with an international news medium which denied that no girl was missing, giving the impression that the entire representation is a frame up. As for me, if after the obvious prevailing facts, yet the former warlord went so low, desecrating everyone over the saga, then he was unfair, unjust and definitely still live with the terrific mentality of a creek insurgent – the traits he had continuously displayed, despite the amnesty granted to him by one of the previous administration.
Finally, as many Nigerians have totally lost hope in President Jonathan’s government to bring back the girls and subsequently shifted attention and placed hope on the incoming, it is important they (Nigerians) remain conscious of the basic facts and genesis of the misfortune, therefore, know how to apportion blames. However, if the incoming government strives and eventually rescues the girls, there is no doubt in the fact that such a gallant feat will become a big plus for the administration not only at the local but also at international level. Interestingly, the success will expectedly and properly position Buhari’s government; justifies his political party’s mantra as government of the people and a tool for change as well as boosts its chances when it comes forward to seek for people’s mandate for another political dispensation.
Ever Disappointing Obanikoro Vs Blunt Amaechi
This man is supposed to be distinguished in his conducts as a former Senator. He is expected to be cultured, as one time Nigerian Diplomat. Of course, the character in focus, having served as a Commissioner in his State and Minister, ought to be a role model and source of inspiration to his children and the upcoming generations. But painfully, Musiliu Obanikoro, despite the high profile, had failed and kept failing to be worthy in character, especially in his political life. I was forced to join in dropping comments to few, among his many deceitful and offensive posts on social media (Facebook). Although and expectedly, I always chose to be polite, persuasive and harp on the need for him to make statements and do things that would put him in good light and as someone with knack for values. But till the moment, Obanikoro remains uninspiring to so many critically and independently – minded Nigerians.
In his latest slip, the Lagos politician tweeted the Rivers State Governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi, telling him how he (Obanikoro) hailed and congratulated the winner of his State Governorship poll, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode of the opposition APC. In his thinking, he urged Amaechi to do the same for the person (Nyesom Wike) of the ruling PDP who INEC declared the winner of the State’s gubernatorial election. Trust Amaechi in his characteristic blunt manner. He hit back (in about four tweets) at ‘Koro, telling him that his tweets were mischievous, deceitful and misplaced (my interpretation). The Governor spit at Obanikoro, a very hot and ‘poisonous venom’ when he yanked that he (‘Koro) lacked values, for him to have urged he (Amaechi) to concede defeat to a winner of a widely acknowledged flawed and bloody exercise. The offensive advance appeared very touching and virulent, making Obanikoro to go into another very weak narratives of rigged Presidential poll (2015) in Kano and history behind his (Amaechi’s) ascension to the Governorship seat.
First, if Obanikoro is claiming rigging in Kano State, was that the reason why the State INEC REC, Alhaji Munkaila Abdullahi, and his entire family, including children and wife were burnt in their residence? If the killing were politically motivated, is that a sensible manner of seeking redress if truly the election was rigged? Or was the winning party (APC) of the poll was responsible for the callous and didactic act? Can Obanikoro tell Nigerians who killed Kano state former INEC REC, his family members and why? Would Obanikoro in his true nature would have conceded defeat if Lagos State election went the way Rivers State did? On ascension, I assumed Koro was referring to the electoral frauds executed in 2011 general elections in which Amaechi also contested. Is Obanikoro justifying rigging here? If in case the aggrieved party (in the last weekend election) in Rivers decided to approach court, is Mr. Ibo (vote) saying the respondents will admit they rigged? Well, if the PDP and those who played pranks and strong roles in the bloody elections wish, they should leave Obanikoro to keep misfiring and running them down, even before the petitions start trickling at the Tribunal. And this is the same man who will deny until Jesus Christ comes, that he was not involved in Ekitigate and even engage in spiritual arrogance, to flatter the public.
Ironically, the same Obanikoro, since he parted way with his former (Lagos) political Godfather in 2004 and cross carpeted to the PDP has since become regular loser in political office contest. After narrowly worked his way through in the State (Lagos) PDP Governorship primary in 2007, he purportedly defeated the wife of Late Engineer Funso Williams to emerge the candidate in that year. But he was roundly humiliated by the incumbent Governor Babatunde Fashola (SAN). His second attempt was this year when at the primary level was defeated by a new entrant, Mr. Jimi Agbaje who was the PDP Lagos Governorship candidate in the last Saturday polls. Over 10 years after, Obanikoro is yet to achieve the main reason why he dumped his former Alliance For Democracy (AD) for PDP. Does this character really has the required charisma, value base and good trait to lead as he always pretends to? I make bold to say NO!
Just last Saturday, his son, also otherwise referred to as IBO (a PDP State House of Assembly contesting candidate) acted out one of the personae apparently imbibed from his father, as he stormed his Ikoyi polling unit and openly shared money to the voters. He was told by the by standers and election officials of committing electoral breach, but Obanikoro’s son, instead of being remorseful and cautioned himself, decided to haul verbal attacks on the elderly electoral officer. He was subsequently whisked away by the security operatives. Alas! The father in his usual approach to blunders committed by him, twisted the story and said his son was attacked! He posted on his Facebook late Saturday that he was heading to the collation centre in Obalende, to protest against mal treatment and rigging against his son. Can you imagine that, Koro who indulged rigging in Rivers, but threat to kick against the same (according to him) in Lagos! What a contradictory man!
Back to his tweets to Amaechi especially the reference to Kano Election. Was the Presidential poll in Kano as bloody and flawed as in Rivers State, ditto to the Governorship and State Assembly election? Is Mr. Obanikoro aware of the political thugs paraded by the Kano State Police Command and how a prominent PDP member in the State was fingered as their financier?
Mr. Obanikoro you have been disappointing not a few of the serious minded fellows who inevitably follow your political past. If the truth must be told, your tweets to Governor Amaechi who to me, has a commanding political reputation not only in his State, but across the country than you, (despite being younger than you) was spiteful, thus you really deserved the weighty bite of offensive you got in response from him. Please, be reminded that Rivers is not Lagos State – your home, where you might try misgivings as an indigene anyway. Who are you trying to impress again – the President; Mama what…; or your ex – cabinet colleague, who INEC said was the winner of the most bloody States Governorship election in the history of Nigeria? Or is it that your ‘second class’ current portfolio (Minister of Foreign Affairs II) briefs include and extend to monitoring Rivers Election? Please, are you the only Minister in the President Jonathan’s cabinet that you are this overzealous? What is your vested interest in Rivers State Polls? By next week Monday, your Ministry will present his hand over note. Do you have any to present? I am sure you have none. You are so less busy, such that you had transferred your ‘busy body’ exchanges and tendencies to the far South South; over and for what please?
Senator Obanikoro, your time is up and it is high time you begin to think of valuable and reasonable exercises you must engage yourself. Your deceits, meddling, mudslinging and tirades will not work and can never work for you among those with potentials (have mentioned this in many of my comments to you). But if you wish anyway, you were told last year, when Agbaje disgraced you at the primary and you appeared robbed and started lamenting, to return ‘home’ if you so wish. If that option is not too late by now, given the defection ‘embargo’ announced by Chief John Odigie – Oyegun recently, please go on ahead and perfect your return trip. However, the challenge that is certain, you will face is that, you will have to wait for “another time” before the political largesse reaches you again.
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