Bring Back Our Girls Saga As Defining Moment of Jonathan’s PresidencyFeatured, Featured Contributors/Columnists, Latest News, Nigeria 2015 Election Monday, February 23rd, 2015
By Prof R. A. Ipinyomi, University of Ilorin, Nigeria – As the regime of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (GEJ) of Nigeria (May 29 2011, May 29 2015) is ending it is necessary to find a defining moment for this otherwise entertaining regime. Jonathan would like us to give him several marks on his efforts in Education, Health, Railway, Agriculture, etc. But Nigerians have witnessed several regimes hitherto and each of them had their unique defining moments. For example the First Republic of Tafawa Balewa (1960- January1966) was characterized by operation “wild-wild-west” in the Western Region and the imprisonment of several opponent politicians including Chief Obafemi Awolowo of Action Group. The regime of Shagari (1979 -1983) could be defined by “Ghana-Must-Go”, a slogan that we have immortalized as bags for passing corruption and stolen monies. The regime of IBB has been characterized by his ability to want to dribble his ball alone from one goal post to another but by far the annulment of election conducted on June 12, 1993 would better define his regime of 1985 to 1993. OBJ’s regime (1999-2007) would also be defined by the feeling of tenure elongation. He had set up a national conference to gather factors that he could use to persuade others but he lacked the support of his deputy who was equally more ambitious to be president of the nation than his erstwhile boss. If Yar’Adua (2007-2009) had been able to continue in office one would have loved to see how much of his 20-20 slogan became fruitful. We were not expecting much from any slogan from the Nigerian politicians any more.
Dr. Jonathan’s regime has spanned close to 6 years as Nigerian President but most of that time Boko Haram, an unseen organization and with suspected sponsors spreading within and without even Jonathan’s government inner circle will remain a modest definition of his present regime by the act of the stealing away of Chibok Government Secondary School Girls on April 14, 2014. President Jonathan would be remembered rightly or wrongly by the Chibok Girls episode. Our President still has a chance to return to office come May 29, 2015, after which fortunes may change, but we are only analyzing his regime since the time he took office as President of Nigeria in 2009. It appears to us that Boko Haram also became more prominent in the map of Nigeria ever since to the extent that the dreaded Islamic sect has been holding on to at least 14 Local Government Areas they illegally seized in Yobe State (2 LGA), Adamawa State (2 LGA) and Borno State (10 or so LGA); the basis of their proposed Islamic Caliphate. Who are Boko Haram and their sponsors? What has GEJ government done or failed to do to eliminate their menaces in the lives of Nigerians? Why would any Boko Haram seek to destroy the regime of a Dr Jonathan or in deed any Nigerian regime? These would be answers in the annals of Nigerian History and government management in-depth analysis.
Our focus is the silent fact that many of us are a Boko Haram within. We may have been aware of this we may not have been. Who is a Boko Haram? In theory to be a Boko Haram one needs to have gone to war with his country or to have fought on the side of ISIS or Al-Qaeda in Syria, Iraq or be on their side in Nigeria. The three North Eastern States in Nigeria simply represent their final domain in Nigeria because the entire Nation was their quest. They remain still active all over and Nigeria may win the war without winning the peace and that will put further pressure on our peaceful continuous coexistence. We need to win the peace even if we lose the war. We wish we could have an open reconciliation table where we talk things over face to face. Our military needs to recognize the necessary strategies needed to win the peace and not believe solely on a military power that so far has failed. After the war many Nigerians must be ready to work within the military and the intelligential of Nigeria hoping to forestall any misfortunes of a Boko Haram nature. Unless we examine ourselves we would wrongly blame others for being a Boko Haram whereas many of us are by nature sympathizers at one level or the others.
Ordinarily Nigerians can describe themselves as happy people but never near the overflowing joyfulness, an explosion of joy that enthuses from the heart uncontrollably; the state of mind we had always wanted for them. They manage to grind their teeth and call such happy people simply because they live and accept themselves as they are. What do you do when NEPA takes away your electricity that powers your small television where you watch African magic in a one room rented apartment with your family of 6? It is only a time like a football match that something close to joy enters a life of a Nigerian for which he could never be prepared, and his previously tidy self erupts in song, dance and joy. No one can ever calculate his mind and produce joy from within. However beyond our infinite mind, beyond our least expectation a great level of joy can still erupt as a surprise and the individual loses his or her tidiness and explodes in uncontrollable joy. Circumstances of inequalities, injustice, corruption, unemployment, wrong associations that are often too common in our societies grow the Boko Haram mafia.
Seven of the major signs that may indicate that you are either a Boko Haram or that Boko Haram is running your life are discussed briefly as follows. You need to know the actions and inactions in you that make others see you as one that Boko Haram ethics are running his or her life. When you see an individual who likes to show off about his or her religion, his righteousness and attitude telling us he keeps the law more than the rest of us then you must know that you are dealing with a fanatic and a self righteous individual. Don’t get us wrong because we all want to act better always but if sometimes in our pursuit to improve our skill we become proud we may lose every essence. When the focus is on how well you are doing more than your focus on how well the people you are serving are doing, your focus is on your performance rather than on the mission, you have kind of lost the game. Politicians should stop showing off and focus relentlessly on serving people when an amazing thing may then happen and they will always support you with their votes. But at that point, you might not even notice that you are being watched.
One of the biggest differences between Boko Haram and the rest of us is that they think that what they are doing is correct. They think they are right and that we are wrong. Every leader or individual who takes this position is own his own and on a dangerous territory in his sphere. Do you truly and always think that your views, opinions are simply better than others? So, you truly believe that your regime is a little less corrupt than others?
A leader that loves money is a Boko Haram. Of course each leader has to find enough money and economic ways to fund government programmes and the new ones being introduced. However when you are always excited about what the money is doing for you, not what it is doing for your people you have crossed a line. When your mission is simply persuading people to your side on monetary terms, awarding contracts to cronies and political associates, whether they carry out the jobs or not, the mission is not how much your government is able to manage but how many more loan avenues can be pursued. Similarly when you refuse to have any financial accountability or refuse to engage wise and competent people (to whom you are accountable) speak into the details of your financial life, you may have allowed money to become a master, not a servant. For example if in the next time round the people decide to cut the wages of elected officers, would it also cut their wiliness to serve; assuming that they could earn enough money to live on comfortably? Money is a crucial topic in Nigeria politics where every politician becomes a billionaire after a short stay in office and where several names are giving to “corruption” in our books.
Boko Haram has no compassion for others and they behave as if they are from the moon. Similarly in many leadership circles, lack of compassion is worn as a badge of honour. Leaders that are called hardliners and unbending are in this class. Of course lack of compassion has its merits ironically; it sometimes helps you lead well. If you are too empathetic and overly sensitive to how people feel, you will get dashed on the rocks of leadership. You may have to push your way past a lot of competing voices to accomplish your mission. We need to grow above religious, ethnic and similar sentiments and get the job done. Nevertheless only a Boko Haram would have no compassion on the Chibok girls for example.
Leaders who fail to practice what they preach are all but Boko Haram members. Practicing what we preach is one of the oldest mantras around. And yet, if you are a leader, it can be very hard to do. You may convince yourself that you are exempted, that you hide under some immunity, or that you are just using official privileges when you really know that you are only half walking the walk. Pretending to be something we are not and claiming privileges we don’t extend to others are some of the points that give politicians a bad name with electorates. They inflict more pain in the society than a Boko Haram does.
Strangely enough the Nigerian politicians (like their other colleagues world over) are anxious to win our votes. They campaign in styles, dressing like chameleons to mimic State attires and on every available medium. Yet they must be condemned for who they are. They travel over land and sea to win our votes but in the process they corrupt the people by what they give as campaign “gifts”, promises they do not intend to keep and setting one people against another. Our politics will be refined over time to become perfect but not with any dose of corruption, deception or any stress of intimidation.
The seventh point is that Boko Haram, ISIS, Al-Qaeda and their cohorts are extremely jealous of others. Rather than see the good in the other religions and imbibe such they choose the killing spree approach, rather than taking advantages in the spread of Islam in the last century to more of Africa States, USA, Europe, China, even Russia and Australia and work from that position in love they demonstrate hate and elimination of others. I am a believer that Islam is now big enough to have a global figure like a Pope to be held responsible for Islamic affairs. I am totally against Nigeria setting up a religious group on government pay rolls, or sponsoring Haji. Who gets the benefit? But the book says if you could afford it? The one who could not afford one and did not go is more righteous. Why get jealous of any advance the other group makes? Why not workout your own scheme and appreciate the contribution of others? Serving others is not about us but about Him who calls us, whose sphere of goodness and mercy must increase while our domain of hatred and living in darkness must necessarily decrease. Light and good governance must increase.
We sense that President Jonathan may not like the idea that the Chibok Girls episode will become a reference point of his (2011-2015) regime. When we were in school we were also known to be calling our teachers different nick names behind them. They got such nick names just by one careless statement they wished we would never notice or by what they practiced with us frequently. We didn’t know that many of those teachers knew that they had nick names, but they did. In the University of Ilorin where I have been for close to 40 years now I would not be surprised if each set of students that passed through me had hidden nick names for me or for my colleagues. What should concern the President is ability to win both the war and the peace that can cement the coexistence in Nigeria and not the episode that summarizes his entire effort as a president.
Prof. R. A. Ipinyomi
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