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Commentary: Mr. President, Call and Discuss With Them Please…

Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan

By Tajudeen Balogun

The bloody insurgency ravaging the North Eastern part of the country since five years ago has degenerated from bad to worst. Apparently due to disjointed and lack of systemic and coordinated security measures to nip the menace widely believed to be unleashed by Boko Haram members in the bud, the insurgents became emboldened and persistently launch new and different methods of attacks against the unsuspected and innocent victims.

Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan

Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan

The dimension the insurgency has taken recently is tragic and pathetic. Although, one unfortunate aspect of the present national insecurity disaster is the fact that so many Nigerians gave it religion and ethnic angles at inception. Well, so much blame might not be hauled at this error, especially when Boko Haram crusade took off in 2009 and largely linked to late Muhammad Yusuf and his followers. But today, it is no more disputable that the present bloodshed has been hijacked and to a very large extent lacks religion and ethnicity sentiments. Rather, it has been established that the present senseless killing is more political or better put, has to do more with certain elements with grievances hence, are bent in showing supremacy to the power that be, but unfortunately using a ready-made and viable platform – Boko Haram to visit their fury on innocent citizenry.

At the beginning of the insurgency, the attacks were staggered – gap from one killing to another. However, the situation from January (2014) till date is alarming and very disturbing. So far, we have had the Yobe Government College killing and abduction, the Nyanya Park twin blast in Abuja, the Chibok Girls Secondary School, Borno State abduction, not to mention a whole lot of various types of attack on the residents of the affected states. Of course, the abduction of over 200 girls in Chibok remains very worrisome as the students are still being held hostage in the forest for almost three months and up till date, hope of regaining their freedom is almost zero.

But more pathetic is the manner the insurgents go about the attack in the last one week. Last Wednesday, the nation mourned over 20 souls wasted in the bomb blast that hit Emab shopping plaza in Wuse II District of Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja. Aside the death, so many people also sustained severe injuries, still receiving treatment at various hospitals in FCT. It is disturbing again that despite the alleged prediction of the blast some hours ahead, no step was taken either by the civilians or security to prevent it.

The anxiety created by Abuja plaza eruption had barely subsided when another havoc was wrecked. This time, bombs were planted in some hotels in Bauchi last Friday and when they went off in the night, many lives were lost and as usual many wounded. It was almost at the same time some villages were touched in Kaduna – arson committed, residents were harassed and killed. It was indeed a bad week for the country.

The attack raged unabated. Surprisingly, early Tuesday (this week) morning at the ever busy and popular Monday market in Maiduguri, the agent of evil struck again, occasioned another eruption in which 57 victims, among of whom were the petty traders, commuters and passersby in the area confirmed dead. Yet, another bomb blast was reported in Kaduna later in the day, with about two reportedly killed.

So far, the government declaration of “partial” state of emergency in the three North Eastern states – Adamawa, Borno and Yobe has rarely achieved substantial result. And when government could not tackle the abduction saga, which protest “Bring #Back Our Girls” has taken international dimension as rallies have been staged in different countries around world, countries including US, UK and others expressed readiness to extend helping hands. Their representatives are still in the country. Still, with all of these in place, the terrorism rather than being stemmed has taken a precarious twist.

It is very disheartening that the death toll in the last one week alone owing to terrorists’ attack is almost 200! Can this carnage continue? Definitely no. So what is the way forward?

At this level, it is clear that new method, new approach ditto to strategy and tactics by the government and security must be considered and deployed. In the past, so many stakeholders have reached out to the government with respect to solutions, but the impression the public is having is that they being rebuffed – there is element of partisanship in the solution process and drives on the part of government.

The security agencies are doing what is possible within their reach to humble the insurgents, but it is obvious their efforts cannot curtail the challenge on ground. In a quarter, our security apparatus have been accused of “intelligence failure” – inability to pre-empt the terrorists’ mischief.

So it is time for the Federal government to look beyond its immediate reach and consider an inclusive solution measures. This is not about politics but about this country, her people and the future. The opposition All Progressive Congress (APC) for instance, has been advocating for “non-partisan” approach as well as suggested amnesty. The same applies to other stakeholders in the northern region and other parts of the country.

Therefore, President Goodluck Jonathan should please defer politics, invite and deliberate critically and objectively with those that have indicated interest regarding the root of the present uprising, new thinking and tactics to stamp it out of our system. Mr. President, should please help preserve the lives of the helpless Nigerians; please call and confer with others.

Wasting Potentials….Mr. President Call them For Talk Please

It is very surprising that the industrial action by members of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnic (ASUP) which started last year far before their universities counterparts (ASUU) still lingers – almost 12 monthsafter. Despite this, the latter strike lasted for about five months before it was called off. But why has the ASUP strike has been this dragged? Here, I hold that the Nigerian public, including the media has failed to do the needful. Unlike when ASUU unrest was on, every stakeholder was heard – persistent in demand that the government and striking lecturers should meet and dialogue. Consequently, it is not in doubt that the volume of pressure mounted on the government prompted it to action and why it responded accordingly to the union. It’s a pity that similar approach is not given to the dragging ASUP industrial action which obviously is a factor why the federal government has been so indifferent.

Just on Wednesday, July 2, 2014, the Senate committee on education conveyed a parley between it, Supervising Minister for Education, Minister of Labour and Productivity, Secretary to Federal Government of Ferderation and ASUP representatives. The meeting could not hold as none of the government officials showed up except the ASUP team. This did not go down well with the committee Chairman, Senator Uche Chukwumereje who decried the situation and affirmed the willingness of ASUP to end almost a year strike.

Nigeria craves for economic development and technological advancement, yet allows the bedrock for this – technical education, which Polytechnics offer to suffer. This is very ironical. In the last 12 months to the industrial unrest, many of the female polytechnic undergraduates have fallen aside either due to pregnancy, lack of funds or change of focus. Their male counterparts are the worst hit as some of them on account of frustration have taken to different crimes, like armed robbery among others. So, to arrest further wastage of future potentials, Mr. President please call ASUP and other relevant stakeholders, discuss and resolve amicably the pending issues.

Checking Avoidable Loss of Lives… Mr. President, Call Them For Talk Please

On Tuesday, July 1, 2014, the doctors in the state and federal government owned hospitals embarked on a nationwide strike called by the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA). They had staged a warning strike in last November to push for a 24 points demand including the standardization and enabling working environment. The body said it had no choice than to proceed on the strike especially at the expiration of seven day ultimatum it gave this week.

NMA industrial action has paralyzed activities in the hospitals across the country. The supportive services rendered by the medical consultants, pharmacists and nurses are grossly inadequate to take care of the urgent medical attention of dying patients. The NMA officials have similarly accused government of insincerity, thus allowed the situation to reach the prevailing ugly level. Again, Mr. President, for the country to avoid losing the poor Nigerians lying in the wards of these hospitals, invite and talk to those that really matter.

Now, this is hard, but real, yet not political. If President Jonathan is so keen and invested heavily on last gubernatorial election in Ekiti and intends to replicate the same in the approaching Osun election, yet insecurity pervades in the country, it is important he realizes that if at all, his party – PDP sweeps the south Western states, as planned now; he clinches his party’s Presidential ticket and eventually wins, who are those to be governed – the dead, wounded, frustrated workers or illiterates?

Finally, with thousands of security in the last Ekiti poll for a peaceful election, which it was, yet, our girls still languishing in the jungle, people live in fear, with hunger and anger in the country, it is necessary this government demonstrates the same ardent resolve and passion to conquer the present security challenges in the land. What we have seen so far is somewhat talk show and politicking. This crisis is far beyond that. Mr. President feel the pulse of the people please.



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