By Uche Nwosu
By every material sense of the word, it is becoming apparent that some faceless leaders from the core north are behind the current insecurity in the country. Their utterances, actions and inactions give credence to this. We all must recall that when former President Goodluck Jonathan was in power, President Muhammadu Buhari made a worrisome statement that an attack on Boko Haram was an attack against the north.
Buhari’s statement came on the heels of a devastating onslaught against insurgents by the Jonathan’s government. Indeed the statement by Buhari was given life by some northern elements who saw Jonathan’s properly articulated programme to rout insurgency out of the landscape of Nigeria as pogrom.
It is safer to conclude that Buhari’s position and of course some elements in the core north demoralized the administration in its determined quest to exterminate Boko Haram and restore sanity in Nigeria’s geographical space and this without a doubt buoyed Shakua Abubakar (leader of Boko Haram) and his men who then capitalized on the tactical withdrawal of the heat unleashed on them to win more ‘territories’.
Now, with the military hitting them with kid glove and leaving a lot of rooms to chance, Boko Haram re-strategised and reorganised to become an army of occupation, thus making them appear invincible. At the inception of Muhammadu Bahari’s presidency the word ‘Bandits and Banditry’ manifested in Nigeria’s lexicon, which goes to show that some these Boko Haram have disguised and metamorphosed as bandits in order to comfortably penetrate the nation’s geographical space.
From all indications, these bandits have been pampered. The authorities have refused to treat them as terrorists despite their killings, raping, kidnapping, vicious instability upon the Nigeria state. Their vow to establish an Islamic state appears to have the backings of some northern elements. Surprisingly, the bandits are being wooed and even flirting with the powers that be.
Ironically, a certain Sheik Abubakar Gumi, an Islamic cleric, went into some of the forests the bandits are occupying to negotiate with them. Thereafter, he came out to tell shocked Nigerians that they are mere agitators, who are agitating for their rights. Pray, when did banditry become an avenue for getting ones rights implemented? Curiously, Gumi even likened their vicious felonious illegality to what the Niger-Delta militants did to protect their environment some years ago.
And despite the condemnation of Gumi’s unacceptable emissary, the federal government and the security agencies did not make any move to invite him for questioning. But some elements from the north keep on applauding Gumi’s inglorious expedition in the evil forests of the bandits; leading the rest of us to wonder whether the meaning of banditry has changed in English dictionary. The dictionary defines bandit as: a violent robber or outlaw belonging to a gang.
Certainly, he is nothing but a common criminal. Then, if we come to terms with that understanding of what a bandit is, why not declare them enemy of the state or terrorists? Why should anybody visit and cuddle with them? Why not arrest he or they that visited them in their hideouts in the forests, dine and wine with them and even negotiated with them? Are some people sacred cows in this geographical space called Nigeria? Why hound and kill innocent flag carriers because they shout for freedom?
These are the begging questions which some northern elements including one time Chief of Army Staff and later Minister of Interior, Lt Gen Abdurahman Dambazau should answer. Now, a group of boys who feel bad about the way the country is run and its lopsided arrangement are being branded terrorists and likened to Boko Haram and killed with impunity, while killer Fulani Herdsmen and bandits that have killed thousands of Nigerians, abducted many, destroyed farmlands and properties including security men are left on the loose.
Though I’m not trying to hold brief for Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) and O’odua Peoples Congress (OPC), (they have capable hands to defend their course) but it is street knowledge that they are seeking for the freedom of their people, and are carrying on as activists. For Dambazua to have labelled IPOB as terrorists smacks of unintelligent nepotism in its despicable form; depicting his (Dambazua’s) wide goose and blanket classification of advocates as condemnable men. He should take a tutorial on the difference between none violent agitation for equality (failure of which would lead to separation) and a violent overthrow of the Nigerian state and imposition of Islam in the country.
OPC in its statement described Dambazua as northern irredentist and extremist. Indeed, the statement, coming from a former Army Chief and former Minister of Interior shows how unserious and deceitful he was in the fight against insurgency during his time as Army Chief. Now, comparing Boko Haram and IPOB/OPC; globally both Boko Haram and Fulani Herdsmen have been declared terrorist groups in the world. Today, IPOB can comfortably hold rallies, workshops, seminars, talk shops in any part of the world without any of international security agencies raising an eyebrow.
You cannot say so for either Boko Haram or Fulani Herdsmen. IPOB is recognized in United Nations as a Human Rights Organization, same in the United States, European Union and other world bodies. This is why their members hold rallies and public meetings in cities of the world without molestation. The group’s nonviolent campaign to get a separate state from Nigeria has continued to attract international admiration.
Certainly, there are many issues Gen Dambazua should have dwelled on. Of all the security apparatus of this country, none of them is being headed by a south easterner. Buhari carries on as if only the north exists in a country that has six geopolitical zones and over 250 ethnic groups. His appointments are lopsided and only favour the Fulanis of the core north and so are the projects he is building under his administration.
Projects that should have been built in the south particularly the south east are done in Niger Republic; a country that neither has political affinity nor economic relations with Nigeria. People like Dambazua (and other northern elements) ought to have advised President Buhari rightly on the need to treat all segments of the country with the same measure. He should know that no propaganda, force or power will suppress a people whose time has come to be free.
Today, Boko Haram is making destructive waves and security agencies appear helpless because of the structures on ground. They attacked some people in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory just yesterday, April 13, 2021 and the authorities are still telling us that they (Boko Haram) have been tactically defeated. As a former Army Chief and an ex-serviceman who rose to the rank of a General, what has he done to curtail the rampaging onslaught by these terrorists?
It is only a fool that looks elsewhere when his house is on fire. Wisdom demands that one confronts a critical and burning issue head-on and searches for an antidote instead of embarking on wide goose chase.
Uche Nwosu is a two time Shell Petroleum PLC award winner in the year 2000;
He won the Shell Award on Investigative Journalism and Environmental Cleanliness.