Friday, 27 February 2015

You Underestimated Boko Haram?!

You Underestimated Boko Haram?!
First of all, it must be noted that, ideally, any government seeking reelection will be judged based on its performance. It would not be voted back if the people perceive that such a government has not done sufficiently well, whereas being returned would be a statement of approval of the government’s performance by the people. That is the ideal situation, and any society that does not strive in the direction of the ideal is doomed, no matter how anyone wants to look at it.
An election period, therefore, such as we are in, is an opportunity to review the performance of such a government seeking reelection. Its loss at the polls is largely more a statement to the effect that the people are not satisfied with the government’s performance than it necessarily is that they love the government’s opponent. Put conversely, there’s realistically no victory at the polls; what exists is actually a loss. Thus, it presupposes that we must continue to examine this government, led by Goodluck Jonathan and PDP, to see whether or not it deserves Nigerians’ approval to continue.
When the APC presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, said, if voted into power, he would overcome Boko Haram in eight or so weeks many Nigerians did not take him seriously. I did not take him seriously. I saw his statement as the usual political campaign promises that are made and don’t get fulfilled. But with the reported successes that our armed forces have recorded in the about two weeks since the controversial postponement of the elections, I am now convinced that it is possible. Many Nigerians had in fact queried, rather cynically, how this government can achieve in six weeks what it could not achieve in five years.
This Monday past, I happened into an Al Jazeera news report in which President Jonathan said he and his team had underestimated Boko Haram. I perceived a certain hint of sarcasm in the way the way the president’s remarks were presented in the report; or was it my uneasiness at his comment? I would later learn that that report was actually made on This Day newspaper, probably still on an image laundry trip concerning the real reasons for the postponement of the elections, when he fielded questions.
It was rather curious that the government will claim to have underestimated the insurgency. It is quite a ghastly comment by the Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian armed forces and a self-indictment of the highest degree. Why else has security continued to constitute over one-fifth of annual budgets of this nation, the highest of all sectors, since 2011 to 2014? Put together, security alone has been allocated something in the neighbourhood of four trillion naira in the four years. You don’t allocate such humongous amounts to items you do not consider pressing enough.
Apart from the many bombings that the terrorists have tormented Nigerians with, what was the thinking of the government all the while about a group that would attack schools, kill lads, abduct girls, sack whole communities, hoist their flags on large swathes of land the size of some countries put together, thus, declaring a republic within such a government’s sovereign domain? What was the thinking of the government when some of its soldiers would refuse to mobilize against an enemy whom they said was better equipped than they? Why would a government underestimate an enemy when wives of soldiers, that are supposed to engage such an enemy, have loudly protested that their husband be not taken to the slaughter for lack of weapons? Why would a president and his team underestimate an enemy that the governor of an affected state has come out and told the world in no uncertain terms that the enemy is better motivated and equipped than the armed forces such a president supremely commands?
How have successive National Security Advisers, from the late Owoye Azazi through the resigned Mohammed Abdullahi to Sambo Dasuki now, advised the president that his government underestimated the enemy until now? What have his successive security chiefs been telling him? All of those batches of soldiers that were court-marshaled, with some sentenced to death, on various accounts, from mutiny to attack on their commanders; did this government seriously want Nigerians to believe that those were not pointers to have taken a closer look at the enemy all this while?
At least the earlier excuse bandied of the inability of government to procure weapons, due to admitted sanctions by the US, was more plausible; even though it would require a scandal involving Ayo Oritsejafor’s private jet for the government to admit its “dearth” of weapons despite soldiers’ and Gov Shettima’s hues earlier. But the excuse of underestimating Boko Haram? No!
Such comments from the president only serve to further pummel our already battered collective ego as Nigerians before the outside world. Thankfully, our soldiers have proven to us and the world, only within two weeks, that they have always been capable, if not for the entrenched political and moral rascality at various leadership quarters.

BLUEPRINT Newspaper; Thur. Feb 26, 2015; p2

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