I wanted to write on the brazen, daylight electoral robbery committed “pro-Jonathan governors” during the last Nigerian Governors’ Forum chairmanship election but wasn’t able to summon sufficient emotional strength to do so. Nothing has shaken my faith in Nigeria in recent time as much as the video of the election that has now gone viral in Nigerian cyberspace. It’s now official: Nigeria practices what some people have appropriately termed “rigocracy.”
I would probably write about this next week when I overcome my profound disillusionment, but I want to leave you with some of the responses I got to my article with the above title.
"Freedom from the consequences of our action can encourage a repeat of the action." This quote says it all. That is why the almighty Himself prescribed reward and punishment. I have always said that force has not failed in fighting Boko Haram; it is suboptimal force that has failed. If only people in the north do not let their antagonism towards the Jonathan presidency to always influence their thoughts, they will judge the Boko Haram problem correctly. Now, many people interpret these kinds of statements that I make to mean that I'm against antagonising the president. Far from it, because I antagonise him, too. I'm just saying that such antagonism should not influence how we see Boko Haram.
Dr. Raji Bello, Abuja
I always enjoy reading your articles and have great respect for your views, but I am afraid I have to disagree with most of what you said on this one. I think the analogy to Malcolm X days that you portrayed is misplaced. The two scenarios are completely different. The enemy here is not easily identifiable unlike the white supremacist KKK. The BH are virtually blended into the society, and we all know the way and manner our forces will handle the situation. It will just be another Odi, Zaki Biam and Baga, and as you rightly pointed in your last paragraph, “the Nigerian military’s scorched earth policy may not spare innocent civilian populations in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe—as happened in Baga”. While I don’t subscribe to wholesale amnesty (and as pointed out by Mr President himself that you cannot dialogue with faceless individuals), my belief is that intelligence gathering should be given more priority rather than this show of force that may end up antagonizing the general public that they are seeking to protect.
Ibrahim Gashash, Nairobi, Kenya
You have spoken the pure truth; on this count, the president deserves kudos. There is no other reasonable way of dealing with this calamitous madness wrought by the Boko Haram. Reports reaching me from a colleague who recently left Maiduguri for Makurdi show that the government seems to be serious this time about defeating Boko Haram. The president had contacted and secured the commitment of neigbouring countries to the war against the terrorists some of whom have been apprehended when they crossed into those countries in the face of the JTF onslaught. Amnesty, forgiveness or whatever should come after military defeat. The situation had become so bad that LG employees could not go to their offices in northern Borno because anybody holding an ID card is a sure target for cold-blooded murder by BH. The Meccans who had persecuted the Prophet (PBUH) were forgiven after the latter had conquered Mecca. He was reported to have said, “The best form of forgiveness is the one you grant when you have the upper hand" (Al'afwu 'indal maqdirah). The Meccans knew the Prophet's character very well; so when he asked them of their expectations, they all chorused "forgiveness".
Abdulrahman Muhammad, India
You are not an advocate of violence. We all know that, and you know what the JTF is capable of; you wrote about what they did in Baga. Now they have a license. They won't be any different. There are 36 states plus the FCT, so we can sacrifice three to save the rest. That is what this is all about. I cannot trust the JTF anymore than I can trust the enemy. By the way, the only clear distinction between the government forces and Boko Haram when it comes to violence is that the former wears a uniform and are paid from the coffers of the tax payers.
Hussaina Umar, Sokoto
I have always enjoyed your articles. They are usually concise, comprehensive, expository, and clear people’s confusion. As for the amnesty talks, I'm in support of your position because it’s very ridiculous to dialogue with terrorists or "ghosts" as they are fondly referred to by Mr President. These are set of sects that have not proclaimed what their grievances are. Some reports say that Boko Haram wants the President to resign; some say he should convert to Islam.
Another thing I noticed is the presence of deception or ambiguity in the amnesty talks. Shehu Sani withdrew from the committee. And just as Bala Muhammed wrote in his leadership column, State of Emergency minus amnesty equals nothing. My opinion is: let both parties be plain and avoid deception. Politics and sentiments should be kept aside in dealing with such a great predicament. JTF should avoid the violation of human rights and killing of innocent people e.g. the Baga massacre.
Muhd El-Bonga Ibraheem, Abuja