Articles

A Massacre Forewarned

26 Jan 2012

Views: 11,191

Font Size: a / A

Olusegun-Adeniyi-Back-Page.jpg-Olusegun-Adeniyi-Back-Page.jpg

The Verdict according to Olusegun Adeniyi. Email, olusegun.adeniyi@thisdaylive.com

Whatever may be the real agenda of Boko Haram, one thing nobody can deny the group is that there is a method to their madness. Boko Haram men target three institutions: One, vulnerable banks whenever they need easy money to fund their operations. Two, barracks and prisons to free their men wherever they are detained and for revenge. Three, police and military formations to steal arms and uniforms. They have also in recent times attacked a United Nations building to attract international media attention aside other soft targets that represent state institutions. Lately they have attacked churches in the bid to instigate national crisis. While they have made song and dance about Islamising our country (which they know will never happen), some of their recent rhetoric has indeed given the group away as actually harbouring the sinister agenda to dismember Nigeria.

Unfortunately, we have not seen any display of competence on the part of our security agencies in the efforts to address this growing menace. First, a high profile terror suspect who allegedly masterminded the Christmas day bombing was allowed to escape in a seemingly contrived manner. Then in broad daylight last Friday, Boko Haram men invaded the city of Kano, leaving a trail of blood and death. Less than 24 hours later, they moved their theatre of operation to Bauchi with the security agencies now doing catch up.

The Kano tragedy is what indeed signposts our state of helplessness. Not only because of the scale and the sheer audacity of the operation but rather because Boko Haram sent an advance notice that they were coming. On December 18 last year, just about five weeks ago, Boko Haram's spiritual head, Muhammad Abubakar Shekau, sent an email to the media, threatening that Kano was the next target of their attack  because of “arbitrary arrest and persecution” of the group's members there.  Said Shekau: “The message here is that everybody knows that a lot of our people were killed in Kano State, especially in Wudil town. We had perfected plans to take revenge but some notable scholars intervened by pleading with us. They also assured that our members would never be persecuted again and we took them by their words. Unfortunately however, about five months ago, security agencies began trailing and arresting our members who are carrying out their legitimate businesses, alleging that they were thieves and armed robbers."

According to Shekau when they were about to attack the city, the scholars pleaded with them, advising that they should write a formal letter of complaints to some notable people. “We agreed and sent letters to the emir of Kano, Wamban Kano, Dan Masanin Kano and the governor of Kano State. We also posted the open letter on the internet but nothing was done to stop persecution of our members. Recently, security agencies launched a fresh onslaught on some of our members in Kano city in which even women and children were not spared. Many houses were raided and a pregnant woman was manhandled. Some of our members were tortured with electric shock. All these things happened in Kano, a city that we hold with high esteem. We have varied opinions about Kano, including the option of launching endless campaign of violence but the scholars that have been talking to us over and over are still persuading us to tarry a while. We are compelled to write this open letter so that the world will know what is happening."

There are many things we can take away from Shekau's threat which was not heeded. One, it is obvious that Boko Haram wanted some sort of intervention that would lead to the release of their men being detained. I don't know what the disposition of the relevant security authorities was to this open request but I believe that government option ought to have taken into account their capacity either for dialogue or for a fight. Two, the Boko Haram leadership have people they listen to, scholars whose opinions they respect, people they meet from time to time for advice, as stated publicly by Shekau himself. Have those in authority been able to identify these people and if yes, has their intervention been sought? Three, Boko Haram leadership must have assessed the strength of our security apparatus in Kano and come to the conclusion that they (Boko Haram) held the ace in the event of a confrontation hence the open warning of an imminent attack by Shekau.

Now that Boko Haram has carried out its threat and has left us with a national calamity in Kano, we must look at the way forward: Silence by those who are in a position to meaningfully intervene to resolve this crisis has become dangerous for our corporate existence as a nation. President Goodluck Jonathan said at the weekend in Kano that Boko Haram members are not spirit, they are human beings who live among us and so it should not be difficult to identify them. In fact, recent comments by prominent people from the North testify to the fact that Boko Haram people can easily be identified.

Senator Kabiru Gaya, a former Governor of Kano State, said during the week that "in order to bring the crises to an end, the federal government should sit with these people and find a lasting solution." Gaya's words were more or less echoed by elder statesman, Alhaji Shettima Ali Monguno, on behalf of Borno Elders and Leaders of Thoughts (BELT) who also called on the federal government to take urgent steps to commence genuine dialogue with Boko Haram. What the two statements suggest is that there are respected people in the society from the North who know Boko Haram leaders and can drag them to the negotiating table.

That is a good sign because the killing fields that cities in the North have become in recent times should worry everyone, especially given our security vulnerability as a nation. The emir of Kano disclosed last week that the city with a population of over nine millions has about 8,000 policemen. Against the backdrop that half of that negligible police population would be in the service of political office holders and sundry 'big men' and their spouses, with most of the others on road checkpoint duties, it is easy to understand how Kano could be easily overwhelmed by Boko Haram. This is therefore the time for men and women of goodwill from the North who know the Boko Haram leaders to come out and broker a truce in the interest of our nation.

The onus is, however, on government to seek out these influential people. However, like it was done with the Niger Delta, genuine commitment to dialogue must go with enforcement of law and order. Unfortunately, there are people who will discourage dialogue with Boko Haram but what better option do we have to stop the killings and maiming of innocent people? But beyond all these short term approaches, we need a robust strategy on fighting terrorism. At the moment, there seems to be none. And if there is one, it is not working.

S/South and S/West Leaders' Meeting

Last Saturday in Ikenne, Ogun State, Chief Edwin Clark led some eminent citizens of South-south for a meeting with respected elders from the South-west led by the revered Bishop Bolanle Gbonigi. To the extent that it is always good to build bridges across ethnic and geo-political divides, the idea is commendable. But it will only make meaning if such effort is carried forward to include leaders from the South-east and the three geo-political zones in the North. Put simply, it has to be all-inclusive and pan-Nigeria.

I also believe in the power of dialogue and we really need to talk about our challenges and how to overcome them. But at a time of grave national security situation, what President Goodluck Jonathan needs today is a unity of purpose that will enable him rally the whole country against a common enemy. The idea of "we versus them" is therefore counter-productive just as it is provocative for any ethnic group whose "son" is in power to create an unnecessary siege mentality over public policy. That was the message I was trying to send last week in my piece, "Their Son, Our President", which unfortunately some people did not get. I have many Ijaw friends so there was no way I could have written against a whole ethnic group and I did not. My piece was directed at a few leaders from that area of the country whose utterances, I believed, were helping only to reduce the stature of the president.
                                        
In his letter published inside, Mr. Victor Burufo, National Publicity Secretary of Ijaw National Congress (INC) made allusion to the fact that the 'triumphalism' I wrote about did not begin with the Ijaws and that Yoruba people also did the same when President Olusegun Obasanjo was in power. While I do not dispute his claim that some politicians within other ethnic groups (including the Yorubas) had done similar things in the past, that does not make it right. In any case, given the challenge President Jonathan faces today, recourse to such primordial sentiment can only work against him at a time he ought to be seen as a national figure. That was the message embedded in my piece of last week and that is the way I have always felt about such issue. For instance, two months after Obasanjo came to power in 1999, I had cause to write a similar piece titled "Kogbodoku President" in response to what I considered the provocative pronouncements of some Yoruba leaders. It was published on this page, precisely on July 16, 1999. Below are excerpts from the piece:

'Kogbodoku' is a Yoruba word, which literally translates into 'he must not die.' That, I understand, is the new name for our darling President Olusegun Obasanjo. The 'christening' must have been done by the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) with Dr. Frederick Fasheun and Justice Adewale Thompson presiding. The OPC leader, Dr. Fasehun had last Wednesday in Lagos said the Yoruba people would no longer allow any of their leaders to be sacrificed for the nation hence if anything happened to Obasanjo OPC would react violently. "Any problem for Obasanjo would bring unmitigated chaos for Nigeria, so all those annoyed with him should go and purge themselves of their annoyance and join us to rally round him. The OPC is not a crazy organisation causing trouble but we will protect our own with every ounce of our strength. Obasanjo is our own any day. They tried to gauge our commitment by spreading the rumour that Obasanjo was dead the other time," he said.

Incidentally, Fasehun was only echoing the words of Justice Adewale Thompson who had earlier threatened that Yorubas would not take it lightly if anything happened to Obasanjo. What they would do if such happened, (God forbid) nobody knows but it is becoming a fad now for any attention–seeking Yoruba leader to make a threat on Obasanjo’s behalf.
The hypocrisy of it all is that these threats are coming from the same forces that fought Obasanjo dirty before other sections of the country elected him and now he has become their own. Of course we all know all these threats represent mere 'Shakara' because these same people made the same threat while Chief MKO Abiola was in military confinement and when he died what happened? Miscreants used the opportunity to loot, rape and maim.

My concern is that by the conduct and utterances of some otherwise respected Yoruba leaders they have been alienating other nationalities. If our leaders don’t know it those of us who have friends across ethnic lines hear all kinds of things that tend to denigrate the four decade struggle of the Yoruba people as merely self serving. That we are insensitive to the feeling of other Nigerians once our man can dance to our tune even if the drum was, in the first place, purchased by others. Now that Obasanjo is in Aso Rock, we have Adewale Thompson and Fredrick Fasehun to tell us 'it is our time'. Obasanjo’s mandate is national, at least it would have been if the Yorubas had voted for him, but it is sad that these same people would offend the sensibilities of other Nigerians with reckless statements that stand logic on its head...

I wrote those words almost 13 years ago and Obasanjo has since spent eight years in office and left. How those eight years changed anything for the average Yoruba man in Abeokuta who has no relation in Abuja I am yet to see. In years to come, the ordinary man on the streets of Otuoke would also ask himself how having his "son" in Aso Rock impacted on his material condition beyond the emotional satisfaction that his kinsman once ruled Nigeria. The fact is that only very few people profit from where the president comes from or which language he speaks. And it is not right for such people to display an arrogance of power that does not help the man whose cause they pretend to advance.

Tags: Backpage, Featured, Forewarned, MASSACRE

Comments: 0

Rating: 

 (0)

Comments (18)

Read other user's comments about this page. You can add your own comments below.

  • The competency of the most competent officer in our police force cannot be more than the competency of the Nigerian police force, the competency or otherwise of our police is a symbol of our government.

    In my unintelligent opinion, there are two possible approaches to solving our security challenges; the muscle approach which is the clueless method that is currently and consistently being deployed and the knowledge approach; a systemic, painstaking, long over due method that our politicians resent.

    Forward moving countries use the knowledge approach; they build structures and capacities that feed their intelligence system. They put in place a system that will identify every citizen of their country. They have a system that tracks foreigners and visitors. They have border control system that efficiently tracks intruders and detects contrabands. They have a system that tracks movement of money from one bank account to another and from one person to another. They have cyber control system that do not only detect cyber crimes but also tracks those conducting dangerous online searches. Their secret service agents infiltrate and mingle in every strata of the society. Structures are in place to prevent corruption and wherever there are exceptions, those exceptions are dealt with promptly and decisively. Their politicians are paid like teachers, doctors and other civil servants. Importantly, their politicians or intending politicians don’t earn crime enticing allowances and so they have no incentive to sponsor crime.

    The above, in addition to an ensuing development will defeat pen robbery, arm robbery, kidnapping, election rigging, political or religious ‘Boko Haram’ and sundry crimes. It surely doesn’t seem like we are about to start or does it?

    From: Olayinka

    Posted: 2 years ago

    Flag as inappropriate

  • Really becoming a regular reader of your articles. It is always very educative and instructive, @least for those who don't have any scores to settle with you. I hope Mr. Eyiyien will read this piece and see how he is going to react to this. If you can write a piece warning some yourbas to shun ethnic sentiments some 13years ago,then your article last titled 'Our President their son' is also another timely intervention to remind some ijaw leaders to watch their utterances and that Mr. President is a Nigerian President not an Ijaw President. The short and long of everything is that if we all want this entity called Nigeria to move on or forward, we must all shun ethnic sentiments, otherwise,i don't see us moving forward as a Nation. Nice article all the same Sege.

    From: Saheed Adedayo

    Posted: 2 years ago

    Flag as inappropriate

  • This is a very good write up Segun. Please keep up the good work. Do not let detractors pull you down

    From: Owolabi

    Posted: 2 years ago

    Flag as inappropriate

  • The truth of the matter is that the SS and SE are having their lands destroyed with oil spills and gas flaring. A lot of this money goes for the fuel subsidy, which is rife with corruption. GEJ could continue this game and enrich himself in the process too. He is trying to reduce corruption and create employment, yet people like you are playing to the gallery. Segun, if the oil was in your land, would you give it to me in Owerri for revenue and subsidy? The seizure of this oil is the bane of our existence as a people and is the root cause of all this bitterness between you and the Ijaws like Peterside. You should really take time and think and do a self assessment. Learn to be fair to others.

    From: Ezeugo

    Posted: 2 years ago

    Flag as inappropriate

  • Fantastic piece.

    From: Awwal

    Posted: 2 years ago

    Flag as inappropriate

  • I am worred by the call to dialogue. The killing of people is a more criminal offence than the vandalisation of pipeline in protest. Both are criminal offences, i agree. But to use the same approach is to misunderstand the matter. The solution to boko haram is simple. 1. Let all the imams preach against it in the mosques...let them say that a boko haram member or symphatiser is anti-islam. 2. Let all the emirs issue a statement saying that boko haram membership is un-islamic. 3. Let all the clerics hold a meeting to declare that boko haram membership is forbiden. 4. Let each political leader in the north issue a statement specifically saying that boko haram membership is evil. When these four things are done, not only will boko haram end, genuine unity will take hold on Nigeria. No northerner will symphatize with boko haram if all these leaders are against it.

    From: Tanko Bantu

    Posted: 2 years ago

    Flag as inappropriate

  • I was defending you even though I couldn't remember this piece that period.And all the ethnic warrior would have seen that you are above them.God will continue to strengthen you,please keep the flag flying Segun.

    From: Oludare

    Posted: 2 years ago

    Flag as inappropriate

  • What else can one say after reading the articles you wrote about your own kinsmen thirteen years ago.I only hope that paid Esan guy will swallow his pride and apologize for that unnecessary tirades instead of facing the real issues.

    From: mike adeyemo

    Posted: 2 years ago

    Flag as inappropriate

  • .....This is why the zoning thing does not make any sense to me! What benefit did the South West gain from OBJ's 8 years? The roads in and out Ota are in terrible state. And he was "our son" in power whose power we did not feel in any way. Meanwhile, the IBB that we hate to see or hear from was the one who constructed the 3rd mainland bridge in Lagos. Imagine life without the 3rd mainland bridge! And he was not our son.

    From: Leye Taiwo

    Posted: 2 years ago

    Flag as inappropriate

  • I totally agree with Segun my Cicero when it comes to write up's like this...indeed, we should leave sentimentality out from the governance of Nigeria.If that was the case in America Obama would not have been president...forget about the issue of Black race...Obama as at that time was the best candidate. So, lets the best candidate be our leader and lets forget whether he is our son or brother. Anybody can rule Nigeria be it ibo, hausa, youruba, Ijaw, Esan, Idoma, Efik...etc. If people from his tribe are been unnecessarily by his side against people that make constructive criticism against then we have a problem..If really it's a one Nigeria thing lets all be fair and honest.

    From: Emmanemenma

    Posted: 2 years ago

    Flag as inappropriate

  • I wanted to write a reply to Mr. Eyiyien but after reading this piece, i am glad i did not because you apparently need no one to defend your integrity. Having said that, everything you have written here is the indisputable fact.

    From: Ufuoma Dogun

    Posted: 2 years ago

    Flag as inappropriate

  • Mr. Olusegun Adeniyi, what an outstanding write up, please ride on my brother, God's speed in your wisdom!

    From: Taiwo

    Posted: 2 years ago

    Flag as inappropriate

  • Your write-up today on Boko Haram makes sense. But again you tried to spoil it by attempting to defend the last unfortunate one. People had given their verdict on that one; you ought to have moved on.

    From: Thompson Iyeye

    Posted: 2 years ago

    Flag as inappropriate

  • methinks,the best approach is an all-inclusive government where everyone will have a sense of belonging
    but the question is how do we arrive at this junction?first,let there be robust discussion on Nigeria sovereignty so as to remove this siege mentality in our land.God bless our land!

    From: matthew,greymaterrc@yahoo.com

    Posted: 2 years ago

    Flag as inappropriate

  • I really appreciate your write up, don't mind the detractors they can not always look beyond what they are getting from their Ijaw President presently. From the body language of the presidency I can see that they have got no clue to solve the myriad of problems plaguing Nigeria as an entity.
    Don't forget that the youth are loosing confidence in their leadership every-day, only hope and pray that God will help....but how?
    God Bless Nigeria

    From: Olayinka

    Posted: 2 years ago

    Flag as inappropriate

  • 16 July, 1999 has vindicated 19 January, 2012. As for accusing you of name-dropping, that is not true. Mentioning names as you write buttress the fact that what you write is not fiction and can be confirmed from those sources mentioned. If all columnists should be 'be-handed' (as in be-heading) for 'name-dropping' then readers like me will miss Dele Momodu, Azubike Ishiekwe, Simon Kolawole, Steve Ayorinde, Adeyeye Joseph, Funke Aboyade et al. Aside from news, only write-ups by my favourite columnists retain my interest in newspapers for long. My loss will be too much considering the fact that Paul Nwabuikwu, another of my all-time favourites, now has a job that prevents him from having a newspaper column.

    From: Chris

    Posted: 2 years ago

    Flag as inappropriate

  • Nobody come even close to Simon Kolawole!!!!!He is the last man standing!!!

    From: Buchi Okeke

    Posted: 2 years ago

    Flag as inappropriate

  • i think we should swallow our pride and initiate the process of talking with these people. the method our security organisations adopt to tackle this security problem, in my opinion, stands logic on its head. in what way, for instance, would death penalty serve as a deterent to a person who has prepared to cimmit suicide? howver cracy they may sound, lets hear them

    From: olaniyi

    Posted: 2 years ago

    Flag as inappropriate

Add your comment

Please leave your comment below. Your name will appear next to your comment. We'll also keep you updated by email whenever someone else comments on this page. Your comment will appear on this page once it has been approved by a moderator.

comments powered by Disqus