President Goodluck Jonathan
By Ahamefula Ogbu
President Goodluck Jonathan Sunday declared the threat and menace of the Boko Haram sect as worse that the Biafran War to the corporate existence of the country and added that the membership pervade the executive, legislative and judiciary as well as all arms of the security agencies.
Jonathan, who said the membership of the sect was so pervasive that they are found even in households without the knowledge of parents, but assured that all efforts were on to tackle it and called on all Nigerians to collaborate and cooperate with security agencies to tackle the menace effectively.
Jonathan, who spoke at the Inter-denominational service at the National Christian Centre, Abuja to mark the 2012 Armed Forces Remembrance Day Celebration, said in climes where similar threats had been handled were done through the contributions of all citizens.
"During the civil war, we knew and we could even predict where the enemy was coming from, you can even know the route they are coming from, you can even know what calibre of weapon they will use and so on.
"But the challenge we have today is more complicated. I remember when I heard a meeting with elders from the North East and some parts of the North West where the Boko Haram phenomenon is more prevalent; somebody said that the situation is bad that even if one's son is a member, one will not even know. That means that if the person will plant a bomb behind your house, you won't know.
"Some of them are in the executive arm of government; some of them are in the parliamentary/legislative arm of government while some of them are even in the judiciary. Some are also in the armed forces, the police and other security agencies. Some continue to dip their hands and eat with you and you won't even know the person who will point a gun at you or plant a bomb behind your house.
"That is how complex the situation is. Our security services are trying because as the president, I know what they are doing. Nigerians may not appreciate their efforts especially when you know that we are under-policed. We have a police force that is about 300,000 in number,” Jonathan said.
He assured the citizens that he feels the pains of the people whose loved ones were being murdered but assured that they have been holding series of meetings with security agencies and have mapped out ways of doing things differently.
The President assured that though the situation was worse than the civil war, it would not be long before a final solution to it would be found or their activities reduced to the barest minimum and called for the prayers of the people.
"This is a particular time when the country has major security challenges. There are explosions every day, people are dying and are being killed daily without any reason. It is a period we also call on the armed forces, including those that have retired to hands with their colleagues that are still in service and government to see how collectively we can protect our nation. I believe we will overcome our immediate challenges. The situation we have in our hands is even worse than the civil war. That we fought.
"Countries that have the kind of challenge that we have today who have about 20 per cent of our population have five times more than that number. That number would have been okay some years back but not definitely the number that can cope with the security challenges we have now. I assure Nigerians that we shall get over it. We are meeting every day and we are planning. We are going to increase the strength and the capacity of the security services to confront the modern challenges we face," Jonathan said.
He said greed and unpatriotism were twin evils that have bedevilled the society which was making it impossible for Nigerians to love their country to the extent of protecting it and seeking for common good of all instead of thinking sectionally.
Earlier in his sermon, the Primate of the Anglican Communion, Most Reverend Nicholas Okoh, who delivered the sermon of the day with theme, “Patriotism at its height took his reading from 1st John 15:13 said the absence of patriotism on the part of Nigerians was at the heart of all the social evils in the land.
He pointed at the sacrifice by Jesus Christ who sacrificed his life for humanity to live even those that did not deserve it and called Nigerians to begin to sacrificially love their nation and do all within their powers to make the country comfortable for all.
Okoh, who called on the federal government to address all outstanding issues concerning the ex-service men many who have died, were deformed, lost sight or hearing or suffered other forms of permanent injuries capable of keeping patriotism at the lowest ebb unless their affairs were treated with despatch to show that government cares for them.
He warned civilians to live carefully and mind their utterances since careless words from civilians cause problems that military men sacrifice their lives to address and described those who are longing for war as indulging in an unwanted desire since war was “extreme madness and great social evil”.
He said “But if you think that by going to spray bullets on people, you are pursuing your own agenda and your own end and people should listen to you and in fact they should call you for discussion and some people are backing them and supporting them, it is an unpatriotic act, wrong and condemnable for some people to arm themselves, go to church and spray people with bullets with the hope that they would be called for talks or because of any other selfish reason they may have was wrong”.
He further warned politicians to stop sponsoring things that can destabilise the country and recalled that some politicians had vowed to make the country ungovernable if they did not get election victory and warned against romanticising evil.
“You do know as I do that there are some civilians who cause war through their utterances and the way they talk, so how innocent are they? We therefore call on all politicians and indeed all Nigerians to speak, work and pray for peace. When there is peace the military job is less hazardous. So the greatest gift you can actually give to a military man is to be at peace and save his life. So Nigerians both military and civilians, we should realise that when we behave ourselves in an unseeingly manner that can cause war we are not helping anybody, we're really destroying ourselves.
“The Nigerian civil war ended 41 years ago, so we now have some professors, judges, national assembly members, prominent people who are post-civil war children. Some of them turn to romanticise with war, war is extreme madness and a great social evil. Patriotism demands that we all speak, work and pray for peace in our country. It is therefore very important that men, women, innocent civilians, military and all to work for peace. It is not enough to cause war and escape and then the military bears the brunt. If you love this country then have this in your mind,” he said.
The clergy also described corruption as an unpatriotic act that takes both from the rich and poor without giving back, adding: “Corruption does not help us, it destroys us. The absence of confidence and the cynicism we now experience to the prevalence of corruption in our country. That is why is becoming very difficult to govern Nigerians because nobody believes anybody any more.”
He said the redemption of Nigeria can only be dome by Nigerians as we will continue to lack future and will become an embarrassment to the entire world.