THE REPUBLIC By Shaka Momodu; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; (SMS Only) 0811 266 1654
First of all, let me ask all my countrymen a question: has there ever been a political party in the history of Nigeria that had such a genius for totally meaningless prattle like the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) which is self-righteous and well versed in the art of hypnotising the people with outright misleading information for political gains? I have searched the history books and listened to oral history but have found no match to this propagandist organisation’s hypocrisy and predilection for deception on the scale we are faced with today.
I have always been worried by the manner of the party’s conception and birth; its modus operandi of never conceding defeat at the polls; its attempt to blemish every institution of state that does not toe the party line – the latest being the Supreme Court for daring to deliver judgments against it; its attempt to equate its position on any issue with conventional wisdom as well as the tendency by the party to view support for it as sacrosanct and a noble display of patriotism. Otherwise, you are branded as unpatriotic, treacherous and corrupt or worse still, bought over by treasury-looters. I have been worried about the attitude of the APC to elections – when it wins in court, the party and its satellite brigade of professors of law, human rights lawyers/activists, who are largely media creations, praise the judiciary to high heaven and declare “victory for democracy.” But when it loses, it mobilises a vicious campaign against the judiciary – see what they are doing to our Supreme Court now. It must be pulled down because the APC lost its cases at the highest court in the land. Has anybody heard the APC and its human rights lawyers/activists complain about the Supreme Court judgment in the Bukola Saraki case? It seems they are happy with it. Recall that when the same court stopped the trial at the CCT, the same hypocrites attacked the Supreme Court.
More than anything else, I have been worried sick as to how its promoters, neck-deep in avarice have suddenly transformed into soldiers of liberation. It’s a wonder politicians who only yesterday were and are still part and parcel of the plague and curse the people have endured for so long now suddenly lay claim to being the architects of change. I have often wondered how these people can find the generosity of the human spirit to inspire and bring about real and redemptive change to the people long battered and bruised by a thieving leadership class they belong to.
So, right from the outset, I was very cynical about their message and intentions, even though it somewhat resonated with the yearnings of the people. I repeatedly warned that it was not born out of any genuine desire for change, but rather it was a convenient mantra used to hoodwink the people for support, and ultimately to seize and consolidate power for their selfish interests. For the avoidance of any doubt, let me repeat here what I have said countless times: it’s never been about the people or love of our country as some of its promoters’ rhetoric suggested. I once read a presentation of one of the cardinals of the party as he tried to wax populist in his viewpoint on the state of the nation, stating then that for our tomorrow he and others had sacrificed their today. I just laughed and said to myself, wonders will never cease! But discerning Nigerians know that they are the profiteers of public offices and that for their today, they have taken our tomorrow and that of our children. Not satisfied, they are also now trying to take that of our grandchildren.
Anyway, that is a topic for another day.
For now, I am more concerned with the government’s claim to have “technically defeated” Boko Haram with “substandard weapons”. In September 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari gave the military chiefs their marching orders to crush Boko Haram within three months. In the run-up to the deadline of December 31, 2015, the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed exultantly declared victory over the terror group and announced to the whole world that the military had achieved the president’s mandate for an end to the Boko Haram menace and that our victorious soldiers would comb the area to mop up any remaining resistance. This was after this government had repeatedly excoriated the last administration for not equipping the military with weapons to defeat the terrorists. Of course we are in the middle of the ongoing probe of the arms scandal with chilling revelations of outright mismanagement and stealing of public funds. Some high-ranking members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have been caught with their hands in the cookie jar and they may well pay the price for mismanaging government funds like drunken sailors.
Who can then blame the APC-led government for whatever spin they put on the investigations? The PDP let the people down and only has itself to blame for that. But the APC narrative about the non-purchase of weapons which had gained currency across the globe was recently challenged, albeit casually in far away Switzerland by former President Goodluck Jonathan who stated in an interview with France 24 that no new weapons had been bought by the new government and that the Buhari government was fighting the terror war with the weapons procured by his government. Caught in its own lies, the government through the information minister who ironically announced the defeat of the terrorists, turned around to say, “Jonathan bought substandard weapons that can’t be used to defeat the sect.” He however failed to state which weapons were used to technically defeat the terror group. Until this moment, he has not countered Jonathan’s claim with any proof that the Buhari administration had not procured new modern weapons since it came to power. Or are we to assume that our soldiers suddenly became more motivated by this government to the extent that they fought and beat the hell out of the terrorists with bare hands? But anyone following media reports on the war would have read reports of troops in the theatre of war lamenting the non-payment of their salaries and allowances. Added to that is the news just filtering through that the service chiefs at a recent meeting held behind closed doors with the leadership of the Senate and the chairmen of committees relating to security agencies expressed concern over the non-release of funds (N29.9 billion) appropriated in the 2015 supplementary budget to the military to combat Boko haram which they alleged actually undermined the war on terror. In the last few weeks, terrorists have simply obliterated several communities in the North-east, killing and maiming hundreds of people.
A fortnight ago, the “technically defeated” terrorists attacked and destroyed Mairi and Malari communities on the outskirts of Maiduguri, killing several people. Just last Tuesday, the IDP camp in Dikwa was attacked by Boko Haram resulting in the death of almost 70 people.
The terror group on January 31, 2015 burnt about 86 villagers to death, including women and children when they overran Dalori village, a mere four kilometres outside Maiduguri. This is coupled with the fact that many atrocities and killings carried out in drive-by shootings, relentless suicide bombings and daring attacks lasting several hours unchallenged go unreported. So can anyone out there tell me who is fooling who? Can anyone tell me what has changed when innocent people are still being killed daily in a senseless orgy of violence by a deranged group of killers?
It is a shame that a section of the public can’t even reason anymore when these ‘true lies’ are dished out to them in official doublespeak. In discussions at bars, relaxation joints, articles in newspapers, etc, the ‘true lies’ are waxed in the rhetoric of false sense of achievements. Any contrary view is quickly labelled as sponsored even in the face of hard facts contained in that view. Everything has been reduced to “them”, the bad guys and “us”, the saints. Critics of the methods of this government are being targeted by a hypnotised mob in a frenzied eagerness to deny the reality of the creeping danger we now face. The intellectual/activist arm of the hypnotised mob is in full flourish in the mad conspiracy to deceive the public by telling us that what we see is in fact not what we see, but what we hear from the “enemies” of this government.
These intellectuals are helping to foist a new order in utter disrespect for the rule of law and due process. Ironically, we grew up knowing some of them for no other career other than their dogged fight for the institutionalisation of the rule of law. Now, we hear them loudly query the entire essence of their lives’ struggle. They now qualify the rule of law and want it moderated including the suspension of the constitution to give one man unchecked powers to be the accuser and the judge. They forget that the backbone of society and democracy is that no matter how we despise a suspect, that individual is entitled to the full protection of due process and should not be subjected to a lynch mob or vigilante justice. Punish those found to have fallen foul of the law, but please follow the law of the land and its due process.
Back to the ‘true lies’ we are told, every new attack by the evil terror group is explained away by this government and its agents as an attack on “soft targets” and even trumpeted as evidence of how weak the sect has become. They fail to tell the people that the so-called soft targets are actually Boko Haram’s best targets. Terrorists have always targeted “soft targets” because that is where they record the greatest number of casualties in their satanic campaign to spread their gospel of death, hate and fear.
The World Trade Centre in New York, targeted in the 9/11 attack was a soft target, the Russian passenger plane blown out of the skies over Egypt was a soft target, the Paris terror attacks in a football stadium and a cinema theatre were soft targets, the July 7, 2005 terror attacks in central London were all soft targets, the attack on Radisson Blu hotel frequented by foreigners in Mali recently was a soft target, the assaults by al-Shabab terrorists on a university in north-eastern Kenya resulting in the death of 147 students and the Westgate Mall in Nairobi were soft targets.
In other words, the modus operandi of terrorists is to kill as many innocent people as possible and instill fear in people. So what is this nonsense talk about a weakened terror group now picking on soft targets in a desperate gasp for breath? Lest I forget, the attack on the United Nations building in Abuja was a soft target. Boko Haram started this way and merely graduated into occupying territories – an act they copied from the Islamic State in Syria.
If it no longer holds territory (which is debatable) and has now returned to its traditional tactic of hit-and-run, is that in anyway a sign of weakness? I certainly don’t think so. If anything, it is even more potent and deadlier in its traditional method than when the authorities agreed it held defined territory as the average number of recorded killings per day has gone up.
Lai Mohammed should save his breath – the majority of Nigerians can now see through his little game. He was an effective propagandist for his party, but being in government is a different kettle of fish. In saner societies such excuses can lead to the collapse of the government of the day. The first duty of any government is the security of lives, especially the vulnerable, and property. Any government that is failing in this sacred duty is unfit for the task of governance. It was precisely this reason Nigerians voted out Jonathan.
The issue of the Chibok girls is no longer important as it was in the run-up to the general election. At least it has been used to achieve a political end. As a matter of fact, it is now an irritant to this government. The APC used the plight of the missing girls so effectively against the last government that you would think it will top their priorities list. But nowadays, it barely features on its agenda. All has gone silent on the girls. Even their hypnotised mob of supporters no longer mention or care about what has become of the poor girls whose predicament was exploited to gain power.
Recall that then Candidate Buhari had promised that until the Chibok girls were found and safely returned to their families, he would not consider the war against the sect won. But his government was quite eager to declare victory when as he confessed recently, he did not even have any concrete intelligence on the fate of the missing girls, nine months after assuming power. That’s food for thought for all the APC supporters
In its dash to prove that Mr. President’s deadline had been met, I find it absolutely astonishing that the government embraced semblance over substance. Maybe that is the meaning of technical defeat after all.
Now, can anybody tell me why it was necessary for President Buhari to attend the Syrian Donor Conference in London recently while the North-east of our country is on fire? While away, hundreds of innocent Nigerians were killed and thousands turned to refugees in their own country. The Conference was organised by Western powers to raise fund to cushion the humanitarian problems faced by over 12.2 million people in Syria. The same powers who have largely failed to sell weapons to Nigeria in its terror war.
The more they shout change, the more things stay the same or even worse.
THIS COLUMN RETURNS TO THE BACK PAGE NEXT WEEK FRIDAYâ€‹