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Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Opinion: Boko Haram As Power Negotiation, Blackmail Tool

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by Chris Enyinnaya

After listening to His Excellency Timipreye Sylva, former governor of Bayelsa State on Monday 22nd December 2014 on Channels Television between 3pm and 4pm , I came to the conclusion that Boko Haram is a power negotiation tool, a booby trap set by a group of politicians who are out of power at national level to enable them recapture power in 2015 by all means possible.

Why do I draw that conclusion? While the ex-governor of Bayelsa State was being interviewed on Channels Television, he drew a spurious correlation between security situation in the country and political leadership. According to him, when the Niger Delta militants were wreaking havoc in the region, Nigerians voted a Niger Delta indigene in the person of Dr Goodluck Jonathan as President in 2011 to negotiate with them. This is because he is from Niger Delta and understood the problem and issues involved . That was why the militants listened to him , laid down their weapons and the problem was resolved.

This time around, said he, the major problem facing Nigeria is the menace of Boko Haram in North East Nigeria and so it requires a Northerner who understands all the problems and grievances of Boko Haram members to solve the problem. Therefore a vote for General Buhari , a Northerner who understands the problem of Boko Haram is a vote to ensure the end of Boko Haram menace. It seems ex-Governor Sylva, willy-nilly, is comparing apple with orange and predictably drawing the wrong conclusion. The Niger Delta militants made clear the reason for their struggle which had to do with marginalization of indigenes of Niger Delta indigenes in the federal set up, environmental pollution and neglect in addition to lack of infrastructural development of the whole Niger Delta region. Having made their grievances clear, the Federal Government headed by Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua , a Northerner ,asked them to come to negotiation table . To show seriousness and commitment, he granted them general amnesty provided they surrendered their weapons within a set target date.

The militants complied and a bargain was struck and immediately implemented. As I write, implementation is on-going. It is therefore not true that President Goodluck Jonathan was voted into power in 2011 because he is a Niger Delta indigene who will address the grievances of Niger Delta militants. It was under the presidency with Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua as president and Dr Goodluck Jonathan as Vice-President that the Niger Delta crises was resolved. The case of Boko Haram is very different. They do not seem to have any grievances which the Federal Government of Nigeria can successfully address. Unfolding events support the fact that they are on a religious expansionist sovereign programme . First they told President Jonathan to convert to Islam if he wants them to stop the onslaught. . Second when Mr President offered them amnesty, they responded that they are the people to grant amnesty to Nigeria. Third when the Federal Government got negotiators to broker seize fire agreement, they did not honour it rather they intensified their expansionist drive while Federal Government was observing cease fire.

They were on rampage, capturing towns, hoisting their flag and declaring captured towns and villages Islamic Caliphate. It is thus clear that Boko Haram is invading Nigeria to secure land in which they will set up a sovereign nation governed by Islamic Law. They are so desperate in doing so and have no regard whether you are a Christian, Muslim, or a traditional religious worshiper. How do you explain senseless bomb attack on churches, mosques, schools, markets, motor parks, and viewing centres? How do you explain the abduction of policemen, school girls at Chibok, and other schools in the North East and North Central geo-political zone? How do you explain attack on Government house Damaturu, attempted murder of the Late Shehu of Borno in a mosque and late Emir of Kano? What has Allah Akbar (Allah is the greatest ) chanting got to do with Nigeria that by constitution is a secular state where no tier of government should adopt any religion as a state religion?

If General Buhari has the magic wand or capacity to deal decisively with Boko Haram why not unfold it now and if it works Nigerians will massively vote for him? If Boko Haram over-runs Nigeria (God forbid) before May 29 2015, which country will he govern? This writer will kindly request ex-governor Sylva and the All Peoples Congress to answer the foregoing questions for the benefit of Nigerians. This is so because it is becoming clear that Boko Haram insurgency or terrorism which is a global phenomenon is now being used by APC as a marketing strategy to fault the PDP government on security and thus capture power come 2015. In doing so it does not really matter if truth is distorted, lies are concocted to deceive gullible Nigerians in order to sway votes in their favour. That is the height of desperation for power when known facts are twisted to blackmail the party in power. Is that not political corruption?

Chris Enyinnaya is freelance writer, he writes from Lagos.

Opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.

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