By Obayomi Abiola Benjamin
In just 2 months since President Muhammadu Buhari took over from his predecessor, Boko Haram has claimed over 500 lives in different States in Northern Nigeria. Maiduguri, Jos, Kano, Yobe and Kaduna came under attack in their latest onslaught on innocent citizens. Until now, nobody has really been able to succinctly explain to Nigerians what Boko Haram really wanted. At a point, their attack on churches in the North was really intense and people thought it was an attempt to get rid of Christians who live up North. Later, they started attacking educational institutions – secondary schools and universities. Some experts came up to say they were acting in line to get rid of Western education and make Islamic studies based on Sharia the order in the Northern part of the country. What later became a surprise was when Mosques and Muslim clerics became the subject of attacks for the group. By then, it became clearer that their onslaught is not just on churches, schools and the likes but an attack on the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Police stations, military bases have all at one point or the other being attacked by these faceless individuals.
Some arguments in the past have centered on the fact that the insurgency was the creation of some politicians to frustrate the administration of the former President, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. The proponents of this argument premised it on the fact that, the former President should not have contested for the 2011 general elections pointing to the fact that it is still the turn of the North to continue in power (according to a timetable which they claim is available in PDP stating that power as at that time is being zoned to the North) despite the death of Umaru Musa Yaradua in 2010. Although, while so many Nigerians are not privy to such arrangements, GEJ contested and still won the 2011 Presidential elections in a landslide victory. So, the argument continues by saying that because the man won the election, and some elements in the North were not satisfied with the outcome; Boko Haram was then created to frustrate his administration. And for more than four years, (2010-2015), the GEJ administration fought Boko Haram insurgency in the North but never won the battle until his handing over to a new administration on May 29, 2015.
Now, we have a new President in the person of Muhammadu Buhari who hails from the North. One would have thought that the insurgency would have died naturally with a Northerner in power. But, from May 29th when President Buhari took over till now, Boko Haram rampage in the North have increased. There is hardly a week since then that bomb would not go off in one part of the North or the other. It is then obvious that this war is not about the former president or about the new one who is a northerner. It is a war about leadership failure, poverty in the land amidst plenty, corruption, unemployment, insecurity, inequality and insincerity of our government. When a government failed in its responsibilities to his people, what you have in such a system is lawlessness, disorder and confusion. Let me start from the issue of insecurity. What happened to all the monies being budgeted on security every year in Nigeria; how have they being managed? I say it without doubt, that Nigeria is one of the most porous countries in the world. No security of lives and properties whatsoever. This is a country where people still commit gruesome crimes and go away with it. What happens to our borders; how do we monitor what comes in and what goes out? No doubt, Boko Haram get their supplies from somewhere. And for more than 6 years, we have not been able to discover this supply routes. Is this government serious?
The welfare of soldiers, Police officers and other Para-military agencies; who monitors it? Are the soldiers confronting the insurgency being properly taken care of? Our service chiefs are comfortable growing potbellies in their various offices in Abuja. Corruption has taken roots so deep downward in Nigeria. Money goes out on daily basis from government coffers and some people within the same system will divert it into something else. The IDPs were recently seen on social media feeding from buckets and trays, does it mean that money were not being budgeted for their plates and spoons too? Unemployment amongst Nigerian youths is on the high side. The gap between the rich and the poor in Nigeria is wide. The rich continues to get richer while the poor wallows in their poverty. How can you possibly tell a young folk who is poor and unemployed not to consider crime? You provide him with no social security; he is not even sure where his next meal would come from.
What should President Buhari do differently?
The reason a lot of Nigerians supported the candidacy of President Muhammadu Buhari is simply because they wanted things to be approached differently. It was obvious before he came on board that the status quo that had characterized the system was no longer in the interest of the nation, and Nigerians wanted change. Now that he is in charge, people expect so much from him. In tackling Boko Haram, the president should not waste time in stopping this menace. This is his second month in office and it appears that he does not know what to do yet. What hindered the former administration of GEJ in winning the battle against Boko Haram is because of so much precious time being wasted in taken actions. Mr. President, you are a former General in the army and it was believed that you should have a road map in winning this battle before you came on board. I believe this is one of the reasons why majority of us supported you. Please, swing into action and prevent innocent souls up North from dying these untimely deaths in the hands of Boko Haram.
Secondly, find a lasting solution to Nigeria porous borders. It is unfortunate till date that our intelligence-gathering unit still cannot properly trace how the insurgency gets their supplies. One would wonder if they drop from the skies or something. Tracing their source of supply for a government like Nigeria shouldn’t be a challenge; it is no rocket science. Also Sir, improve soldiers welfare. Let them be adequately remunerated. Budget allocation for security should be properly monitored so that it will not end up in some private pockets in Nigeria. Do not forget to tackle corruption as you promised. Once corruption can be eliminated from our system, every other thing would fall in line. Remember you said, “If we don’t kill corruption, corruption would kill Nigeria”.
Lastly, seek international support in combating Boko Haram. The spread of terrorism around the globe has necessitated a global effort in tackling it. Syria, Iraq, Turkey have witnessed the gruesome attack of ISIS. These countries have constantly beckoned for help from their NATO allies in bombing the terrorist strongholds within their country. Although, Nigeria is not a member of NATO, the president should reach out to countries like France, Britain and the US. This is the time to put aside our foreign policy of non-alignment and pally with these nations to fight the insurgency in the North. The recent visit of the President to the White House is a good step in the right direction. Also, the ties we already have with our neighboring countries like Cameroun, Chad and Niger should also be strengthened. Mr. President, remember you promised to end BokoHaram in just two months if you are elected. July 29th made it two months, and it seems we are yet to overcome this menace. Please do something.
About Obayomi Abiola Benjamin:
Obayomi Abiola Benjamin is a real estate broker and usually tweets via @abibeo_oba.
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