Omotosho: Two Campaigns Ignoring One Another Trouble

THE word ‘campaign’ has always been related to the military until sometime in 1861 when it was linked to politics to mean “a series of coordinated activities, such as public speaking and demonstrating, designed to achieve a social, political, or commercial goal”. In the military term, where it is at home, it is a “number of complementary operations aimed at achieving a single objective, usually constrained by time and geographic area.” The instruments used in military campaigns are of necessity different from those used in the political campaign. In one, guns and other ordinances of war are employed while in the other words and words and words in arguments are the instruments at hand. Sometimes though, political campaigns could include the use of enforcers, known as special advisers, and sometimes also called thugs. Originally, the word “thug” spelt with lower case means a cutthroat or ruffian or hoodlum. With capital letter Thug is one of a group of professional criminals, devotees of Kali, who robbed and murdered travellers in Northern India until the mid-1800s. All the same, nobody admits to using thugs in political campaigns. 

  Right now, in the North-Eastern part of our country, there is a military campaign going on. It engulfs three of our thirty-six states: Adamawa, Borno and Yobe. People who know say that more than seventy-five per cent of Borno has been run over by the military campaigns of Boko Haram while the internally displaced persons (IDPs) are getting to one million. And we and the world knows the boys and girls who are diverted from their lives to serve purposes other than those wanted by the young ones and those wished for them by their parents. Boko Haram has massacred men and women, it has scattered children and women and catered off boys and girls. In spite of all these horrors, the political campaigns go on as if the military campaigns do not exist. In Paris a few days ago, twelve Frenchmen were massacred by religious soldiers and the whole country came to a stop. The world stopped with the French president and his people to protest the massacre and to stand by them to affirm the necessity of freedom of speech. Here, our freedom of religious affiliation is being violated every day and our mediocre political leadership pretend that nothing is happening. Or maybe they have not pretended that nothing is happening. Here is what they have tried to say: I spent more money on equipment for soldiers during my time and if the large number of soldiers and police and sss and dss people the government deploys for elections were deployed for the military campaigns in the North East, we would not have Boko Haram now. The other says: Ask them what happened to the budgets for the military over the years? If now I must re-equip the army anew, it will take time. You cannot equip an army to fight Boko Haram overnight. 

  The political campaign is going on around the country. None of the campaigners have said whether or not they will go to Adamawa, Borno and Yobe to campaign. What will happen when political campaign encounters military campaign? Already the head of the electoral commission is saying that it might not be possible to hold elections in the North-East of the country where the military campaigns are taking place. This means that if the political campaign were to encounter the military campaign on a narrow bridge, the political campaign would have to give way. Are the political campaigners listening? Imagine a situation at the end of the voting with the result that the top two candidates for president score roughly the same number of votes a situation that might have been corrected by the votes of the three states of the North East, what happens? It becomes compulsory to conduct elections there. We would need to suspend our political campaign and go and engage the military campaign taking place in the North-East. Would it not be too late by then?

  The political campaigns should stop at once. A government of national political will must be formed to take the field of military campaign and take on Boko Haram. Such a government should bring in people from all parties and command all resources to defeat Boko Haram during a period of 18 to 24 months. Thereafter the same government could then arrange an election where political campaigns do not have to flee from military campaigns. Such co-existence of political and military campaigns should not be.

  Of course, there would be people who would accuse one person of regime elongation. There would be competition as to who should head the interim government of national political will and which party should control its finances especially those resources that would be placed in their hands for the prosecution of the military campaigns. There would be people who would want to blame Boko Haram on some political leaders of the Northern parts of the country; and who would feel that they caused it, let them solve it. There would be the response from the Northern leadership that a little thing as Boko Haram was being used to now conquer and subdue the Northern region of Nigeria. After all, we of the North insisted that the British could not impose Southerners on us, these Southerners who never conquered us. As they say, you come across all sorts of knives on the death of an elephant. Likewise, we come across all sorts of arguments when bitter and petit nationalism is at play. 

  The alternative scenario is really unthinkable. The election is not conclusive. Two governments are set up plus the Boko Haram caliphate in the North East. Will the unfinished elections arm and face the military campaign? Or would the unfinished election finish each other and wait for Boko Haram to finish the winner? What is the nature of the political cowardice that refuses to face a fight when it is offered? What kind of violence are the political parties begging each other not to commit? The use of thugs? Is that the only violence that the country faces? We need to pause and reflect on this loss of our collective minds, a loss that allows a seventeen year old girl to come and use us to garner international honours by advising our president to go to Chibok. We may have lost our minds but the rest of the world have not lost theirs. They expect us to wake up to our responsibility of not getting our people in the North East massacred, scattered and carted off any time anyhow. If we don’t recover our lost senses “a faimo k’awo ma sun l’ebi, a faimo!”  The consequences of these things would overwhelm the people of this era, watch out!

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