Williams: Yes! Nigeria Remains A Weak State
AT times like this, any gadfly could mount the soapbox and say anything. If listeners are not fair enough to scrutinize what is said, it could be taken as gospel truth, without the opportunity to situate culpability where it ought to be. The victim is usually the man at the centre. He is the Mr. Nobody who must take the blows for all the failures of every other person.
I first got to know about the theory of Mr. Nobody in primary school. When the toilet is dirty and nobody takes responsibility to clean it up, we were told it was Mr. Nobody who failed to do his job. When the floor bed is untidy; when the classroom is not swept; when the blackboard is not cleaned, all such acts of irresponsibility were the handiwork of Mr. Nobody. Nobody ever takes responsibility until the Headmaster applies the cane. As it was in my primary school, when the school leadership was at its wits end to inculcate responsibility in us children, so it is with the Nigeria of today. Apart from government, no other person takes responsibility.
Emir of Kano, Alhaji Sanusi Lamido Sanusi at the closing ceremony of the 29th National Quranic competition in Auchi, Edo State on Saturday, January 17 alluded to the fact that the Nigerian State is weak since it is unable to secure the Northeast from the rampaging Boko Haram insurgents. According to him, the “first responsibility of the State is to protect lives and properties of its citizens or it loses the basis of its existence.” The following day, Sanusi’s general statement, hoping that was what he intended it to be, was appropriated by some as source of cheap headlines to mean that the President Jonathan’s government is the exemplification of that weakness. That might be correct to some extent, but for those who have not surrendered the totality of their journalistic objectivity, there has to be more to that statement. It must be said, that even the best of governments will to a large extent remain clueless unless Nigeria’s century-old and unworkable template is reversed.
Even the Emir will agree that were all hands to be on deck at the inception of the Boko Haram insurgency, perhaps, it might not have inflated into this catastrophic proportion of today. When he added; “Muslim leaders must speak up or we are guilty of complicity”, I thought that is where the kernel of the matter is. Have we spoken up enough to condemn Boko Haram, until we got to this messy juncture? Have we rallied round the President sufficiently enough to now label him a weak leader who is unable to tame the insurgents?
It was not long ago, when the madness was still at infancy and bombs went up at St Theresa Catholic Church, Madalla, Niger State on Christmas day in 2011. They went to the Police Headquarters, the UN building and so on. At that time, the Jonathan government was still fresh, after the divisive 2011 election. Indeed, the staccato of bombs were enough to render anybody clueless, especially when you could not identify who was throwing them. Did those who ought to have spoken up make their voices count?
There was still anger arising from the manner Jonathan defeated the coalition of forces that were arrayed against him in the polls. First, it was internal anger within the PDP, as some northern leaders did not want to let go the Presidency, which their party had zoned to the northwest. During the PDP primary campaigns of 2010/2011, a lot of unprintable words were said. Later in the elections, which pitched Jonathan against Gen. Muhammadu Buhari in the mean, a lot more hateful speeches were delivered. The post-election violence of 2011 attested to this.
The polity afterwards was severely fractured and it was a fertile ground for the insurgents to luxuriate. As the bombs went off, mum was the word for many northern leaders. Those who spoke did so tongue in cheek. For example, Sanusi attempted a lot of rationalization of the Boko Haram phenomenon at that time. As far as he was concerned, too much of resources were going to the South, particularly the Niger Delta States, which benefit from the 13 percent derivation, the NDDC and the Niger Delta Ministry. Therefore, the over-concentration of resources in one part of the country denies the north resources for social redistribution. The implication being that Boko Haram was the outcome of an unfair resource allocation. That was his campaign at that time. Others like Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, the Kano State governor did not have the patience to carry out Sanusi’s kind of exegetic analysis. He called for the cancellation of the 13 percent derivation and such revenues that accrued to Niger Delta State as reparations for the despoliation of their environment.
Meanwhile, Boko Haram was festering and those who ought to speak up did not. They left it for Jonathan to deal with since he is the President. Now the insurgents are uncontrollable; if before 2009 some highly placed persons could reach out to them on behalf of the Federal Government, today, the boys are unreachable. Yet, they were traceable, from the time former governor of Borno State, Ali Modu Sheriff, a stalwart of the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC), until recently, had dealings with them.
Therefore, the Nigerian State is weak in the face of Boko Haram because many people, including the Emir of Kano are speaking up too late.
Any country that fails to secure its borders will remain a perpetually weak State because that State is dehydrated on hourly basis. For centuries, the geographic area now Nigeria has operated open doors, especially with its neighbours up north. The sentiment is that Nigerians up north share similar traditions with their neighbours in Niger and Chad and Northern Cameroun. Any attempt to put Nigeria’s security on the table in relation to dealing with her neighbours is viewed as an attempt to punish the people. Whereas, every modern State is ever conscious of its territorial integrity, Nigeria operates without borders, except in a few places where revenues are collected. Illegal arms move in and out of Nigeria at will, just the same way Boko Haram insurgents traverse in and out of the borders.
The United States does not joke with its borders. As well endowed as she is, she does not throw her borders open to anyone. Saudi Arabia is building a 600-mile-long “Great Wall,” a combined fence and ditch, to separate the country from Iraq to the north, where ISIS has gained control of a large swath of areas. Saudi has also created a physical barrier along parts of the even longer, 1,000-mile border with Yemen to the south, according to recent reports.
The reality of global terrorism dictates that countries should take politics and other sentiments out of the utmost need to protect the territorial integrity of their States. When the Jonathan government flew a kite on the possibility of a border fence in the northeast, the opposition and other rent-seekers cried foul. Fellow Muslim States border Saudi Arabia, but that has not stopped her from working to secure her borders in order to provide security for her citizens.
Until Nigerians speak with one voice and timely too, on all issues and keep their religions in their closets, the State will continue to bleed and be weak, in addition to present day’s bad governance and poor choices.
You do not leave Boko Haram for Jonathan alone to deal with. Yes, the response of government to the situation at critical stages has been poor, yet it is not a PDP affair. Boko Haram is a national calamity and failure to deal with it is to be located in different layers. Government is carrying the lion share.
Let APC Thank Nigerians
IT is heartwarming that Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (GMB), the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) succumbed to pressure and instigated the publication of his statement of result obtained in 1961 at the Provincial Secondary School, Katsina. There is no denying that the man actually went to college and we are very happy about that. But the big issue is why it took him and his party one whole month to respond to this simple matter. The worry is whether the man is truly transformed to know the difference between a democratic government and the one he was used to some thirty years ago. Did he expect INEC to go in search of his certificate for him; is he aware that under the FOI regime the public has a right to know the whereabouts of his certificate; is this man truly ready to abide by simple democratic instructions like the one in question?
At the conference where he grudgingly unveiled his academic background, he sounded condescending, as if the onus is not his to prove his qualifications. His party men should thank Nigerians who insisted and prevailed upon him to do the needful. I think it is better to tame him now so that he does not get there and turn his back on the Constitution. APC should please buy a copy for him, so that if he gets into government he will know the rules.