by Senator Ihenyen
In my post last week, I mentioned that there is no doubt that the President is worried about the unprecedented level of insecurity in the country. Armed groups, terrorists and kidnappers have virtually unleashed a state of anarchy. The killings in Borno, Plateau, Nassarawa, Bauchi, Gombe, Kano, Adamawa, Benue, Taraba States and even Bayelsa are threats to the nation’s sovereignty which belongs to the Nigerian people.
In the case where the government which constitutionally derives all its powers and authority from the people fails, neglects or refuses to exercise such powers and authority in the kind of situation we have found ourselves today, to ask for the head of the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces is not unreasonable.
When it became clear to me that President Jonathan had neglected, refused or failed to exercise his executive powers as constitutionally required from his office, I had asked for his impeachment.
When the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubukar III had in March appealed to President Jonathan to grant “total amnesty” to all armed groups in the country, including Boko Haram, a proposal which was supported by the Arewa Consultative Forum, I had strong reservations against it. I suspected some kind of political blackmail against President Jonathan from some of our northern leaders. This suspicion became stronger as most proponents of amnesty for Boko Haram from the northern part of the country kept making unjustifiable comparisons between the amnesty proposed for Boko Haram and the amnesty granted to Niger Delta militants by the Yar’adua administration. Literally, it was like saying to the President from the Ijaw area of the South-South: “A northern President granted your Niger Delta militants in the creeks amnesty; it would be wise you also grant Boko Haram amnesty. After all, you’re using ‘northern time’ as President; and between me and you, you will be stupid to refuse because we know you have your Ijaw-fish-eyed greed on the Presidency in 2015.”
Although President Jonathan had initially taken the right position on the matter, albeit weakly to keep his political chances open, he eventually bowed to massive pressure from mostly northern leaders to accept the amnesty option. My fears that President Jonathan would sooner or later allow himself to be cowed and consequently risk the innocent lives of the Nigerian people and the Nigerian federation on the bloody shrine of his 2015 presidential ambition remained. I was not alone.
Many Nigerians, particularly Southerners and Christians who were being wasted in the north by the sect had strongly hoped that the President would not play to the gallery on amnesty for Boko Haram. That hope was eventually dashed when the administration suddenly realised, by means best known to it, that it could dialogue with “ghosts”.
After the administration virtually spent the whole of April politicking on the shape the amnesty would take, who is going to be the members of the Amnesty Committee and other ancillary matters, Boko Haram bluntly rejected the amnesty offered to them. Although, you won’t be wrong to describe the failed amnesty as “dead on arrival”, I think “dead before arrival” would be more apt. You cannot grant amnesty to unwilling, unrepentant and remorseless agents of terror. It is not done. President Jonathan simply allowed those putting political pressure on him to accept amnesty make him look like a weak, stupid and cowardly leader when the amnesty was instantly rejected by Boko Haram. According to the sect, it is the government that needs amnesty for all the atrocities and injustice it has perpetuated against them!
Security of lives and property is the basic duty of any government. No religion or tribe should be allowed to be used as an instrument of terror by any group. Nigeria is not an Ijaw man, neither is the nation a Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo, Fulani, Kanuri, Ibibio, Tiv or Esan man. Nigeria is a nation-state comprising over 250 ethnic groups, over 160 million people with various dreams and aspirations spread across 774 local governments. The Federal Republic of Nigeria is one indivisible and indissoluble sovereign state.
Nigeria does not belong to anyone – no MEND, MASSOB, Boko Haram or whatever name they choose to be called has any stamp of ownership on Nigeria. Political leaders, contractors, detractors and opportunists would come and go, like tide and market (to borrow the words of late Chinua Achebe), but Nigeria will remain. Those myopic elements who target their weapons of destruction on the institutions of the state in their blind resolve to fight one man are only unleashing canons that are sure to boomerang on them all. Sadly though, we will all end up being the casualties. Even the unborn generation will not be unaffected as our political leaders greedily continue to compromise the future of our country.
It is against this background that I must commend President Jonathan for having the courage to do what is right. Last week, the President’s speech and declaration of state of emergency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states was a breath of fresh air. By exercising his powers under section 305(1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) in his strong resolve to fight terrorism in the country, the President showed uncommon character. For once in his three years in office, he did not “give a damn” the political implications of such declaration on his 2015 presidential ambition. Of course, not a few northern leaders would argue that the amnesty option should have been exhausted before any resort to military action.
In conclusion, permit me to quote the President on the strong resolve and determination of his administration to fight and win the war against terrorism in our dear country:
“I want to reassure you all that those who are directly or indirectly encouraging any form of rebellion against the Nigerian state, and their collaborators; those insurgents and terrorists who take delight in killing our security operatives, whoever they may be, wherever they may go, we will hunt them down, we will fish them out, and we will bring them to justice. No matter what it takes, we will win this war against terror.”
On a lighter note, I can’t help but wonder if the President lifted these reassuring words from President Obama’s speech after the Boston bombings. Just wondering!