Boko Haram which was founded in 2002 by the late Mohammed Yusuf assumed a militant and deadly approach in 2009 after his untimely death in the hands of the security agencies. Before now Nigerians were once referred to as the happiest people in the globe and the thoughts of suicide bombing in our shores seemed so far fetched.
Borno, Yobe and Adamawa became theatres of war overnight as bombs were freely detonated with alarming alacrity. Abuja, the political capital wasn’t also spared as the United Nations building and Thisday were bombed with Boko Haram claiming responsibility for it.
Goodluck Jonathan seemed so overwhelmed by the near-daily bombings that he said with his arms akimbo that Boko Haram had infiltrated his government. Some of his die-hard apologists opined that Boko Haram was political and that it was used to destabilize his administration as the northern elite were displeased that his boss didn’t complete his term in office.
In 2015, the then All Progressives Congress Candidate, Muhammadu Buhari promised to make the insurgency history. Though he didn’t state how he intended to do that as he shied away from participating in the presidential debates, Nigerians believed him as his antecedent while in the army spoke volumes. In the Second Republic while he was a GOC, he was beckoned upon by a distraught Shehu Shagari to deal with the Chadian rebels who had berthed on Nigerian soil. He rose to the occasion and chased them back to Chad. The APC National leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu sold him to the electorate like a modern day reincarnation of the French war hero, General Charles De Gaulle.
The elections were won by the opposition for the first time in 2015 and expectations were high for Buhari to stem the tide of the ravaging insurgency. Tragically, he has failed to rise to the occasion as the insurgents have grown bolder and increased their territorial foothold in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa with their flags being hoisted in a similar manner to how Sir Francis Drake hoisted the English flag all over the world after he and his band of merriment raided, maimed, pillaged and killed the hapless locals. What was his reward? He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth I. Buhari seems to be repeating history as he seems to be pampering the terrorists and is not known to have spoken tough against their sinister activities. His silence is alarming and divergent interpretations are being given to it. Is this the same Buhari who once fought rebels? Is this the same man who once talked tough on terrorism? How come he has no sturdy counter terrorism strategy in nearly six years of being in office and twelve years of electoral contests before he assumed office in 2015? Did he just want power for its mere sake?
The Tamil Tigers founded in 1976 in Sri Linka had the aim of creating a Tamil State with the aid of terrorism. Successive administrations tried to unsuccessfully crush the group until Mahinda Rajapaksa came to power in 2005. He addressed his countrymen almost on a daily basis as well as the troops and in some instances visited the troops and greatly increased their morale. This led to their final defeat in 2009 after a 33 year siege and its now the subject of study for thesis and doctoral dissertations in universities around the world. That is the ethos of a firm leadership which Buhari lacks as his silence is traumatic on the psyche of Nigerians.
As if the activity of Boko Haram is not enough, bandits who kidnap for ransom and in some cases kill their victims after the ransoms must have been paid have sprung up all over the country. Nowhere is safe as they unleash terror everywhere most especially in educational institutions where their sinister activities have constituted a gargantuan rape on the quest for knowledge by the students.
Five students of Greenfield University located in Kaduna were killed with sixteen more still in captivity and the bandits have given an ultimatum for the provision of the whooping sum of a hundred million naira after fifty five million had been earlier paid which they claimed was used to feed the beleaguered students. Many more students especially in the northern part of the nation have gone through gory times and it’s so bad now that schools have been shut down in Abuja due to a rumour of a plan to bomb the city. This is an assault on learning and it is disturbing that in a country where there are about twelve million out of school children, learning has now become a surreptitious crime no thanks to the bandits who have now discovered their new oil in hostage taking.
Buhari has shown utter disdain for the press by refusing to address his emotionally battered countrymen leaving his communication solely to his aides – Garba Shehu and Femi Adesina who do nothing but stoke the embers of anger in the blood soaked land through their insensitive and unguarded statements.
George Bush waged war against terror through the bombing of Afghanistan and Iraq. Despite his oratorical deficiency, he spoke forcefully against it to his countrymen and assured the world that America was still the leader of the world despite the World Trade Centre Bombing in New York on September 11, 2001.
Barack Obama ensured that Osama Bin Laden was brutally annihilated through the Seals and spoke eloquently against terrorism.
Buhari on the other hand has been quiet and aloof to the plight of his countrymen – millions of whom are now internally displaced in their so called motherland with no end in sight to their misery. What happened to his military prowess that was the major selling point in the 2015 campaign? How can he sit back and watch Boko Haram Insurgents and bandits slaughter his countrymen with reckless abandon and do nothing about it?
The complacence of the government has led to the rise of non-state actors like Sunday Igboho and Sheikh Ahmad Gumi whom the BBC described as the chief negotiator for bandits. They have subtly usurped the powers of the government and they now grant succour to Nigerians who now live daily with their hearts in their mouths and watching constantly over their shoulders so as not to be the next victim. The quality of life has fallen to an abysmal all-time low and Buhari simply doesn’t give a damn as he thinks he lives in a well-fortified fortress called Aso Rock.
The erudite Professor Pat Utomi recently said that Boko Haram will soon hoist their flag in Aso Rock. Perhaps Buhari will go on exile to London on security asylum to govern from there if it happens as he simply doesn’t give a hoot as to the fate of the millions of his fellow countrymen who are now weeping and gnashing their teeth in buyer’s remorse.
Professor Chinua Achebe said in ‘Things Fall Apart’ that one doesn’t learn how to become left-handed in old age. Given Buhari’s antecedent of non-adaptability to change, this may most likely be the lot of Nigerians in the remaining two years of his administration unless a miracle happens.
Tony Ademiluyi is the Co Founder of The Vent Republic Media and wrote from Lagos.