In March, 2012, President Goodluck Jonathan peered into the dark clouds of the bracing security challenges confronting his administration and optimistically predicted that all that will become history come June. Almost half way into the magic month, bombs and bullets still remain the defining features of the current democracy. LOUIS ACHI examines the unfolding drama
The 16th Century French seer Nostradamus who predicted milestone events that impacted Europe clearly fared better than President Goodluck Jonathan who recently veered into the arcane arena of foretelling the future.
In March this year, in an interview with South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency while attending a two-day summit in Seoul on peaceful use of nuclear energy, an upbeat Jonathan made a prediction. Some 51 other world leaders attended that forum.
His words: “In terms of security challenges, we have some parts of the country where we have terrorist attacks, but it does not affect the whole country. We are in reasonable control. We have the belief that in the middle of this year; in terms of security of individuals, we will have full control.”
As mid-June is wearing on, the security challenges have not waned but are rather waxing in defiance of Jonathan’s seer-like prediction. On June 3, after the May 29 Democracy Day which also marked Dr. Jonathan’s first anniversary as elected democratically president, the Boko Haram sect struck in Bauchi State, killing about 21 Christian worshipers with 45 others sustaining various degrees of injuries. For good measure, the group also re-emphasised its earlier warning to the media to desist from under-reporting its activities or face devastating attacks.
The group’s claim of responsibility was contained in a statement by its spokesman, Abu Qaqa in Hausa language and made available to newsmen in Maiduguri. Qaga further expressed surprise with the way security agencies were misleading President Jonathan by giving him false information on their confrontation with them, pointing out that the security agencies usually concealed the truth about the damages inflicted on them by Boko Haram.
According to Qaga, “Take for example, the attack they launched on our brethren in Ja’in area in Kano State weeks back. The fact is that only three men were inside the house together with their wives and then their weapons. Unfortunately, the soldiers stormed the area with over 40 vehicles, including armoured tanks and surrounded the house in the dead of the night.
“There was endless gun duel between our men and the soldiers but none of our men was killed or arrested. They only succeeded in arresting women because our warriors had escaped after killing many security operatives. But the media, which we believed connived with the security agencies and the government, went ahead to publish the opposite which ended up misleading the public.”
On Tuesday, June 5, in Kano, retired Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) SalehAbubakarNingi was shot and killed along with two other policemen attached to him by gunmen. Ningi and the other officers were shot around Sauna Kawaji Quarters of Kano metropolitan in an ambush. The two policemen shot dead along with him were his police driver and orderly as they were coming back from his farm in Sauna Kawaji area.
It will be recalled that Ningi retired as DIG in charge of C Department (Works) of the Nigeria Police along with immediate Inspector General of Police Hafiz Ringim. Police spokesman of the Kano state Police command, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Rilwan Mohammed confirmed the attack. According to him, “the late DIG and two policemen were inside a Hilux vehicle when the gunmen shot them dead and fled the scene of the attack”.
Clearly, it would appear that the president’s optimistic prediction was not shared by all Nigerians. In reaction to the presidential prediction, the Vice Chairman of Nigerian Bar Association(NBA), in Maiduguri, Husseini Hala stated that the pronouncement could worsen the security crisis in the country.
According to him,the Boko Haram militants appear to have intensified their attacks in the region following Jonathan’s statement just as residents in the area bear the brunt of the violence.
“We are seriously concerned because they have done nothing and the menace is increasing. The militants have been killing people day in, day out; there are a lot of attacks in Maiduguri, they come out to attack the military officers face-to-face,” the legal practitioner lamented
Many critics have accused the government over what they claim to be the administration’s failure to control growing insecurity in northern Nigeria, alleging the government’s violent crackdown on suspected Boko Haram members in recent months has escalated violence.But in their self defence the administration maintain the country’s security agencies are working hard to contain the security problems by the middle of this year.
Even as President Jonathan’s prediction appears to be rubbished by the recent violent, bloody developments, some observers believe it may still be too early to write off the president’s faith as expressed in his forecast. It will be recalled that early in the week, renowned Islamic scholar, Sheikh Da-hiruUsman Bauchi told the media that the Federal Government has commenced dialogue with the Jama’atuAhlussiunnnatilidda’awatiWal Jihad(Boko Haram) through his mediation effort.
Venerable Sheikh Dahiru Bauchi who disclosed this while briefing reporters during the birthday commemoration of the late Tijjaniyya scholar, Sheikh Ibrahim Nyas, in Bauchi, stated that the Bauchi State government has set up a committee for the purpose of engaging the federal government.
According to him, the committee which membership includes former Secretary to the Federal Government, Alhaji Aminu Sale, is linked to the presidency through Dr. Hassan Tukur, President Goodluck Jonathan’s Principal Private Secretary, and is already in contact with the Boko Haram leaders.
Sheikh Dahiru said the committee had written a letter to Boko Haram, on request from its leadership to intimate it of government’s resolve to dialogue with them, and is awaiting reply to push the process further. A prominent cleric of the Tijjaniyya Islamic sect, Sheikh DahiruBauchi is known to have wide links with northern Emirs and commands respect from followers of the Tijjaniyya ideology in Nigeria.
But at press time the Boko Haram sect has come out loudly to distance itself from the latest position expressed by Sheik Bauchi.
It will be recalled that earlier this year, Dr.Datti Ahmed,president of the Supreme Council for Shariah in Nigeria (SCSN) announced he was pulling out of a mediation effort to bring the Federal Government and the Boko Haram to talk following what he said was a betrayal from government side.
According to him, “I felt very disturbed with the turn of events and the increasing cycle of massive violence in our country, and especially, in the Northern and Muslim part of Nigeria. We in the SCSN, therefore, made enquiries as to how to reach the current leadership of the Jama’atuAhlisSunnatiLiddaAwatiwal Jihad.”
Datti Ahmed’s beef was that making his quiet initiative public too soon, a scenario he felt was instigated by the federal government, showed bad faith and warranted his backing off. In all, whether President Jonathan’s prediction will ultimately materialise or fail depends on a complex set of circumstances that may need the real Nostradamus to pronounce on.