“In our vile times/man [is], whatever his element/ Either tyrant, or traitor or prisoner”, Alexander Puskin, 1799-1837.
President Goodluck Jonathan, for once, has my sympathies – because he is a prisoner of circumstances. Only a few were self-created; the majority were invented by his declared enemies and undisclosed adversaries. In the entire history of Nigeria, no Head of Government has ever faced the set of problems associated with the Boko Haram insurgency that this particular President has had to confront right from the first day after inauguration on May 29, 2011.
What everybody thought was another post-election violent protest had exploded into a hydra-headed national disaster. Today, Boko Haram has become a code name for a sectional jihad, for armed robbery, for political warfare by other means and for wealth-seeking terrorists.
The share complexity of the monster problem has turned everybody who attempts to comment on the issue and to offer solutions into a “fool” or accomplice by some; a sage and patriot by others. Everybody is probably some kind of a “fool” or patriot on this matter – and that includes me.
I had refrained from commenting on this issue because it is not my habit to write on any important national controversy until there is at least a gleam of knowledge on which my article can be anchored. For months, we had oscillated between the Federal Government’s position, not to talk with the terrorists; and the call by the Sultan of Sokoto for amnesty.
That proposal was at first rejected by the President; only for the same government to turn around and embrace amnesty; set up an amnesty committee and receive a slap in the face from a faction of Boko Haram. Note the word “faction”. It is deliberate. There are now more than one faction of Boko Haram – each with its own agenda.
Those arguing for or against amnesty, NOW, are both right and wrong – depending on which faction of Boko Haram will benefit from the amnesty proposal – which now has a steep price tag attached. Irrespective of which faction one is talking about, surprisingly, peace will depend on who will control the billions of naira that will be released by the Federal government afterwards. Money, filthy and bloody lucre, and who controls it, has become the main stumbling block to peace in the Northern states. But, it is not the only hurdle.
Last week, after months of agonizing over the continuing devastation of large parts of our potentially great country, massive losses of life and properties, as well as foreign and domestic investment, I decided to test out a thought by going North and talking to some people, who might have information they are hoarding – deliberately or inadvertently.
Over thirty years hands-on experience in sales and marketing had taught me that induced scarcity of information almost always occurs when somebody or a group of people expect to profit from it. Boko Haram is probably the first national issue on which reliable information has been so scarce, it had led to the situation in which we find ourselves today; a situation in which irrespective of what President Jonathan does or does not do, he cannot “win”.
That makes our President the first victim of this Boko Haram. I make this statement, not out of disrespect for the thousands of people who lost their lives and the trillions of naira worth of properties destroyed, but because the man we elected, as President, to solve the problem is being hampered by everybody acting and commenting from partial knowledge – while insisting they have all the answers.
The truth is; it is stupid to proclaim support for or opposition to amnesty until we can uncover more reliable information. Amnesty, of a sort, is inevitable anyway. You cannot execute 5,000 -20,000 people — even if confirmed as Boko Haram.
Going north, I was interested in finding out who could possibly profit from the scarcity of information and who stands to benefit from the funds eventually released. But, more importantly, I was interested in finding out why Jonathan is being boxed in from all sides.
A few calls from Lagos and conversations with a few people finally provided a partial clue to why the Federal government is getting the run-around. SOME POWERFUL PEOPLE DON’T WANT JONATHAN TO GET THE CREDIT FOR SOLVING THE PROBLEM.
If Jonathan ever solves the problem of Boko Haram before 2015, then nobody can stop him from the second term. It is the acid test of his leadership. A word is sufficient for the wise – if they read newspapers. For whatever it is worth, the President has my complete sympathies. I wish him God’s guidance on this matter. No human intelligence can solve this one to everybody’s satisfaction.
QURAN A-Z: JOINT ATTEMPT PROMOTING PEACE IN NIGERIA
“A picture is worth a thousand words”, according to the Chinese.
For any nation in serious crisis, symbols can substitute for millions of words – spoken or unspoken. The overwhelming percentage of Nigerians does not want a divisive religious war which will certainly set us back in our march, however slow, towards becoming a developed, caring and prosperous society.
Lacking an army; not elected; but still caring for our country, three individuals have combined to produce the book QURAN: A-Z. The author, Nurudeen Seriki, is a Muslim; the Publisher, Mr Agbo Areo, is a Christian and the Foreword has been written by our Father, Uncle or Brother (depending on your age), Alhaji Kola Animasaun (always THE VOICE OF REASON); of course a devoted Muslim.
My role in the entire initiative had been that of a facilitator and a messenger (and I mean that in every sense of the word). I am happy to be a messenger for anything that will bring peace in Nigeria. In fact this is probably the most important thing I have done in my life – helping to bring peace in an ironic way to Nigeria.
The book will soon be launched at a Forum including leaders of the two religions. I hope you will respond positively when called upon. But, even without being launched those who have seen it – Christians and Muslims alike – have fallen in love with it. A Christian seminary has promised to introduce it into the curriculum for their priests.
We, Christians, and Nigeria, can benefit, immeasurably, by learning, in English, about the Islamic Holy Book. Incidentally, a far greater percentage of educated Muslims have read the Bible than Christians who have read the Quran. I am about to start with this book. It might not be out of place if Muslims send a copy to their Christian friends as gifts. Efforts need to be made on both sides to bridge the knowledge gap.