President Jonathan has asserted his authority on cracking down on the dreaded boko haram group on numerous occasions. In March 2012, he promised that by June of the same year, his government would completely put an end to the threat of the group. One year on, the president has eaten his words and deployed an extra 8000 troops to troubled zones as the group is increasing its threats.
So far, the crackdown has been covert and the only report about it is what the Nigerian military press office says. Months ago, the military announced it was winning against the group. It announced that it had killed its leader, Abubakar Shekau and is closing on the sect swiftly.
After the Nigerian army announced a near victory and the death of Shekau, the boko haram has unleashed carnage on different parts of the North and Shekau has emerged in a new video promising more massacre. On the 17th of September, 2013, the boko haram mounted road blocks outside the town of Binisheikh and started pulling people out of their cars shooting and throwing dead bodies into the bush. In the carnage, over 160 people were killed with hundreds injured as a result. Again, around September 30th, 2013, the group gruesomely beheaded over 10 travellers around the Benisheik town of Yobe. Few days before, the group had killed over 24 students in Yobe while fast asleep. Presently, over 12,000 innocent civilians are believed to have taken refuge in nearby countries like Niger, Chad and Cameroun.
With the state of emergency in the North, it is difficult to tell of many other possible carnage that the boko haram might have unleashed as media organisations are not allowed to report from troubled zones. With its increasing force, it is almost certain that more carnage would be unleashed in coming weeks by the boko haram but where and how – would probably be difficult questions to answer, which means that Nigeria is facing the threat of boko haram as before.
If the military offensive is working, how come the boko haram has been able to kill more innocent civilians in recent months? How is the group able to mount road blocks for hours without any knowledge or interference of the military? Where is the 8000 man army patrolling the north east states? What is the intelligence arm of the military doing? And what has the billions of budget for security achieved so far?
It is very obvious that the Nigerian government is losing the battle and that the boko haram will continue to emerge with new tactics which would heighten threat levels in coming months. In its possible future tactic, the boko haram might align itself with other dreaded Islamist groups across borders like the Mujwa in Mali and other unknown sects in Niger, Chad, Cameroun and beyond to outstrip any military might or force. The boko haram might start the guerrilla type suicide bombing by ramming into anything and anybody like in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Of course, Mr President and his advisers are weak and lack the wherewithal to win the battle. President Jonathan fails to listen so many times and squanders resources on tactics that can win no war. The president is sold on the wrong idea that the boko haram is partly a creation of the phenomenon of Islamic jihad which has become a growing trend around the world. If boko haram is part of the global jihad movement, why has it not called or fought in international fronts or called for joint operations with others as other organisations like al-shaabab and AQIM in the Islamic Maghreb does, why has the group not unleashed terror in nearby countries like Ghana, Benin republic and the rest, calling for a global expansion of its movement?
The truth is that the boko haram emerged out of the long neglect of youths in the north who as a result spend almost their entire life without education and begging as street urchins. While all this happened through decades of neglect, the emergence of Jonathan as President did exacerbate the situation as his rivals exploited these youths as machines of mass violence. This has overtime emerged into a complex clash of political interests which has continued to fuel today’s ongoing aggression, and unless a political solution is sought quickly – Nigeria is perhaps just witnessing the beginning of an era of terrorism which would live and breed after Jonathan himself.
The solution lies with President Jonathan but he is too weak to play any card. He is a tired president who has given up already. For instance, on the occasion of Nigeria’s 53rd independence, the president expressed that: “No Boko Haram or any group can frustrate this country. We may suffer pains just like our Lord Jesus said at the critical moment that though the spirit is willing but the body is weak.”.....“Today you will agree with me that if you were in my shoes you will lack words to say”.
The above statement shows the mindset of a tired soul, it exposes a mindset that lacks doggedness and thoroughness and the heart of a leader that lacks determination and substance. Of many possible cards available to Mr Jonathan, he has only played the military option – which has never won any form of terror in the history of modern societies. Since the boko haram primarily emerged from a long decade of neglect of northern youths and out of the chaos of politics, he could have tailored his solution along such line.
President Jonathan messed up big time. He could have moved fast before his political enemies did by tapping into the restive youths. Mr Jonathan could have simply focused his attention on instilling life into education and reviving the regional economy through job creation and infrastructural development in the north. The president could have struck political deals with titans from the north and let intelligence and diplomacy play the rest of the game. He could have done deals to get the northern youths who turned into boko haram into apprentices and employees by investing in training and doing everything possible to engage them positively.
But some of these options are too late to pursue. The boko haram have grown many wings for any overt or covert ploy to work - no matter how sophisticated. The president has also left diplomacy for far too long a strategy to utilize. Now, the only option is to play to the gallery in whichever way possible until the next election and retire finally.
Mr Jonathan has every constitutional right to contest in any future election, but the debate is not about his legitimacy to contest, it is about the opportunity cost of another four years as President.
President Jonathan’s leadership has been worse off, electricity has not improved, accidents are increasing and food prices are sky high. Right thinking citizens would rather see the president go in the interest of peace than any more negative results that would arise as a result of another term.
The government has lost the battle against boko haram and Mr Jonathan has messed Nigeria up, big time.
The President has no dignity left, he should go and let peace reign.