By: WILLY EYA and OMONIYI SALAUDEEN
With the level of insecurity and orgy of violence in the northern part of the country, tension is gradually mounting in Nigeria. Among a greater percentage of the populace, there are fears that the nation is gradually drifting toward disintegration. And many believe that to stop the drift, President Goodluck Jonathan must sit up and wield the big stick. But should the measure include declaring a state of emergency in all the affected states of the North? Sunday Sun spoke to some prominent Nigerians. Excerpts…
Joseph Evah: Jonathan playing with fire The President is playing with fire for not declaring a state of emergency. When he declared a state of emergency the other time; he declared it just only in a few local government areas. That shows that he has bad political advisers. Political advisers of the President are just working for the opposition. When the federal government increased the pump price of petroleum products, the Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, told Nigerians that there was no going back.
Do you think he was helping Mr. President? They are serving the opposition. The president is surrounded by the agents of the opposition. The opposition has penetrated the presidency. They are confusing him. The President should ask his deputy, Namadi Sambo, to leave Aso Rock. When Yar’Adua was confronted with the problem of militancy in the Niger Delta, he asked Jonathan to go to the creeks and meet with the Niger Delta militants who were bombing pipelines and causing problems in Niger Delta, with the governors of the region.
They collectively talked with the boys in the creeks and peace returned to the Niger Delta. Why is Jonathan not directing the governors in the North to go and talk with Boko Haram? He should tell the Vice President to leave Aso Rock and relocate to the desert with the governors of the North. If Jonathan can declare a state of emergency in only three states, the political structure in the North will crumble because political leaders will no longer have free money to throw around. But he is reluctant to declare a state of emergency because he doesn’t want to offend the political leadership.
Yar’Adua did not care whether it will offend Jonathan or the governors of Niger Delta when he directed that they should go and meet with the militants and restore peace in the Niger Delta. Jonathan had to enter canoe to the creeks to meet with the militants. Why can’t Sambo too ride on the camel or donkey to Bauchi State to go and talk to the Boko Haram people?
They are doing all they are doing in order to force President Jonathan to step down, resign or run out of the country. My advice to Jonathan is to relocate to Port Harcourt or Bayelsa. The President can manage Nigeria from Port Harcourt. When Okah coup plotters attacked Dodan Baracks, Babangida escaped and relocated to Minna. Not until he completed Aso Rock Villa to his taste did he relocate to Abuja. Now, there is a threat to the life of the President.
So, he should relocate to Port Harcourt and manage Nigeria from there. He can also relocate to Bayelsa and manage Nigeria from Bayelsa. When everything is calm and normal, he can then go back to the Villa. The Vice President, Senate President and the Governors of the northern region are all aware of the secrets behind Boko Harm.
For the political leaders to tell us that they don’t know anything about what is happening means they are deceiving and insulting us. The violence is going on there because the political leaders have accepted it. And that is why we are wondering why Jonathan finds it difficult to direct the Vice President to relocate to Borno State or Kaduna State until they resolve the problem.
Yinka Odumakin: Nigeria on the road to Kigali Escalation of violence in the northern part of the country has reached a frightening dimension. Gradually, Nigeria is on the road to Kigali. Disintegration is already staring us in the face unless urgent steps are taken to restore calm, normalcy, peace and order. Unfortunately, the President who should be the Commander-in-Chief went to enjoy himself in Brazil, while his country burns. In the last two years as President, Jonathan has not shown that he is committed to end this violence.
It is either he is issuing condolence messages or saying we are top of the situation. At this point, he should take charge as Commander in Chief and bring order to the state. But it seems the President is enjoying what is going on believing perhaps that as much as there is Boko Haram problem, nobody will ask questions about good governance or issue of corruption that has brought so much shame to his government. All leaders of thought across Nigeria should come together and let the President know what needs to be done. If you are talking of declaration of a state of emergency, in how many areas are you going to declare a state of emergency?
What has been the result in areas where they had declared the state of emergency before now? 24 hours curfew has been imposed on Kaduna, has it stopped violence there? You have to do the right thing; you have to overhaul the security system. There is more to this thing than meets the eye. Sometimes ago, a man known as Kabiru Sokoto was arrested in connection with Boko Haram. In which court is he being tried today? After the bombing of the UN building, three suspects were paraded. Nine months after, where are they being tried?
The President told us last year that he knew the sponsors of Boko Ham. Why has he not revealed them? He told us earlier that he is going to end Boko Haram in June and things are getting bloodier in June. Yet, he still finds it necessary to go out of the country. Also, he told us that Boko Haram had infiltrated his government, SSS and the Army. Why has he not fished them out? Don’t forget also that Henry Okah went to South Africa to tell the world that the President and his people were privy to the October independence day bombing in 2010.
When you put all these together, you will know that the problem at hand is more than declaring a state of emergency. The President as Commander-In Chief needs to show Nigerians that he is committed to peace and stability of the country. He needs to do what needs to be done and not just to be seen to be enjoying what the Boko Haram group is doing.
Tanko Yakasai: Dialogue is the only way out I don’t think anybody has any other option other than dialogue. My appeal to Boko Haram is that they should listen to the appeal made by well-meaning Nigerians to accept dialogue. I am making this appeal because government has declared publicly that it is ready for dialogue. Every conflict in the world can only be resolved through dialogue.
When the Irish people in England waged war against the government for 40 years; in the end, they accepted dialogue and the conflict is history today. From our own experience also, we all knew how militancy problem in the Niger Delta region was resolved through dialogue. This killing, maiming, and destruction of lives and property will not help anybody. So, Boko Haram should listen to the voice of reason and embrace the option of dialogue.
Ladi Thompson: This is war against Nigeria President Jonathan should acknowledge that terrorists have declared war against the sovereignty of Nigeria. What is happening is a terrorist war against the sovereignty of Nigeria. Declaring emergency only in the North is a tactical error that will lead to more confusion. The federal government should declare emergency in the whole nation. Declaring emergency only in the North will further militarise the region and demoralise the average northerner.
Divided we fall, united we stand. Federal government is playing into the hands of global terrorist groups. Six months more of fumbling by the Federal Government, Nigeria is gone and nobody will be able to redeem it again. Let us adopt the approach by the United States when Al-Qaeda attacked four strategic places in the US.
How did other countries handle this thing? There was the 9/11 in the United States, 7/7 in Britain, not to mention Spain, India, France and all other countries who have had their attacks at one time or the other. The first thing was that the government moved swiftly to locate the problem that it is not one of Islam, Chritianity, politics, ethnicity but an Islamist problem. Tony Blair said the senseless killings and acts perpetrated by these people may be without sense to the average person in public but it is not without sense to those who are perpetrating it.
All the so-called senseless killings are being done towards a goal and that goal is clearly spelt out in all the utterances that the so-called groups that formed what we call the Boko Haram in Nigeria have been saying. And it is not different from what the international terrorist groups too have been saying. Number one is that they want to eradicate plurarity of religions-Sharia must be all over the country. Two is to eradicate the plebiscite-the democratic option must be done away with.
Three is that they want to reduce women’s rights to liberty- severely, it must be curtailed. Many other minor ones include the fact that they want to eradicate western education and replace it with Arabic education.
Oscar Onwudiwe: State of emergency dangerous It will be too dangerous to declare emergency rule in the North now. It will be like playing into the hands of the perpetrators of the violence. It will be like jumping the gun. We should engage in more negotiation and peace talks. Tafawa Balewa declared such in the South-West and it led to so many problems. Most of the Boko Haram members are not true Muslims but criminals because Islam is a religion of peace.
Balarabe Musa: Violence not new State of emergency is not necessary. It has not reached that stage. The security agencies should do their work. This is not the first time such violence is happening in Nigeria. So, a state of emergency is uncalled for.