This piece is by Mr Tunde Fagbenle, a veteran Journalist and newspaper columnist.
There are no words to describe or denounce sufficiently the gravity of the latest run of Boko Haram madness on the land. The country woke up on April 15 to numbing media reports of the calamity of the day before (Monday, 14th): bomb explosions at the busy Nyanya motor park in the Federal Capital Territory, resulting in one of the largest casualties in the history of Boko Haram reign of terror, with figures of the dead – ranging from 80 to 100 and the injured in several hundreds.
Nyanya, to be sure, is an Abuja suburb in the neck of woods of Aso Rock where the President lives. Weeks earlier, if we may recall, the dreaded terrorist sect boldly attacked the citadel of state security (SSS) within the vicinity of the Villa in an attempt to free some of their members held in detention. I hope the import is clear: Mr. President, “knock, knock…”
Barely 24 hours earlier (Sunday, 13th) to the Nyanya blast I was in Abuja. It could have been me; it could have been anyone.
The very next day (Tuesday 15th) Boko Haram went ahead to abduct about 100 schoolgirls of the Girls Secondary School, Chibok, in Borno State. The girls were preparing for their Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination. The fate of the girls, as of the time of writing this, is unknown.
Boko Haram is certainly on the loose, killing, maiming, looting, burning, virtually at will and indiscriminately. On the very day of the Nyanya mayhem, VANGUARD newspaper had just headlined its front page, unbeknownst to it what the day had in stock: “Bloody Weekend In Borno – 60 killed in fresh Boko Haram attacks.” And the story: “Barely 48 hours after suspected Boko Haram terrorists massacred more than 200 persons including students who were taking their Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME), the insurgents, yesterday (Sunday, 13th) continued their killing spree as they killed no fewer than 60 persons in Ngoshe and Kaigamari villages of Borno close to the border with Cameroon.”
There certainly has been a concentration of attacks on schools and colleges by the terrorists since their resurgence in the last three or four years, but intensified of late, as if to buttress their ab initio denunciation of “Western education”, that, as the Boko Haram name proclaims, it is “sin”!
Let’s face it, if their indiscriminate and wanton destruction of lives and property in the North-East, and here and there in the north, is anything to go by, everything in the eye of the Boko Haram is sin: churches and mosques, innocent children and women, places of work, everything. Indeed, Nigeria’s continued existence is sin!
There is nothing I want to write about these mindless criminals called Boko Haram that I have not written in the last several years. And I quote some:
In the column of 01/01/12 following the contemptible “Xmas gift” of December 2011 whereby churches near Abuja and elsewhere in the North were bombed, I wrote:
“We will live with this for a while, a long while, one incomprehensible group replacing another, one incomprehensible demand after another.
“President Jonathan is in a fix. He may change his security guys all he wants…he may bring in the army and level all of two or more towns in Obasanjo’s Odi fashion, he will not be able to stop these mindless bombings – how do you stop faceless suicide bombers? … Are we then on the “road to Kigali”? Is sectarian strife the new order? …Are we at the onset of the disintegration of Nigeria or will the centre hold?”
And in the column of 11/11/12, I wrote: “It is muddling and disheartening to find intellectuals and the elite in the North appear to make excuses for the coming of the Boko Haram in our body polity; some even virtually helping to ‘shape’ the incoherent, senseless and shifting Boko Haram demands.
“…It is time for the real leaders in Boko Haram’s North to speak with one voice, without equivocation, to condemn the terrorists and give them no hiding place or “hiding rationale” before they put an end to Nigeria – unless, of course, that’s the whole idea!”
And after another motor park was bombed in Sabongari, Kano in March 2013, I wrote in the column of 24/03/13: “The latest Sabongari, Kano bus station bombing, with the rumoured or threatened reprisals by folk in the East whose people are the main casualties, has forced upon the Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence Saad Abubakar III, one of the strong pro-amnesty proponents, a new appreciation of the danger the country faces.
“He is quoted to have said: ‘This new trend of bombing at a motor park, and the killings that ensued, on innocent people that gathered to travel to various destinations at New Road, Sabon-Gari, Kano, is disturbing and alarming… It seems there is a design to set the entire North on crises and by extension, the whole country, starting with Kano…’
“For Nigeria, tomorrow is hard to foretell”
And then, in the column of 14/07/13, after the murdering of 29 schoolchildren and a teacher of the Government Secondary School, Mamudo, Yobe State, I wrote:
“One thing is clear; they (Boko Haram) cannot exist in a vacuum or obscurity such that no one would know who they are, where they sleep, etc. It has been said, and I agree, that terrorists succeed only to the degree of the persuasion, indulgence, or collaboration of the bulk of their people. If the people do not want them, then they have no hiding place. And if they are invaders from foreign land, shame on the country if we cannot defend our territory against these evil marauders.”
Granted, the advent of Boko Haram predates Jonathan’s presidency, but let it be said and known that if there is any inkling of anti-Jonathan political agenda behind all these nihilistic turns, then there can be nothing more self-defeating. It will be serving Jonathan’s yet-undeclared second term interest in great measure, for the mere thought of any group (interest) being behind these dastardly acts is sufficient to unite the rest of the country solidly in confrontation.
In this regard also, all the talk of All Progressives Congress or whatever suggesting that they have the magic wand for pocketing Boko Haram when, and if, APC gets into power is not only mischievous but insanely so, unless, indeed, remote puppeteers of the terrorists reside within the party.
2015 is far too long to allow Boko Haram continued free reign during which another several thousands of us may be sacrificed on the altar of politicking. The life of every Nigerian must count. Unfortunately for the APC, it is catch 22: Boko Haram assault ends, with or without help from opposition party, and Jonathan takes credit; it does not end and the unsupportive opposition take the flak.
Bottom line, the way I see it, it would not matter anymore whether President Jonathan is competent or not, whether he is clueless or not, he gets my vote and I wager my last kobo, he gets the vote of every other anti-Boko Haram Nigerian unless everyone, regardless of party, ethnic or religious affiliation sees the scourge as against us all and join hands to find the solution to permanently exterminate Boko Haram from our land – NOW!
And that’s saying it the way it is!
By Tunde Fagbenle