The All Progressives Congress, APC, has said President Goodluck Jonathan bears a huge moral burden that will haunt him for a long time to come for deliberately allowing the Boko Haram insurgency to fester, leading to the deaths of over 15,000 Nigerians and the displacement of over 3 million others in the past six years.
In a statement issued in London on Tuesday by its National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, the opposition party also hailed the Nigerian military for the successes it has recorded in the battle against Boko Haram in recent times, saying the string of victories confirms the party’s stand that the Nigerian military can hold its own anywhere and anytime, if provided with the necessary equipment and if the morale of the troops is not undermined.
The opposition party noted that by his own admission that he and his team “underrated the capacity of Boko Haram”, President Jonathan has finally owned up to his globally-acknowledged incompetence, a development which, in truly democratic societies, should be part of a statement of resignation by a leader whose terrible error of judgment has caused so many deaths and inflicted so much pain and sorrow on his compatriots.
APC said the truth is that the president deliberately allowed the Boko Haram crisis to fester because he and his team saw it as their trump card for winning re-election in 2015 by currying local and global sectarian sympathy with a Muslim-group-killing-Christians narrative that totally distorts the fact that Boko Haram is a band of marauders, who have no consideration for ethnicity, regionalism, religion or any other thing beyond their mad disposition to terror.
The party said the marauders are equal-opportunity killers who went after Christians, Muslims, northerners, southerners, men, women, the old, the young, the rich and the poor.
The party recalled that it had raised the alarm on many occasions, including during an appearance at the British Parliament in 2014, when its spokesman, Lai Mohammed, said the PDP and President Jonathan were using the Boko Haram crisis as a trump card to retain power in 2015.
“Is it not curious that the same President who has stood by while Boko Haram decimates a whole section of the country over the past six years has suddenly realized there is something he could do to crush the sect in six weeks? Is it not curious that a military that has been globally acknowledged for its successes in peacekeeping at regional and international levels has suddenly found itself unable to tackle a band of criminals? Is it not curious that the necessary fighting equipment that have not been made available to the military, despite the injection of over 32 billion US dollars into the defence and security sector since 2008, have suddenly become available?
“There are more questions to be asked: At what point did President Jonathan begin to have a clear idea that Boko Haram is a major threat to the very survival of our country? Was it after about 300 innocent girls were abducted from their school in Chibok or before? Was it after hundreds of boys were slaughtered in a secondary school in Buni Yadi or before? Or, was it before or after the Nyanya bomb blast that led to the deaths of hundreds of people? Just when did our President wake up to his primary responsibility?
“The truth is that after their Boko Haram-as-a-trump-card strategy blew up in their face and their electoral fortunes plummeted, the PDP-led Jonathan Administration came to the realization that a stepped-up campaign against the insurgents is needed to revive their electoral fortunes, hence they then decided to pep up the military and rally regional troops – the same suggestions from the opposition that the Administration has pointedly ignored over the years – to combat the terrorists.
“President Jonathan, who is also the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, must take responsibility for the monumental cost, whether of his incompetence or his political strategy-gone-awry or both, apologize to the nation and immediately back down from seeking re-election. The President must not be allowed to profit from an error of judgement that has cost 15,000 lives, forced over 3 million out of their homes and cost the taxpayers 32.88 billion US dollars”, APC said.
The party also expressed concern at the efforts of the Jonathan Administration to make Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau look invincible, with the president’s statement that Shekau will be caught before the elections.
“It is no longer news that the authorities have gleefully announced the killing of Shekau at least twice in the past, with the picture of the supposedly-dead Boko Haram leader widely circulated in the social and traditional media. That raises the question as to which Shekau is to be captured. Or are we to believe the stories making the rounds that the government plans to capture a ‘Shekau’, who will then be used to implicate Gen. Muhammadu Buhari as a sponsor of the sect, just to pull the brakes on his runaway acceptance by Nigerians?” it queried.
APC said while Nigerians will undoubtedly be happy and relieved to see an end to the Boko Haram insurgency, they must be wondering what would have happened if the plummeting electoral fortunes of President Jonathan had not forced his Administration to push for the six-week postponement of the general elections. They must also be wondering what would have happened if the elections have been scheduled for 2016, instead of 2015.
The party, therefore, commended the long-suffering, gallant Nigerian soldiers and called on all Nigerians to continue to support them and the battle against insurgency.
“We urge Nigerians to continue to pray for the successes of our troops in the battle to rid Nigeria of insurgency and return our displaced citizens to their homeland. Peace and security in our land will provide the necessary environment for our party to implement the plan for the rebuilding and rehabilitation of our economy especially the major theatres of insurgency”, APC said.