Posts Tagged 'Boko Haram'

John Cardinal Onaiyekan’s 2016 Christmas message

By

+John Cardinal Onaiyekan

 

NTA, VON, RADIO NIGERIA CHRISTMAS 2016

CAROLS AND NINE READINGS

NATIONAL CHRISTIAN CENTRE, ABUJA, Sunday 12th 2016

Message by +John Cardinal ONAIYEKAN, Archbishop of Abuja

 

  1. We thank God for bringing us together once again this year for the usual annual celebration of the Christmas season. This celebration of Carol and Readings has become a yearly custom of the NTA and Radio Nigeria and I congratulate them for keeping faith no matter the circumstances around us. Despite the economic down turn and recession, we must celebrate and rejoice at Christmas time, because the core of the Christian message recalls the abiding love of God for humanity. This is brought out very clearly in the gospel of St John – “Yes, God loved the world so much that He gave His Only son.” John 3:16.

 

  1. First of all, Christmas is a Christian celebration which has a specific meaning for those who believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God made man, an unimaginable doctrine that is tenable only to those who have received the gift of the Christian faith. The Christian therefore celebrates not only the gift of a wonderful child but also the enactment of God’s greatest plan for humanity, His becoming man and living among us. “The word was made flesh, he lived among us.” John 1:13. St Paul made this clear when he said: “When the appointed time, God sent His Son, born of a woman.” Gal. 4:4. That woman is the Virgin Mary, the young girl of Nazareth. Already in the Old Testament, the Prophet Isaias foresaw that a “The Virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Emmanuel.” Is. 7:14 Matthew quoted this text in his story of the annunciation of the birth of Jesus in Mat. 1:23, adding that Emmanuel is “a name which means ‘God is with us’”. Mat. 1:24. Christians therefore have a profound spiritual motivation for celebrating Christmas.

Christmas however, is a celebration for the whole world because it is an essential part of the Christian faith that God’s love embraces every human being. That is perhaps why the Christmas mood spread all over the world in these weeks, as we see decorations and shopping sprees in all the great capitals of the world.

 

  1. We should not forget that it was not so at the beginning. When Jesus was born over 2000 years ago, it was an obscure event. Only Mary, Joseph and a few shepherds were aware that a great thing had happened to our universe. But today there is a general mood of joy, of peace and of sharing. Even if for many people, the reason for this season may be forgotten or entirely unknown, our faith in the Lord Jesus is that the Lord of history is in charge of his creation in us and despite us.

 

  1. In Nigeria, we thank God that Christmas has become a popular celebration, involving all our fellow citizens. The government grants a two-day public holiday to enable everyone celebrate, both Christians and non-Christians. It is a good thing that Christians celebrate with their neighbours who are not of the same faith.

Everyone must share in this mood of joy, peace and hope. It is a mood of God being with us. It is joy in the midst of challenges and economic recession, hope against every despair and faith to be able to see light at the end of the tunnel of a rather somber environment. It is a season for sharing, for expressing solidarity and for reaching out to others especially to the poor and needy. Perhaps there will be less heavily loaded hampers flying around this year. But there must not be less generosity among us all. Perhaps we must seriously consider this year those with whom we exchange gifts. Jesus said: “If you do good to those who do good to you, what thanks can you expect? Lk. 6:33. For the very fact that there are so many of our countrymen who are in situations of distress and poverty, this is all the more reason therefore why all of us, especially we who are Christians, must reach out to them, wherever we can, at our own levels.

 

  1. The nation not only celebrates the Christian festival of Christmas but also the Muslim religious feasts. It shows the importance of religion in our land. This is a spiritual asset which should make a positive impact in our land. True religion must be for peace, for justice, for honesty and harmony. Christmas is a time for us to take up anew the challenges of fashioning good relations among our differing religious communities. And this is not only between Christians and Muslims but also within our various religious faiths. It is becoming more and more clear now that if we do not arrive at harmony within our faiths, it will be difficult to achieve peace between our faiths.

 

  1. This is a task that we must all put our heads to. To do this we must recognize certain realities which are there, not without the permission and the plan of God himself. We must admit that we live in a country where there is a pluralism of religions. It is a fact that we cannot change. The wise attitude therefore, is to cultivate as much as we can respect for our differences and be fair to everyone. Here the golden rule is always valid – “Do to no one what you would not want done to you”.

Our differences however are not the end of story because we do have a lot of things in common. We therefore must try to seek those common grounds in terms of those shared spiritual and religious values which then help us to be able to join hands to face the challenges that afflict all of us, without discrimination or distinction. Whether it is Ebola or Malaria, HIV/AIDS or even corruption, every religious community is challenged to take action with the spiritual resources at its disposal, for the common good of all.

For all this to happen, we need to agree on the place of religion in our nation. The age-old debate of the relationship between politics and religion cannot be avoided. Nor can we make any serious progress as a nation with serious disagreement on this matter. This is particularly crucial in the area of the law of the land. Can we distinguish between the legal civil code that binds each one of us as citizens of the same nation and the religious moral norms which each of us have embraced in freedom as part of his or her own religion? If we sincerely want a nation that is united and integrated, we must work seriously towards one law for every citizen. If we must tell the truth, it must be said that the Sharia issue is still burning. Recent moves in the National Assembly for a drastic review of our constitution to make room for ecclesiastical laws side by side with Sharia is perhaps only the first salvo in a looming religious war that I believe is not too late to avoid. It is therefore indeed about time we begin to think seriously about thoroughly reviewing our constitution in the line of working towards one nation, one law. Despite our pluralism of religions, and maybe even because of this, one law ought to be enough for the entire nation, provided the freedom of everyone is guaranteed. This can be achieved with the following two simple conditions: that the law of the land must not command what religious laws forbid, and that it must not forbid what religious laws command. This leaves everyone to freely follow the injunctions of his or her own religion, without dragging in the state. This is what obtains in many countries which have one law for all citizens of diverse religions. With patience and a modicum of good will, this can be done also in our country, so that we can say good bye to fruitless conflicts over religious laws.

 

  1. We need therefore to promote and strengthen interreligious structures and initiatives. We should be building bridges rather than erecting more walls. Already we have a lot of informal bridges all around us, as most Nigerians relate quite well with their neighbours of other faiths. But formal structures have to be consciously promoted. Here the role of the Nigeria Interreligious Council, (NIREC) cannot be overemphasized. Nor can we delay indefinitely its resuscitation, so that it can once again be a forum for our efforts at promoting national religious harmony.

Interreligious dialogue is very important but not enough. We must also promote intra-religious harmony. Intra-religious dialogue demands that we acknowledge pluralism and differences even within our faiths. The Christian community must accept the challenge of working towards ever greater unity, as much as we can, rather than acquiescing, or even encouraging and maybe celebrating our present state of scandalous dividedness. We ask God to show us the way to sort out the problems that have been bedeviling the Christian Association of Nigeria, (CAN) in the past few years. For this crisis to end, all hands must be on deck, and every stake holder must take up its own responsibility.

Within the Islamic community, I beg to be allowed to strongly encourage that differences should also be recognized and taken on board, within the greater Islamic community. The recent crisis with the Shiite group is a cause for concern, not only for Muslims but for the entire nation. If there are other Muslim groups, they too must have a right to free expression and an opportunity for them to play their own role for the building up of our nation. Every religious group must be seen as seeking ways to serve God and through God serving our neighbor, within the ambit of the law of the land. It is the duty of the state to protect all genuine religions, and be very slow to ban any, no matter how inconvenient.

 

  1. Our country is in serious political, economic and social difficulties. We seem to have remained largely in the mood of political polarization typical of election campaign period. After the election which took place almost two years ago, campaigns are now over and we should by now be fully in governance mode. All hands must be on deck to face the many great challenges that are weighing heavily on our nation. We must forever ban the attitude of “winner take all”, which also tends to provoke in the losers the counter mood of “pulling them down”. The winners cannot rule alone and the losers must be prepared to cooperate with those who now have the duty to lead the nation in the way forward. Our geographical, religious and ethnic identities, all crisscross. This in itself is the gift of God for us to be able to bring down walls of division. The scandalous social disparity between the rich and the poor in our country has led to an intolerable yawning gap crying to be filled. Poverty and unemployment has been growing, leading to despair and frustration in many quarters, especially among the youth. Dishonesty and corruption have hardly visibly reduced. Our overwhelming problems require our common action from the different agents and stakeholders in the society.

 

  1. At this Christmas, we must accept the message of peace, peace by all means, including by the route of love, of humility and simplicity. It is of course the duty of government to make and enforce laws. But the endemic corruption in our land may be calling for some amount of negotiation towards repentance, refunds and possible amnesty. The limits of the route of tribunals are getting more and more obvious. The war against corruption must be waged with all possible weapons.

 

  1. It is the duty of the government to secure the land against armed insurrection. We congratulate our government for major progress made in dealing with Boko Haram crisis in the North East. Mr. President has reason to boast that Boko Haram, from the Military point of view has been “technically defeated”. But it is not yet all over. This is because there is a limit to how much arms and guns can do in this matter. We need to put more efforts in dialogue and political discussions leading to reconciliation. Here the role of religion for positive action must be more consciously exploited. Religious communities and leaders must come out to play their role, which is often very efficient and very cost effective, in comparison with budgets for military action.

We pray that soon, the millions of our country men, women and children still living in camps as Internally Displaced Persons, (IDPs) will be able to return home, a home that will be secure and ready to receive them. At the same time however, more should be done to give them a viable option of settling elsewhere in the country. For example there are many IDP camps all around Abuja. Those who have been languishing in these camps for more than two years have every right to ask for resettlement within the Federal Capital Territory. It is affront to human dignity to leave people to rot away in such camps. After all, almost all of us here have come to settle here from different parts of the nation. Why not them the IDPs? There is certainly enough space for them within the FCT, and the funding can be sourced if government would only muster the political will to embrace them, as fellow Nigerians.

  1. In the meantime, however, while we thank God that the Boko Haram in the North East has been “technically defeated”, another almost equally serious security challenge has been building up all over the nation. I am referring to the bands of heavily armed bandits who have gone on rampage for the last few years. They are often called “Fulani Herdsmen”. At times, we are told that they are foreign bandits who have invaded our nation. Whoever they are and wherever they are coming from, they have now constituted themselves into a major national security menace, which requires an effective action from our armed forces. They have been destroying farmlands, attacking villages and settlements, occupying captured ancestral lands and they have killed thousands of Nigerians. For example, only recently, my Episcopal colleague, Most Rev. Dr. Joseph Bagobiri, Catholic Bishop of Kafanchan, in the South of Kaduna State, issued a very moving press statement with the following gruesome statistics, for only within his ecclesiastical jurisdiction of Catholic Diocese of Kafanchan: 53 villages torched, 808 lives lost, 57people injured, 1422 houses destroyed, 16 churches demolished, 1 primary school knocked down, and property “conservatively” valued at 5.5 billion Naira destroyed or looted! This is horrendous. No wonder that my friend and brother, the Sultan of Sokoto, Mohamed Sa’ad Abubakar, has been quoted to have compared them to terrorists.

Reports from kidnapping victims have also confirmed the rumours that they have been responsible for much of the kidnappings going on in many parts of the country. This must stop. The authorities must take effective action, so as to defuse the rising tide of resentment and hatred in many communities against the Fulani herdsmen and all who are considered related to them. More ominously, some communities are already thinking and talking of arming themselves for self-defense. This is very bad news. May God show us the way forward.

  1. My dear listeners and viewers, fellow Nigerians, we all come from families. In our families, which are the most important social unit, we accept one another; our parents as well as our siblings, as gifts of God. We have not chosen them. God has given them to us. The same family attitude ought to be extended to our national belonging. Despite all debates about whether or not it was a mistake to have put us together in one country in 1914, the fact is that we are already together. To separate ourselves now would be indeed a herculean task. It would be wiser, and far less cumbersome and problematic to put all our efforts together to accepting one another as God’s gift, in the same nation given to us by God. We must do our best to live in peace and harmony, not only despite our differences but also because of our common values and common challenges.

 

  1. Let me conclude with the wise words from a great politician, diplomat and intellectual of our neighbouring nation of Benin Republic. His name is Professor Albert Tevoedjre. He says:

 

 

“Faced with the impossibility of placing a soldier behind each citizen to guarantee his or her safety, the only credible sustainable option is to strengthen all the mechanisms that enable us to LIVE TOGETHER, despite all our differences.”

Happy Christmas to everybody.

And may the Lord God bless our nation, in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

wEtin dey hAppen?

by

Noel Ihebuzor

Spiralling out of control, spinning,
tumbling into free fall,
our Nero chases rodents
his followers cheer on,
reason & vision drowned

I had just read a report of a Bomb explosion in PH this morning.

Yesterday, ChannelsTV reported that GMB made very critical remarks on the GEJ’s administration’s handling of the BH insurgency when the BBOG group, who were strategic allies in GMB’s campaign, came calling. He forgot to tell his audience that at critical moments in the GEJ government’s efforts to deal with BH, He (GMB) made remarks calculated to discourage any robust muscling up of effort. He forgot to mention that of some his unfortunate cooments sounded like poorly disguised apologia for the BH savages. Even worse was the fact that GMB was making those remarks at the BBOG reception against the backdrop of his own seeming inability to respond creatively to the recrudescence of BH carnage right under his nose and on his incipient 40 day old watch. I almost flipped. Your house dey burn, you dey chase mouse, playing blame games, looking for cheap popularity and offering hollow over-used excuses! So I hastily scribbled these incoherent lines in the poem above as catharsis. Forgive the imperfections.

Flights of fancy and flights from reality – A million other things that damaged President Jonathan

By

Noel Ihebuzor

GEJ, a great president. a humble man, a silent achiever

This link line takes you to an article in TheCable that claims to examine “a million other things that damaged President Jonathan” in his re-election bid. It is wriiten by one Chidi Chima and was uploaded on Twitter via @thecableng #2015Elections .  Chidi invites his readers to also come up with and contribute their views on what they think “damaged President Jonathan”.

Chidi Chima skipped Region & Religion! The reader is invited to visit INEC’s results compilation for the 2015 presidential elections and to look closely at the votings in NE, NW & SS zones. Skewed Demography, Religion & Region were at play and were the real “damagers”. This is the harsh truth and we need to tell ourselves some of these hard truths, but Chima prefers to flee from them. If, for example, the SE zone had come out and voted and given Jonathan 750,000 votes each and kept Buhari below 10% of votes cast, as was the case in most of the NE/NW zones, the results would have been otherwise. So, the game changer and decider in these elections were once again Ethnicity and Religion, not any of these fancy reasons that Chidi Chima throws up! Finally, Chidi Chima will do well to study the results for the presidential elections for the FCT and Lagos where populations and religions are more heterogeneous – the results here could be taken to reflect a more balanced representation as to how a cross section of Nigerians inhabiting a common geographical space evaluated the Jonathan presidency.

If good news gives you a bad headache, then you need APC

By

Noel Ihebuzor

Rejoice with the good, celebrate the positive and come away from criticism for criticism’s sake. It is sterile and cheap – a plea for sense and moderation.

  1. The attitude of the APC leadership to the military campaigns in the North East is baffling and appears unpatriotic.
  2. APC leadership appears to rejoice at news of any reversals or loss of men/territory/weaponry by our military.
  3. Elements of this party leadership mocked and teased the military and the presidency over the debacle that was the failed cease fire.
  4. Recall that the ceasefire was conceived primarily to ease suffering and to explore solutions to the insurgency, not to score political points.
  5. The same party leadership guffawed when the attempt to purchase arms through SA failed. The weapons were to improve the operational efficiency of the military.
  6. Improving the operational efficiency of the military was meant to help the military quickly degrade the BH, not about elections.
  7. The military has now acquired new weaponry, morale is on the rise and battle tide has turned and the APC leadership is unhappy.
  8. The APC leadership now accuses the military and the presidency of politics. They claim the timing of these military gains is political.
  9. What is the APC leadership telling Nigerians? That they prefer Nigerian territory to remain under insurgent control till after the elections?
  10. That they prefer Nigerian men and women who have suffered to continue to suffer till after the elections? That they put electoral ambitions ahead of consideration of the emotional health, safety and security of Nigerians?
  11. These are the messages that the APC leadership is sending out to Nigerians, wittingly or unwittingly.
  12. Such messages are clearly unpatriotic. Please let us all rejoice with our troops who are liberating territories.
  13. Let us salute the gallantry of the military. The sacrifices they make go beyond petty politics.
  14. Certain things go beyond politics and it requires a large heart, decency, dignity and patriotism to see and appreciate such.
  15. Where good news about your country consistenlty gives you a bad headache, then something is definitely wrong – some debilitating conditions present in this way! Time to seek help as neither APC nor Codeine nor Paracetamol can provide any lasting cure.

Shehu’s reply – On OBJ, GMB and GEJ – what does available evidence say?

Thanks for sharing Dan Agbese’s 2000 article about Haroun Adamu’s probe
of the Petroleum Trust Fund. It seems that people are digging but I can
tell you that left to himself alone Buhari cannot device ways of being
dishonest but in league with others, he has never had any problem
partaking in dishonesty. That, in fact, is his current situation.

Any expectation that a Buhari government will make an impact in dealing
with the problem of dishonesty in government is fantasy as I have
consistently maintained. Headline making stories are only a minor
reflection of the scale of the problem of dishonesty. Buhari knows
nothing about relevant policy formulation and it is not a priority for
his current leader, Asiwaju.

Buhari didn’t run the PTF. He left it to the late Salihidjo Ahmad who
came from his circle of friends and family, and went to sleep. It was
run just like any old corrupt Nigerian government venture. No difference
whatsoever. Its officials took bribes, awarded overinflated contracts
and the like. As a result of this, one of the men on the board of the
PTF, the late Group Captain Usman Jibrin who would have none of it
decided to resign. Buhari stayed put.

I also see you paying attention to Obasanjo’s self-serving talk.
Obasanjo has zero credibility. Not many are seeing this right now but it
is to the credit of Jonathan that he has actually grown the balls to
refuse to continue to take dictation from him.

If truth be told, it is easier to point to where Jonathan has spent
money in his four+ years than it is to show where Obasanjo did in his
first term. Let us be concrete. Obasanjo faced turbulence, Sharia riots,
Odi. Obasanjo failed to punish the perpetrators of the Sharia riots,
that served to embolden others including the Haramites; he was
high-handed in dealing with Odi, that served to further militarise.

Jonathan has had to deal with the consequences of Obasanjo’s failures,
in addition to the BH which is now a problem with a serious
destabilizing foreign dimension. This has provided a very tough
environment for the government. Worse, owing to the circumstances in
which he came into office and the sense of betrayal felt by the many
Northerners who consider their turn to rule as having been hijacked, as
well as his failure to properly reach out to the disgruntled, he has
been unable to win the confidence and support of influential sections of
the North. This failure is what I foresaw in 2011, and warned that it
could lead to division.

That North is also suffering from another problem which is a direct
consequence of the Babangida privatisation programme which was
accelerated and completed by Obasanjo. I have a problem with the
privatisation of vital social services but that is irrelevant here.
Recall the old days. There was a time when people looked forward to
Board appointments, First Bank, NITEL and the whole battery of other
huge government owned enterprises. Membership of those boards afforded

people the opportunity to use their influence to serve the interests of
their immediate communities, and because of the Federal Character
principle, this patronage was widely spread but always what were seen to
be the choicest positions were invariably occupied by Northerners.
Federal Character also ensured that there was a spread of offices of
those companies occupied by local employees thoughout the country.

That disappeared completely under Obasanjo. The persons who bought the
privatised companies were mainly persons from outside the North, ditto
those who stepped up to fill the vacuum created by the disappearance of
NITEL who have only been driven by market considerations which cannot
overlook employee competence. It’s not been noticed by many but the
handful of companies bought by Northerners, like Nigerian Ropes and
Steyr, have floundered or have been comatose since they acquired them.

For a North used to widescale patronage, it has been hard to deal with
new realities, which is why so many there are intent on doing whatever
they can to to ensure a return to the old comforts. One new reality from
which there is no escaping is that Jonathan has actually shown a
commitment to making and fulfilling promises which is why he has been
running for re-election on his record, something which Obasanjo did not
do in 2003.

Obasanjo could not have done so. He built a stadium in Abuja, and its
Games Village. That’s it. He channeled a lot of money towards power
generation. Liyel Imoke has yet to account for what became of that
expenditure. The rest of the time, Obasanjo was away from his desk on
extended visits abroad. He left Atiku to run the government. He provided
no account of the proceeds of privatisation. Obasanjo and Atiku were
later to build their own private schools and universities.

By contrast, Jonathan has built new government schools and universities;
built a major new railway line, Kaduna-Abuja, for the first time in a
hundred years; built a road between Abuja and Lokoja that is the finest
in the country; is building a metro line in Abuja; empowered Innoson
motors of Nnewi to manufacture transport buses that are visible on our
highways. All these are things he committed to doing in the aftermath of
the oil subsidy saga, and he has managed to do them despite the major
challenge of BH.

I have not dismissed the view that aspects of the complex BH problem are
the work of persons working to return to that which they had grown
accustomed. But what’s your general take on the election campaign so

far? I honestly fear it may all end up being of only “academic
interest.” The stakes are very very high. There are operators with ugly
records who will stop at nothing. There is trouble on the horizon. I
have sent out warnings. I hope they are heeded.


shehu
===

Osinbajo to the rescue

By

Noel A.Ihebuzor

I stayed up to watch the Osinbajo interview on @Channelstv last night 04/01/2015.

The professor was brilliant, articulate and fluent. At some point, it looked like he had taken over the interview from the interviewer. By most standards, that was a good outing for the APC. The Professor Pastor succeeded in rescuing the APC from the media disaster that was GMB’s (its flag bearer and presidential candidate) outing on the same channel a few weeks back when GMB conveyed the impression of a man who was lost and out of his depths even in the shallowest of waters. GMB had projected an image of a disturbing shallowness during much of that interview. It was a sad performance, painful to watch for both audiences at home and for the interviewer. At the end of the interview, most watchers concluded that the man who had demonstrated such ineptitude on such a simple interview was not fit to lead Nigeria. Some even wondered how such a person ever made it through the ranks in the army. Osinbajo has wiped that disgrace from the face of his boss and from the face of the APC. But his success also further accentuates the perception that his principal is starkly deficient.

The Osinbajo interview holds another interest for me though. And it is that Osinbajo, without wanting to, almost ended up endorsing Jonathan’s transformation agenda in the energy sector. Take out the deliberate evasiveness, acquired no doubt, over years of legal practice. Cut through the eloquence and oratory, polished no doubt, by years of preaching and teaching,  and ask yourself what Osinbajo said about power sector reform that is really new? I hope I am being fair but what I heard him saying amounts to this – “We will do the same as GEJ and team are doing but we will also privatize transmission”. What are we to make of such a plan when we know that TCN is already privatized via a management agreement. We must do well to remind ourselves at this point that privatization is a continuum that encompasses management agreement, concession and sale of assets, a fact that which Professor Osinbajo’s suggestion’s of an APC led privatization of transmission as an innovation fails to bring out. The planned innovation is already on-going! He also says that an APC administration would streamline gas supply to power the turbines and bring more  IPPs on stream. How different is this from what is going on currently? Is APC’s change not PDP transformation dressed up as a synonym? To be credible change must be real and not a convenient buzz word.

On dealing with insurgency, Osinbajo nearly allowed his eloquence to dribble him into trouble when he almost suggested that the  entire country was not behind the efforts  to defeat BH. Almost trapped, Osinbajo beat a hasty retreat and sought refuge in a sound byte “leading from the the front”  and in the platitude of preaching a “bipartisan approach”, conveniently forgetting that his  principal had earlier rebuffed efforts by GEJ in this same direction. Who does not remember that GMB refused to serve on a task team set up by Jonathan to address and resolve the insurgency?

Finally, that Osinbajo cleverly avoided answering the question of near identity of persons and characters in APC and PDP (given the dominant  recruitment and resourcing strategy of defection in the two parties) says a lot about him. It says something about an emergent personality trait that can only come from acquiring the third P of politician. Only a politician too can choose to gloss over severe human rights abuses in GMB’s first coming and seek to justify these by claims that the administration was hailed and welcomed by all on arrival. A pastor would have shown some remorse over the gross human rights abuses that were associated with Buhari/Idiagbon regime and apologized to Nigerians on behalf of his principal for these. But not this eloquent professor of law and pastor turned politician.

So, as we admire his impressive outing, let us welcome Osinbajo, Pastor, Professor and Politician and pray that the occupational hazards from his latest P do not drown out or crowd out the fine attributes from the first two Ps.

El-Rufai, Boko Haram apologist, political opportunist or verbal contortionist? Your call!

By

Noel A. Ihebuzor

I visited my archives and found a rejoinder I wrote to this article by Malam Nasir El-Rufai. It is still worth reading for two reasons. The first is the persisting BH scourge which has been marked lately by the increasing savagery, mindlessness and bestiality of their attacks. The kidnapping of innocent schools in Chibok and the earlier slaughter of school children outside their dormitory represent the high point of this campaign of sadistic and mindless savagery. The second reason to read the article again is related to recent attempts to firm up, embellish and market a four variants model of Boko Haram by Mr El-Rufai. How solid is the evidence for such a model? How good is a model building that picks, chooses and stretches evidence at the whims of convenience? What levels in frequency of occurrence justify inferences and conclusions on which such a bold four variant models is built?  Such questions are worth asking as the country struggles to separate fact from fiction and facts from faction-driven twists and distortions. Model building is a serious business and is different from an exercise embarked upon out of spite and bitterness and in a style characterized by malicious flippancy. In its present form, Mr El-Rufai’s four variants model is not very persuasive. Its intentions are not to clarify issues but to obfuscate and to divert attention and public wrath from the sponsors and apologists of BH. The reader will recall that Malam El-Rufai had in the recent past, with plenty of characteristic indecent haste, given great publicity to an interview granted by Dr. Davis which had suggested, by implication, that Gen Ihejirika was a BH sponsor. Gen Ihejirika has since replied and the reader is advised to read all three sources – the Davis interview, the El-Rufai uncritical publicity blitz of the same and the General’s Response and make up his/her mind as to where truth, sanity and decency lie.

Click here for the El-Rufai article – and read my rejoinder below. At the end, ask yourself this question, in consideration of the said article, my rejoinder and recent outbursts by Malam El-Rufai whether we are dealing with a BH apologist, a political opportunist, a verbal contortionist or simply with a man in acute need of help.

=========

This is a very revealing write-up. Though well researched, the findings of the research are selectively used and herein lies its major flaw. Malam El-Rufai may not want to be seen as apologist and spokesperson for the BH but this is the impression that stays with one as one goes through much of this article. Let me illustrate with one or two examples.

I will be drawing excerpts liberally from the write up by Mr Nasir El-Rufai (NER for short in the rest of this comment) as I make my long comment, with advance apologies to NER for any plagiarism.

NER describes BH as peaceful in origin. But read below –

“In April 2007, Sheikh Jaafar was murdered in cold blood while praying in his mosque in Kano by assailants that years later turned out to be suspected members of a sect to be known as Boko Haram, operating out of Bauchi State”.

Can such a group be correctly described as “largely peaceful”. Largely peaceful should be made of more peace conducing acts!

NER affirms “Many in the North see the patent inaction of the authorities as the advancement of a sinister agenda to destroy an already near prostate northern economy through occupation, militarization and disruption of socio-economic activities. The federal government has done nothing to deny these or indicate otherwise, and the state governments have acquiesced to the cavalier attitude of the Villa.”

This is mischievous, inaccurate, unhelpful and is deliberately crafted to further incite a section of the country against the rest. NER knows that action has been engaged and is on-going yet NER finds it convenient and expedient to the advancement of the agenda he defends to deny these.

NER also tries to distinguish between what he calls variants of BH – “Many of us believe that there are at least four variants of Boko Haram – the real BH and three other fakes – sponsored by the government, politicians and criminal groups – that use the brand to advance their own self-centered agendas”. Questions for NER – who is this “Many of us” and where is the evidence base for this belief? Unless substantiated, such sweeping statements are simply exercises in sensationalism and are very unhelpful.

NER says nothing in this write up of the consistent targeting of symbols or institutions of Christianity by the BH. This is a deliberate omission that weakens the credibility of his analysis of the causes of the BH terrorism. Rather, NER is at pains to point out greater northern and Muslim casualties as a result of BH terrorism. Here, he creates the unfortunate impression that his primary concern is with the lives of northerners and Muslims, a focus which I believe betrays a mind-set we should all condemn. One also notices with great concern the very subtle manner NER tries to elevate BH terrorism to the level of an insurgency challenge.

NER appears to know what does not motivate BH and can thus advise those thinking of an amnesty type program to go back to the drawing board! To what does NER owe this knowledge?  Yet NER recommends dialogue and “honest discussions” between government and BH, and with that the implicit that either that there have not been such dialogues or that discussions that have taken place so far have not been honest!

NER’s section where he mentions the Maitatsine is particularly worrying since it could be read to mean that persisting difficulties with unearthing BH in the north could reflect surrounding community acceptance and admiration of this group. If this is true, then there is indeed great cause for worry. If it is not then NER’s “the current situation in Kano and Borno States is one in which the military occupiers are killing more innocent people than Boko Haram, which injustice is creating resentment against the Army” should be read as unfortunate attempt at creating resentment against law enforcement agencies carrying out a difficult national assignment against a terrorist group that vanishes into and blends with the crowd.

NER’s last paragraph reads like a recommendation and endorsement of terror tactics and he achieves this through very crafty paragraph editing. The paragraph commences with an argument that military solutions alone against terrorists do not work, and then shifts to a case for government to act to stop the loss of lives and to deliver a country that works for all. He then ends by urging government to bend over backwards to make this happen. Implicit in all of this is that things are not working well for portions of the country who are now up in arms. This way, NER hopes to reposition and brand the BH terror campaign as a crusade for social justice and not as a manifestation of religious fanaticism, extremism and intolerance which has now been tapped into by a bigoted political elite. And by the way, is the implied threat in NER’s last sentence really necessary?


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