By Bamidele Ademola-Olateju
Here we go again! What ceasefire? Who ought to declare the ceasefire? Is it the federal government or Boko Haram? Who declared war on the Nigerian state? Last Friday when it was reported that a ceasefire had been reached between Nigeria and Boko Haram terrorists that would ensure the release of 219 kidnapped schoolgirls, many people were skeptical. Who is the Danladi Ahmadu, that brokered the deal? What are his bonafides? Does he have access to the group or is he just an impostor? Is Danladi a trusted Muslim given his name? There is no one out there who has ever heard of this Danladi. Is Danladi a phony invented by Ali Modu Sheriff to save face? There are nuances involved in this “deal” that is telling.
Danladi Ahmadu many times during his VOA interview referred to the sect as Boko Haram instead of their oft preferred Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’Awati Wal-Jihad. In that same interview, he called himself the Secretary General of Boko Haram. Is Secretary General a title that would be used by a jihadi group? These nuances reveals the shallowness of the “deal” and the sincerity of the government. It is sad that this government has refused to get the memo that the world has indeed changed. Information is available at lightning speed and unlike before, they have no idea and no control on how information can be disseminated and how quickly words go out. Welcome to the age of social media and unconventional news outlets where nothing is censored or off limits.
We have been forced to endure numerous false starts, botched intelligence, outright lies and immense official confusion on reports of progress against Boko Haram. Aside from the veracity of the ceasefire claim, there are pertinent questions that needs to be answered. Why is it that there has been no public statement from Boko Haram that an agreement has been reached with government? Why was a ceasefire was reached after the black market arms deal was blown open? Why the renewed vigor to pursue this after oil futures started tumbling? Could it be that money feeding political terrorists is drying up? Why was this announced just about the time General Mohammadu Buhari declared his candidacy? Suddenly the Chibok girls would be released, right? Isn’t these more about plain electioneering, pandering to the electorate, and rank incompetence instead of genuine patriotism?
The government should get out of its cocoon of foolishness and sample opinion on the streets especially in the affected Northern States. I can help out with bits of the feelers out there: Nigerians feels the government knows what it is doing and doing whatever it is that is politically expedient. The questions on the lips of people are a legion. Who are the insurgents? Why is it that no one seems to know them, their parents or relatives except the masters? Who killed General Shuwa? Was there any investigation of General Shuwa’s death? If yes, what happened? If no, why was his death not investigated? Where is Mohammed Marwana, Abu Mohammed and Abu Zamira, the terror Chiefs who surrendered to the Turaki committee? Who kidnapped the popular Alhaji Shettima Ali Monguno? Was there any information obtained from him about his days in captivity? Michika, a town home to three serving Generals and retired General Buba Marwa was razed without any resistance, why? What do this people know that we do not know? What has the government done on the allegation by Dr. Steven Davis regarding General Ihejirika and Ali Modu Sheriff as sponsors of terror?
There is nothing authentic about this ceasefire agreement beyond the fact that it was announced by the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Marshal Alex Badeh. The government should stop playing politics with the lives of Nigerians. There are feelers that this truce was timed to coincide with the imminent announcement that President Goodluck Jonathan is going to run for re-election. Upon Ali Modu’s defection to the PDP and his mention along with Ihejirika, the military suddenly became “effective”. No more helicopter arm drops for terrorists. The flow of money too started drying up. What can we make of these? Mere coincidences? I doubt it. We are no fools and the world is watching.
Air Marshal Badeh gave very scant details of this truce apart from saying a ceasefire had been struck with the group known as Boko Haram and that the Nigerian military service chiefs had been asked to comply. Is that how ceasefire agreements are communicated? If we know nothing else, we know the details of every ceasefire agreement between the Palestinians and the Israelis. There is no boju-boju arrangement involved. Each side knows what they are conceding and what they are getting in return. Why this one sided agreement? Why the secrecy? What is the position of the jihadists? Why should someone speaking for government say “Shekau will agree”? Is he Shekau? Why is he speaking for Shekau? With that categorical statement, it is either he knows Shekau is a phantom, a creation of political games or he must think we are fools who can’t reason. Why this nebulous stories?
This deal brings to the front burner the failure of the July 2013 agreement with the Mohammed Marwana faction of Boko Haram. Then, like now, Mohammed Marwana went on the Hausa Service of Radio France International to gleefully announce a Nigerian government ceasefire agreement with Boko Haram. He pleaded for Nigerians’ forgiveness for the violence and murders. The federal government went ahead to set up a committee to work out the details of implementation and consideration for anmesty. The bogus deal was signed by Mohammed Marwana and Alhaji Tanimu Turaki, the minister of special duties. What happened to that deal and after it was signed? Boko Haram became more virulent. They stepped up their campaign of terror and here we are again!
Without question, Boko Haram has become a major issue for the 2015 elections. The present government seem interested only in developing the South South. The enemies of Jonathan and his willful self has succeeded in making him an Ijaw President. The government has no agenda for human development programs for the Northeast and Nigeria’s massive youth population – an essential for national security. Worse, the conflict has created an alternate economy for pastors, politicians and recovering terrorists.
These class of saboteurs are benefiting from arms importation, currency trafficking, money laundering and all illegal shades of business in between. What does an end to this conflict mean to this people? It means loss of money and opportunities. Whatever the deal is, this political games must stop. It is becoming clearer that this conflict is more about power games and Nigeria’s internal politics than religion. Nigeria is populated with unpatriotic political elements who are willing to sacrifice thousands, wipe entire states off the map for their personal ambition and gain? I hope the Northern elite gets the memo. Young men have been used as fodder for political reasons. Now that the Northeast has been depopulated. What next? Yeye people!
Bamidele maintains a weekly column on Politics and Socioeconomic issues every Tuesday. She is a member of Premium Times Editorial Board. Twitter @olufunmilayo