Nigeria’s Revolution Was Not Televised
A friend of mine was part of the CANAN (Christian Association of Nigerian-Americans) delegation to implore the US government designate Boko Haram a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO). All he got out of that effort was a cute picture he has hung up on his office wall, of a hand-shake with a US respected senator. To all those baffled as to why the US refuses to designate Boko Haram, the second most notorious global terrorist organization, as a FTO. The answer is rather simple. It lies within this quote from the president of Nigeria, on the sponsors and members of Boko Haram:
“Some of them are in the executive arm of government, some of them are in the parliamentary/legislative arm of government, while some of them are even in the judiciary, some are also in the armed forces, the police and other security agencies. Some continue to dip their hands and eat with you and you won’t even know the person who will point a gun at you or plant a bomb behind your house.”
Simply put- the United States does not meddle in internal political affairs of nations, no matter how bloody their consequences are. Well, let’s say, in principle they don’t—because when it comes to morals, Russia and even China appear to uphold more dignifying standards than the US these days; but that’s a whole different story. The US will never list a group, headed by known members of Nigerian government and governing elite, as a terrorist group, most especially when the Nigerian government itself refuses to treat the masterminds and members as such. The president of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan, has on more than one occasion, admitted that he knows the sponsors of Boko Haram. That these are people he rules and dines with. With such admission, if the US listed the entire group as a terrorist group, this will automatically implicate all who know the members and conceal them, as well as all those who associate with the members and sponsors of this FTO, which will automatically include the Nigerian president. This explains partly, the US’ hesitation. The minute Nigeria is serious about eliminating Boko Haram, after qualifying it, its members and sponsors, as killers and enemies of the state, the US and indeed many more nations will throw in full support, and the death-loving Boko Haram will be a thing remembered.
The above stated, can be easily proven by analyzing the events of the last two months. In early May, Boko Haram was at the top of its game. Raiding barracks’ and decimating towns. The sect ruled more than half of Borno state. There was no reverberating global reaction to the culmination of the reign of massacres and terror. There was predictably no Nigerian response, either. Just like when Nigeria experienced some of the worst floods since the time of Noah, there was little to no international media or government assistance or mere notice of Nigeria’s predicament. Why waste air time and money on that hopelessly corrupt, suicidal nation of killers and thieves, I bet the world said.
In Mid May the president was pressed to cut short a visit to South Africa, as global media, and the likes of Wole Soyinka, reacting to the deaths and unchecked terror campaign of Boko Haram, raised flags that Nigeria was at war and the president was doing nothing. The president convened an urgent meeting of top army officials, and declared a state of emergency and war against Boko Haram.
Facts: Within weeks of Nigeria showing seriousness in dealing with this threat, the following occurred:
1. UN: On May 17, 2013, the UN rights office declared that Nigerian rebels could face war crimes charges for ‘population cleansing’
2. US: On June 3rd, the US declared group tactical and PR leader, Abubakar Shekau wanted, and placed a $7 million bounty on his head.
3. UK: By July 8th, the British government declared support and membership of Boko Haram and Ansar as criminal. This declaration automatically froze all UK assets and UK related financial support to Boko Haram members and sponsors.
These significant achievements did not go without the clear demonstration of Nigeria’s seriousness in waging its war to crush Boko Haram, as well as follow up government and citizen actions, including Nigeria’s government on June 4th, proscribing Boko Haram–group, membership and support–under the Terrorism Prevention Act, and also the media publicity of the efforts of Nigeria people, the ‘Civilian JTF,’ who, now supported at last by their government, demonstrated the resolve and brave commitment of the ordinary people to tackle Boko Haram, with stop-and-search security stops and other para-military investigations and civilian anti-terrorism engagements.
It all looked good. At last, CANAN could bet the US would soon proscribe Boko Haram; people in Nigeria were confident that the mountain residing, hungry terrorists on the run would soon be significantly incapacitated. The youth of Nigeria’s north east, with these words, “Sai Mun Kawo Karshensu,” “until we bring their end,” had resolved to not stop, till Boko Haram was totally eliminated.
A little over a month after Nigeria took serious, the extremist threat that had claimed over 2000 lives of innocent Nigerians of all creeds, apparently, as only one media suspiciously published, Boko Haram pleaded for mercy, and the Nigerian government and head of national security, quickly and eagerly agreed to a ceasefire with the cult-on-the-run. This was announced suddenly, to the bewilderment of all, on July 8th. It was so tightly and perfectly packaged, it seemed like an inside-administration deal. The civilian JTF and military who are at the forefront of the battle, were apparently not even consulted in this top level decision.
Nigeria’s Special Duties Minister and chairman of Nigeria’s dead-on-arrival Boko Haram amnesty committee, Kabiru Tanimu Turaki, next announced something very surprising. That Abubakar Shekau was signatory to the worked out ceasefire between the federal republic of Nigeria and the terrorists.
What Does a Ceasefire Mean?
Here is where it gets confusing. Abubakar Shekau is declared wanted, not only by the government of the United States, but also by the Nigerian government and the organization that first declared him wanted, Muslims Against Terror. Now he is negotiating a ceasefire with Nigeria, according to Turaki. Does this ceasefire include his turning himself in? Does this ceasefire not promise him that the Nigerian amnesty committee will now shield him and his other generals from Nigerian law, from the US’ ‘wanted’ declaration and from the stipulations of the ‘proscription,’ of Boko Haram, declared June 4th? Additionally, will he and his generals, under this amnesty, now be protected from the UK ban on Boko Haram? This line of thought extends indefinitely. It is no surprise the military reacted to the ‘ceasefire’ news in disbelief and shock.
I am no expert in these things, but apart from this ceasefire being a precondition for turning themselves in to the security services, I am unable to understand how it is possible for a Nation to negotiate a ceasefire with a wanted, proscribed, murderous gang of urban bandits. Surrender can be agreed upon, but a ceasefire? And what next for the US, UK and UN who believed Nigeria was serious about tackling the terrorists? Sadly, Nigeria’s leadership and much of the elite, do not realize (or simply do not care) that there can never be sustained peace without first establishing real justice.
So let us step back and appreciate a summary of what just happened. A group of Nigerians decided to take the law into their own hands. They terrorized Nigeria without relent or remorse. Nigeria literally did nothing. Its elite were interestingly very safe from the terrorists. Later Nigeria begged them to accept placation in the form of an amnesty. The group snuffed at the plea. Finally, under immense pressure, Nigeria fought back. Just over a month after fighting back, the murderous group agreed for and was offered peace and compensation (amnesty).
It has happened before. A similar group, MEND, the Niger Delta militant group, reigned havoc on Nigeria. In economic warfare which affected the lives of Nigerians near and far, due to crushing economic hardship secondary to oil industry vandalization and reduced oil output, the group got Nigeria to its knees in suffering. Nigeria negotiated a ceasefire with the group, and gave amnesty settlement for the Niger Delta militants and all who signed up as jobless youth with a claimed history of terrorism. Today, leaders of that militant organization, the likes of Asari Dokubo and Tompolo, who have blood of thousands of Nigerians on their hands, live free in Abuja and continue to terrorize the nation from their mansions. These ex-murderers are even part of the government, and have been given military-nature billion dollar contracts to secure the regions they terrorize.
There is no doubt that certain northerners saw this event as one they too could copy. These northern elite think Boko can be controlled; they still do not realize that sure as the sun rises, the evil monster if left to grow will someday kill them. As long as their family was safe from the terror of Boko Haram, they supported this group to unleash terror as a means of either gaining political power, or creating a situation where an amnesty is worked for, not the good people of Nigeria, but those who sign-up as terrorists, and to line their(elites) pockets. These elite pressed it upon Nigerian government to remove force and give so-called amnesty to these killers.
There is much hardship in Nigeria. Millions live below the poverty line. Nigeria, a nation blessed with abundant resources in addition to top level oil reserves, has some of the world’s richest and poorest people. Dangote, world number 46, and people who have no shoes; really, no shoes, are what make up Nigeria. Nigeria’s masses live on less than $1/day, while the president and oil minister take home, apart from their salaries—the highest in the world— $500,000 per PFI kickback for over 50 PFI’s per month. The leadership and elite friends who make and benefit from the leadership are so engrossed in dividing and consuming Nigeria’s wealth and planning their next political maneuvers, that they have left a population, more than ripe to revolt, or perhaps, not so…
Distract, Divide and Devour
With the socio-economic gap, any anthropologist would predict the normal cycle of nature, that the men without shoes will rise up against the men who believe that ‘terrorism is a smaller problem than the failing infrastructure.’ Anthropological study predicts that the stronger of the oppressed, the teaming youth, will lead a rebellion against the few elite who distract, divide and devour the nation. People keep asking, where and when will Nigeria’s revolution be?
Let’s attempt to answer that too. Sadly, we are about to crash your hopes, if you wanted a revolution. Nigeria’s revolution already happened, it was just not televised. And that’s not the people’s revolution of August 1993 that got rid of Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, in the oft forgotten pre-Arab spring, Nigerian spring. No, not that. The nation had a silent revolution, in medicine, you’ll say, “silent infarct,” for that heart attack that came without much noticeable pain.
What happened in the south, the Niger Delta MEND crises, was a first half of the revolution. The result was some bribe for the top ‘revolutionary’ Nigerians, some reward for the ‘tougher’ Nigerians who would not accept the oppression and corruption, and voila. Revolution controlled in the oil spill Niger Delta. And don’t be fooled the oil spills now more than ever.
In the harsh land-locked north, many of the jobless revolutionary Nigerians were similarly pulled into terrorism, and against reason, the government insists on not treating them like criminals, but forgiving them and putting them under their control, so, voila, revolution not only carefully controlled but Nigeria promises to again reward and recruit the worst and most rebellious of us, to control the rest.
Anywhere else the criminally tended of the revolutionary elements from among Nigeria’s youth decide to take up arms, the Nigerian government, who love to reward corruption and murder, but dislike virtue, decency and positive action, will be happy to control the revolution, and grant an ‘amnesty’ and reward for the murderers, who will subsequently be hired to control the rest decent masses.
The bad youth revolted and line their pockets, and the rest…are engrossed reading and writing articles?
In conclusion, the most hardship challenged extremes of Nigeria have revolted. The Dokubo’s and Tompolo’s usurped the environmental dilapidation southern revolution, Shekau burned up the poor-north revolution. The Igbo marginalization…we know that history. And for many of us, the revolution has been against each other.
So are we waiting for, and asking why the world, both east and west will not join us battle and proscribe our terrorist groups? And are we still waiting for our revolutions? Wait no longer. Nigeria is a nation of terrorists, authority-pen and gun killers, and whoever fights terrorists, fights us (our leadership, elite, government, communal and revolutionary). The revolutionaries have been rewarded with the bounties of the battle. The revolution happened already, it just was not televised.