Nigeria – blame game continues over Boko Haram attack on Nigeria 


Maj.-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd) credits:

In this piece, JOHN ALECHENU takes a look at the unending blame game between the ruling Peoples Democratic Party and the opposition All Progressives Congress; over the near fatal attack on General Muhammadu Buhari and Sheikh Dahiru Bauchi.

The suspected Boko Haram bomb attacks on former Head-of-State, Maj. General Muhammadu Buhari, a leading opposition figure and prominent leader of the All Progressives Congress, as well as the revered Islamic cleric, Sheikh Dahiru Bauchi, has been condemned by all well meaning Nigerians.

Although several other religious and political figures have been targeted and even killed, none could have had far reaching implications for the polity and the nation should it have succeeded; than the ones targeted at Buhari and Sheikh Bauchi.

If those behind the attack had succeeded in killing General Buhari, the socio-political and economic equation of Nigeria could have been altered and probably irretrievably damaged.

Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Prof. Rufai Alkali, admitted this much when he said it was divine providence that spared the lives of the two senior citizens.

“We want to thank God for saving them and saving this country from the trauma of what could have happened if the people behind it had achieved their objective.” Rufai said.

The attack on Buhari especially, provided another avenue for the opposition APC, to take on the ruling Peoples Democratic Party.

The APC insists that the ruling party has questions to answer considering the fact that the attack on Buhari came only a few days after he accused President Goodluck Jonathan, of declaring war on Nigerians.

The opposition party also demanded for an international probe into the incident. The APC’s insistence on an unbiased international probe was premised on allegations- in some quarters – that the party planned the attack as part of a publicity stunt.

National Publicity Secretary of the party, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said it was unconscionable that any right-thinking person would seek to make political gain from an event that must have been deeply traumatising for those who escaped by the whiskers.

He equally noted that this was not to talk of the deep and life-long pain the incident inflicted on those who were injured or the irreparable loss it inflicted on the families of those who died.

Mohammed said the fact that some political entities were desperate to reap political fortunes out of the incident made calls for such a probe compelling.

According to him, such individuals were behind the campaign to label the party using irresponsible statements. He said such people were not only doing a disservice to the polity but also the nation.

He said misguided statements which try to link the APC to the attack on Buhari “are more dangerous than the attacks themselves, because they are capable of inciting people, causing hatred and fanning the embers of violence.”

Mohammed also said it is a shame that leaders of those, who have engaged in this dangerous game, have not cautioned them.

“That is why our party insists on an international probe to unravel the perpetrators and motive of the attacks.” He said.

Speaking in a similar vein, the party’s spokesperson in charge of the South-East, Osita Okechukwu, said the ruling PDP should look within itself if it was truly interested in finding a solution to the growing spate of insecurity.

He recalled that former President Olusegun Obasanjo had alleged in a letter that the Jonathan-led administration was training 1,000 snipers to attack those considered enemies.

Okechukwu said, “Remember the days of the National Democratic Coalition when the Abacha regime turned on Nigerians.

“The Jonathan administration has spent well over N1trn on security which has only got worse ever since. You will also agree with me that the worst of Boko Haram attacks are carried out in areas where the PDP is afraid of losing.”

In response, the Political Adviser to the President, Prof. Ahmed Alkali, said claims by opposition figures that the Presidency or the PDP had queries to answer over terror attacks were uncharitable.

He noted that the scourge of terror was being inflicted on Nigerians. This, he said, makes it imperative on all well meaning Nigerians to help in the search for a solution to it.

Alkali said, “Those making such claims are insincere. We should stop this blame game and cooperate with the government to defeat this insurgency. Security issues must not be trivialised and must not be politicised. It is a collective war.”

Also speaking on the issue, the Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Alhaji Abdullahi Jalo, said it was wrong for anyone to accuse the President or the PDP for either the attack on Buhari or the current state of insurgency.

Jalo equally said President Jonathan must be commended for rising to the occasion by not only condemning the attacks, but also sympathising with both the retired General and the Islamic leader.

Attempts have been made in the not too distant past to expose the underlining political dimension of the Boko Haram menace.

Many contend that our home grown insurgency is a by product of the struggle for political power among actors at the state and federal level.

For example, a former National Security Adviser, the late General Andrew Azazi, in his remarks at the 2012 edition of the South South Economic Summit held in Asaba, the Delta State capital, accused Nigerians of trying to play the ostrich.

While urging citizens to stop the politicisation of security issues in the country, he observed that the zoning formulae adopted by the ruling PDP played a part in exacerbating the problem.

Azazi said “How come the extent of violence did not increase in Nigeria until the public declaration of the people that were going to contest election by the PDP? And I would also like to say this, though the PDP people will not agree with me, they would like to attack me, but I hope they do it in private. PDP got it wrong from the beginning by saying Mr. A can go and Mr. B cannot go and these decisions were made without looking at the constitution.”

He posited that there was a strong link between the resurgence of violence in the northern region and the last set of elections that were held in the country

He added, “I believe there is a strong element of politicisation of the crisis, where some people were assured that they would win 80 per cent and they did not win. Is it not amazing that after the elections, Boko Haram became better trained, better armed and better funded. But I can assure you that Boko Haram could not have that kind of sophistication without a backing.”

He argued that arresting the leaders of the sect was not likely to end the insurgency because the situation that created the sect had not been tackled e.g. poverty and the desire of some people to rule Nigeria. These issues, he noted, cannot be isolated unless they are handled comprehensively.

Others have argued that local political issues in Borno State degenerated into what is today threatening the very existence of the Nigerian state. Some have also argued that the increased ferocity of the terrorist attacks cannot be separated from the desire of President Jonathan to seek another term in 2015.

The PDP had at several fora accused the APC of promoting the activities of the group in other to gain political leverage.

National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Chief Olisa Metuh, and Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, a former Minister of Aviation, who until recently was a member of the APC, accused the opposition party of knowing more than it was willing to share with the public about its links with the dreaded extremist sect.

While dismissing PDP’s allegations, spokesperson for the APC, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said, it was time to tell Nigerians that the only reason the insurgency had continued unabated was because the PDP and the Jonathan administration are benefitting massively from it.

This, according to him, explained why leaders of the ruling party were quick to dismiss APC’s call for an international inquiry to unravel the sponsors and modus operandi of the terror group, while latching on to what remains “a mere conjecture” on the probe of Boko Haram links by the British Parliament.

It is worthy of note that each time the terror group carried out a daring attack, our political leaders appear more interested in taking advantage of the situation to advance the cause of their political parties instead of seeking for solutions.

Without a doubt, the Boko Haram menace is clearly the biggest threat to Nigeria’s corporate existence. There is enough blame to go around but what our nation needs now is the unity of purpose among its citizens to face this common threat. Unless this is done, there may be no Nigeria for politicians to fight for political office.

Copyright PUNCH.

August 4, 2014 by John Alechenu

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