Crowd gather at the scene of a bomb blast at a bus terminal in Nyayan, Abuja April 14, 2014. A morning rush hour bomb killed at least 71 people at a Nigerian bus station on the outskirts of the capital, raising concerns about the spread of an Islamist insurgency after the deadliest ever attack on Abuja. Image: Afolabi Shotunde/Reuters
When my friend, Ardis Hamilton, had called me on the phone that "Boxing Day," December 26, 2009, in astonishment from what he had seen on TV, which had been widespread, and had gone viral online, that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian, had been apprehended and arrested in an attempt to blow up a Detroit, Michigan bound Northwest Airline jet on Christmas Day, and surprisingly to many, not for those of us who have lived the terror as imposed by the blood thirsty cannibals on its campaign to destroy properties and kill people who do not share in their belief of a radical Islam.
Hamilton never had a clue that Nigeria had been a terrorist state until that Christmas Day Abdulmutallab had declared to the world that the Islamic Jihadists in Northern Nigeria have been running guns and holding terrorists cells on accounts funded from the nation's treasury and other related Islamic extremists groups, having been in alliance with the al-Qaeda network.
The irony, however, was a tight-lipped United States when a blood lust northern nihilists caused all kinds of mayhem in Nigeria in the 1960s which had begun acts of terrorism. Not much difference in what Boko Haram is doing today to the '60s pogrom when the Islamic Jihadist nihilists had sought every Igbo in every nook and cranny where they had lived in the north--murdered them in the most brutal of circumstances with no remorse shown whatsoever.
During the 60s pogrom, the northern Islamic Jihadists invaded the classrooms and mercilessly slaughtered their victims, the Igbo. They had gone to the churches where the Igbo worshipped and burned them to the ground. They had gone to the marketplaces where the Igbo traded and plundered and demolished them. They had gone to their places of dwelling and pillaged them.
The Islamic nihilists had sought we they called the nyamiris, the infidels, to wipe us all out from the face of this planet. They went to the military barracks and other related establishments, sought Igbo officers and civilians out and, savagely axed them and hacked them to death. They picked them, the Igbo, on the streets in the midst of other ethnic nationalities, and brutally murdered them. They lined them up by the riverbanks and marched them to death. They were forced to drown on the death march. They consficated their properties and forced them to flee. The long trekking back home upon persecution and annihilation.
And the world watched.
In history repeating itself, and a nation that never had a sense of direction and purpose, Boko Haram turned on itself; killing its own, destroying its own and ravaging its own property.
In what had begun from a series of disturbances, actually, when the Islamic law had been questioned as part of the nation's constitutional provisions which had triggered the Sharia debacle of 2000, in which about 3000 Southern Christians perished in the north, none, including the state, had envisioned a religious conflict to have no end in sight.
When the Sharia debacle calmed down as the President Olusegun Obasanjo had pacified his Hausa Fulani cronies who had guided and catapulted him to the top when Murtala Mohammed succumbed to the guns of Buka Sumka Dimka, a Middle Belt junta who had launched a retaliation to reinstate Yakubu Gowon to power, it wouldn't be long before eruption of another outfit of radical Islamism, in the name of Boko Haram, within the framework of the Fourth Republic and a slogan of "no scared cows" that would be the cliché.
Obasanjo had negated the fact that Sharia posed a serious threat to the nation's security detail on the grounds of the "northern ruling elites," in what they had intentionally designed while destroying the nation's fabric in its entirety during the periods of misrule, which happened to have fallen into their hands as a result of the British colonial mandate, in its favor, until power eluded them for a return of what had been going on since 2009, becoming more deadly as each day passes by.
The Hausa-Fulani oligarchy had been quieted since Yar'Adua was sneaked in, though bedridden, to save face for a northerner keeping hold of the presidency, even though Obasanjo knew very well that Yar'Adua was not going to make it from indications of his ailment.
Politics gone bad. Yar'Adua's long hidden ailment had taken a toll on the nation's affairs of state, and Goodluck Jonathan, next on line to take the mantle of leadership, had been made the fall guy in an attempt to deny him the right to take the throne from a dying Yar'Adua as the rightful endorsement for the presidency between the Muslim north and a Sothern minority Ijaw entered a heated debate with the northern Muslims arguing the allocation of the presidency to the north has not yet expired and must continue with whom they would choose to succeed the late Yar'Adua. That nasty political gimmick did not work, though stretched, and eventually, Jonathan was sworn in when Yar'Adua passed on.
A government that had no executive powers was what Nigerians witnessed during Yar'Adua's bedridden presidency as no one could tell where the shots were called from--his wife or the mischief makers whose intention it was to run the country down. As it would happen, it all backfired and the cock and bull story did not work out the way planned by an anti-Jonathan presidency.
While we're at it, the logic and uncertainties surrounding the rightful replacement for Yar'Adua, Boko Haram had been meeting and organizing to strike in pursuit of its doctrine that "Western education is sinful" and should not be accepted based on the Koranic principles.
The fact remains that not even a single Nigerian, especially the Southern Christians, including Jonathan who was about to be granted a confessional trial of the presidency, knew where the Islamic nihilists and hoodlums, later to be known as Boko Haram, were coming from and what they have been up to. And even though, some within the government circles may have had a hint on what terrorists activities in less than no time, was about to unfold, they had no intelligence to have studied the guide and preempt every move which would have avoided all that is happening now.
But a Nigeria where nothing works and everything is taken for granted in which Boko Haram operatives had known, taking advantage of the weaknesses and the vulnerable nature of the country at the time it had become so disturbing leaving Jonathan with no options at all other than employing the military for mobilization, telling the nation that the brains behind Boko Haram were not far-fetched; that some members of his kitchen cabinet "are" the culprits and that it wouldn't be long before they'd be fished out.
While Jonathan ran his mouth, and Boko Haram knew he was really running his mouth, they striked, damning his empty words, sending their messages across that what they had put together wasn't child's play. And they meant it with that initial explosion.
In attempts to use the military as a better strategy to curb the violence instigated by Boko Haram, Jonathan gave ultimatum to every military commander with orders to uproot the insurgents. Strategy one, on assumption the militants were only playing pranks and not to be taken seriously, their victims and casualties began to pile up and with a clearly sent out message that they should be taken out of the Nigerian context they are not part and parcel of, and that the principles of Islam differs significantly with the Southern Christians they had called "infidels."
But Jonathan's mistakes, was, his inability to have had foreknowledge of a deadly Boko Haram to have preempted each and every move of the bloodlust nihilists, and also, his inability to hold the governors and the administrative personnel of the three northern states -- Yobe, Adamawa and Borno -- responsible, prosecuting them to the limit of the law in a situation that has taken a lot of lives.
In what no Nigerian had envisioned after so many years in the hands of tyrants and dictators who had destroyed all aspects of civil liberties, the 1999 transition brokered between the military juntas and a tiny fraction of a would be civilian political class for another opportunity toward democracy which brought along with it, the hope that a stable democratic fabric accompanied by respecting the rule of law, could be obtained in what the next of kin, heir to the Fourth Republic, Olusegun Obasanjo, had vowed to uphold --that "no sacred cows" of a slogan-- as we would be made to know.
The beginning of what had thrown Obasanjo accidentally to take charge of the affairs of state, and, one who had gone through the nation's administration in a variety of divisions--from civil war commander to commissioning a couple of government departments; and from one who had completely led the transition from a military regime to handing over power to a democratically elected civilian administration--it was presumed, though, with skepticism, that the country, after its ordeal from what was started when the Muhammadu Buhari-Tunde Idiagbon-led military juntas wrestled power from the Shehu Shagari administration which had just commenced its second term in the Second Republic, to be followed by a series of military organized coups until the last of the coupists, Sani Abacha, succumbed to death; that the country must have learned its lessons of years of misrule and corruption seemed to have been baked in the genes of majority of its citizens,
The Obasanjo administration which was officially launched on May 29, 1999, was the last straw and a sigh of euphoria that Nigeria had eventually overcome its predicament. That the former junta, Obasanjo himself, had strategically dismantled the military brass from further attempts to disorganize the country by way of staging coups which had become their credo, "army arrangements," in order to continue to stay in power. And that learning his lessons from the Abacha gulag, that he had sacrificed and paid his dues to cleanse the country of past atrocities and previous rulers of mischief
Nothing like peace and harmony was a plan looked forward to or leaned on to sustain, in what was expected after Nigeria had been tagged a pariah and rogue state by the international community, from years of being oppressed by an 'elite' set of the military juntas beginning from the moment the Chukwuma "Kaduna" Nzeogwu-Emmanuel Ifeajuna-led military coup the Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and some of his cabinet members were murdered.
In what would lead to a full blown assault on the Igbo nation in the wake of the January 15, 1966 coup in which the nation is yet to recover, and a 30-month civil war the vanquishers were given the privilege of support by its British and Russian allies empowered by the logistics and arsenals to invade and capitulate Biafra; and assuming it had been understood that what the colonial administrators had intentionally grouped together as a one united nation sharing common grounds so as to coexist peacefully, what sense does it make now destroying ones own under one roof? What had been the major factor in the series of disturbances in the country the international community finds overwhelmingly disturbing even though little or nothing has been done in its curb? An internal strife never to have an end?
The Obasanjo regime in the Fourth Repuvblic encountered the most brutal of officials than any in the nation's history; and, ironically, most, if not all, remains unsolved with the culprits no where to be found or identified.
In what had ignited as the Sharia debacle of 2000 in which a wave of wantom killings of the Igbo in the north, followed a cycle of political-related murderous spree. It had begun on December 21, 2001 when a prominent legislator from Osun State, Odunayo Oklagbaju, representing the Ife LGA was hacked to death with a machete by hoodlums hired by his political opponents.
On December 29, 2001, hired assassins walked into then Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Bola Ige's home, in his bedroom at his Ibadan residence and shot him pointblank to his heart. He never made it. He was declared dead.
On September 2, 2002, Barnabas Igwe was gunned down and ran over with his own vehicle by the assassins while his wife, Amaka, who had pleaded with the attackers to spare her and her unborn child was hacked to death. Igwe, the Chairman of the Nigeria Bar Association, Onitsha Branch, and who had been very vocal in his criticism of a corrupt and inept government was still breathing when his brother, Vincent, arrived at the murder scene, said: "what killed me is government," before his last breath. Igwe and his wife were murdered during the political suicidal mission of Governor Chinwoke Mbadinuju and the Emeka Ofor criminal mafia regarding a political relationship business gone bad.
On September 24, 2002, Isyaku Mohammed, then Chairman of the United Nigeria Peoples Party, the UNPP, was gunned down in Kano before he could establish the platform of his political party.
In Imo State, on February 7, 2003, chieftain of the All Nigeria Peoples Party, the ANPP, Ogbonnaya Uche, was gunned down at his house; sometime in the same February of 2003, Theodore Egwuatu who was then Secretary to Imo State Governor was brutally murdered; April 19, 2003, Onyewuchi Iwuchukwu of the ANPP was fatally shot in Ikeduru; April 28, 2003, Imo State House Member Toni Dimegwu, was murdered, while in Anambra State, on March 23, 2003, Anthony Nwodo was murdered in Abakaliki.
Elsewhere, March 3, 2004, Andrew Agom, a former Managing Director of the Nigerian Airways and chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, the PDP, in Borno State, was fatally shot alongside a police seargeant John Agam.
On the assassins inexplicable list, among them, were: Chief Philip Olorunnippa, slained March 7, 2994, Sunny Atte, February 5, 2005; Alabi Olajokun, May 15, 2005; Patrick Origbu, June 3, 2005; Lateef Olaniyan, July 27, 2005; and the list goes on and on with trace of their murderers far fetched, abandoned and not mentioned further.
Enter the terrorists as earlier mentioned, the Islamic Jihad blood thirsty nihilists, in what remains a puzzle to what had befell the nation with an end in sight not yet known despite Jonathan's fruitless measures and doctrines in fishing out the brains behind what Jonathan earlier claimed had been part of his administration in which a terrorized Nigeria continues apace.
Boko Haram, as known today in present day Nigeria, is nothing new. It has evolved over time and gone through stages of metamorphosis dating back to 1953, in Kano, during the final stages of the constitutional conferences on whether the radical Islamists should be allowed to secede from the rest of the country upon eruption of riots that broke out in Sabon Gari which was predomninatly occupied by the Igbo, and had led to the granting of regional powers from around which the Islamic insurgency took its form, henceforth, following mass killings and kidnappings which had been nothing new, either.
During the 1966 pogrom, Igbos in the north were sought and slaughtered. The Maitasine riots of the 1980s during the Shehu Shagari inept, corrupt administration thousands met their deaths in the name of a satanic Koranic principle. The 2000 Abuja riots which had another resemblance of past events typical of radical Islam. The Miss World Pageant Riots 2002 in Kaduna, allegedly over 250 were senselessly slain over what fundamental moslems had claimed was insult to the Prophet Mohammed. The Yelwa massacre 2008 in Jos. The Bauchi Prison Break. The Abuja United Nations bombing. The July 2013 school shooting of the Gubja College Massacre, and the list of these atrocities by Boko Haram goes on and on, until the April 14, 2014 Chibok Abduction of over 300 schoolgirls that sparked international disgust and caught a global attention.
The Chibok Abduction had caught global attention after one week it had occurred and after some of the girls who had escaped had told their tales of their ordeal in the hands of the blood-lust Boko Haram terrorists who had kidnapped them and what they had been up to---mass rape and things like that.
But think about it, there had been way more atrocities in capacity than the Chibok Abduction. For instance, the Choba Mass Rape no one had seriously talked about, and men of the Nigerian Army who had committed these crimes never brought to justice in what the Obasanjo administration covered up as if nothing happened; had the same impact and in the case of Choba, the military, the national defense forces, were the culprits in which no one dare ask because they had been ordered by Obasanjo to go and demolish places, torture and rape women.
As it had happened, the nation's problems, grand and small, traces back to the British empire and how it had put in place what was in its interest in collaboration with the missionaries who also arrived to decimate culture and bring about a new order, favored to their liking.
Let's assume, with the mess over time and during the constitutional conferences carved to be conducive in its workmanship for a sound Nigerian national state, that the colonial regimes at the eleventh hour realized and came to terms with what was just as Obafemi Awolowo had argued initially that logically it made no sense to have joined varied tribal nations together, and, that a national state of different tribes shouldn't have existed in the first-place, that what was amounted to the kind of central government they had sought was for their own interest and by no way, the interest of the subjects in question, and should let tribes attain its nationhood which shouldn't hinder bilateral agreements and international engagements by related accounts, on consensus, which was exactly what Awolowo had arrived to conclusion using the colonists who had arrived the shores of the African continent to divide and conquer as an analogy in comparison to the Welsh, the Irish, the Scot who differ in language and culture, thus cannot be categorized as one nation. Awo's emphasis was a typical vision of how the British projected program would never work in Nigeria.
The British empire and its designated colonial conquest made up its mind how it had wanted Nigeria into perspective after the amalgamation of the north and the south in 1914, in which Jonathan and his PDP-led administration found very cozy to commemorate a hundred years of its anniversary in observation of the Walter Egerton, Frederick Lugard marriage.
Few months ago, at the course of the centenary event, Jonathan had applauded the worthy and the not worthy with national honors, some posthumous even at the height of ignoring the facts and logic about the nation's history in which the awards were made.
Jonathan had not considered or imagined Boko Haram, the terrorist group whose roots traces back from the Kano riots in 1953, had kept up to its principle to make Nigeria ungovernable not even minding the oil riches they had tapped all along in their favor in a deeply entrenched social ills following the pogrom and a vanquished Biafra that had clearly seen the Islamists as people human beings meant nothing to while on their murderous spree.
And what had been going on from a Boko Haram's fierce attacks can clearly be drawn from a Fourth Republic that had eluded the north and its so-called ruling elites on the mandate of the colinial regimes from leadership since Umaru Musa Yr'Adua passed and the remnants of power bestowed by merit to Jonathan. Ever since, the attacks had been more organized with their targets accurately sustained.
Considering the fact that Boko Haram in its agitation to impose the Sharia laws throughout the federation which is not applicable under any circumstances, what, in fact, is holding these terrorists from declaring its own Islamic state so they can be left alone to go their separate ways rather than the sabotage to Jonathan's government?
What have they gained from the insurgency whereby they, all of a sudden, took to its own as targets for destruction? What have they accomplished in the killings so far? And when would they begin to realize that their strategy to destabilize the country is not working? And why have the northern leaders kept a tight lip without taking measures to talk the nihilists, hoodlums and its bloodlust creed into ceasing and desisting from the acts that had caused pains, lost of lives and properties?
For instance, the Yobe State incidence of last February, the nihilists had stormed into a college dorm at night rounding up the students, cutting their throats and, elsewhere in the same facility, bombed the dorms while the students were asleep. What explains such barbaric acts? That in their religious doctrine Western education is misleading and evil? That the students who had gone to bed after school work have done something wrong to have been murdered in the most brutal way? That the prospects of the students as they learn to better their lives would destroy the foundations of Islam and depict Prophet Mohammed's teachings as wrong? That what Islam stood for nobody dare challenge or condemn from its terrorists standpoint? That Islam is it and nothing else?
In what had exploded, the disturbances in the north entirely and later on, the northeast where terrorist cells began to emerge and, while the federal authorities kept a close eye on the activities of what would be the Boko Haram terrorist organization as its manifesto unfolded, what had happened to a federal leadership from stopping the terrorist group in expanding its wings and building its base to a point help is now sought from the international community--the US, France, Britain and others--to combat Boko Haram and an eventual capture of their kingpin, Abubakar Shekau, who never had stopped threatening destruction of the infidels?
And why would the rest of the country be worried about what the Islamic Jihad nihilists and its Boko Harm umbrella is doing to itself in its new kind of attack? Why don't the rest of the country leave them alone until they are saturated with the killings and what they have been doing to each other? Should the rest of the country be perturbed when its elders who dine, wine and play with the hoodlums on regular basis and, at prayer meetings, yet wouldn't call them to order, to behave? Why are the elders who supposedly are in touch and know who these folks are very well not talking and providing leads? What's going on, here? What's wrong?
That being the case, what are the federal authorities doing about it? Why hasn't Jonathan taken a bolder step, dissolve the legislative and executive arm of these regions and, enforce a full blown crackdown on the insurgents wherever they may be located in the said territory?
The carrot and stick formula, according to Jonathan, in what would seek resolve to a people resorted to destroying itself in its entirety, has been an epic failure. As commander-in-chief of the armed forces coupled with his advisers in relative terms, he had been slow to act and had not been too sure of what his team of counsels had established to end the nightmare of Boko Haram; in addition to some members of his cabinet who had bankrolled the terrorist group all along, as he surely indicated, over and over again.
In one of my earlier pieces, I had applauded Jonathan's action regarding his "Doctrine of Extraordinary Measures" he had presented to his service chiefs to enforce orders necessary to dislodge the nihilists and Islamist Jihad terrorists from its operation and effectively incapacitate them. That measure though, with some tangible outcome, was short-lived while he listened to his critics and the human rights watch organizations to observe and take note of violations by men of his military.
Jonathan had been fond of running his mouth in what he had been so sure his designated military commands would overcome within an anticipated time-frame and specifically guaranteeing the date Boko Haram would cease to exist as they would be vanquished. He ate his own words popping up with newer strategies that had the terrorists regrouping and a maintained attack that continued apace.
Despite the tough talk and pledge to the citizenry that Boko Haram would be history from no outside help he had bragged beginning the terrorists attacks, exhausting all his options and left with no choices, the international community spearheaded by the US, France and England, had stepped in with intelligence, in attempt to subdue Boko Haram and eventual capture of Shekau to end the horror in what the entire nation had almost given up, losing all options.
While the developed and enlightened world are enjoying the privileges and opportunities modern technology had brought to the fore--thoroughness in its system, abundant food for the plenty, uninterrupted power supply, subsidies for the less privileged and as the list goes on and on--the Nigerian world and its brand of ruling elites are comfortable with the havoc Boko Haram and its blood thirsty subsidiaries are wreaking on the people.
And the suggestion by experts that parents of the Chibok Abduction Schoolgirls submit to DNA testing for link to the missing children welcomes another interesting development on traces to locating the kidnappers and their victims.
We shall see as the saga continues!