Read Time:8 Minute, 2 Second
As much as we sympathise with the parents of the Chibok school girls abducted by the members of Boko Haram sect, in all sincerity we
believe that the #Bring Back Our Girls protest in the country whose message and impact has been well received, should at this point, take a new and different dimension so that it isn’t construed to be doing the bidding of the Boko Haram sect which is bent on destabilising our country and frustrating its administration.
No doubt, the expressions and actions of President Jonathan has shown that he feels more pain over the abduction of the school girls and spate of killings (probably) more than those who spearhead and mastermind the #BringBackOurGirls campaign in the country, as the evidence we see shows that our President has done and is doing what any responsible parent and President ought to do for the release of the abducted girls and to defeat the insurgents. To this end, we believe that President Jonathan should be encouraged rather than putting undue pressure on him in a manner that would overheat an already heated polity, with protests whose message has been already well received.
In our quest, incited or not, let us be mindful of the reported agitations and disenchantment in the ranks of our defence forces in whatever shape or form. Whether they are the truth of the matter or rumours of the truth, I believe this should serve as a clarion call to all our political actors, to reach out across party and sectional divides to build consensus, a bipartisan consensus that will strengthen the authority and powers of our nation’s President, to end the insurgency with our democracy intact. As they say, a stitch in time will stop the shorts or trousers from splitting into many parts.
Our country needs all of us, now more than ever to ensure that not only do we win the battle against terrorism, but win the war of keeping Nigeria together.
These are tough times for our country, so rallying and protesting against real and perceived ills, may not be out of order but we believe that it would serve a greater good if it is directed more at the Boko Haram terrrorists than against the President who is sacrificing and doing his best in this war against terror. Our campaign should be directed towards finding those elements of Boko Haram hiding in our midst who are bent on destabilising our unity, it should be focused on tracing out the sponsors of these heinous criminals of Boko Haram and ensure that they are prosecuted; such campaigns should be engineered towards boosting the morale of our soldiers and other security agents who are fighting the Boko Haram sect and losing their lives on daily basis; the campaigns should be geared towards making government take responsibility for the families of the slain soldiers and other security personnel whose wives have turned widows and their children made fatherless (and motherless) as a result of their services to their homeland.
Let us not forget that as we undertake in these campaigns, there are also sons and daughters of military personnel killed by Boko Haram and other purveyors of terror that need our support; there are security personnel awaiting death when they venture out to secure the release of the abducted, whether in Chibok or elsewhere. One life being replaced for another, one family being incapacitated for another and one girl being saved with the death of another girl’s father should make us to ponder and tell ourselves the Truth! That our President needs the support of his citizens, our troops needs the encouragement of her countrymen and our nation needs to be jealously guarded by us, as the rescue effort of the Chibok girls is in motion.
It therefore seems more appropriate that our campaign for the release of the Chibok girls or fight against Boko Haram insurgency and the making of a greater Nigeria, should take a more patriotic slogan as “Return our Girls, Support our Troops, Salvage our Nation”. A campaign of such nature will obviously show a high level of patriotism amongst Nigerians, serve a blow to psychology of the Boko Haram sect and further encourage our President, Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and our security forces to put in their best at rescuing the Chibok girls, fighting insurgency and other vices in Nigeria.
We don’t need to be reminded that our great country is confronted by a deadly and dangerous enemy who has consistently threatened the life of our President and our existence as a nation, it is therefore necessary that we join hands and redirect our energy towards frustrating the intentions of the Boko Haram enemy rather than dampening the resolve of our President and security forces who have demonstrated what it means to be patriotic in these tough times. History shows that a war built on religious ideology as that of Boko Haram is usually very devastating, bloody and time consuming. The never-ending insurgencies in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Central African Republic, Mali, Yemen and others are veritable examples. We believe that only true patriotism can defeat these types of wars. Patriotism which we believe President Jonathan has continued to show in the fight against insurgency; the mission to rescue the Chibok girls and in keeping the nation together. Perhaps even more patriotic than most of us who constantly disparage his office and person by using all kinds of sordid adjectives against him in the excuse of fighting for “the people”.
He has in this most difficult times, when a brother will look up to another for support tacitly challenged all and sundry of this nation to prove that we are patriotic, and in this we have all failed (except for our fallen heroes in the Boko Haram war and those still engaged in the battle). The political class has failed, the bureaucrats have failed, the Ministers and Heads of government agencies have failed. In fact, fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, chiefs, those that lead and follow in varying protests, the National Assembly, Judiciary, I and you. We have all failed! We have failed because we refused to tell our husbands not to steal government money, we have refused to ask our children how they make their money, we have benefited from electoral fraud and practices, we have bestowed chieftaincy titles on criminals, we shielded corrupt government officials with the law and gave them police protection, we have paid criminals to write WAEC and JAMB/UTME examinations for our children, we have continuously swam in ethnicism and religious bigotry, we are kidnappers, oil thieves. We have capitalised on the crises to further create a political divide on threatening issues of national security; we have converted our security dilemma into money making devices within the government and civil society circuit, we have tenderised solutions to our insecurity and further exacerbated corruption in the government circle.
To heighten the level of unpatriotism in this country, at our Presidents home side, most of the political appointees have resorted to a syndicated looting spree in a bid to further ground the economy of the region because they feel the President is more concerned with issues of national security than the dismembering of the resources meant to develop the Niger Delta. Another frightening dimension of unpatriotism in this country is the xenophobic attitude exhibited towards Mr President because he is of the Niger Delta region by some ethnocentric driven political class. In all these negativities, our President continues to stand out by showing that he is a Patriot of an uncommon denomination; he has shown that he is a father, a listener, a humane personality who has on so many occasions, refused to abuse the powers of the Presidency, even if it was to the favor of the people of his ethnic or regional stock. A case in point is the ongoing National Conference; having witnessed the travails and quest of Isaac Boro, those of the Ibo’s in the Nigerian Civil War, the quest and execution of Ken Saro Wiwa and the most recent upheaval in the Niger Delta, our President is fully aware that the major issues surrounding those periods were centered on resource control and secession. Therefore, it was to be expected that to have convened a national conference as such in this country, a discourse on the need for our common existence as nation ought to be the focus of the ongoing conference. Rather than focus on the long sufferings and wishes of the people of the South and her ethnic stock, Mr President insisted that the “Indivisibility of Nigeria is non negotiable and as such, cannot be discussed in the National Conference”.
Which Nigerian can be more patriotic than President Jonathan in this case? Which man born of a woman, made President of a country who experienced the long sufferings of her people will not seize this opportunity to say “let my people go” as Moses said unto Pharaoh in the Old Testament Bible and as recorded in history?
We strongly advise that he firmly puts down his foot and salvage our nation from economic predators, super corrupt and criminal elements holding political and elective offices, it is their actions that have led Nigeria to the path of insecurity witnessed at present.
––Oprite Amachree who wrote from Port Harcour, Rivers State is the President General, Watchdog of Niger Delta.