The All Progressives Congress (APC) has accused the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of aiding, abetting and benefitting from the continued Boko Haram insurgency in the country.
The party said through the mismanagement of national resources, massive corruption and the incompetent handling of what started as a localised insurgency, the PDP-led federal government had been responsible for the festering of the crisis.
In a statement issued yesterday by the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party also accused the federal government of using the fight against the insurgency as an excuse to persecute the opposition, trample on civil liberties and abuse national institutions on a scale that is unprecedented in the history of the country.
‘’Far from the baseless and irresponsible accusations and finger-pointing by the PDP and the government it controls at the centre, it is time to tell Nigerians that the only reason the insurgency has continued unabated is because the PDP and the Jonathan administration are benefitting massively from it.”
The party accused the PDP of profiting from the Boko Haram insurgency, adding that this was why it was always dismissive of any genuine efforts to end the crisis, preferring to continually demonise the APC as the sponsors of Boko Haram even when there was no scintilla of evidence to back the allegation up.
It said the international community was not unaware that the federal government had been the biggest cog in the wheel of efforts to tackle Boko Haram because the Jonathan administration had seen the insurgency as its surest ticket to re-election and international acceptance.
‘’That explains their quick dismissal of our 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. Which is bigger and more authentic, a probe by the British parliament or an international inquiry? If the PDP and its cohorts have nothing to hide, they would have embraced that call. We maintain that only an international inquiry can unravel those behind Boko Haram, and we thank Nigerians for their favourable response to our call,’’ the APC said.
The party called the attention of Nigerians to the testimony given by a US official at the US House Foreign Affairs Sub-committee on Africa’s hearing last Thursday in Washington, identifying the human rights abuse record and uncooperative attitude of the Nigerian government and its military authorities as factors hindering the security assistance offered to Nigeria by the US to tackle Boko Haram.
‘’The Congress was told by the Specialist at African Affairs Congressional Research Service, Lauren Blanchard, that the Nigerian government and its military had not been yielding to America’s suggestions; that the main impediment to America’s efforts to support Nigeria’s broader response to Boko Haram is ‘gross violations committed by the Nigerian forces, the Nigerian government’s resistance to adopting a more comprehensive approach to Boko Haram and the continued lack of political will’.
“The Congress also heard that the Nigerian government has appeared reticent in some cases to allow its security forces to participate in US training programmes, adding: ‘Multiple systemic factors further constrain the effectiveness of the Nigerian security force’s response to Boko Haram, notably security sector, corruption and mismanagement, and some of these factors impede US support even for units that have been cleared for assistance.’
‘’Does anyone need any more evidence of whose cluelessness and incompetence have allowed Boko Haram to fester to such a level that it has killed over 3,000 people since the beginning of this year alone? Does anyone need further evidence of whose non-cooperative attitude with the US and other foreign friends of Nigeria has been responsible for the failed and tepid efforts to tackle Boko Haram?’’ it queried.
Explaining the genesis of the blossoming insurgency, APC said it was an undisputed fact that Boko Haram emerged against the backdrop of intense poverty and political misrule by the PDP since 1999.
‘’Since the return to democratic rule in 1999, the PDP has ruled Nigeria till date, and has been responsible for mismanaging over 60 per cent of national revenue. Still, very little has changed in terms of progressive improvement in the socio-economic conditions of most Nigerians. It is hardly a coincidence that Boko Haram emerged in the North-east region of Nigeria, given that it is the poorest region with is higher than national average rates of poverty, illiteracy, mortality rates, youth unemployment and social immobility.
‘’Moreover, states in the North-east receive some of the least allocations from the national treasury individually and collectively. The North-east region, reflecting broader national and even African patterns, is experiencing a ‘youth bulge’ that accentuates the socio-economic deprivations across the region.
“Given the poor literacy rates of the region, there are millions of young people with neither formal nor Arabic education, not to talk of even vocational skills. Indeed, a majority of youth in the North-east region are unemployable, thus providing a fertile ground for the recruitment of idle youths into groups that engage in criminal acts.
‘’In short, the PDP’s failure to deliver credible democratic dividends specifically socio-economic progress (employment, social infrastructure, quality of life initiatives, regular power supply etc) and its obsession with retaining political power at all cost and a ‘do or die politics’, provide logical grounds for the horde of security challenges witnessed across Nigeria since 1999,’’ the party said.
Backing up its claims that the Jonathan administration is profiting from the Boko Haram insurgency, the opposition party said the PDP was using the crisis to launder the image of the Jonathan presidency by securing attendance and participation for President Jonathan at important international summits and meetings.
‘’Curiously, Boko Haram has become a way of getting the international community to talk and meet with President Jonathan and gain international media coverage. The PDP-led federal government is also using the Boko Haram crisis, especially the #BringBackOurGirls campaign to blackmail the main opposition party and the civil society, impose emergency rule in states and areas controlled by opposition political parties, harass and restrict media freedom (through military clampdowns), and to justify other illegal activities.
‘’The Boko Haram crisis is readily used by the PDP to rationalise the Jonathan administration’s abdication of its constitutional responsibilities, including visits and assistance to areas affected and effective response to kidnappings and abductions. For instance, the administration was silent over the Chibok girls kidnaps for over 15 days. Little wonder that it took the visit of the Pakistani girl education campaigner, Malala, to Nigeria to force President Jonathan to now promise to meet the parents of the over 200 school girls who were abducted over three months ago in Chibok.
‘’Under the guise of ensuring security, the Maiduguri Airport has been closed, hence the Borno State governor and the people of the state, including the pilgrims heading to lesser Hajj, have been forced to travel by road to Kano to board their flights. However, the reason for shutting the airport has suddenly vanished as the private plane bearing Ali Modu Sheriff was allowed to land at the airport on Monday, the same day the Governor had to travel by road to Kano to see his brother who was involved in an accident on the same road!
‘’It is also not a secret that billions of naira have been allocated to security in order to tackle the Boko Haram menace, yet our troops have not been adequately equipped to confront the insurgency. “
“One wonders what happened to the huge funds allocated to the anti-terror fight. Against the backdrop of the huge war-chest that the Jonathan administration has amassed ahead of the 2015 elections, one can easily understand who such funds have evaporated into thin air.
‘’Also, the Boko Haram crisis and the Jonathan administration’s response to it must be seen in the context of 2015 elections. The status quo favours the PDP and President Jonathan. Why? Because Boko Haram affected areas and indeed the northern region are opposition strongholds, hence the administration is hoping that the Boko Haram crisis, the declaration of emergency rule and general atmosphere of insecurity in the North will lead to the cancellation of voting in some areas and limit voters’ turnout in general, a development which the PDP believes will minimise its electoral losses in the North and enhance the likelihood of a PDP victory,’’ APC said.
The party reiterated its position on the Boko Haram crisis, saying it had no links whatsoever to the terror group and challenged anyone with contrary information and proof to present such to Nigerians without delay.
It also restated its earlier recommendations for resolving the crisis, saying any solution that would be effective must be multi-faceted, since scorched-earth military tactics alone had failed to quell the insurgency.