11 March 2013

Nigeria: Terrorism - Do More, Talk Less


PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan recently paid a belated visit to Borno and Yobe States; parts terrorists have seized for more than two years. These States have been their bases from which they farm out terror.

Why did the President visit? What did he intend to achieve? Was there a plan to achieve it?

These concerns are pertinent in the light of the handling of the visit. It was not supposed to be show time. It was no time for photo opportunities and pumping of fists, as if something had been achieved.

Maiduguri and Damaturu that had been under security strictures for years were put under further watch. The people could not line the streets to see their President; the image was one of the terrorists being so strong that they could strike during the visit.

Beyond these, why did the President choose to discuss security in a town hall meeting? Was he manoeuvred into exposing himself to the ridicule that the supporters of the evil in the North East had planned? Why did he not invite the leaders of the North East to a private meeting where the issues could have been discussed? When did security become a matter for open fora?

President Jonathan got angry and addressed his audience accordingly. Did he not anticipate his hosts could deliberately annoy him during the visit? Did he under estimate the anger in the North East, whatever the reasons?

The President's visit would perhaps open grounds for discussing insecurity and the challenges it has further inflicted in the North East, and the larger North. The challenges are spreading to other parts of Nigeria, and the global implications are obvious.

However, the President's marching orders to the North East leaders given privately could have been more productive, with the larger public unaware of the infuriated tone of the delivery; and the President's frustration concealed.

There is no easy way to deal with terrorists. The populace, who can provide valuable information in the fight against terrorism, must be protected. People must trust the security agencies enough.

The people must see what they are losing because their areas are unsafe because of the activities of terrorists.

Can peace be achieved without the blame game all parties are playing? It can. However, beneficiaries of the chaos, not necessarily, terrorists, would not want peace to return.

Jonathan, as President, swore to the Constitution to provide peace and security. Few are interested in how he does it, as much as in seeing him do it. The talking is taking too long while the situation is drearier.

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