opinionBy Femi Fani-Kayode
Boko Haram has not committed any wrong to deserve amnesty. Surprisingly, the Nigerian government is talking about granting us amnesty.
What wrong have we done? On the contrary, it is we that should grant you (government) pardon- Abubakar Shekau, the spokesman and leader of Boko Haram, quoted by French AFP news agency.
Whilst our President is still busy offering amnesty to those who have rejected it and whilst the Nigerian people and intelligentsia are involved in a barren and futile debate about the merits and demerits of granting amnesty to terrorists, Boko Haram continues to kill, maim and destroy. It is clear to me that our people are in denial and that our government is deluded, irresponsible and insensitive. As we are busy debating about amnesty or no amnesty for Boko Haram, the Niger Delta terrorist organisation known as MEND have quietly given us notice about their sinister plans for our country. After killing 14 policemen in a ruthless attack just last week they have told us through their spokesman, one Jomo Gbomo, that it is their intention to "start killing Muslims and attacking mosques as from 31st May, 2013 in order to protect and save Christianity in Nigeria". This was warning and statement of intent was published and reported in the American website magazine called Bloomberg.com on the 14th April 2013.
Yet, despite all these troubling signs and signals, the Nigerian people and the Nigerian government, in their usual manner, are still napping and pretending as if all is well. Perhaps we all deserve what is coming. A people that do not even have the guts to courageously demand that their government rise up to the occasion and do their job by protecting the lives and property of its citizens deserve prayer and pity. When Boko Haram and MEND finally face one another in a terrible war of reprisal killings and bombings, that is when our people will understand the implications of tolerating a government that is incapable of doing its job and confronting terror with a firm and decisive hand.
It is very clear to me that Pastor 'Tunde Bakare's assertion that President Goodluck Jonathan's destiny is to "bankrupt and balkanise Nigeria" and that he is merely "dancing to the drumbeat of his destiny" may well be prophetic. Meanwhile, Nigeria continues to bleed and die as many of her citizens are bombed to pieces, maimed and have their throats slit open every day by Islamist terrorists who do not know, or care to know, the meaning of peace, restraint, decency or dialogue. President Goodluck Jonathan has handed our country over to a bunch of butchers who have no value for human life. Under his watch our people continue to die and die whilst he sits in the Presidential Villa and drinks champagne.
Worst still is the sheer irresponsibility and shameless behaviour of one or two of our northern governers who, instead of attempting to provide more security for their people in their respective domains, are besides themselves trying to either get on the lucrative gravy train known as the Boko Haram Amnesty Committee or are actually speaking for Boko Haram and explaining their actions. If the latter were not the case, how do you explain the illogical and frankly absurd contribution from my old friend Governor Isa Yuguda of Bauchi state who said that "the real Boko Haram will accept amnesty" and that "it is their criminal and political sect members that are rejecting the offer"?' (Leadership newspaper, 15th April, 2013).
I have three questions here. Since when has a democratically elected governor of one of the largest and most important states in northern Nigeria and a man that was a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria under President Obasanjo's government for almost eight good years become the official spokesman for Boko Haram? How come he appears to know who is who within that terrorist organisation and the attitude and nature of each of its factions and why does he seek to absolve his preferred faction of the evil that they have collectively visited on the Nigerian people in the last two years? The third question is this- since when has any part or faction of Boko Haram not been criminal and political? I daresay that every part and every faction of this wicked organisation of heartless men and women is not only criminal but they are also political and religious.
Boko Haram is an Islamist organisation dedicated to imposing and establishing an Islamic fundamentalist state in northern Nigeria through the use of violence. They also wish to wipe out Christianity and true Islam in the north and they reject the idea of living in a country where Christians can take any position of leadership let alone be President. Yet these are the type of people that Governor Isa Yuguda and a number of other northern leaders is now speaking for and trying to absolve? A vicious group of people that have slaughtered no less than 4,200 Nigerians and non-Nigerians in the last two years and that have burnt down and bombed virtually every church that existed in some communities and states in the north? If anyone doubts that, they should find out from the Catholics what happened to 50 of the 52 churches that they established in Borno state.
The implication of Yuguda's contribution is that there is a faction of Boko Haram that is wholesome and righteous. Yet nothing could be further from the truth. Every single person and group that is a part of or is in any way associated with Boko Haram is evil, is destructive and has blood on their hands. And anyone, no matter how highly placed, revered or distinguished, that tries to rationalise their actions or absolve them of their murderous ways is equally evil and equally guilty of murder. Nigeria is a country in denial where leaders are always ready, willing and able to rationalise, defend and forgive the actions of beasts. Yet this has not always been so. Remember the public beheading of Gideon Akaluka in Kano in the '90s by an irate mob of Islamists for allegedly using a page of the Quran as toilet paper and General Sani Abacha's decisive response to such madness?
When Abacha was in power, he knew exactly how to handle the Islamist tendency that plagued Kano in his time, including those that organised and incited the mob to kill Akaluka. He had them killed quietly one after the other until the problem was solved and the plague of Islamist terror was abated. One of the leaders of those that killed Akaluka, as a consequence of his royal connections, survived and escaped death only because he was hidden in a Sokoto prison for two years whilst Abacha was told that he had been killed. That individual certainly came bouncing back into the public space and the circles of power and has now reached "high places" but that is a story for another day. How I wish that the present leadership of our country could learn a lesson or two from General Sani Abacha's approach to the Islamist rebellion that we have been confronted with. They can also learn a lot from the approach of another moderate Muslim by the name of Kamal Ataturk who was the founder and father of the modern Turkish state. He knew what to do to the Islamist terrorists in his midst and he did it without thinking twice or batting an eyelid.
Yet sadly Nigeria is not blessed with such leaders today. Instead we are saddled with a President who, only a few weeks ago, described Boko Haram as his "siblings". We have a President who does not appreciate the fact that it is his job to provide security for our nation and to protect the Nigerian people from the enemy within and the enemy without. We have a President who is on his knees morning, day and night begging the Islamist terrorists to accept an amnesty that they never asked for in the first place and which they have consistently rejected. We have a President and a people that just don't know what they are up against. We have a President and a people that are suffering from the worst form of denial. May God save Nigeria and may He send us a deliverer.
Fani-Kayode is a former minister