Let me begin this piece with a story. Inno is a Nigerian in his early thirties, a graduate of Geography who has been searching from coast to coast for a job since he graduated in 2007. After two years of fruitless search for a job, Inno approached his uncle with the idea to start a business since he could not find employment. His uncle loaned him fifty thousand Naira (N50,000.00) and a stall. Inno was sure managing his business would be a piece of cake. However, after only six months of doing business, he was forced to close shop! The value of his stock had reduced to less than five thousand Naira (N5,000). Two months out of business, Inno went back to ask for another loan (this time a bigger one) to start his business afresh. When his uncle asked why the former collapsed, Inno said it failed because his capital was small, that if given more money, he will definitely and unfailingly succeed. If you were the uncle, would you trust Inno with your money?
In December 2012, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan GCFR declared a state of emergency in some local governments areas covering Borno state (5 LGAs), Yobe state (5 LGAs), Plateau state (4 LGAs) and Niger state (1 LGA). A few days back on April 14 2013, the President again in the exercise of the powers conferred on him by Section 305(1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended declared a state of emergency in the whole of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States.
Let me state it clearly here that this piece is not for or against the emergency declaration; my desire is for us to look critically if indeed the emergency declared about six months ago in certain parts of the federation achieved any positive results and to use the results obtained from that emergency rule to make a forecast of what to expect from the current emergency proclamation by Mr. President.
Below are incidences of violence recorded in these four states (Borno, Niger, Plateau and Yobe) after the declaration of emergency in December to date (there may be slight variation in the dates as a result of differences in media coverage):
Borno (emergency in Maiduguri Metropolitan, Gamboru Ngala, Banki Bama, Biu, Jere LGAs):
1/1/13 – Maiduguri, 30/1/13 – Marte LGA, 7/1/2013 – Maiduguri, 8/1/2013 – Maiduguri,
17/1/13 – Gwoza (), 21/1/13 – Maiduguri, 21/1/13 – Damboa, 22/1/13 (5pm – Maiduguri,
22/1/13 (7pm) – Maiduguri, 22/1/13 (10pm) – Maiduguri, 23/1/13(3am) – Maiduguri,
23/1/13 (8.30am) – Maiduguri, 18/3/13 – Maiduguri, 19/3/13 – Maiduguri,
19/4/13 – Baga, 29/4/13 – Bama
Yobe (emergency in Damaturu, Geidam, Potiskum, Buniyadi-Gujba, Gasua-Bade LGAs):
24/4/13 – Gasua (Gasua-Bade LGA),
Plateau (emergency in Jos North, Jos South, Barkin-Ladi, Riyom LGAs):
8/1/13 – Jos , 14/1/13 – Bachit (), 15/1/13 – Gero Village (), 23/1/13 – Wase (),
23/1/13 – Barkin Ladi, 23/1/13 – Jos South, 27/3/13 – Plateau, 29/3/13 – Barkin-Ladi,
28-31/3/13 –Zilang, Mafang, Mifi, Attakar,
Niger (emergency in Suleja LGA): No recorded incidence of violence.
In Borno, there were sixteen reported cases of violent eruptions after the declaration of emergency, with at least twelve of them in the LGAs under emergency. In Yobe there is only one incidence of violence within the period; this occurred in one of the LGAs covered by the emergency. Plateau had 12 incidences with at least four of them in the LGAs covered by the emergency. So far, there has been no reported incidence of violence in Suleja LGA of Niger State. With this clear evidence and fact that the emergency rule did not solve the issue of violence in these local governments, how are we sure it will solve in the states where it has now been declared?
If we link this to the opening story, the JTF with the emergency rule could not quell violence in fifteen (15) local governments (less than any of the states within which the emergency rule has been declared in Nigeria), how are we sure they will do it in three states having a combined total of over sixty (60) local governments? (Adamawa = 21 LGAs, Borno = 27 LGAs, Yobe = 18 LGAs). I do not doubt the capability of our military but … Facts are facts, aren’t they?
There is a line of argument that most of these incidences occurred outside the LGAs initially covered by the emergency rule. Fair enough. But that argument when looked at closely exposes a very dangerous trend. It is a suggestion that the insurgents were not uprooted and destroyed as we were made to believe they would be; they were merely transplanted from the hot zones under emergency to cooler areas. If this is true, then we need to start preparing now to have in a very near future emergency proclamation to cover the states sharing boundaries with Adamawa, Borno and Yobe; then those that border them, then to those bordering these and the cycle continues except if this trend is already known and there are strategic arrangements to prevent its occurrence. Already, there are incidences in Taraba, Gombe, Bauchi and Jigawa states which border the states carrying the state of emergency tag.
In conclusion, let me offer my kobo piece of advice:
The Christian Holy Book the Bible says, “God will strike the Shepherd and the sheep of the flock will be scattered” (Matthew 26:31). Please, permit me to recapture this verse to meet our contemporary challenge thus; “President Jonathan will strike Boko Haram sponsors and the foot soldiers will be scattered and rendered useless without a means to acquire arms and organize any attacks.”
If we are really ready to deal with this issue, what we need now is to go after those sponsoring these insurgents. President Jonathan once said there are some in his cabinet; Sir, are they still there? This is the time to strike them. If the sponsors are left to room free and the channels of sponsorship left open, the more foot soldiers you kill, the more new recruits will be obtained. There is something else to consider; if events such as Baga are allowed to repeat, it will fuel the crisis rather than solve it. Consider a man who goes out to look for food for his family coming back to discover his whole family is gone, his house and everything he has been laboring for over the years gone; it wouldn’t take much persuasion for such a man to take up arms against the government he suspects (or is made to believe) is behind his misfortune. If the emergency must yield the needed result of eliminating (or at least reducing to the barest minimum) the insurgency, the non-combatant civilian population must be protected by all means, and not only that, they must be seen to be protected.
If the President desires to deal with this insurgency once and for all, he should empower the military to use the intelligence at their disposal to go after those sponsoring the insurgency. Anything short of this is like a 90 year old woman going for cosmetic surgery with the hope her looking younger will make her live longer; it wouldn’t happen. Or like treating malaria with paracetamol hoping that as the fever and headache go down, the malaria too will go; it wouldn’t happen. Until you are ready to remove the roots, don’t waste time cutting the branches, the tree wouldn’t die; and until you are ready to treat a treatable disease, managing the symptoms wouldn’t do you any good, but make your situation worse over time.
I wish the president, Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan GCFR and his security apparatus wisdom and understanding as they deal with this situation.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters