I AM writing this piece in a sad mood. Why wouldn’t I. Muhammadu Buhari, retired army General was one of my authentic Nigerian heroes, a man of untrammeled integrity and granite cast will.
In the 2011 presidential election, I voted for him without any qualms. I have argued strongly against the notion that he is an ethnic jingoist or a religious bigot.
I had followed his carreer in the military; from being a military governor to Petroleum Minister and then head of state. I could only speak about him with utmost veneration.
When some weeks ago, the revered Sultan of Sokoto called for amnesty for Boko Haram, I was staggered by the shift in his posture towards these merchants of terror he had consistently condemned without any equivocation.
But his royal majesty’s amnesty trumpet was soon chorused by the Northern States Governors’ Forum, NSGF, and almost with the speed of a tornado, the Northern Elders Forum, NEF, followed, urging President Jonathan to grant amnesty to a band of misguided, blood- thirsty terrorists.
I was disgusted by the impish and warped theory of amnesty being propounded by these men. I was so sure that ‘noble’ men like Buhari would not lend their voices to the evil cacophony of the NSGF and the NEF.
I argued that if Buhari had been silent, it was simply because he didn’t want to speak against Boko Haram for political reason. “But he will never, ever endorse Boko Haram’s murderous activities; never,” I had argued.
But on Sunday, June 2, 2013, Buhari broke what I found now to be his ominous silence. Speaking on Liberty Radio in Kaduna, the reticent retired General criticized the declaration of state of emergency in three Northern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe, describing the action as a grave injustice against the North.
Buhari holds the strange notion that while Niger Delta militants were given special treatments, the Boko Haram terrorists were being killed and their house demolished.
Hear this soldier: “You see, in the case of Niger Delta militants, the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua sent an airplane to bring them, he sat down with them and discussed with them, they were cajoled and they were given money and amnesty”. But he was not done yet.
“They were trained in some skills and were given employment, but the ones in the North are being killed and their houses demolished.”
Again, I stress that I am at pains that a man I admire and practically adore could allow his emotion to so blur his reasoning that he could sound so parochial and pathetic. First I want to ask Buhari, what is the cause of Boko Haram.
What are they fighting for? In the case of the Niger Delta militants, we know about the degradation of their environment by Nigeria and foreign oil companies prospecting and exploiting the oil buried in their land by God.
Their land, water and even air are so polluted that survival is put in peril. For all these threats to their lives, successive governments in Nigeria had paid but scant attention to a people who tragically found themselves mired in poverty by the very natural gift that should elevate them to an earthly paradise.
So, when the young militants found themselves with arms, they decided to redress the gross injustice and oppression that had pervaded for decades. And while many of us would not agree with their violent approach, we would not deny that they has a cause.
What is the cause of Boko Haram? They don’t want Western education. Simply idiotic. The arms they use is a product of Western education, so is electricity and the clothes they wear. They said they want Islam as only religion in Nigeria. So, some of us that are non-Muslims should jump into the river. Very foolish. These are rascals with out a cause except mypotic, wild and horrid religious fanaticism.
Buhari said Yar’Adua sent an airplane to pick the militants and they brought them to Abuja. Correct. But did the airplane land in the creeks, the abode of the militants and picked them?
The fact is, Yar’Adua called the Niger Delta leaders and appealed to them to persuade their ‘boys’ to drop their arms and come for talk, for negotiation on the way forward for their exploited and devastated homeland. And the elders returned and met their wards in the creeks and convinced them to meet with Yar’Adua.
The militants in deference to their elders sat with Yar’Adua and negotiated the Niger Delta question. They did not negotiate out of fear; but they didn’t fear to negotiate.
I ask Buhari, where are these terror elements called Boko Haram? They remain ghosts, apologies to President Jonathan.
The Niger Delta elders and leaders went to the creeks to fetch their boys. Buhari is both a leader and an elder. I ask him, where are those sons of terror? Why can’t he and the likes of Professor Ango Abdullahi (of Ali-Must-Go shame) fetch their boys so that Jonathan can also send an airplane to fly them to Abuja.
The Northern leaders, including the Sultan of Sokoto, clamoured for amnesty for the murderous gang. Jonathan accepted and set up an amnesty committee.
The foolish boys in reaction said it was Nigeria and Jonathan that needed amnesty. As if this reaction is a huge shame to the Northern elders and to the Nigerian governments because they are forcing amnesty on killers, gangsters and animals that have no iota of remorse.
As if all that was not enough, they increased their barbaric unslaught not only on innocent Nigerians but the police and the military, killing and maiming in horrifying proportions.And you said Jonathan should not declare state of emergency?
Mr. ZIK OKAFOR, an artiste, wrote from Lagos.