Boko Haram conspiracy theories

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The lead story of BLUEPRINT newspaper for Tuesday, this week, was titled WE HAVE NO HAND IN BOKO HARAM- SAMBO. This is the only Nigerian newspaper headline I’ve had opportunity to see as I travel between London and Dubai to be able to arrive in Abuja by Tuesday afternoon, and writing this week’s piece. I am not surprised that Vice President Namadi Sambo made the disclaimer.

But those in power must be aware that there is very strong suspicion in the North that they have somehow become complicit in the Boko Haram insurgency. This is just as much as those in power, their supporters and very influential and popular voices in the South have clung to the perspective that the Boko Haram insurgency is a grand Northern conspiracy against President Goodluck Jonathan.

These contending perspectives have summed up the basis of Nigeria’s inability to defeat the insurgency so far. And as these two perspectives have continued contestation of Nigeria’ssocio-politicalspace, we have become paralyzed and Nigeria’s political structure has continued to wither around us, with a huge swathe under the control of insurgents.

Unfortunately for President Goodluck Jonathan, the buck stops on his table, because he was the one elected to provide leadership as Commander-in-Chief. Pardon me, but he is a serial bungler who has committed a series of faux pas that have continued to undermine his position in respect of the insurgency. It is instructive that President Goodluck Jonathan has NEVER taken time to visit Nigerian troops in the theatres of operation in the northeast, to lift their morale; get first hand understanding of their conditions away from prejudiced”security briefings” inside Aso Villa, that might have been doctored or far removed from the realities on ground.

Yet, Nigerians see on television the regular visits of American, British and French leaders to their troops in Afghanistan; Iraq or even Central Africa. President Jonathan acts disdainfully, as if the northeast is not his business; he seems completely wired to the absurd assumption that Boko Haram was organized by Northerners against his presidency. He maintains no links with the governors of Borno and Yobe as regularly as the situation demands. It is incredible that he has not visited the communities suffering or the IDP camps.

He did not visit Chibok; neither did he, his Vice nor even Education Minister go to the school premises, when Nigerian children were slaughtered in their sleep at the Federal Government College, Buni Yadi, Yobe State.

Yet, our dear President was at TB Joshua’s church to commiserate with him, when the illegal extension to a building collapsed killing scores of Nigerians and foreigners. It was not the dead that were his concern, but solidarity with TB Joshua, with an eye to Christian votes in 2015!

If such double standards are not central to his politics of exploiting ethno-religious differences, why didn’t President Jonathan go to Kano to commiserate with the people after the massive bombings of last Friday? Wasn’t that enough to have exploded the absurd perspective holding him hostage, about “Northern conspiracy” against his presidency? Surely, President Goodluck Jonathan will need Northern votes too in 2015.

Or is he still clinging to his statement that the votes he got in the North in 2011 were mainly Igbo votes? So is he probably assured of those and Northerner votes won’t matter? The prevailing official attitude can only strengthen divisions in the country and deepen conspiracy theories detrimental to the health of the country. Unfortunately again, the buck stops with President Jonathan!.

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