Nigeria: Ambush on May Day, By Dele Agekameh
‘Perhaps, the time has now come for the President to embark on a general house cleaning in order to save him from consistent embarrassment…”
May 1 or May Day of every year is a day set aside all over the world to celebrate the toiling and suffering workers who bear the brunt of sustaining global economy. Different countries have their unique styles of celebrating the day. In Nigeria, the tradition is a public holiday when workers congregate to undertake official march past and other forms of pageantry.
So, ordinarily, this year’s Workers’ Day, which was marked in Nigeria last Wednesday, followed the same old tradition. At the Eagle square, Abuja, where President, Goodluck Jonathan, was physically present, the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, seized the opportunity presented by the occasion, to rub it in on the Government that “unbridled political interests were hampering the war against terrorism”. It lamented that “despite enormous resources voted into maintaining security, the fight against terror has been far from being won partly due to the various conflicting political interests in the country”.
In his address, Abdulwaheed Omar, the NLC President said, “In spite of government’s effort, the situation in the North-East is deteriorating. The initial gains of emergency rule clearly have been lost and the momentum squandered. Indeed, the choice of target, regularity of strikes, weapons used, co-ordination and sophistication of their operations make them not only the leading group to dread. We feel seriously concerned about the state of the nation’s security infrastructure”.
According to Mr. Omar, “It is immoral to play politics with the lives of the people. We are almost certain that if anyone was left in doubt about the universality of this war, the Nyanya bomb blast erased all of that”.
Barely few hours after, as if to prove that they can never be cowed no matter what, the Boko Haram terrorists were on their devilish best as they hid under the approaching cover of darkness to, once more, detonate another lethal ware right inside the Nyanya motor park in Abuja. The first twin-bomb attack in the nation’s capital after about two years lull occurred at the same park in the early morning of April 14, 2014. The latest attack is coming on the heels of mass protests that have engulfed the country in the wake of the abduction of more than 240 schoolgirls from Chibok, Borno State, North-East of Nigeria.
Recently, a surfeit of protests took over the nation’s landscape. From Chibok to Abuja, Lagos, Ilorin, Kano, Ibadan and other major cities, women in their hundreds brandishing leaves took to the streets to register their discomfort over what their leaders termed “government’s lethargic approach” to this nagging issue of mass abduction of innocent school children who were writing their final examinations. The women are right. So also are all Nigerians united in the clamour to free these school children from their captors and end the terrible nightmare their parents, siblings and loved ones are currently experiencing. But that is easier said than done. The ease, frequency and devastations of these terrorists’ attacks on hapless and defenceless Nigerians are creating more than enough worries in the country and in the global community.
Let us look at the scenario like this. At the May Day celebrations in Abuja, Mr. President had said that those who participated in the Nyanya bomb blast on April 14 would not escape justice. The same day, another devastating bomb blast erupted right inside the same motor park. What the terrorists simply demonstrated by this was that the President could continue to threaten hell and brimstone, while, they, in turn, would always have their way anytime, anywhere.
A few days to the abduction of the Chibok schoolgirls, Abubakar Shekau, the leader of the Boko Haram terrorists had, in a well-broadcasted video message, confidently told a bewildered world that his agents were everywhere, including Abuja, ready to strike whenever the call for satanic exploits come calling. A few days after, his agents struck in Nyanya Park, killing about 80 people while close to 200 were either injured, some seriously, or maimed for life. That same day, his agents swooped on Chibok and forcefully made a way with more than 240 school children. Again, now, they have struck at the same spot in Abuja. This is a national embarrassment, a calamity of unquantifiable magnitude.
The latest Nyanya bomb attack is eliciting various reactions from the government and other stakeholders, including, of course, the native settlers of Nyanya who can safely be referred to as the land owners. In the wake of the attack last week, a spokesman for the community expressed the frustration of the people over the spate of bomb attacks in the community in recent times and threatened that the community would mobilise and storm the National Assembly to register their disgust if nothing was done urgently to restore normalcy to the area.
The threat by the Nyanya community underscores the general feeling of bewilderment in the country over the inability of the security agencies to stem the growing tide of killings. Perhaps, it was to assuage the feelings of the populace that the government held an expanded security meeting in Abuja last week. A fall-out of the meeting was the setting-up of a fact-finding committee headed by Brig General Ibrahim Sabo. The committee is saddled with the responsibility of providing the government with reliable information on the whereabouts of the abducted Chibok schoolgirls.
The choice of Sabo, ex-boss of the dreaded Directorate of Military Intelligence, DMI, during the late General Sani Abacha’s Gestapo-like military dictatorship, is quite understandable. Under his watch as DMI boss, Sabo was like the lord of the Manor. At the beginning of the current Boko Haram crisis, suspicions were rife that a renegade group of the Abacha goons might have had a hand in the crisis in order to draw attention to them. This may or may not be true. But according to a Yoruba proverb: “Omo ina la n ran sina”, meaning “to get at a wild fire, you need to go through a lesser fire”.
Without mincing words, the latest barrage of explosions in Abuja appears to be the handiwork of fifth columnists bent on destabilising the country through the instrumentality of chaos. In a speech some years ago, Mr. President had alluded to the fact that the Boko Haram terrorism is a cankerworm that has spread its tentacles everywhere – in the government, security agencies and other places. The President may have exonerated his cabinet in his last Sunday’s media chat, but with all that are now happening; it is most certainly that palpable disloyalty exists among the President’s aides and within the security agencies.
Perhaps, the time has now come for the President to embark on a general house cleaning in order to save him from consistent embarrassment and save the poor, innocent Nigerians who are daily being gruesomely massacred from avoidable deaths. Like the late Chinua Achebe said in his book, A Man of the People, “the thieves have taken enough for the owners to notice”. If I may apply this most appropriately in this context, the Boko Haram terrorists, their sponsors and or collaborators, have done incalculable harm to the country and humanity, so much that their temerity should now be stopped by all available means possible.
This is no time to engage in unnecessary finger-pointing; we have all failed this country. It is as if we are bereft of leaders in this part of the world, as everybody with the least opportunity to be in government now scampers for the filthy lucre rather than provide purposeful leadership designed to extricate the country from its present moral and socio-economic miasma. We can only defeat these terrorists if we all come together and say “enough is enough!” Without this, our children, our brethren, our generation and the entire country will be the worse for it. Nigeria has the potential to be great but this God-given opportunity is being frittered away on the altar of corruption and avarice. We have the manpower, the natural resources and everything to make us great, but our country seems to be operating a plethora of misplaced priorities.