There is seeming tactical silence, or rather “tactical maneuver”, from a section of the country over recent revelations by Australian Boko Haram negotiator, Dr Stephen Davis, fingering the former governor of Borno State, Ali Modu Sheriff, and former Chief of Army Staff Lt. Gen. Ihejirika (rtd) as sponsors of Boko Haram.
Apart from ThisDay, which ran the story as lead, most Nigerian newspapers are tactically silent. Weekly Trust’s cover was mute about the issue. The Punch tactically took a different angle, which indicted that “powerful opposition” thwarted the negotiation for the release of Chibok girls. This same angle is mainly championed by pro-government group.
Sixty three-year-old Davis, who has a doctorate in political geography, was a mining consultant to global resources company WMC and to petroleum giant Shell, according to The Sydney Morning Herald. “It was at Shell in the mid 2000s that he began peace negotiations with rebels in the Niger Delta. He then served as an advisor to two Nigerian presidents, developing links with terror cells as he negotiated on behalf of the government”, the newspaper reported.
Adeptly implicating both the ruling and (subtly) the opposition party, Davis somehow gives Nigerians a fruit of doum palm to chew. We are now arguing, blame each other. If Olisa Metuh wanted to exclaim hosanna that “powerful opposition” was undermining the fight against terror, it will then down on him that Ali Modu Sheriff (and somehow Ihejirika) are part of the PDP kith and kin. And if Lai wants to stage bankaura dance, he will remember the “powerful opposition” that hampers government’s effort.
Now why did I dismiss Davis’ claim? Davis confessed that Boko Haram members told him the names of their sponsors. Okay. Why do some Nigerians believe what Boko Haram told Davis? Is it because Boko Haram members are saints and never told a lie? I believe Boko Haram are liars. If anybody would believe what Boko Haram says, I suppose Muslims shouldn’t join the bandwagon. Have you (Muslims) forgotten, and now want to trust those who lied against Islam? Art thou so dazed by the bug of amnesia now you can trust the Boko Haram ‘isnad’ and accept their narration as ‘sahih’? Will you, as Muslim (and even non Muslims who know the Holy Qur’an), believe someone who distorted the meaning of the Holy Qur’an, translated its verses upside down and claims it ordered him to kill, maim, bomb, rob, rape and kidnap?
Let me make it clear that still I do not believe the Federal Government has a hand in Boko Haram. As always, I will only accuse government of lack of commitment. Let me also restate my belief that the military (past or present) don’t aid Boko Haram. I will only accuse them of corruption and lack of commitment. Again, let me reemphasize that politicians (Northern or Southern, PDP or APC) don’t also support Boko Haram. Borno politicians only supported them when they were a pacifist religious movement before transmuting to well-armed terrorist organisation — but certainly not today.
Okay now, you may ask, who really sponsors Boko Haram? I believe Boko Haram can sponsor their activities. How? They are thieves. They are highwaymen. They are armed robbers. They bomb vaults in banks to steal money, waylay travelers to rob and kill them, sack traders in the markets to cart away money and foodstuff, kidnap locals and foreigners to demand ransom. We all know the source of their five Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs). We know where they got their arms and ammunition. We know they use Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) not those SON can certify their lethal quality. I lost count of the number police and military barracks and stations Boko Haram raided and emptied their armory.
According to the BBC, “Boko Haram was paid more than $3m (£2m) before releasing a French family of seven, a Nigerian government report [seen by Reuters news agency] says.” Also arguing in defense of my standpoint, my friend Alkasim AbdulKadir, a member of Victims Support Fund Committee on Boko Haram, said: “Boko Haram have stolen between 500 million Naira and 1 Billion Naira from Nigerian banks in the North East, this is enough to fund an insurgency anywhere, ask Nigerian banks how much they have lost to Boko Haram.”
But why is a section of the country silent over the Aussie’s exposé? Obviously because the man did not implicate General Buhari or any opposition politician. If it’s Buhari, I’m sure many people in the South will lend credence to the report. They will agree with what Davis says wats and all. They will reason with him hook, line and sinker. Femi Fani-Kayode would have had a field day, pouring invectives, saying the revelations have further confirmed his earlier avowal. Asari Dokubu would have held press conference, calling for Buhari’s head. Olisa Metuh would have sighed and said “this confirmed APC is Janjaweed party”. Marilyn Orga would cap it up with a freshly-made ‘intelligence report’. And if Modu Sherriff is still in APC, I am sure former FCT minister, Nasir el-Rufai wouldn’t gleefully share the story to his large social media audience. He will keep mum, or ‘tactically maneuver’.
We must learn to treat what the Whites tell us with caution. We must also remove “America will know” mentality from our psyche. Not all the time they are right or they know everything. Even Wikileaks carries a lot of false or contradictory reports about Nigeria. Not always they get it right. Some Nigerians even believe the US created Boko Haram despite the fact that we know their origin, ideology and development from Adam.
My good friend Ahmad Salkida knows Boko Haram more than Davis but he did not name their sponsors. Alluding to Davis’ revelations, Salkida asked rhetorically, “I was also a mediator several times on BH crisis. Let me ask my sources to give me some names. Is that enough to sentence anyone?”
We have to be rational in our thinking and utterances. Terrorism is ferociously moving like a wildfire while Nigerians are ferociously arguing about sponsors, who are, like equator, imaginary. The terrorists are strategizing, while Nigerians are bickering. Nigerians should be more interested in getting the elixir or serum that will cure the ailing nation from the ravage of terrorism. Let the ‘sponsors’ forever remain unknown if terrorism will end today. There is no solution found in blame-game.
Of this, no thanks to Davis for playing the devil’s advocate.