This drama series called Nigeria, My Country is never in want of Acts and Scenes with its peculiar dramatis personae as professional politicians. When one is left to think that one event is at anti-climax, another event within same plot is in ‘raising action’. The question on the minds of the audience is: When will this drama come to an end?
Sometimes last year, while Nigerians were still doing their best to cope with how to live in the face of the dreaded Boko Haram, then suddenly came the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) with its dramatic entry into Nigeria through a Liberian Diplomat, Patrick Sawyer. Just as we were getting relief of the country’s capacity to contain the world’s deadliest virus, then came a damning report from an Australian hostage negotiator (for the release of over 200 abducted Chibok girls), Dr. Stephen Davies. For me, Mr. Davis had not said what was not public knowledge about the Islamic sect, Boko Haram. The only intriguing aspect of his report was the inclusion of one name – the ex-Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Azubuike Ihejirika, in addition to that of the ex-Governor of Borno State, Ali Modu Sheriff and a senior official (which Mr. Davis did not name) of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
We also need to add that Dr. Davis’ report came at the time when speculations about the sponsors were almost about one’s political affiliations; a period when the country’s two leading political parties were in verbal warfare over who was the sponsor of the group; a period when the All Progressives Congress (APC) was under serious investigation for being the sponsor of the group and was busy defending itself in the United Kingdom’s House of Commons; a period when the government kept telling us it knew the sponsors of the sect; a period when the Nigerian public, more than ever before, wanted the sponsors of the sect unveiled.
Expectedly, the Federal Government responded through the Department of State Security (DSS). The Department, through its then spokesperson, Ms. Marilyn Ogar categorically denied the involvement of Lt. General Ihiejirika and the military high command of complicity in several Boko Haram massacres but said ex-Borno Governor, Sheriff was under investigation by the Department.
The government went ahead to declare Mr. Davies as being self-appointed, acting on his own and not on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria. The government went onto query why he went with such information to foreign media without first reporting to it.
To this, it is only natural to get two responses. First, the denial by the federal government that Mr. Davies was acting on its behalf was just normal. No government is known to directly negotiate with terrorists. They do so using third party negotiators, like Mr. Davies. That was not the first time the renowned hostage negotiator was coming to Nigeria on that sort of mission.
Second, the government queried his going to the media with such information. But wasn’t Mr. Davies an independent, self-appointed negotiator? Why should he then be expected to report to a government that did not appoint him in the first instance?
At this point, we need to flash back to link some earlier related events. Early 2012, former President Goodluck Jonathan came out publicly to say (except he said this under duress) that members of the dreaded Islamic sect, Boko Haram served in his cabinet. After making this careless statement, many thought it was one of those “unpresidential” remarks which the former President was known to make, whole unconsciously giving a major clue to the deciphering of the real sponsors of insecurity in Nigeria.
Later in 2012 the late General Adrew Owoye Azazi (rtd.), then National Security Adviser (NSA), told us what some never wanted to hear: that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was behind the veil of Boko Haram. Had this statement came from a Northerner, some of our Southern friends would have publicly demanded for his head. But, would they? Instead of doing that, the cabinet “branch” of Boko Haram put enormous pressure on President Jonathan to get him sacked from his position and later died under controversial circumstances in an helicopter crash. Those who were familiar with these events know Azazi was actually living on borrowed time on that job since making the statement.
At this point, let us bring in a later appointed NSA, Colonel Sambo Dasuki (rtd). Though he wasn’t expressly indicted in Davis’ report, yet recent revelations allege that he profited from the $2billion (£1.3bn) meant to buy weapons for the military to fight Islamic militant Boko Haram rebels, which had been insinuated. Mr. Dasuki also allegedly got some compromised staff in the CBN to help him transfer $142.6 million to a company with accounts in the United States, the United Kingdom and in West Africa for unknown purposes and without contracts. Do we still doubt the authencity of Mr. Davis’ report?
Let us look at this whole issue from another angle, outside the negotiator’s original report. Now we are talking about the content of his revelations and not the procedural aspects. Let us assume he, in his report, fingered any or all the following people: General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd.), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Dr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola or Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the news headlines would have read in, say, the Vanguard, would most likely have been: “Foreign Negotiator Indicts Buhari, Tinubu, Others As Boko Haram Sponsors”, or “APC Leaders Behind Boko Haram – Australian Negotiator.”
I am sure if this were to be the Australian’s ‘revelations’, the then loquacious DSS Spokesperson, Ms. Marilyn Ogar, would have been in a high vindictive mood. She would have been on the pages of newspapers for days – even weeks – speaking at the top of her voice that her Department had been aware all the while. She would have used the “revelations” to strengthen her earlier argument that APC was behind all the bomb blasts in the country. Maybe Mr. Davis would have been going about with the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON), with a “well deserved service to the nation” conferred on him by President Jonathan. At that point there would have been no question of Mr. Davies’ “authority to negotiate with Boko Haram.”
Before we forget, at what point did Senator Ali Ndume (Bornu South) stop being the sponsor of Boko Haram? What has become of his case at the courts since he joined the PDP? Were the Boko Haram members who the former President said are in his government the ones responsible for the sacking of General Andrew Azazi as the National Security Adviser? What was Senator Ali Modu Sheriff doing on the former President’s delegation to Chad after he had severally been linked to the sect, and at a time when it was declared that he was under investigations by DSS? Was he in another country to welcome the president: as a diplomat or a staff of the Foreign Service? What was Sheriff’s mission to the extent that he was seen sitting in company of our president and Idris Deby, the president of Chad, with no other member of the president’s delegation named by the government?
Looking at the Davis report, particularly his mention of the name of the ex-Chief of Army Staff – whose indictment is a remote possibility – convinces me that there is a direction we are not looking at in our resolve to fight and flush out the seeming ubiquitous sect.
Let us not forget that Col. Sambo Dasuki, the then NSA requested the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to shift the February 14 elections by six weeks to enable the army confront the terrorists. A dramatic event happened in Gombe State during that period. The Boko Haram allegedly attacked some parts of the state, before an air raid of fliers warning the residents to stay away from the elections or they would be attacked (written in Hausa) became visible. The question is: Who was distributing these fliers? At what point did Boko Haram begin to concern itself with elections? Something tells me that the compromised Nigerian Army or the Jonathan’s cabinet faction of Boko Haram was at work to scare people away from voting. The recent trial of the ex-NSA convinces me now who was behind the fliers distribution.
I am of the considered view that former President Jonathan, at this time, should take a hard look at his past administration, and those he worked with, the military, security agencies and other para-military institutions to offer information on the sponsors of the group. This might be a particularly difficult one. The enemies within are more dangerous than those outside. They were the ones who praised him the most. They are the ones who were most active. They are the one who licked his boots publicly. They were, still, the ones who wanted him desperately to fail. Because he didn’t identify the enemies within, it was easy for those outside to operate. As the Yoruba wisdom says: The thief outside cannot devour you unless with the permission of that who is inside. The owner of the house must identify the thief within to keep pilfers at bay. If they had looked well enough, they would have discovered that Mr Steven Davis’ report contained that important clue.
The quotation at this beginning of this piece is from Amílcar Cabral, the great African revolutionary who led Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde’s struggle against Portuguese colonialism before his cold-blooded assassination in January, 1973 which effectively prevented him from leading the newly-liberated nation. When he urged his comrades to “Hide nothing from the masses… Tell no lies… Mask no difficulties, mistakes, failures. Claim no easy victories”, he knew they would be saved a great deal, now or in the future, if they tell the truth.
Olalekan Waheed Adigun is a political risk analyst and an independent political strategist for wide range of individuals, organisations and campaigns. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com. Follow me on twitter: @adgorwell