From: ABDULRAHMAN YUSUF
Like every other challenge facing the country, the security issue, has been politicized in recent times, thus robbing the government of the collaborative efforts it should enjoy, across political and religious divides to contain the Boko Haram menace.
The Federal Government and its security agencies seem unable to think outside the box with its fixation, of labeling of stalwarts of certain opposition parties as the ones funding the sect or nurtured it from inception before its activities became a festering sore threatening the health of the amalgam, Nigeria.
The individuals that are mentioned handy for constant vitriolic attacks by government spokespersons, are the Congress for Progressive Change, [CPC] presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari and former governor of Borno State, now Chairman of All Nigerian Peoples’ Party, [ANPP] Board of Trustees, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff.
The allegation against the latter is that Boko Haram was his baby, a security goon he allegedly nurtured from its formative stage to intimidate rival opposition parties chieftains or perceived opponents within his own ANPP before it metamorphosed into a Frankenstein monster.
Last Tuesday, the Peoples’ Democratic Party, [PDP] Chairman in Borno State, Alhaji Baba Basharu, restated his party stance that the former state governor was responsible for the sect insurgency in Borno and the north-east. “It is on record that the crisis precipitated out of control as a result of bad governance which led to massive unemployment and abuse of youths of Borno and the subsequent showdown between the ANPP government of Ali Modu Sheriff and the Boko Haram sect.’’ Basharu went further to claim that several panels set up in the past had indicted the Senator Ali Modu Sheriff for the sect activities.
His remarks: “The PDP in Borno State maintains its stand that cause and source of the sect insurgency is in the way the Government of ANPP under Ali Modu Sheriff managed their relationship.
The solution to the problem cannot be found without getting to the source and cause of the problem. The fact is contained in the reports of the different panels set up by the federal government in the past.’’ Lies constantly bandied in the media have a way of being taken as the truth; but empirical findings do not support this position. Rather, it avails us the fact that activities of dangerous Islamic sects in Borno and the entire north- east states in the country predated the Modu Sheriff government.
Before the group, Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad, [The Group of Al-Sunna For Preaching and Jihad] came to inception, there was the Maitatsine sect, led by Mohammed Marwa. The sect notoriety instigated riots in the country in the 1980s which resulted in the lost of lives.
Marwa was forced into exile, returned into the country to continue his activities and was eventually smoked out by security forces during one of his sect attacks. When Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad started its activities in 1995 under Mallam Lawal, before he left to continue his education and Mohammed Yusuf took over, Sheriff was not in office then as the country was under the military regime. Even in 2002, when Yusuf launched the group officially, Modu Sheriff was still a serving senator.
When he became the governor in 2003 and activities of the sect became a threat to his administration, the Borno state government under Senator Ali Modu Sheriff constituted an administrative panel of enquiry, under Ambassador Usman Gaji, to look at the activities of the sect and make recommendations to government. The 14-man panel had at its terms of reference then, to determine the immediate and remote causes of the disturbances; determine and identify persons or groups responsible for the violence; determine the number of lives lost in the course of the disturbance; determine the extent and cost of property and also determine if there was need for government to assist group or bodies affected by the disturbance. It is important to note that the Ambassador Gaji Committee did not find the former governor culpable, directly or remotely with the activities of the sect.
A similar committee set up by federal government under the late Yar’Adua administration to unravel the circumstances surrounding the alleged state elimination of the leader of the sect, Muhammed Yusuff and individual [s]behind the sect activities did not in any way indict the former governor.
The Presidential Investigative panel which was constituted and officially inaugurated on August 5, 2009 had the former Chief of Defence Staff, Paul Dike as chairman. Other members were Major-General B.M. Monguno; deputy Inspector General of Police, Israel Ajao; Ambassador Haruna Wando and Brigadier-General Bala Ali. A World Bank report has identified poverty as playing a major factor in religious sect insurgence in sub Saharan Africa.
It prescribes the western portion of sub-Saharan Africa: comprising of the Republic of Niger, Chad, Sudan and the north-eastern portion of Nigeria, the northern Cameroun as some poorest places on earth, hence the emergence of militant organization, like the Janjaweed militia and Boko Haram movement here in the north-east Nigeria.
As we try to unravel, dispassionately, the individuals or institution behind the security challenge, it is important not to dismiss the observations made by former National Security Adviser, General Patrick Azazi even though the Dr Goodluck Jonathan administration felt scandalized by the former security chief frank submissions.
Speaking at the second South-South Economic Summit, held in Asaba, Delta state capital the former National Security Adviser pointed fingers of scorn at the ruling party which he noted had not acted responsibly in taking the decisions that had security implications for the country.
Specifically, the NSA maintained that the rise in the activities of the sect just after the 2011 presidential elections was a pointer to his position that the activities of the Islamic sect might be connected with politics.
He noted that the decision of the PDP to exclude certain persons from taking part in the election, in the name of zoning, contrary to the provisions of the constitution, had assisted in fuelling the sect’s activities. His remarks remains very instructive: “We try to play the ostrich and think things will blow over.
I believe we should stop the politicisation of security issues in Nigeria.” “How come the extent of violence did not increase in Nigeria until the public declaration of the people that were going to contest election by the PDP?
And I would also like to say this, though the PDP people will not agree with me, they would like to attack me, but I hope they do it in private. “PDP got it wrong from the beginning by saying Mr. A can go and Mr. B cannot go and these decisions were made without looking at the constitution.” “Is it not amazing that after the elections the Boko Haram became better trained, better armed and better funded. But I can assure you that Boko Haram could not have that kind of sophistication without a backing.”
So, where is the hands of General Muhammadu Buhari and former governor of Borno state in all these? Which of the political parties in Nigeria has had its serving senators arrested and mentioned for funding the sect activities in recent times? The immortal Uthman Dan Fodio was right when he said that truth is an open wound and only conscience can heal it.
Nigerians watch with bated breath, hoping that the ruling party would in good conscience, tackle, frontally the sect insurgence, without framing up innocent opposition party stalwarts in the build up to 2015. •Yusuf lives at 24 Crescent, 2nd Avenue, Gwarimpa, Abuja