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Again, Boko Haram: a war with no end

First, of course, was the claim, late August, by an Australian Anglican clergy, Dr. Stephen Davis, that former army chief, Lt-General Azubuike Ihejirika, former Borno…

First, of course, was the claim, late August, by an Australian Anglican clergy, Dr. Stephen Davis, that former army chief, Lt-General Azubuike Ihejirika, former Borno State governor, Senator Modu Sheriff, and an unnamed Central Bank of Nigerian official were major financial sponsors of BH. Second, was the shocking $9.3 million cash for arms scandal in South Africa that came to light on September 5, involving the Federal Government, the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), and his controversial private jet. Third, was the Senate approval last Thursday of President Jonathan’s request in June for a $1 billion (roughly 170 billion naira) loan to buy weapons for the war against BH.
To begin with the last, the president’s very request for the loan was proof positive that the orchestrated attacks by senior government officials on the governor of Borno State, Alhaji Kassim Shettima, for saying BH was better armed and better motivated than our military was sheer blackmail. For 30 months from mid-1967 Nigeria fought a terrible civil war, but under the prudent management of Chief Obafemi Awolowo as Finance minister and prime minister in all but the name, we did not borrow one kobo to arm and motivate our military to win the war. And the chief who was not even a development economist but only a lawyer, albeit a big lawyer – and his boss, General Yakubu Gowon – did not have the benefit of the stupendous oil wealth that has accrued to this nation since 1999.
The size of this oil wealth has been used as an excuse to put a huge amount of it aside for “rainy days” in the form of Sovereign Wealth Fund, foreign reserve and so on. Now, if the BH insurrection is not rainy days, I don’t know what is.
To seek for a loan to fight BH obviously raises the questions, why borrow when you have put so much away for rainy days and what, in the first place, happened to all those huge amounts that had been budgeted for the fight against the insecurity in the land?
Nothing exposes the use of this insecurity to hide the motive for letting the BH insurrection fester better than the excuse the rump of our senators, led by its leadership, gave for ramming the approval down our throats; the loan, claimed the leadership had “security implications”, or some words to that effect. When opposition elements raised valid objections based on constitutional and legal requirements for acceding to the president’s request, they were simply rolled over by a voice vote.
Here, it must be said in the senate leadership’s favour that they even allowed for some amount of debate; at the lower chamber, the leadership simply refused to allow any debate on the $9.3 million scandal because it said it was all “a matter of security”, or words to that effect.
The questions about why we needed to borrow in the face of the huge votes for fighting insecurity in the land takes us to the first event, namely, the claim by Dr Davis that Gen. Ihejirika, Alhaji Modu and an unnamed CBN official have been major financiers of BH. Serious questions can be raised about the Anglican priest’s claims in spite of the fact that he has worked for the federal authorities in the past and he seems to have inside knowledge of BH phenomenon.
First, he provides no evidence for his claim beyond the say-so of the insurgents. And their say-so cannot be sufficient proof since they have good reason to tar the two gentlemen Davis cared to name: the general for at least ostensibly fighting them and the former governor for creating and using them and then dumping them. Second, why refuse to go the whole hog and name the third alleged culprit?
In spite of these and other questions over Davis’s credibility, there can be no justification for the manner in which our State Security Service, speaking through Ms Ogar, dismissed Davis, especially in her overzealousness in defending the general and leaving the “bloody civilian” governor to fend for himself. As Ms Ogar knows all too well, in the murky world of state security, stuff happens, as Americans would say.
If you need any evidence that stuff happens consider the little publicised – at least in the Nigerian media – report Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued on July 21, in which it alleged that “The FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation, the American equivalent of our SSS) encouraged and sometimes even paid Muslims to commit terrorist acts during numerous sting operations after the 9/11 attacks.”
The report was based on HRW’s joint exami-nation with Columbia University Law School’s Human Rights Institute of 27 cases and interviews with 215 people including those charged and convicted in terrorism cases, their relatives, defence and prosecution lawyers and judges.
“In some cases,” the HRW report said, “the FBI may have created terrorists out of law-abiding individuals by suggesting the idea of taking terrorist action or encouraging the target to act.”
Now, remember we are tutored in these things principally by the Americans – along with the Israelis and the British, all three, masters of the dark art and science of warfare – and it would therefore not be surprising if, as good students, we have learnt a thing or two about dirty tricks from them in our fight against insecurity in the land.
In the circumstance, the least our SSS could have done was pretend to investigate Davis’s allegations and not jump to the defence of only one of the two named accused and thus open itself to suspicions that it did so because the one is a Christian and the other a Muslim, especially given the widespread belief among Muslims in the country that its security apparatus is generally anti-Islam and anti-Muslims.
The knee-jerk defence of Ihejirika has become all the more indefensible in the light of recent demands by the Americans, no less, that Ihejirika’s alleged stupendous wealth after serving as army chief needs to be investigated. For the Americans, it seems, there is correlation between the general’s sudden wealth and the ill-equipment and poor motivation of our army in the fight against insecurity in the land.
Finally, the cash and carry arms (?) deal in South Africa that came to light on September 5. I put a question mark over “arms” because there is widespread suspicion that the whole thing was simply a long-running money laundering operation involving some influential rogue elements in government and the controversial CAN president and his controversial private jet gone awry, for once.
The Federal Government has claimed ownership of, and responsibility for, the transfer of the $9.3 million cash involved in the CAN president’s private jet, ostensibly to buy arms apparently on the black market because, it says, the Americans have refused to allow it to buy arms in the white market. The Americans have since denied the charge.
In any case, few people believe government’s defence; as the activist lawyer, Festus Keyamo, said in one of the first reactions to government’s story, it all sounded like “a cock-and-bull story.” In other words, the Federal Government’s story, as an attempt to help extricate the CAN president, is as water tight as a sieve; Oritsejafor has said he only leased his jet to a second company in which he admits he has shares but which in turn leased it to a third party that carried the cash to buy arms under the table for the fight against BH.
But, as the retired Anthony Cardinal Okogie said in an interview in last Saturday’s New Telegraph, “The Head of State is a PDP man and he (Oritsejafor) is linked with this rubbish. So what other proof do you want that CAN has become an appendage of the PDP?”
Boko Haram’s insurgency, it seems, has, as I once said on these pages, become a war with no end for the purpose of retaining power and wealth by some people. May the Good Lord by whose mercy these shenanigans have come to light bring an end to the insecurity of the long suffering Nigerians.
The birthday of a septuagenarian…
Professor Shehu Bida, Marafa Nupe, born in Okene, Kogi State in 1934, is 80 today. He was the first veterinary doctor in the North when he graduated from Veterinary College, Tuskegee, Alabama, USA, in 1967. He received his Masters degree in the USA in1969 and his PhD from the London University in 1973. He went on to teach the subject in Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, and became one of its early professors in the seventies.
He eventually retired and went on to serve as one of the few highly educated Chairmen of Local Governments in the North his native Bida in the eighties. He has since retired from active paid public service and is today one of the most respected elders in Nupeland.
Happy birthday Marafa Nupe and here’s wishes of many more happy returns.
…and the death of a nonagenarian
Last Thursday, my older friend, Alhaji Ahmad Abubakar Jarma, died at 94. All the tributes paid to him talked mostly about his role as a pioneer agriculturalist in the North, being one of the region’s first graduates in the disciple. There was hardly any mention of his role as a selfless community and religious leader who did a lot to popularize the Islamic calendar in the country. It was through his influence, for example, that the New Nigerian under my management in the late eighties started the publication of the lunar dates in its folio.
Interestingly, he was married to Jummai, one of the famous Wusasa, Zaria, Miller twin-sisters who were Christians.  Husband and wife lived a happy and harmonious life as a couple of different faiths. Readers of Weekly Trust will recall the sisters celebrated their 80th birthday last year.
I will miss Jarma for the elderly advice he often called on the phone to give me. May Allah grant him aljanna firdaus.

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