Nigeria: Should Jonathan Resign Over Boko Haram?

By IndepthAfrica
In Article
Nov 21st, 2012

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan speaks shortly upon his arrival late on August 9, 2012 in Accra, where he came to attend to attend the funeral of Ghanian President John Atta Mills. The latter, who died on July 24, five weeks ahead of polls in which he was to seek re-election, is to be buried on August 10. Some 16 heads of state and other dignitaries are expected to attend. AFP PHOTO / PIUS UTOMI EKPEI

The oath of office of President is enshrined in the Seventh schedule of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (of 1999 as amended). This oath of office is solemn and inviolable and ought to guide the holder of the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as the most important commandment of political leadership.

More than a year after he took the oath of office, the current president, Goodluck Jonathan has all but failed woefully to fulfill the constitutional provisions that importantly obliges him to safeguard the lives and property of Nigerians. Section 14(2) (b) provides specifically that “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government”. But since assuming office, President Jonathan has presided over an administration that is largely seen as weak, clueless and ineffective in the area of ensuring security of lives and property of the citizenry.

Well armed terrorists have waged terror-related violence in most parts of the North and have made governance in the North Eastern states of Yobe and Borno virtually impossible. The activities of the armed Islamic insurgency known as Boko Haram has almost led to the collapse of the economy of the North East. In all of these murderous attacks, the federal government and specifically, President Jonathan is yet to show effective leadership in ensuring that the real sponsors responsible for these dastardly attacks on state institutions, churches and even innocent civilians including government officials are brought to justice. The best description for the inability of the presidency to contain these mass killings is to say that the federal government is in a state of “organized confusion” over the unprecedented rise in terrorism.

In Borno State, the immediate past Governor Senator Ali Modu Sherriff was credited with adopting some measures which were meant to address the threats posed locally then by the members of the banned Islamic sect headed by their leader, Sheik Mohammed Yusuf who was later killed through extra-legal means while in detention. The immediate past governor was also said to have set up high powered investigative panel to uncover the remote and immediate causes of the sectarian violence which has now become full blown terrorism that is threatening the corporate existence of Nigeria. Ironically, this same man (Ali Modu Sherrif) is being accused by some politicians of sponsorship of a group he had worked so hard as governor to dismantle. Worst still, the federal government is busy chasing shadows rather than get serious with the work of resolving the unprecedented terrorism that has consumed thousands of lives.

From findings, it is logical to conclude that rather than being a sponsor, Ali Modu Sherrif is a victim of the on-going sectarian and terror-related violence and in no way can be logically or rationally linked with the group because we know too well that no sane political leader can unleash terrorism on his political terrain whereby his political party members control the political hierarchy. No sane man can sponsor violence against his own interest. We hereby call on the Federal Government of Nigeria to declare members of the All Nigerian Peoples Party [ANPP] in the North Eastern States of Yobe and Borno as ‘endangered species’ who ought to be accorded special protection under the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The then Governor  Ali Modu Sherrif on August 17 2009 inaugurated the Ambassador Usman Gaji Galtimari-led administrative committee of inquiry into the Boko Haram insurgency to among other salient terms of reference determine the immediate and remote causes of the disturbance; 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 destroyed in the violence and to determine if there is the need for government to assist persons, groups or bodies affected by the disturbance.

This high powered presidential panel whose membership were drawn from the highest security quarters in Nigeria including the highest ranking Air Force officer of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, clearly stated that members of the Boko Haram have…”Always been lawless and contemptuous of the state authorities”. The presidential panel exonerated the immediate past Governor of Borno State in the well considered findings that was submitted to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

It is the opinion of right-thinking citizens that a central government that has failed woefully to tackle insecurity even with all the federal might available to it has no business being in office in the first place. What has happened to all the findings and reports of previous panels on this same Boko Haram violence?

— Onwubiko is the Head, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria

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