Onaiyekan, UN, APC: time to cage Boko Haram
The United Nations (UN), All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Cardinal John Onaiyekan, have expressed shock over Wednesday’s bomb attacks in Kaduna that targeted Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, as well as prominent cleric Dahiru Bauchi.
APC, in a statement in Lagos yesterday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, sent its condolences to the families of the victims and pray that God would give them the much-needed strength at times like this, while also wishing the injured a speedy recovery.
It said the attempted assassination of Gen. Buhari has changed the narrative about the insurgent group and knocked the bottom off the sinister, irresponsible and partisan colouration given to the insurgency by the Federal Government.
APC said while no one has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, the mere fact that it occurred at all is a lose-lose situation for the Jonathan Administration.
“Whether it is Boko Haram or not, one thing remains: This government has failed woefully in its core constitutional duty of protecting the security and welfare of the citizenry. And we mean all the citizens, not just the leaders!
“And contrary to the simplistic and clearly selfish portrayal of the Boko Haram insurgency as a sinister plot to bring down the government of Jonathan, it should now be clear to the FG that has engaged in ceaseless finger-pointing instead of tackling the insurgency headlong that Boko Haram is an enemy of Nigeria and of all of humanity.
“It is a real problem that is capable of consuming this country if immediate and urgent steps are not made now by the FG to move away from its politicisation of the crisis, its decision to use it as a trump card for President Jonathan’s re-election and exploit it as a ticket to international relevance for the President. If anything untoward had happened to Gen. Buhari on Wednesday, the consequences are only better imagined than witnessed!
“If indeed the APC is behind Boko Haram and Gen. Buhari is a sympathiser of the evil group, as the FG wants the world to believe, could it be that the insurgents do not know their leaders or sympathisers, assuming they are behind the attack? If they are not responsible for the attack, doesn’t that support the theory in some circles that Boko Haram has become a franchise, hence there is the Boko Haram of Abubakar Shekau and the political Boko Haram?
“Whatever happens now, the satanic and repulsive theory of the PDP-led FG that the opposition APC is using Boko Haram to truncate the Administration of Jonathan is up in flames. Therefore, it is time for them to change the narrative, see Boko Haram for what it is – an enemy of Nigeria – and rally the citizenry, irrespective of their political, ethnic or religious affiliation, behind the government’s efforts to tackle it decisively,’’ the party said.
It said as a first step, President Jonathan must stop the wasteful contract he signed with the US-based firm Levick to help demonise the APC as the sponsor of Boko Haram, and to demonise any Nigerian who is perceived to be an enemy of the government.
The party said: “It is this kind of demonisation, using pseudo and out-of-job analysts, that helped to set the stage for Wednesday’s failed assassination attempt against Gen. Buhari.
“Then the President must address Nigerians to tell them that Boko Haram is not just an enemy of his government, it is an enemy of the opposition, of Christians, of Muslims and of the different ethnic groups.
“Instead of dividing Nigerians along religious, ethnic and political lines, President Jonathan should borrow a leaf from his predecessors. Obasanjo never said the Niger Delta militancy was aimed at his government or his people, he tackled it headlong. Yar’Adua it was who finally ended the militancy, without saying it was aimed at his government or his people.”
The party reiterated its earlier stand that only a non-partisan approach would galvanise Nigerians against Boko Haram, which is rooted more in the years of bad governance that have resulted in mass unemployment, massive corruption, economic imbalances and made the youth to become hopeless, thus creating an army of willing tools for criminal activities
It repeated its offer to work with the Federal Government to battle Boko Haram and its call for a national stakeholders’ conference to help fashion out a comprehensive counter-insurgent blueprint for the nation.
APC said rather than just throwing money at what has now become a bottomless pit, rather than creating the avenue for some unpatriotic citizens to feed fat on the insurgency, the FG should engage in new thinking.
“After almost five years and 14 billion US dollars, Boko Haram is stronger today than ever. Whereas the average death toll in the previous years has been 1,500, more than 3,500 people have been killed so far this year! There is no stronger evidence that what is needed to successfully fight Boko Haram is not just 1 billion dollars, but a comprehensive approach that includes efforts to tackle the social and economic roots of the insurgency,’’ the party said.
Onaiyekan: we mus not
push our luck too far
Cardinal Onaiyekan said it is time Nigeria tackled Boko Haram menace headlong and avoid pushing its luck too far.
He said Nigeria had been dancing on the brink of chaos for too long except for the grace of God sustaining it.
He said the insurgency is a symptom of a wider disease which must be urgently addressed.
He also warned against sliding the nation’s democracy towards a one-party state.
He said one-party system had never worked in any part of Africa.
Onaiyekan gave the warning in an extempore address during a courtesy call on him by a delegation of the All Progressives Congress (APC), which was led by its National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun.
He said: “I believe that God has been with Nigeria for so long. We have been dancing on the brink of chaos and somehow He accepts us not to fall over. But we should not push our luck too far.
“Boko Haram, in my view, is a symptom of a wider disease and I hope we know that. And if we don’t tackle that wider disease, we might finish with Boko Haram and move on to another.
“Meanwhile, we should do our best to rid our country of this menace which, as Chief Oyegun said, has taken over all of us. Every part of Nigeria has been taken over even though the epicenter is in a particular angle.
“I am now 70 years old and I have seen the most important stages in the development of this our country. I was born into the colonial era. I schooled during the transition between the colonial and independent nation.
“And I have seen all the different changes, tumbling and fumbling that we are going through between the 1960 and to date. One thing that has become clear in my mind is whatever anybody is saying something has happened in this country. We do have a country called Nigeria, and I believe that it is a viable project. There are challenges of course no doubt. There are dislocations, no doubt about it. The fact that there are contradictions, it is very glaring.
“ Often, deliberately, they injected the contradictions into the system to cause confusion, but once we believe that we want to live in one country, our efforts should be made towards arriving such a way that our differences can be appreciated, and we do all we can, not to disorganize ourselves.
“Above all, avoid utter chaos. We are looking television to see what happens when things fall apart. Unfortunately when that happens it is not people like you and I that will suffer most, it is the poor people, who have nowhere to run to and who don’t understand why things are not going well.”
Cardinal Onaiyekan said Nigeria has every cause to have a viable democracy.
He also warned against the danger of rigging elections claiming that such indulgence is worst than military dictatorship.
He added: “Democracy has its ways. It is not the only way for ruling. But it is considered the best way. We still have some kind of monarchy like in Britain, Netherlands and Spain. We also have modern democracy involving political parties presenting themselves to people with manifestos which constitute programmes for them.
“They defend them at all cost because if it is not well defended, you end up with dictatorship. This is why I say rigged elections are worst than military dictatorship for the simple reason that in the military coups somebody take it with the guns. He doesn’t pretend; I put you there. If you rig election, somebody who rigs election takes over and tells the world that I put him there , adding insult to injury.
“We can and we should be able to achieve a viable democracy in this country if it is our desire to build a country where everybody sees each other as belonging to the same nation. That is one of the reasons why your group has organized itself to form a political party different from the party that is in government.”
He said Nigeria cannot afford to be a one-party state because the system had never worked in any part of Africa.
“And I believe that the government should not be surprised that there is another party otherwise we should be told that we are one party state. And one-party system as you know has been thriving in many parts of Africa and we have found it wanting. So, we have to be sincere with ourselves and I keep praying that this sincerity will be carried through.”
Cardinal Onaiyekan said he would continue to talk until things are put right in the country.
He said:” As a religious leader I pray, but I don’t only pray, I think and I do not shy away from expressing my mind as a Nigerian because politics is too important to be left to politicians alone. All of us are interested, we are all involved.
“By the way God has organised and by the rules of my church, I cannot be a member of a political party nor can I be a candidate in any election, my church forbids it for excellent reasons. But I am not indifferent to how my country is ruled. This is why I am very happy to receive the chairman of APC party. I will gladly welcome the chairman of any other party that may think he wants to pay me a courtesy visit.
“I thank you and you political party for coming to my house. Even if you are not a Catholic, I will still pray for you. I will pray for political leaders so that they will be rightly guided so that they may have the grace to do the right thing because there is a difference between being rightly guided and doing the right thing. It is not quite often that you do the right thing that you are guided to do. But it requires God’s grace to be able to do the right thing. We pray we have the patience, courage to do the right thing.”
UN expresses outrage
The UN envoy for West Africa condemned the latest killing of civilians reportedly by the Boko Haram.
Said Djinnit, the head of the UN Office for West Africa (UNOWA), expressed profound outrage at the attacks which occurred over the weekend and yesterday, resulting, according to initial reports, in the death of more than 130 people.
According to a statement released by UNOWA, the violence also forced some 15,000 people to flee to the Borno state capital of Maiduguri as well as to neighbouring towns of Biu and Goniri.
Mr. Djinnit, who is also the Secretary General’s High Representative to Nigeria, expressed condolences to the bereaved families and called on the Nigerian authorities to do all they can to end the carnage and bring the perpetrators to justice.
He also reiterated the UN’s support for effective regional efforts to put an end to the terrorism threat and Boko Haram attacks.
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