Every day brings fresh material for writers on the Boko Haram war in Nigeria. For those who had been groping in the dark while trying to unravel the mystery of Boko Haram, the events of last Wednesday were the turning point. A respected charismatic cleric, Sheikh Dahiru Bauchi, and a former head of state and three-time opposition presidential candidate, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, became targets of suicide bombers in the city of Kaduna. It was the closest that “Boko Haram” had got to achieving their devious aim of destabilising the country.
If Bauchi and Buhari had been among the 110 innocent people that were murdered on that day, what would have happened? Many have suggested that the outcome would have been unimaginable. And when I probed further, some people told me that the entire north would have been in turmoil as miscreants would have been used to chase everyone from the south, especially the usual whipping boys from the “east”.
“Wouldn’t the miscreants have reasoned that easterners are not members of Boko Haram?” I asked. “Do the almajiri reason?” came the reply. “A politician would have given them money and told them to attack everyone from Goodluck Jonathan’s area. They regard all the southern minorities as Igbo.”
Apparently as a counter-measure, the Kaduna State government had declared a 24-hour curfew in Kaduna. Buhari and Bauchi were also shown to everybody to prove that they had not been killed. The attempt on Buhari’s life should be a pointer that even the rich and the powerful are not exempted from terror attacks. Regicide has been averted in Kaduna!
Do we now understand what “Boko Haram” is? Several theories can now be eliminated. We can now assume that the BK members are not Islamic militants; they are not fighting Christians; they are not fighting southerners; and they are not sponsored by government. Two theories are left: Politicians with eyes on 2015 are behind them, and this terrorism is an international conspiracy to dismember Nigeria. The scales seem to be dropping off; a picture is emerging.
Fifth columnists and other evil people have since seized the BH franchise. But I find the government guilty of inaction. Why have all the security agencies not been able to unravel the sponsors of this terrorist group? Has the trillions of naira spent on security and defence been so useless? Can BH stand up to the Nigerian armed forces? If President Jonathan, defence minister Aliyu Gusau and NSA Sambo Dasuki do not know those behind this evil, then, they have failed in their duty. And if they know them but fail to expose them because they have been killing the poor and the unknown, they will have questions to answer before their Creator someday.
Buhari was not killed on Wednesday, but he did not escape unhurt. There were blood stains on his clothing – probably from a human head that was said to have flown into someone’s compound. His vehicles were shattered. His aides and those of Bauchi were either killed or wounded. Buhari saw corpses all around him – a spectacle he had not seen since the civil war.
Everyone agrees that the BH war has lasted too long. It should be ended soon before it brings Nigeria to an end. In May, the president announced that BH had killed over 17, 000 people. The figure could now be updated to 19, 000+. Several villages have been sacked and millions of people have been displaced.
There are those who believe that, if they had got Buhari on Wednesday, nothing would have happened. They cite Abiola and Abacha as examples, not knowing that we have come a long way since 1998. Maybe nothing happened after their deaths, but the reason could be that it was not obvious they were killed. Something always happens whenever an innocent human being gets killed. And if a head of state or a former head of state was involved?
Regicide has always attracted unsavoury repercussions to Nigeria. Balewa and Aguiyi-Ironsi’s murders cost the nation at least two million other heads and unquantifiable assets. Aguiyi-Ironsi was said to have told his assailants, “Shoot me and you shoot Nigeria.” Since then, Nigeria has not been a nation in the hearts and minds of Nigerians. Nigeria has not worked. Yes, something has happened. Those who murdered the beloved Murtala Muhammed are no longer here to eat garri with us.
If they had got Buhari, rioters should have had no reason to attack innocent people from the south. They should have taken the battle to Sambisa forest and wherever a terrorist could be located. Young people should no longer allow themselves to be used by evil politicians. Mobs in the north perhaps need to be educated that President Jonathan has no drop of Igbo blood in his veins. I don’t think he understands any Igbo word except kedu, which he could have learnt from his wife whose grandmother is Igbo. Many of his brothers fought “to keep Nigeria one”, 45–47 years ago.
And are the easterners not really wanted in the north? Economic activities have crumbled in troubled areas because many easterners have fled since the BH war started. As a result, many northerners have sunk deeper into poverty and misery. One more attack on the Igbo would spell doom for many states. Governor Kwankwaso of Kano understood the situation when he reassured southerners recently that the “Arewa Youth Development Foundation” was mistaken when it gave a two-week ultimatum for them to leave the north. Some other misguided elements have been pushing for “registration” of “non-indigenes” in some northern states, apparently as a response to a hoax created by the political opponents of Rochas Okorocha in Imo State. The Buhari attack was perhaps contrived to set off a conflagration.
Those plotting to divide Nigeria in 2015 may succeed. Unless we see the Jonathan government taking charge, many of us will leave the north (including Abuja) by 2015. I may not wait until 2015 because Abuja itself is not safe. If they had succeeded in bombing Buhari, I would have been in my village by now, eating fresh maize and palm kernel. It would be wise to set aside some transport fares now, in preparation for Jonathan’s declaration of his candidacy for the presidential election, in a fortnight or so. Likely, the men behind the mask of BH will up their game after then. The attack on a big fish like Buhari might have been designed to stop Jonathan from taking the decision. But it’s too late for bombers or anyone else to stop him.