It has almost become a pattern. When bombs blast or mayhem strikes in the land, our president makes a dry speech, and fumes that the perpetrators will be brought to book. Most times, he comes across like the effervesence of carbonated drinks - making a hissing noise at the start but fizzling off very fast.
But after the Christmas Bombing at Madalla, the President added a new step to his pattern. Through his special adviser on political matters, the president, on Thursday, 29th December, called on all opposition parties to join him in tackling insecurity. This is similar to a somnambulant man waking up but on realizing that he has headed on a wrong path, he calls out in distress to those who he thinks might help him find his way. This new step was neccesary. Because, of all the bombing incidents the country as witnessed, the blast at Mandalla carries a significance that portends that serious trouble looms in the horizon. It is the sort of incident that is capable of dragging the country into yet another decade of bloody civil war.
This is so as a result of the fact that of all the lines with which the people of Nigeria are divided or segregrated, the religious divide is the most volatile. Therefore, a bomb blast in a church during a mass service on Christmas day - the day most cherished by Christians globally - is capable of putting both sides of the divide into serious conflict. A conflict between the christian population and the muslim population in the north or in Nigeria at large will be the worst sort of civil war any sane mind can ever imagine. It was the realization of this fact that made the Sultan of Sokoto declare that there is no conflict between Islam and Christianity, but simply a conflict between good and evil. It must be this dark horizon and the rumbling of its cloud that woke the president and his co-travellers and prompted them to make the call for oppositions to join the fight against insecurity.
It was stated in the detailed and voluminous article titled "Curbing The Boko Haram Excess: A Security Blueprint for the President" that tackling insecurity is the only agenda for this government if it hopes to "transform" Nigeria. In that article, it was noted that "when terrorism enters your fray as a President, it automatically becomes priority number one, your primary goal". But rather than getting serious in facing this agenda, this administration pranced from one idea/policy to the other. With the growing level of insecurity everywhere in the country, with daredevil armed robbers troubling the southwest, MEND and other militants holding up the south south, brazzen kidnappers in the south east and the more terroristic Boko Haram in the entire North, it worries any true patriot that the things government is concerned about are the removal of fuel subsidy, the advertisement of cassava bread and the presentation of national awards, the awardees including the IGP whose office was the site of Nigeria's first suicide bombing.
It is this lack of concentration on insecurity and the President's somewhat "absentminded body language" towards pursuing a safer Nigeria that has made the terrorists and the other security threats to grow more daring and courageous. This has been predicted elsewhere, that the "success" of the Louis Edet House bombing will inspire and inflate the courage of the perpetrators. And because he had brought kid gloves to a serious issue and guns to a bomb fight, He is now left helpless and clueless and thus the distress call. This call on the opposition, in itself, is a clear indication that this administration has taken the wrong foot forward in tackling insecurity. If things had been done the right way, this call would not be neccesary.
When Osama brought his war to America's homeland, President Bush did not allow any subsequent attacks, He took strong measures to protect the country againt them. And when he decided to launch the war against Terrorism in general and war against Osama in particular, he did not have to call on the opposition to support him, they joined him willingly. Even when the war was becoming an issue for politics, a vast majority of those in the opposition stood by him. The reason is not far fetched - in the time of serious danger and insecurity, President Bush came across as a wartime leader who was prepared to fight the monster even if it would cost him his popularity. It was his decisiveness, strenght, courage and, most importantly, direction that inspired the whole nation and even his oppositions to rally round him. He did not enjoin neither did he entreat any opposition.
Thus, the call to enlist the opposition's support is the last thing the president needs at this moment. And calling them at this hour, is another downright wrong step. Rather, what the president needs is a pursuance of a purposeful security agenda, a dedication to ensuring nothing else but a safer society. He needs to find his direction, and that direction must be the protection of the lives and properties of Nigerians. He must show resolve, for he has everything he requires to wage this war. He has the all the powers, as the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic, on every military, every police and every other paramilitary or security outfit. He also has the treasury, for their is no real war without real cost.
But the opposition he is calling upon cannot help him use his powers if he wont use it. Nigeria is the only country, in the free world, where the police chief, the director of SSS, the Chief of Defence Staff, the Minister of Defence and even the National Security Adviser would still remain in office after such a harrowing experience of bomb blasts and security breakdowns. If he won't replace them with better and capable hands, the opposition certainly cannot. During times like this, the president needs a constant and daily national security council briefings and strategy meetings. Even in the large executive meetings, national security must be treated has the main agendum, every other agendum becomes secondary. If he won't to this, the opposition cannot sit in the FEC to do it.
He should start by taking measures to prevent any further attack. He doesn't need to be an army general or a lion to come out boldly and declare to Nigerians that He would spend every minute of his administration ensuring that they are safe and free of fear of being bombed. The article mentioned earlier also offered some good suggestions on how the government can prosecute a war on this growing terrorism. It is only when he has started on the right path, when he has given himself the direction with the purpose of tackling insecurity that the oppositions can join him. No one will join in a man's fight if he has given them no reason to believe that he is committed to the right cause.
President Bush did not have any FEC meeting or Security Council meeting before he decided to wage the war on terror, he didn't consult anybody, he made up his mind the moment he started hurdling from one military base to another. Thus, the decision to fight terror or insecurity is a presidential one. But until he makes this decision, any call he makes will never come across as a call to service, it will always sound like a distress call. And a president making a distress call shatters any kind of hope the citizens have in the country and the government, for the call will appear to them as an evidence of the inability of the government to tackle the subject matter.
Adekunle Adeola Sijibomi Writes