Nigeria: The Grounded Giant – Japheth J, Omojuwa

“The president did not believe that those girls were abducted for almost 18 days…If the president got the information within 12 hours of the act and he reacted immediately, I believe those girls would have been rescued within 24 hours, maximum 48 hours.” – Former President Olusegun Obasanjo

If one singular reason could be given for why the Chibok Girls were successfully abducted and could not be rescued days after their abduction, the above statement by Gen Obasanjo (rtd.) sums it up. That statement did not only state the failure of the presidency and its government over the Chibok abduction issue, when broken down to its essence, that statement explains why today, no matter how many Nigerians are killed, no Nigerian, deep within him/herself expects the government to “bring the perpetrators to book.” Whether we like it or not, whether or not we admit it, we have consciously excused our government from being responsible for anything.

In our head, the government only exists to fail. In that situation, what would a vicious gang of murderers like Boko Haram do? Of course, they’d reign terror on the people and that is what they continue to do as the Nigerian government releases statement upon statement of condemnation. Lest I forget, when Abuja was bombed on the October 1st 2010, just months after Mr Jonathan took over, that bombing incident was unusual in Nigeria. As much as they would hate to admit it, Boko Haram was not the first to raise our consciousness about the evil of bombs under this administration.

A group, MEND claimed responsibility for that particular incident. The curious thing about that particular incident is the fact that the first person to exonerate MEND from being responsible was the president himself when he said “not my people”, as though only Ijaws had a claim to being called his people. A competent South African court later established the fact that the president was wrong. As we speak, no one has asked the president what he knows about that particular incident. Or does it not merit an investigation of some sort at that level? It was absolutely uncertain to exonerate a terrorist organisation from a crime, yet it has since been established that that act of terror was indeed committed by the “not my people’ terror group.

While that particular incident being highlighted here is not about the possible complicity of President Jonathan, it is to show that at the advent of this administration, the incident of bomb blast was indeed very much novel to Nigeria’s 4th Republic. Now, it has become so much a part of our normal life; hardly anyone down south even blinks when they hear news of a bomb blast. What happened? The Jonathan administration and its propaganda machine would have us believe some northern leaders are behind the menace to “make the country ungovernable.” Lets be sincere, if you indeed want to make Nigeria ungovernable, would you start by killing members of your own immediate family and religious inclination. Like it or not, northern leaders have failed the people.

Their years of leadership has not brought an attendant increase in the good fortunes of the north but to say they are the ones bombing their own people is to stretch logic beyond the point of rationality, a point that breaks its essence; that makes it illogical. As we continue to be burdened by the absence of governance on all fronts, let us remember that this was not the Nigeria this administration inherited. No Nigerian territory was under the threat of being taken over by insurgents but today that is not the case as our territories are now being shared by terrorists.

President Jonathan told ex-President Obasanjo that they were only a bunch of riff-raffs when the latter told him about the danger the group pose to the peace and security of Nigeria. Today, death and being expected to die is the new normal lifestyle in the northeast of Nigeria. How many people are shocked by the news of another killing in the northeast these days? That absence of shock clearly defines it as a norm in that part of Nigeria; that people are expected to be killed, and sadly, killed daily.

As 2015 approaches, we would do well to remember the state of the nation today and its state when President Jonathan was made acting president. He inherited an economy very much on its way up. He inherited a country at peace within and without. It was not a perfect country but its citizens were not killed daily. Where is that country today?