American "troops" in Nigeria

By OCHEREOME NNANNA on 13/05/2014

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In accepting the offer of the United States government to intervene in the Boko Haram insurgency crisis, we, as a nation, have accepted failure.

The President and Chief Executive Officer of the of the government and Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, has failed. The Governors and Chief Executive Officers of Borno, Alhaji Kassim Shettima; Yobe, Alhaji Ibrahim Geidam; and Adamawa, Admiral Murtala Nyako, have failed woefully.

The ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) at the federal level and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) at the crisis states, have failed. The leaders of Northern Nigeria, including their political, religious and community leaders have massively miscarried.

They failed the expectations of the rest of Nigerians because they settled for political pranks while enemy killed, destroyed and bombed innocent Nigerians.

They have now resorted to cheap abduction of defenceless schoolgirls. In the process, a tiny wart we could have removed with a mere pinch has developed into a monstrous carbuncle requiring specialised attention. Boko Haram’s abduction of the Chibok schoolgirls has united, not just the nation but also the entire world, including some of their saner fellow Islamists, against them.

The world is about to declare total war on Boko Haram, and, as President Jonathan correctly observed, the end of that nonsensical piece of nonsense is in sight. Or is it?

The answer to this question depends on how America and her Western allies, along with China, approach this issue.

I want to echo the caution usually displayed on the container of breakable china, ceramics or glassware: Handle With Care. We expect these foreign legions to join us in achieving two major objectives: (a) secure the release of the schoolgirls from the clutches of these demented demons with minimal collateral damage, and (b) help in seeing off, permanently, the Boko Haram bogeyman.

I expect the Americans, British, French, Canadians and Chinese to send in technology and specialised knowhow. I don’t expect them to place “boots” on our soil. It is neither in our interest nor theirs to bring “boots” here. By “boots” I mean troops, in the manner that they went after Saddam Hussein in Iraq, or Sheikh Osama bin Laden and Mullah Mohammed Omar in Afghanistan.

It should be more like the scenery against Muammar Gadhafi in Libya. The American Ambassador to Nigeria, the very amiable and enterprising Ambassador James Entwhistle, at a meeting with governors from the Northern states of Nigeria, said America is committed to helping Nigeria to build capacity to fight terrorism and insurgency, though “the question of safety and security in Nigeria is in the hands of the Government of Nigeria”. It is still very much our personal battle, and we must be ready to bend into it.

America and our foreign allies are likely to keep military personnel only to such a level that the deployment of technology and specialised know-how will assist us in arresting the situation. I expected an accelerated end to the crisis once the girls’ abduction has been sorted out. Prolonged Western involvement will draw Islamic fighters from around the world.

They are already mustering from Al Shabbab in Somalia, the Al Qaeda in the Maghreb and the residual elements from the dislodged Jihadists of Mali. They also include the displaced flotsams and bobtails who fought in the Libyan war, and of course, the Darfur and Chadian rebels who have long become mercenary fighters for Boko Haram bolstered with generous funding by some evil-minded northern governors. Boko is no longer made up of the local boys whose leader, Mohammed Yusuf, was killed in Maiduguri.

Their new leader, “Abukakar Shekau”, has managed to link up with the global Salafist movement committed to creating Islamic caliphates around the world. The empire they now seek in the Saharan African belt is called Sahelistan, with its spiritual headquarters in Maiduguri. It is a fight to revive the defunct Kanem Bornu Empire under Al Qaeda-inspired ideology.

Unless we put paid to this megalomania, we will end up with an insurgency as stubborn as a diabetic sore. The coming of the foreign powers into this fray may force us to behave ourselves for once, I hope. Those who have been using Boko Haram as a political bargaining tool might be forced to think twice.

We have no respect for one another, but we revere foreigners, provided they have white, brown or even yellow skins! Perhaps, their presence will help us to demystify the evil forest called Sambisa, which is actually not much of a forest since vehicles of all sizes drive through it effortlessly. Perhaps the foreign legion will help us to know who the financiers of Boko Haram are.

It might put an end to the cat-and-mouse game going on between the three flashpoint states and the federal government, which hampers the ability of the military and security forces to do much. If that is the effect the Americans will have, then, let them come.

Patience Jonathan needs protection

I CONSIDER myself an admirer of our first lady, Dame Patience Jonathan because of her boldness and commitment to the welfare of women. She seems to project the forceful quality which we do not see in the man we voted as president.

I must admit that President Goodluck Jonathan has begun to “come out” more presidentially in recent months. Who says experience does not matter?

But I think Dame Jonathan is overdoing it. In fact, it is becoming ridiculous the way she goes about sharing power with her husband even though her name was not on the ballot when we went to the polls in April 2011.

I like what Mr. Peter Obi told his wife when he became governor. He told her to go to the rural areas and fraternise with her fellow womenfolk if she wanted to keep herself busy. “I told her to stay away from governance because I was the one the people voted for. It is not a joint husband-and-wife ticket”.

Mrs. Jonathan is a great asset to her husband no doubt, but she also unwittingly cuts the other way. I doubt if Governor Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers State would be in the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) today if Auntie Patie had not publicly and roughly tackled him over the Okrika town demolitions.

Why did she have to set up her own committee on the abduction of the Chibok girls when the president had already done the same? Where did she get the power to summon security and government officials? She is exercising powers which are not known to law, and the sooner she stops this, the better. Besides, Auntie Patie seems to have overawed her advisers and handlers.

The carriage and panache that goes with the holder of that office is lacking, and the upshot is that when she makes major outings she becomes the butt of jokes all over the internet.

Her THERE IS GOD OOO! sound bite is not only viral on the Net; it has been turned into satirical songs, much like theMY OGA AT THE TOP gaffe by Mr. Shem Obafaiye of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Commission (NSCDC).

Our first lady needs protection from herself. Otherwise, she might end up costing her husband precious votes come 2015.

Dame Patience Jonathan should pipe low and allow the people we gave our votes to govern us and bear the consequences. Enough of the distraction, abeg!

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Posted on May, 13 2014

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