…To Buhari’s Handlers

Posted: June 13, 2013 in Uncategorized

By Pius Adesanmi  ​

General Buhari’s handlers and admirers ought to be worried. They should consider placing him on political suicide watch because his statements are often politically suicidal. Yoruba proverb: a man constantly suspected of stealing goats by his kinsmen does not go to the goat market to cuddle and fondle baby goats in broad daylight. There are so many problems with his Boko Haram statement. I don’t even know where to start.

1. If you decide to historicize the history of “security challenges” in Nigeria, you don’t get to start it in the middle with the rise of militancy and kidnapping in the Niger Delta. A good place to start is the unaddressed question of repeated genocidal killings of the Igbo shortly after independence while recognizing the fact that there may even be other places to start depending on who is speaking. If you ask a Nigerian from each of our 250 or so ethnic groups, you will get 250 versions of the errors of the rendering.

2. You will then address the long history of religious riots (without forgetting Maitatsine) in the North. Those security challenges pre-date what you are complaining about in other parts of the country.

3. You will then address the manner in which the Nigerian state responded to agitations for justice in the Niger Delta long before the era of Umaru Yar’Adua who initiated the process of placating militants. Before the era of manna from Abuja for the militants, Nigeria’s response to the Niger Delta can be summarized in a few words: Umuechem, Agge, Gbaramatu Kingdom – entire communities leveled by the Nigerian state. Those were crimes against humanity. I am not going to mention Ken Saro-Wiwa and the Boma brothers. It is not historically or intellectually accurate to claim that one discontent is treated with kid gloves while the other isn’t. You are able to do that only if you remember selectively.

4. You will then acknowledge that President Jonathan offered amnesty to Boko Haram. Boko Haram rejected it; many actors in the Northern establishment ridiculed the offer. You cannot now turn around and create the impression that Jonathan is denying Boko Haram what Yar’Adua offered Niger Delta militants.

5. Despite the fact that criminal elements and opportunists hijacked the Niger Delta struggle, the origin of discontent in the region is environmental genocide. When the Niger Delta militant comes to the table, he says: I want a bigger share of the profits you rake in from the resources of the Niger Delta. When Boko Haram sends masked representatives to the table, they say: a non-theocratic, secular Nigeria is haram. Theoretically, you could offer more oil revenue to the Niger Delta militant at the negotiating table. Theoretically, what do you offer Boko Haram? A guarantee of 160 million Nigerian Moslems by so and so date? So, when you attempt to compare apples and oranges and mix up two totally different discontents, you have to teach the rest of us precisely how to negotiate with Boko Haram. To each discontent its singularity. Any solution should be cognizant of these singularities and totally different trajectories.

6. Nope, the state of emergency in Boko Haram territories is not anti-North. Indeed, it as anti-North as Obasanjo’s state of emergency in Ekiti state was anti-West. Also, it would be good to hear what a President Buhari would do differently.

At this stage in the game, General Buhari should find a way to prioritize healing, statesmanlike, unifying, pan-Nigerian statements and avoid poisonous and invidious interventions in national issues. His supporters should find a way to accept the fact that their beloved idol is human and can make mistakes. They will help him by acknowledging and dispassionately engaging his errors. The usual excuses won’t cut it. I can close my eyes and reel out the usual excuses and rationalizations repackaged by his supporters after every gaffe: he was misquoted; he spoke in Hausa and his real meaning was lost in translation; you just don’t like him. My friends, Nigerians are tired of these rationalizations. E don do.

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