Emergency Rule and the Duplicity of Opposition

Mike Akpan

Mike Akpan  |

AT THEIR various extraordinary national conventions in April and May this year, the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, and the All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP, which have all dissolved into the All Progressives Party, APC, made the apparent incapacity of the federal government to tame the Boko Haram insurgency which has seriously challenged the security situation in the country, their campaign issue. They carpeted President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and his ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, for inefficiency and lack of focus to effectively manage the security situation and protect lives and property especially in the northern part of Nigeria. They advised Jonathan to resign if he has run out of ideas on how to handle the Boko Haram insurgency. On their part, the Northern Elders Forum, NEF, and the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, accused the president of looking the other way as the Boko Haram sect systematically destroys the economy of the north.

On face value, those who accused President Jonathan of doing nothing to contain the Boko Haram insurgency might have been right. At first, the president did not really know how and where to place the sect. That is, the government was confused as to whether Boko Haram was a militant or a terrorist group. And despite pressure by the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, and other concerned Nigerians, Jonathan bluntly refused to classify Boko Haram as a terrorist group and even prevailed on the government of the United States of America, USA, not to do so for inexplicable reasons. Perhaps, the confused policy of the government encouraged members of the sect to intensify their campaign of atrocities with indiscriminate and senseless bombings of various targets followed by gun attacks on innocent people. Worse, the Joint Task Force, JTF, set up by the federal government to contain the insurgents, was incapacitated by the rule of conduct that governed its operations. Consequently, the members became helpless in the face of sustained attacks by the insurgents and strident accusations of human rights violations by the NEF and human rights groups. The last straw which probably broke the federal government’s back was the massacre carried out in Baga and Bama  towns in Borno state by the insurgents but which opposition groups and the Human Rights Watch attributed to the JTF members.

Apart from the massacres and mindless destruction of property, there were security reports that the insurgents had captured many towns and local governments areas in Borno State and burnt the Nigerian flag before installing their own. President Jonathan confirmed this ugly development in his nationwide broadcast on May 14. This was a clear case of rebellion which no government or country can fold its arms to watch helplessly. The disturbing security reports jolted President Jonathan to now believe that the sect has gone too far and, according to an African proverb: the greeting has gone beyond the elbow. It was time to stop the insurgents in their tracks. Even before it got to this stage, the president had come under pressure by various interest groups including the opposition political parties, the Nigerian Governors Forum, NGF, the NEF and the ACF to consider dialogue with the insurgent group and eventual granting of amnesty to the sect members willing to embrace peace. But no sooner had the president succumbed to the pressure and constituted a committee to handle negotiations for that purpose, than the insurgents rejected the idea of amnesty insisting that it should be the other way round. And to demonstrate that they meant business, they intensified their attacks in Borno and Yobe states.

Before the president decided on what should be his government’s response to the bravado of the insurgents, he consulted widely. In the process, the opposition groups got wind of his planned line of action. That, probably, explained why the ACN, the NEF, the ACF and a group of Northern Youths persistently warned President Jonathan against declaring a state of emergency in any part of the North. The ACN premised its opposition to emergency rule declaration in any part of the north on the fact that it would give the ruling PDP government an electoral edge over the other political parties in the country.   The president ignored their warnings because he considered them to be a product of selfish interests. In fact, Jonathan deserves commendation for declaring a state of emergency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states on May 14 in spite of the intimidating opposition. As he said in his nationwide radio and television broadcast, his action was to protect the integrity and sovereignty of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The response of the sect to the emergency rule declaration barely three days after, with a deadly attack on banks, two police stations and a prison yard, among other places in Daura, the home town of retired Major-General Muhammadu Buhari, former military head of state, was an indication that the sect was not in any mood for peace. This assertion was confirmed by the vast arsenal it had stockpiled at various locations in readiness for war. Among the stockpiled weapons captured by the federal troops which overran many of the sect’s training camps were anti-aircraft guns, rocket launchers, bombs, grenades, explosives and anti-tank guns. It is now very clear that those who spearheaded the opposition before and after the declaration of the state of emergency to deal with the insurgency once and for all have their separate agenda politically. But one thing they fail to understand is that their struggle to claim political power in 2015 will be an illusion if there is no country called Nigeria for them to rule. So, it is in their own interest to co-operate with President Jonathan to secure the territorial integrity of Nigeria for them to aspire to govern. At this stage, national interest should override any political ambition. The Action Congress of Nigeria in particular, and the APC in general, must move away from the old-fashioned style of political opposition of not seeing anything positive in the policy of the party in government. If it criticizes a particular policy of the government, it should be able to offer an alternative to it. That is the only way opposition can be responsible and relevant. Now that it has condemned emergency rule in the three northern states by President Jonathan, what has it suggested as the alternative?

— Jun. 3, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT

One thought on “Emergency Rule and the Duplicity of Opposition

    HABAKKUK 2:7

    Will not your creditors (debtors) rise up suddenly? Will they not awaken who oppress you? And you will become their booty.

    There is a very grave threat to building relationship. The words of Gamaliel in Acts 5:33-39 make meaning today. The problem between the Late Idahosa and Pastor Apena resurrected in Nasarawa State recently. When the leader suspects radicalism in the follower, constraints meant to curtail overzealousness are often put in place. Idealists and reformers are often treated as rebels. Ecclesiastes 10:10 is the foundation of wisdom. Only fools struggle with their tools. Watch behind you before reacting.

    Jesus Christ was subjected to severe sanctions by the Jewish authority to such an extent that He had to pay the supreme price for crimes not committed. When the same attempt was meted out to Muhammad, he turned the fire on the heads of the leaders. He won the battle giving jihadists a pride of place in relationship. Jihadists are not godly.

    Why do leaders hurt the visionary in an attempt to kill the vision?
    Why has the idealist remained in the disagreeable society?
    Why should society compel conformism in the polity?

    The basic questions should be addressed presently. The Federal Government of Nigeria had intended to instill order in Nasarawa State by posting the police to do the usual. The ‘rebels’ in Nasarawa State ambushed and killed the police. Insurgency remained with the Nigerians. Who is winning the battle? State of emergency was declared on Yobe, Borno and Adamawa States and Nigerians are debating once again. Which way Nigeria? Only the knowledge of truth in proclamation can restore peace to the Nigerian. Jihad was condemned in Genesis 16.

    Somebody owed me a lot of money but when I asked him to pay part of his many debts; he invited his Lawyer to tell me that he was lending me money which was part of the debt he owed me. It sounded amusing to me though I took it as a committal to pay the existing debt. What do you have to say? I need your advice urgently on these matters. I called the Lawyer who had acted on his brief without consultation. He told me that he was allowed in law to promote injury once he had been briefed. I chose to put the evidence before my Lawyer for a solicited advice. Amen!

    The word ‘utter’ means to say or express something. ‘Alter’ means to change or make different. A ‘message’ means information that moves from one person to another. Communication takes place when information is conveyed, understood and effectively interpreted. When you have a message and you discover that that message had been altered, what are you supposed to do?
    There is no smoke without a fire. Things do not just happen. They are made to happen and they happen for a purpose. Necessity is the mother of invention. The concept of name calling is the acceptable basis for speaking in parables. If you keep saying the same thing again and again, it shall soon become a law with you. Attitude is a reflection of character as well as a determinant of altitude. Can you afford to look back deep enough today? What did you see?
    The Nigerian Institution of Surveyors went to Benin in the year 2000 for its Annual General Meeting having gone to Awka the previous year. The corruption that we are struggling with today was evident in Benin. One of us laid it open to us. I thanked God I was not there but when the matter was brought up in Lagos, we resolved to benefit from its product. The guinea pig soon became the scapegoat but we expected it to metamorphose to become the sacred cow. Take a second look at THE MEN IN THE SURVEYING PROFESSION. That book was shown to the Nigerian Institution of Surveyors at the AGM in Minna 2001 and it was presented to the reading public colorfully on 15th June, 2001.
    We had planned to discuss some of the content of the book on 23rd January, 2002 but that event could not be because the lead speaker died about two weeks to the due date and was buried that day. As we were preparing for the twelfth anniversary of victory celebration, we would gladly look at the role of the teacher in conflict management. What we are doing presently is to create awareness and provide a thrust of the forthcoming big event. We are equally praying for the grace to be living witnesses of the occasion. Some questions will come to light. You will be obliged to ask or answer some of these questions.
    To lead us, we have represented THE MEN IN THE SURVEYING PROFESSION to the Nigerian Institution of Surveyors to be the foundation of whatever we have to say. Please take a second look at the book and give us the benefit of doubt. How best can we fight corruption and win the battle in our time?
    Which message do you carry about today?
    What is the goal of the message?
    Who is the author of the message?
    Where is the origin of the message?
    When was the message first proclaimed?
    How was the message formulated?
    How was the message propagated?
    Why was the message presented?
    Has the message attained its goal?
    What will you do now?
    Please address these issues right away and keep us posted in our fight against corruption in Nigeria. Amen!

    Eyefia William Oniovosa

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