Seeing clearly now
Three events that might look unrelated took place within the last few weeks. They looked so different but they were probably one. First let’s commend Muslims: they have refused to be railroaded by the deliberately-created lopsidedness of the National Conference delegates’ list into a precipitate denunciation of Christianity, or at least the president’s feigned preference for it, which would have been exactly what he was hoping for. With 2015 around the corner, all it needed to get sympathetic, massive Christian support for him was for Muslims en masse to be seen opposed to him—and vice versa. And had they done so, they would also have unwittingly pushed Christians into blindly supporting him and buying into a suspected conference agenda, the existence of which he has now so eloquently denied, despite the bill he is pushing for powers to propose a new constitution.
But it was still good that Muslims didn’t shout, though this was not exactly like saying that Muslims’ silence was indicative of some new, sophisticated un-exploitable political maturity. Someone may have in advance spoken to and prevailed upon the leadership of the more vocal Muslim groups, cajoling them into doing what is right in the circumstance, not because of its rightness but because of its circumstantial convenience to the hidden persuader. And so, it was all quiet on the Muslim front, even as there are indications that the list released may not have corresponded exactly with what the president signed, or that he so abdicated the power to scrutinise and ensure that it respected and reflected the nation’s religious, sectional and federal characters, or that he didn’t in fact realise that reflecting all that was of such paramount importance.
But, finally, more than three weeks after the release of the conference list and after the conference had already kicked off, a Muslim delegationhadgonetoseethepresidenttoexpress its grievances. It was obviously a hurriedly put up and perhaps reluctant representation in view of the fact that it was known that the Sultan, who led the delegation, had disallowed one of the leading Muslimorganisationsfromregisteringitsprompt displeasure publicly.
At the end of its visit, and without sharing with the Ummah the explanation given to it by the president, or divulging the grounds on which the government based its faulty arithmetic; or by alluding to the excuses given, even though ex post facto the delegation said it was happy and satisfied. Muslims didn’t feel represented at all. If they could be prevailed upon or begged to drop their objections, why in God’s Name did they decide to go and complain in the first place? It was even claimed that the president was sorry. If the president was really shocked at, or sorry for, what he had himself signed, the thing to make was amend—and then direct justified anger at partisan sectionalist staff who made him do it. He didn’t but the Muslim delegation came out and told the world that it was satisfied. The question is: ‘With what?’ the delegation didn’t say, and nor did the Muslims ask.
It also looked like the president must have been at his helpless and blundering best; and with the buck stopping at his desk, he had no choice but to accept responsibility the unfair and inexcusable work of scheming subordinates—but, even that, not before he had in another breath, and with such artless insensitivity, tried to justify the lopsidedness by an incongruous recourse to some Muslim Northern governors’ attitude to sponsorship of Christian pilgrimages!
But for those who cannot or will not even be forced to speak, silence in the temple of injustice is not golden—it is a conviction: every point of evidence adduced in presenting the brief for the prosecution is an unfavourable verdict for a defence that has not been put up. When the medium is the message, propaganda is the name of the game, and the first step is to blame the victim before he complains. In such a situation, the best strategy is to blow your own trumpet loud and clear because nobody will blow it for you. If you have no trumpet to blow, do the next best thing—break your opponent’s trumpet. If you cannot raise yourself up, see to it that at least you are not run down—or blamed for what you haven’t done.
And for good measure, in this country of double standards, none of those currently kicking against the possibility of the opposition presenting a Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket that will last only four years saw anything wrong with a 61%-39% Christian-Muslim delegate representation in a committee that will permanently determine the fate of this country forever.
Or are they waiting for Obasanjo again? And a lot could now be said on the uses of letterwriting. Have you observed that since former President Olusegun Obasanjo wrote his letter, a salutary hush had fallen on the national scene: no longer did you hear those indigestible ethnic insults or fire-spitting pronouncements by the spiritual arm of the Jonathan administration? How much more rancorous the national conference would now have been without that letter!
And now for what may be the most unlikely cock-and-bull story, which, for its effeminate dim-wittedness, should really have been the hen-and-cow story, of the year; and which, in the circumstance, is an insult to our collective unintelligence: because no people with a modicum of intelligence should have accepted, or be deemed credulous enough, or even be regarded amenable to being told such a tale. They said—and with a very straight face too— that a detainee, supposedly in an underground bunker in a heavily fortified fortress, used his handcuffs to disarm a security guard and start a bloody jailbreak.
But it worked, didn’t it? Judging from its operational effectiveness, the new tactic should henceforth be adopted by the security forces as standard procedure. When next they are going out for an operation against Boko Haram or any opponent that has better arms or higher motivation, they should all be made to drop their guns and be duly handcuffed before they are deployed. If every one of them used his handcuffs as effectively as this daredevil Abuja detainee, why, they should be able to disarm Boko Haram all over the Northeast and successfully liberate all the women detainees in no time.
But even if, going by the accounts of people living in the neighbourhood of the State Security Service, SSS headquarters, the incident looked, sounded and lasted more like an assault launched from outside, you must doff and take off your kpube to the men and officers of the SSS. I never knew they were this alive and valiant. How bravely they must have fought! Going by the general laxity in the country, if all the duty of the SSS is only to defend its headquarters against attack from outside or a quell jailbreak from inside you must still give it to them. Our soldiers and police have a lot to learn from them: if only they can learn to seal checkpoints as effectively as the SSS seals its gates against fleeing detainees, the nation may at secure at last.
Apparently, Mahmud Jega wasn’t looking attentively enough these days. Otherwise, he would have seen that it was not blame of which there was enough to go round: it was flame! With hovering helicopters dropping supplies in Gwoza forest, landing in and taking off from the bushes of Birnin Gwari and Darazo, who is talking of blame? The blame game is over and obsolete; it is now howitzer on the ground, gunship in the air and incredulity in between.
And Nyako’s charge, which even according to Mahmud Jega, had only strengthened a widely shared and long held suspicion in much of the North, was of a different order from Jonathan’s response, which was clearly a notwell-thought-through political response.
If, according to the president’s carefully considered, prepared-address delivered verdict, Governor Murtala Nyako was now one of them—or one of their sponsors, facilitators or catalysts—he could only have been one as a member of the president’s party, considering the fact that Nyako was in the PDP when Boko Haram emerged. And who is more likely to have access to a helicopter? An almajiri or the government? By the way, when last did you see an alaramma organising the annual migration with an Apache or his almajirai going a-begging in a Chinook?
Earlier on, Jonathan had told the nation that members of the Boko Haram had infiltrated his government; and now he is telling us that it is the almajirai created by the ineptitude of North-eastern governors’ education policies that is Boko Haram. But the only governor to have been publicly accused is someone in his own entourage. But isn’t it about time we gave almajirai just a little respite and spare them dishonourable mention any time someone didn’t know exactly what to do or say?
And talking of helicopters, haven’t you noticed that as the finger-pointing started to come nearer home, the Cameroonians, in a move to escape possible blame for complicity, have for the past time said they had intercepted Boko Haram arms? Well done, Paul Biya, but where has your gendarmerie, border patrol, customs and immigration been taking their well-learned and well-earned slumber all this time? No need to answer, sir. Aha! I can see clearly now; and, along with, ahem, Jimmy Cliff and the Northeast Groovers, so can you, too, now if you look carefully.