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Demola Rewaju: Dear Mr. President, these states need a different kind of emergency (Y! Superblogger)

by Demola Rewaju

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 One major problem hindering the effectiveness of the emergency declaration in those states is obviously the retention of the democratic apparatuses in the same states. 

One cannot speak with confidence about what the president and the team of security – military and intelligence – forces in Nigeria hope to gain with this extension of the emergency rule currently in place in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states since May 2013. Declaring a continual state of emergency without visible results is tantamount to changing the frame while the picture remains the same. The argument may be made that perhaps if the state of emergency had not been in place the insurgency activities may have spread beyond the borders of those three states but the reality is that Boko Haram has indeed spread beyond those states and is now active in Kano, Jos and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. Sleeper cells may be lying dormant in many other states across the country.

While the state of emergency is much needed, no one can dispute that it is important for things to be done differently rather than hoping that some supernatural event would turn the tides around mysteriously and Boko Haram would suddenly cease. One major problem hindering the effectiveness of the emergency declaration in those states is obviously the retention of the democratic apparatuses in the same states. The problem though is a constitutional one: only three situations can remove a democratically elected governor from office – resignation, impeachment or death. The constitution does not empower the president or anyone else to remove them so President Goodluck Jonathan is quite in line by this action but the reality paints a different picture.

The first declaration of a state of emergency in Nigeria was in 1963 when Dr. M.A. Majekodunmi (founder of St. Nicholas Hospital) was made the administrator of the Western Region when both Chief Ladoke Akintola and Chief Dauda Adegbenro laid claims to the office of the Premier of the region. The crisis had gone violent on the floor of the Western House of Assembly and an intervention was badly needed. A similar situation played out in Ekiti state in October 2006 when the then Governor Ayo Fayose and his deputy Mrs. Abiodun Olujinmi were impeached by the Friday Aderemi led House of Assembly. All three actors (and actress) laid claims to being governor of the state and then President Olusegun Obasanjo intervened by appointing Major-General Tunji Olurin (rtd) as the sole administrator of the state for a period of six months. In 2004, Gov. Joshua Dariye of Plateau had been asked to step aside for Major-General Chris Alli to take over the administrative responsibilities of Plateau state following a sectarian crisis that led to many deaths. Clearly – Olusegun Obasanjo acted out of line in dissolving the democratic structures but that is a debate for history.

In engaging the Boko Haram terrorists with less than 100,000 fighting soldiers in the entire country as I said in the linked piece, the country can only afford to deploy half of that number to those three states which form the hub of activity of the Boko Haram insurgents – a space measuring over 60,000 km2. With Boko Haram attacking left, right and centre, it is curious that no governor, deputy, commissioner, local government chairperson, house of assembly member and government official or their family members in any of those three states has come under direct attack or kidnap as has been the lot of the common people. It is either the troops deployed to those states are guarding them thereby making them high-priority but hard target for Boko Haram or they’re paying protection money to Boko Haram which makes them untouchable. The last option is that perhaps some of those people are actually part of the decision making body of Boko Haram afterall, a Boko Haram member once said that it was Senator Ali Ndume who provided the group with the phone numbers of some targets in Abuja and also composed the threat text messages to be sent to them.

This is not to wish those democratic officers ill but to raise the salient question: how much can we trust them not to have been compromised? Moving beyond that in fact, their utterances in the last two months have been less than desirable especially with Gov. Murtala Nyako only falling short of saying that Boko Haram is a creation of Mr. President while alleging that the federal troops are carrying out a genocide against the north. The Defence HQ also says that Gov. Kashim Shettima of Borno state provided false intelligence to the security operatives on the whereabouts of the missing Chibok girls. This was the same governor whom WAEC officials insist they wrote to concerning the security of the school where those girls were kidnapped from. Minister of Education Nyesom Wike also produced a letter written to the governor concerning inadequate security in schools in Borno which was ignored before the girls were later kidnapped. Without laying blames or taking sides, the truth is painfully obvious: the governors of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe are a willing or an unwitting hindrance to the security and military operations in those states by their actions or inactions.

With the approval of the extension of the states of emergency by the legislative arm of the federal government after listening to the security chiefs, we can hope that perhaps the next three months of emergency rule may prove to be the game-changer days for the battle against insurgency in northern Nigeria. The senate and the house of representatives need to tell us what led them to such a conclusion. The military and security operatives also need to tell us how and why things may be different in the next three months. On this Channels TV Youtube link, I identified the lack of information sharing within the security forces and the non-release of information to the public creates the lacuna for rumours to thrive. I suspect that the involvement of international security forces as well as the intervention of the government of France with Niger, Cameroun and Chad may help secure our borders and contain Boko Haram more effectively. These however are hopes – our destiny lies in our own hands.

The President would have done well to have asked for a temporary dissolution of the state governments for the next three months to at least do things differently from what has been done in the past one year. That request would have been illegal but it could be raised under the Doctrine of Necessity which is the same vehicle that brought the President into office ab initio. This having not been done and the situation likely to continue in the same way it has, a political approach may become necessary. This should be preceded by massive financial investment in the backwards states of the north as that is the remote but root and crucial cause of this Boko Haram effect we are witnessing. I wrote about that solution in this piece about a Centrist Approach to Revenue Sharing in Nigeria.

In spite of the foregoing, I suspect that all Boko Haram activities will cease by December this year if INEC follows through conducting elections in February next year. With the possibility that elections may not be held in the three affected states, the north will come out more forcefully to curb Boko Haram activities so as not to whittle down its much famed numerical voting strength. It will be such a shame to see that for lack of political strength on the part of the President to ask for a dissolution of government in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa and for political relevance and negotiation on the part of some northern collaborators, more lives will be lost to the evil Boko Haram insurgents.

The answer to the Boko Haram insurgency lies between Political Will and Military Might.

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Demola Rewaju blogs at www.demolarewajudaily.com

Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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