Candid Reflections With Debo Adejugbe: The Unknown Gunmen
We love the classics and the situations that abound points ominously to a case of classics being played out of our very lives as we live it out –fast-paced, colorfully, haphazardly egregious- meshed with our toxic cynicism of everything that governance represents. It is a marriage made in heaven and one that benefits the political class to no end.
The “Unknown Gunmen” comes in, wipes whoever or whatever needs wiping, disappears into the clouds and we are left with descriptions of how it all happened while their “majesties” were in action. So many unsolved murders, political assassinations, terrorist acts, insurgent attacks, electoral violence, officially sanctioned carnage and majority of crimes have been ascribed to this elusive group of ghosts. Our fears increase daily and the attacks never stop – it moves up a gear the next time our airwaves play that ominous soundtrack that accompanies the warfare.
Following political developments in Nigeria is bound to throw up more questions than answers. Questions no one –including those elected to answer them- is willing to answer. When Chinua Achebe’s “There was a Country” came out, I was devastated by the receptionamong those who ought to be better informed and critically look at the message rather than throw up tribal sentiments that betrays the intelligence we have come to ascribe to them. The Social Media climate was torn along ethnic lines, taking sides rather than looking at issues to objectively analyse them; proffering solutions that can be implemented in the long term and constructively opening up the shortcomings in the book.
The Nigerian-Biafran war was one of those periods in our history that we knew exactly who was killing whom; when those killing the others came up with several slogans to justify the massacre. After that war, we went back to “normal mode” and continued in the same mess that brought us to that very avoidable moment where we had to raise up arms against ourselves, justifying it and going to sleep easy and assuming nothing was ever wrong with Nigeria.
Look around the country; you will see in the faces of our youth and able-bodied young men the inscription “Unknown Gunmen”. Almost every one of them now sees crime as an avenue to make quick cash or get the government to notice them with a share of the national cake.
The facts on the ground support this line of thought. The militants, after destroying most of the oil installations in the Niger-Delta, were pacified by the amnesty programme and a promise of a budget bigger than the country’s health sector. Few more elites were made richer in the process and high-ranking militants were dished defense contracts to make their subjects fall in Line.
The same story applies to the South-West where Oodua People’s Congress (OPC) was awarded security contracts which in itself look like a pro-2015 bribe. The leaders of that outlawed body now dabble into issues of National importance to show they have arrived.
Now, the issue of our day is that Boko Haram has been offered amnesty. This amnesty in itself is not necessarily a bad thing if the right perspectives are applied but what are those perspectives from the government’s point of view? I will tell you.
The main reason why Niger-Delta militants were offered amnesty was to safeguard government’s investment in the region – Not necessarily lives or jobs or futures or anything that matters to the population in earnest. Just investments and Olusegun Adeniyi’s book “Power, Politics and Death” didn’t hide this fact as the basis why Yar’Adua felt the one “Positive” far outweighs all the “Negatives”.
In clear terms, this Boko Haram amnesty is one way this government is painting itself as caring and in the process trying to enrich few people affiliated to it. The scramble for 2015 is obviously a carrot in the grand scheme of shuffling that has followed the President’s visit to Borno in response to APC’s jamboree. Not long after that visit, the “Unknown Gunmen’ struck and these carnages have showed littlesigns of abating, prompting several committees to be set up in anticipation of our now templated “committee again?” rhetoric.
This government is not sincere about the problem of Boko Haram –just like every other thing- and the few facts on ground support this assertion. In possession of the president are several recommendations from his numerous committees on how to deal with the problem of BH and these reports are probably hidden in one of Aso Rock’s dusty cabinets. Add that fact to the insistence of the president that he knows those who are BH members and sponsors, alleging further that they are in his government.
The recent carnage in Baga further suggests that our toxic cynicism might not be far-fetched. The rate at which innocent lives are being taken calls for urgent attention and the subsequent manoeuvres by this government and its organs to cover it up clearly points to a lack of will and intent to critically assess the Boko Haram scourge and deal with it rightly.
A precedent has been set with the Niger-Delta militants – and in reply, Jonathan decided to dash OPC –in the west- and Boko Haram –in the north- their share of the loot. That, exactly, is the problem we have. We throw money and cynicism of reasonable thought-processes at issues of national security and blimey, they multiply and get out of hand. The militants are gradually turning up again……
This present unknown gunmen syndrome will continue and expand into a multi-billion dollar enterprise. Why not? The JTF has joined the fray, and the government now has a willing participant and an ever ready accomplice in Boko Haram.