Nigerians are in a frenzy. It is one year since President Muhammadu Buhari entered office and everyone is focused on the big picture. His promises to Nigerians are many and people are focusing on the big ones – security, economy, anti-corruption and the whole long list. One promise is being overlooked because the seemingly big promises take national attention.
Mr President had promised to bring those behind Boko Haram to book. This should have been one promise kept within the first six months. Not one year. But these characters are still free men. They walk the street, it will seem, as saints since no one has been unmasked as a sponsor.
There is free counsel to President Buhari on what can be done. For one: classify the different forms of being behind Boko Haram. There are those that offer monetary and logistic support to the group. Nigeria now has BVN. Tracing funding and financing should not be difficult. Smoking out Boko Haran financiers is therefore possible in a matter of a few clicks.
Those that offer logistics and intelligence support to terrorists cannot continue to fleet like wraiths among us. They must of necessity communicate. SIM cards are now fully registered. Phone numbers of captured or killed terrorist are starting points. There is a treasure trove of intel there. Who have the terrorists been talking to in military circles, government circle, religious bodies, business world? We should know. We should act.
Captured terrorists must have spilled the beans more than once. Who did they name higher up in the command chain? Who has benefitted from or is still benefitting from their atrocities? Who stands to gain if the attacks continue? Amirs – commanders of the terror group have been captured in several instances, what stops authorities from further investigating those that have been named.
Who is the new Dasukigate leader? Before President Buhari there was a gang that stole the country blind in the name of buying weapons to combat terror. They allow terrorism to fester so they can keep harvesting their loots. Billionaires were made. Nigerians were killed. Who are the people that have stepped into those shoes? Are they too keeping terrorism alive for pecuniary gains?
How much of this is tied to 2019 general elections. Contenders have started campaigns even before President Buhari’s term in office properly begun. Are they trying to give PMB the GEJ moment? They reportedly infiltrated the former government. Have they infiltrated President Buhari’s government in just under one year? What hold do they have over the federal government that politicians in the axis are not having the searchlight beamed on them for whatever their roles may be in the endless carnage of the northeast?
Mr President must know that discerning Nigerians have not forgotten his promise. His promise was to bring those behind Boko Haram to book. On this promise, he must not and cannot fail. Other promises to Nigerians is hinged on it. The sponsors are like the brainbox or the heartbeat of the terror group. Arresting and prosecuting them will deal deadly blow to Boko Haram. Finishing Boko Haram off would be a promise kept. Stamping out Boko Haram will free resources to commit to other sectors.
Unmasking these sponsors would be hard. They possibly have clouts. They can hide behind their positions and public office. Mr President must look out for those that can be temporarily kept away from their positons to allow investigators have free hands. They need unfettered access.
The President must also look inward. Ineptitude in executing mandates could be a cover to create conducive atmosphere for Boko Haram. Appointees connected with security must be assessed for meeting key job performance indicators. Those that have performed below expectations must not only be shown the way out but must also prove their incompetence is not deliberate sabotage.
In the meantime, one year is enough to know those to weed out. If Mr President is I doubt of who to sack the National Security Adviser (NSA) would be a good start. The office, its occupant or both appear overwhelmed. The Defence Minister, Alhaji Mansur Dan Ali is no less overwhelmed. They have been invisible in the whole anti-terror efforts. The damage of their prolonged stay in office would be damaging to progress made on other fronts. Any other official that has performed below par qualifies for exit followed by investigation.
President Buhari should keep this promise. In this his word is his bond. If Nigerians can exercise patience for another one year without Boko Haram sponsors being busted, the country’s security situation cannot. The military are needed elsewhere. Fighting a Boko Haram that is mutating because of highly placed sponsors would bod our fighting forces down, unfortunately not in some marshland but in the Sahel and desert.
Awolowo wrote this piece from 26 Sadatu Street, Oregun, Lagos.