For upwards of one and half years into the Yar’Adua Presidency, it wore the colouration of a misguided orgy of violence independently orchestrated by a handful of frustrated young people, in Borno State who, bereft of hope, on account of the seeming worthlessness of their academic credentials, resorted to self-destruct.
Then it got bloodier and bloodier every passing day and later assumed the pedigree of a well -orchestrated terrorist campaign with the capacity to incite ethno-religious war in the land.
Even now, the criminal siege lodged by the Boko Haram Islamist militant group has yet to abate, neither are the relatively unknown, even faceless foot soldiers any way close to repentance, necessary for forgiveness.
After the United Nations (UN) House, Abuja bombing, in which scores perished and yet another on media houses across the federal capital, all doubts that the armed insurgency in parts of the North, was another example of youth restiveness, vanished or so many thought. From the nature of casualties, the mode of attacks after attacks, the mass murders in highly populated public places like parks, market places and Christian places of worship, it dawned on all well-meaning Nigerians and even foreigners alike that the country was indeed under terror attack.
A terrorist siege is like a war with ghosts, no specific target, no uniformed army, no known single geographical location and no major distinguishing identification of the enemy. The next door neighbour could be the enemy. The desk mate at work could be an informant to the terrorist army and a political associate could be the key sponsor.
That scenario naturally places an intelligence burden on even the best army because it requires the unmasking of the army, then going in search of its operational base, followers, source of funding and economic survival. These facts accounted for the long, rigorous, frustrating search for and eventual killing by the United States of America (USA) of the main mastermind of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks on the Twin Towers of New York and elsewhere Osama Bin Laden.
Here in Nigeria, the Boko Haram seem even more invincible and very deadly in their daily attacks and near frequently painted of the federal government a picture of helplessness and lack of tactical direction while also accusing the nations security community of poor intelligence gathering pedigree.
In attack after attack public reaction was the same. Condemnation of both the Boko Haram and the Federal Government and very often sweeping dismissal of the Jonathan Presidency as a weak one. By such views, an alternative in their view, would then be, to adopt conventional warfare tactics: identify the target, pound mercilessly and keep pounding until you hear noise no more, not even of a baby’s cry.
That too has its only shortcomings. Often, not all along enemy target areas are enemy combatants. Some are defenceless men, women and children often used by terrorists as humans shield, and whose survival and safety if not considered could make the victorious war commander and his supervising government culpable of war crimes and ethnic cleansing. Even President Goodluck Jonathan alluded to that when he said the Odi option employed by former President Olusegun Obasanjo was not a civil solution to youth insurgency which went beyond mere protestations to outright militancy.
Amidst all these however, very few appreciated the actual agenda behind the senseless bloodletting, the mass murders and the meaningless attacks on Christian places of worship by the Boko Haram terror group. On the last count, no fewer than 1,500 defenceless Nigerians had perished and still counting. Infact, the mission seemed to be , kill as many as can kill until the federal government appropriates equal or even more federal resources in amnesty to parts of the North as enjoys erstwhile insurgents of the oil producing Niger Delta.
So, when prominent Northern elders, under the aegis of the Northern Elders’ Forum, who were known to have done little or nothing to properly articulate the worries of the Boko Haram sect, nor bothered to identify its leadership for meaningful dialogue, went public demanding amnesty for the terrorists, it became clear to many that the North has resolved that only criminality pays in Nigeria. To them, what years of intellectual protest, civil agitation and meaningful dialogue cannot achieve will be hastened by a systemic, consistent and deadly blood-letting.
And like a big joke, Nigeria’s Federal Government which had repeatedly said amnesty for a faceless group like Boko Haram amounts to forgiving and doing business with ghosts, seems favourably disposed to doing exactly that. After a meeting with the Northern Elders Forum last week in Abuja, presidency sources told a shocked nation that government was considering amnesty for Boko Haram which leadership ranks and indeed membership remains unknown, except foggy are indications that group enjoys support and operational understanding with other notorious terror organisation within the West African subregion and even beyond.
The implication of that is that the federal government , may if it eventually does grant amnesty, be faced with an usually large population of Boko Haram faithful which may unsurprisingly include virtually all employed and unemployed Northern youth and their kith and kin from neighbouring Niger, Chad and elsewhere. The target, from all indication, will be to attract to the North federal resources of the kind, if not far more so, that goes to ex-militants of the oil producing areas by way of amnesty.
Interestingly, the Federal Government seems helpless in the circumstance and from all indications, amnesty for Boko Haram members, is merely a matter of days. Already, a committee has been set up to consider the request of the Northern Elders’ Forum, ostensibly, with a view to fulfilling all righteousness and making the eventual outcome a product of the Council of State and hence, Nigeria’s.
But we will be investing, inadvertently on criminality and anarchy by showing that the easiest path to national recognition and support is the ability to lodge mayhem against innocent Nigerians in whatever form. It is even more bizzaire because apart from open indignation for western education and a veiled attempt to impose Islam in the whole of the North, not a single discussable grievance has been advanced.
Yet in parts of the south, particularly in Lagos and Port Harcourt, public places, including major traffic ways are converted to open mosques for Moslem worship without any disturbance. In Rivers State for instance, a mosque at the abattoir at the Slaughter -Woji axis has out poured it’s flock unto that ever busy road, linked only by the Woji Bridge. On Fridays, Moslem faithful stretch far beyond the bridge-head to the round-up, thus making traffic on Fridays in particular, virtually impossible.
As frustrating as that weekly experience might be, not once has it been heard that a Moslem place of worship, no matter how inconveniencing to the public, has been disrupted, not to think of being attacked. The violent opposite is what Boko Haram has championed at peace – time, in the name of terrorism.
So, what might be the rational for such amnesty to a group which in total defiance to the avowed constitutional secularity of Nigeria, sought to, and in a bloody manner, impose one religion on all others in the land? Is it for future political gains or out of sheer helplessness in prosecuting the war against terror. Or both?
Or is it simply what many Nigerians have always suspected, the need to compensate the Northern youth with resources sourced from the oil producing Niger Delta as a balancing economic act? If it is, as there are little facts to the contrary then, we are inadvertently glorifying evil over good. And I fear that a day will come when unemployed university graduates, law-abiding job seekers and even responsible youth groups from other parts of the country would find in blood insurgency their only opportunity to enjoy national attention.
Or what happens if say, the Odua Peoples Congress,OPC secretly produces a splinter terrorist group to fight the Yoruba heartland or the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafia, MASSOB toes same line? Would we simply crush them as Obasanjo did Odi, or as federal troops did Biafra or, not too long ago, as the Abacha junta did MOSOP in Ogoniland? Or will we adopt the now rewarding Yar’Adua/ Jonathan example of pampering criminals and mass murderers?
My Agony is that this script may well be belated because from all indications, the talk about Federal Government considering amnesty for Boko Haram is more than a mere political kite flown to feel the heartbeat of the nation. It is a mathematical certainty likely to be quicked by fears or love of 2015. And that is condemnable.
Don’t be surprised if the unrepentant Boko Haram ranks choose to reject the FG’s unsolicited amnesty offer, if for nothing else, to raise the stakes to include even the almajiri’s to benefit from the amnesty gift to the North. Don’t.
We’ve Spent N9bn To Upgrade RSUTH, Wike Confirms
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, says his administration has spent N9billion in upgrading structures and installation of new equipment at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH).
He said the fact that 40 per cent of the 2021 budget of the state is dedicated to provision of quality healthcare delivery was a further demonstration of the priority placed on the sector.
Wike made the explanation at the foundation laying ceremony for the construction of a Renal Centre at RSUTH, last Friday.
The governor said he made promise to Rivers people that the best would be provided to them in all sectors of the society within his capability because of the mandate they gave to him.
“As we came on here, I just looked around and I see the changes in this teaching hospital. I can say that we have put not less than N9billion in this teaching hospital.
“If you look at the budget, the health sector alone, what it’s taking from the Rivers State Government is not less than 40 percent of the 2021 budget.”
Speaking further, Wike said the state government cannot afford to implement free medical service programme in the present economic circumstance.
While dismissing the request for a subvention for RSUTH, Wike, however, commended the chief medical director and his team for their commitment to turnaround the fortunes of RSUTH.
“I have never seen anywhere that health services can be totally free. They’re telling me that people who come here can’t pay. I have never declared that this state is going to take over the health fees of anybody.”
Also speaking, the former Minister of Transport, Dr. Abiye Sekibo, who performed the flag-off, noted that Wike’s achievements in the health sector in particular, surpass what former governors of the state had done.
Sekibo said that the governor has given equal attention to every section of the health sector by providing complete health infrastructure that was positioning the state as a medical tourism destination in Nigeria.
Earlier, the Rivers State Commissioner for Health, Prof Princewill Chike, lauded Governor Nyesom Wike for his interest in the health of Rivers people.
He noted that the renal centre, when completed, would become another landmark development project in the health sector that would handle and manage all kidney-related ailments.
In his remarks, the Chief Medical Director of the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, Dr. Friday Aaron, commended Wike for approving the renal centre.
Aaron explained that chronic kidney disease was a major burden globally with estimated 14 million cases in Nigeria.
According to him, over 240,000 of these cases require renal replacement therapy in the form of dialysis and renal transplant.
The CMD said the building that would house the centre was expected to be completed in six months and consists of two floors.
The ground floor, according to him, would house the haemodialysis unit with eight haemodialysis machines.
He further explained that the first floor of the centre would house the surgical component where most of the sophisticated equipment for kidney transplant would be installed.
Aaron said Wike has released the funds required to build, equip the centre as well as for the training of personnel locally and internationally.
Power Generation Falls 23% To 3,172MW
Power supply in Nigeria has failed to improve on last week’s performance, as it fell by 22.9 per cent from peak generation of 4,115Megawatts on Saturday to 3,172.20MW as at 5pm, yesterday, latest data from the System Operator has shown.
According to the data, most power plants were operating far below capacity due to gas shortage with Olorunsogo Power Plant 335MW capacity; and Sapele Power Plant, 450MW capacity; completely out.
Egbin was generating at 746MW; Omoku 37.20; Omotosho (NIPP) at 105MW; while Afam was generating at 80MW.
The data showed that on the average power generation in the past seven days were 4,120.9MW on Sunday, June 6; 4,249.4 on Monday, June 7; 4,000.9MW on Tuesday, June 8; 3,720.7 on Wednesday, June 9; 3,517 on Thursday, June 10; 3,765MW on Friday, June 11; and 4,115MW on Saturday, June 12.
The International Oil Companies (IOCs), had last warned that despite Nigeria’s huge gas reserves a lot needs to be done to attract investment to the sector to develop gas reserves to boost power generation in the country.
Speaking at the just concluded Nigeria International Petroleum Summit, the Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria/MD SPDC, Osagie Okunbor, said with 203trillion Cubic Feet of gas reserves, what was needed in the country is to deliver projects that would produce the gas.
“The challenge is not just growing the reserves but in producing these reserves for the benefits of our country. Essentially growing the reserves and delivering on the production is a function of two or three elements.
“I like to see infrastructure that is required for the development of these resources at two levels. Soft infrastructure is often the one that is more important than and that is the one that is actually drives most of what you see at site.”
“Soft infrastructure refers to the enabling environment and nothing pleases me as much seeing both the Senate President and the speaker of the house give very firm commitments about trying to pass the PIB this month.
“That is probably the big one of the enabling environment to provide the kind of stability we also need all sorts of other issues we need to that we have discussed severally in terms of sanctity of contract, stable policies and collaboration and I think we are well on our way there”, he added.
Wike, Pride Of Nigeria’s Democracy, NUJ Affirms
The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) has described Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, as an exhibit of pride to democracy in Nigeria.
The NUJ also noted that Wike has redefined governance through demonstration of democracy in action with his service to Rivers people.
The National leadership, the 36 State Executives, and the FCT, including members of the NUJ across the country made the assertion in Port Harcourt during the inspection tour led by the Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim of both completed and ongoing projects being undertaken by the governor in the state.
The National President of the NUJ, Chief Chris Isiguzo, said the 1999 Constitution bestows on the media the responsibility to hold governments accountable to the people.
Isiguzo posited that having placed the projects side-by-side with the expectations of the populace, it was obvious that the governor’s investment in critical infrastructure would remain lifelong empowerment tools for the people.
”We were at the Mother and Child Hospital. We took time to look at the facilities there. That can easily be said to be first of its kind in the country.
”At the much-talked about Real Madrid Football Academy, where they are going to train the young ones, we saw that they have good facilities. At the moment, they have also offered admission to 140 pupils.
”That’s also to catch-them-young, and I want to believe that by the time this kind of resources is continuously invested in sports development in Nigeria, it’s just a matter of time, it will gain its pride of place in sporting world.”
On her part, the National President of Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Mrs Ladi Bala said that the projects she had seen were entirely unique, unprecedented and very uncommon in the country.
According to Bala, the Emmanuel Chinwenwo Aguma Judges’ Quarters stand out as first of its kind in Nigeria, with its serene ambiance that would translate into enhancing the productivity of judges of Rivers origin.
”I believe that democracy is at work in Rivers State, and, for Rivers people, I want to congratulate them, and to say, this is the true reflection of what democracy should be across board.
”I want to call on other governors across the country to borrow a leaf from what the governor of Rivers State is doing. Wike is working, and we are very proud of what we have seen here”, she added.
In his reaction, the National Internal Auditor of NUJ, Muhammad Tukur, stated that Wike was a committed leader with the vision of uplifting the standard of life of his people.
Tukur, who expressed gratitude to Wike for his support to the NUJ National Conference in Port Harcourt, said that his show of love for journalists confirms his commitment to the welfare of the people.
On his part, Chairman of Oyo State Council of the NUJ, Comrade Ismail Ademola Babalola, asserted that the Mother and Child Hospital, and the Real Madrid Football Academy were part of projects Governor Wike was using to secure a productive future for the youths of the state because they meet global standard.
Also speaking, the Vice President of NUJ North Central Zone, Chief Wilson Bako, commended the quality of the various roads and flyover bridges constructed in the Port Harcourt metropolis to make the city tourists’ destination of choice.
In the same vein, the Vice Chairman of NUJ in Jigawa State, Comrade Larai Musa, said she has confirmed all that the news media had carried about Wike and his projects’ mantra, and asserted that it was leaders like him that were needed at the national level.
Also, Comrade Ikechukwu Ordu of Enugu State Council of the NUJ noted the need for other political leaders to emulate Wike in providing dividends of democracy to Rivers people and changing the fortunes of his state.
Also from the Enugu State Council of the NUJ, Comrade Ugochukwu Chukwudieke, said she was completely overwhelmed by what Wike has done in constructing the Okoro-Nu-Odo Flyover Bridge, Rumuogba Flyover Bridge, and Rebisi Flyover Bridge delivered within one year.
Chukwudieke also praised the quality of work on the Rumuola Flyover Bridge, Ogbun-nu-Abali Flyover Bridge, GRA Junction Flyover Bridge, and the Orochiri-Wurukwo flyover project at Waterlines Junction by Aba Road.
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