Friday, 13 June 2014

Al-Shabab Attack on Somali Parliament; Lessons For Nigeria, Please Stop The Buck-Passing, Take Responsibility and 'Step Aside'

Written By Don Okereke

Date: Saturday, 24th May 2014; Incident: Al-Shabab launched a kamikaze attack on Somali Parliament Building while scores of politicians were meeting killing at least 17 people; Consequence: Somalia's National Security Minister, Abdikarim Guled threw in the towel aftermath of the daring assault by Al-Shabaab fighters. Tendering his resignation, Mr. Guled said: "You are aware of the cowardly attack that the violent elements carried out on the Parliament. I extend my condolences to the families of the diseased...considering the current situation of the country, I officially hereby announce my resignation".

In South Korea, erstwhile Prime Minister Chung Hong-Won apologized to South Koreans on National Television and subsequently resigned due to a Ferry mishap that claimed the life of about 200 South Koreans. For sure the Prime minister is not directly responsible for the mishap but he took responsibility. In his resignation, Mr. Chung said: "I should take responsibility for everything as the prime minister... So I will resign as prime minister". And he did. If Mr. Chung were to be a Nigerian, some jesters from his clan, his in laws and those benefiting from the status quo will take to the street, threatening fire and brimstone why he must continue in office. What a country!

In India, the then Home Minister, Shivraj Patil and the National Security Adviser, M.K Narayanan both tendered their resignation in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks.

Juxtapose the aforementioned random case studies with the wanton insecurity, terrorism, insurgency miasma in Nigeria that has become an international embarrassment, yet those directly responsible for Nigeria's security are clinching to their  lordly positions at all cost and without shame.

It took three weeks of global media frenzy and outrage for the Nigerian government to even come to terms and acknowledge that nearly 300 Chibok School girls were abducted by Boko Haram. Then they started running helter skelter, bandying alibi's, blaming everyone else but themselves. As if this faux pas is not enough, the Presidency reportedly issued a statement asking #BringBackOurGirls protesters to channel their protests to Boko Haram and not to the Presidency. May I with utmost sense of responsibility remind the Presidency that the primary responsibility of any government is the protection of life and properties.
Aso Rock should be aware that the buck stops at the table of whosoever is the current President and Commander-in-chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Nigerians did not vote for Boko Haram, but for the President and gave him the mandate and the power to do all that is necessary to guarantee the safety of life and properties.

The President have a potpourri of Security and Intelligence agencies at his disposal to contain this ugly situation stifling the country. It is unbecoming off-loading his frustrations on  disenchanted innocent Nigerians whose only sin is daring to remind his government to sit up. If anything, he should blame, hold his security echelon responsible for their ineptitude and failure to maintain the peace.

A botched Immigration Service recruitment exercise by Nigeria's Ministry of Interior snuffed life out of 20 promising Nigerian youths. It took a lot of heckling before the Minister of Interior tendered a half-hearted apology, yet he clinched to his plumb job. Till date the Minister refused to reimburse applicants of this ill-fated exercise, the N1,000 they paid as application fee. A committee was assembled to look into the matter and that was it.

Sequel to a paper-tiger "rebasing" of the nation's economy, we are told Nigeria is now the "biggest" economy in Africa. The government of the day ascribed with pageantry, this titular achievement as part of their "transformation agenda". They bask in taking credit for good things even though they may have no hand in it, but play the ostrich, blaming phantom enemies when something sinister happens and for wanting to bring down the government.

A very conservative Amnesty International estimate says the Boko Haram menace may have snuffed life out of 1,500 innocent Nigerians. In a country where we have a National Security Adviser, Minister of Defence, Chief of Defence Staff, Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Naval Staff, Chief of Air Staff, I.G of Police, D.G of State Security Service, D.G of National Intelligence Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency, etc, etc, none deems it fit to take responsibility for the current state of insecurity in Nigeria.

Two months after the Chibok school girls were abducted by Boko Haram, discordant opinions emanating from the seat of government is neither inspiring nor encouraging. All we hear every day is finger-pointing, buck-passing, a penchant for policy summersault and doublespeak. One of them bandies a "soft approach", another tells us the government is negotiating, yet another refutes the preceding assertion. A spin doctor issues a trite press release assuring Nigerians 'the government is on top of the situation'. A wishy-washy committee is swiftly assembled, monetary allocations (a piece of the national cake) is doled out to the geezers, the issue peters out and it is business as usual again. Off they globetrot on their chartered/private jets.

Whilst #OgasAtTheTop in Nigeria carouse, ensconce themselves in their multi-billion naira fortified fortresses, travel on their armoured plated SUV's, poor Nigerians are the pawns in the ongoing brinkmanship, chess game they play.

Just recently, President Barrack Obama made a surprise visit to Afghanistan, yet Aso Rock spin doctors are busy bandying hogwash alibi's aimed at exonerating the immense insensitiveness and the inability of the Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to visit Chibok, a section of the country he governs. If not for any other reason, such a visit will improve the battered image of the President as well as bring some succour and encouragement to families of the abducted girls and also boost the morale of our soldiers fighting the insurgents. Take a cue from the Americans, such a visit does not have to be announced, it's called a "surprise visit".

Our security agencies must do more work and less talk (propaganda). Are they not endangering the lives of the abducted Chibok girls by insinuating they have discovered where the girls are held up? Until Osama Bin Laden was killed, American security, intelligence agencies, particularly the Navy SEAL Team 6 that carried out the operation refrained from unguarded utterances.

Now we don't need to travel to Europe, the United States or South Korea for global best practices. Folks at the helm of affairs in Nigeria should take a cue from Somalia's National Security Minister.

Is it not a shame that a so-called rag-tag Sect is not just holding plus or minus 300 Chibok girls and now women hostage but the entire country of 160 million people comprising Generals, world-acclaimed high-flying Spiritual/religious juggernauts? How many more innocent Nigerians will be abducted, hacked to death by these bloodletting goons before geezers at the echelon of leadership take responsibility?

Please take responsibility, walk the talk or 'step aside' if you are bereft of ideas or your wishy-washy idea is not fit for purpose.

Don Okereke
Ex-Serviceman, Passionate, Versatile Security Analyst/Consultant, Writer/Blogger, Change Agent, Advocate.