Replicate Ekiti template in Borno

Nigerians may have misgivings about President Jonathan’s strategy for fighting Boko Haram insurgency and other forms of terrorism in our land, but not even the most virulent critics of his administration will fail to acknowledge his success in his war against electoral violence and other electoral malpractices in Nigeria. He has been very consistent in this endeavour and his commitment has paid off. This is why I think in spite of the gloom that has enveloped our nation, following the continued incarceration of about 200 girls by Boko Haram insurgents, their  mindless violence  and  the atrocities perpetrated  by those described as Fulani  herdsmen against innocent Nigerians, we can still spare a moment to join the president, his vice and other PDP heavy weights who have been clinking glasses in Abuja to celebrate  this great feat. I think we should not allow the election of Ayo Fayose, one time impeached governor of Ekiti who still have criminal cases to answer in court, to diminish the president’s achievement. I think we owe our nation a duty to  let the president know that those of us who share his passion for free and fair elections are more than those against him.

It is however ironic  that the  president’s victory has been achieved through the efforts of our security forces  who in spite of their great sacrifices have come under intense criticism for their  prosecution of the Boko Haram insurgency.  But their celebrated success in Ekiti which followed earlier ones in Ondo and Edo, has clearly shown that with sufficient motivation, our security forces can also deliver on their primary mandate which is security of lives and property of Nigerians.  Success, they say, have many fathers. Even the Inspector General of Police (IGP) whose voice has been subdued for some time by Boko Haram insurgents, who freely kill his ill-equipped men and routinely sack their police stations without resistance, is now celebrating. As if the police have suddenly become INEC, he now says the police was in Ekiti “to showcase that it is possible for Nigerian security agencies to conduct a peaceful, free, fair and credible election”.

The Ekiti success was the result of meticulous planning by the presidency, the Minister of State for Defence, Musliu Obanikoro, and the Minister of Police Affairs, Jelili Adesiyan, the 35,000-strong security team which according to The Punch report was made up of “officers of the Nigerian Army, the Nigeria Police, the Department of State Security and the National Security and Civil Defence Corps,” was properly kitted and well motivated. Giving credence to this was no other officer than the Ekiti Police Commissioner, Felix Uyana  who confirmed that besides “200 counter-terrorist officers, two DIGs, AIGs, sniffer dogs, horses and two aircrafts, that were  hovering to monitor, there were no fewer than 12,000 police men”. The welfare of the team was also a priority of those who put them together. Punch also confirmed this when it told us that “the security men had occupied most of the hotels in the state a few days to the election.” Except those drafted for election, police hardly have enough to transport themselves to follow up investigations.

Besides motivation, the strategy was unassailable. First, the 35,000 security team shut down the state for three days. Apparently taking a cue from Senator Arise’s boast on Channel Television programme a few days to the election  about his party’s readiness to  match APC ‘rice for rice and money for money’, the special team supervised distribution of PDP rice, Okada and other items as well as APC’s last minute distribution of its own rice.

Precisely because of the value the president attached to the Ekiti battle, the highly motivated security team was more than enthusiastic in executing their well scripted brief. They harassed and threatened Governor Fayemi. They disallowed Oshiomhole’s helicopter from taking off from Benin. Amaechi’s chartered aircraft managed to land in Akure but he was stopped on his way to Ekiti by gun-wielding security men who advised him to go back and face his own demons in Port Harcourt.

And to ensure the president’s brief was carried out to the letter, his PDP point man for the election Chris Uba, the Minister for Police Affairs,  Adesiyan and his counterpart in defence, Musliu Obanikoro were on ground to supervise their men who went around with their sniffer dogs arresting APC members who, as Showumi, a PDP mobiliser from Ogun State alleged on a channel Television program, ‘carried millions in their pockets’ to induce voters.  The Ekiti experiment was such a success that the IG has now said its template will be adopted for the Osun governorship election in August.

This is where I disagree with the IG. I think instead of rendering the 35,000-strong winning team idle until August, it can be put into a more productive use now. The Ekiti template can be replicated in Borno State today. We must not forget our abducted Chibok girls have been in captivity for almost 80 days. Neither the government nor the Americans we had hoped would help have an idea of where the girls are or their travails that some experts say may lead to loss of memory or permanent anger against themselves and the society that has let them down.

Besides we all share a collective sense of guilt, of pains, and shame, for letting our children and their grieving parents down for so long. We also know the president is no less troubled. If we needed any evidence, the president provided that when last Friday in an Op Ed article in Washington Post told the American audience and their lawmakers that his “government and our security and intelligence services have spared no resources, have not stopped and will not stop until the girls are returned home and the thugs who took them are brought to justice.”

I think the president who added that he was however “deeply concerned that his silence as he works to accomplish the task at hand is being misunderstood by partisan critics” now has a joker in the 35,000-strong winning team to shame his virulent critics who never see anything good in his administration.. Having made the president and the nation proud, Adesiyan and Obanikoro, who are yet to visit any part of the north-east in their capacities as ministers of defence and police affairs will wipe away our tears if they are directed to lead their 35,000-strong security team to Chibok without delay. They will put an end to weekly harvest of deaths in Chibok local government which has experienced no peace since April 14.

Only last Sunday, Kautikari, Kwada and Nguragila villages near Chibok were sacked while scores of security men as well worshippers who were locked up in their churches before being sprayed with bullets, lost their lives.

At a press briefing on Monday, the irrepressible Doyin Okupe, was a subdued man. Unable to look up, he kept on talking to himself: “we don’t know what they want…these people killing innocent people…” Two days ago, Chris Olukolade, Director of Defence Information revealed that one Babuji Ya’ari a member of Youth Vigilante Group also known as civilian JTF has been arrested for being the coordinator of deadly attacks in Maiduguri since 2011 along with a woman. Hafsat Bako another member   who was said to have admitted they paid N10, 000 to their members.

I am sure Okupe as a successful PDP stalwart may not comprehend why educated men mortgage their future or a Borno woman risk her life for tN10, 000. But his brief is brief. Prevail on his principal who understands the politics of stomach infrastructure. With N18b (the figure credited to PDP strong man in the west), in two months pacification of Borno will be completed. It took less than that in Ekiti where teacher as stomach warriors got only N10, 000.

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