Nigerians truly amaze me. Many of us are in denial that this Country is facing what may turn out to be the biggest civil war ever. I am terribly amazed that some ' well meaning legislators" think that there is no need to continue with the state of emergency in the three frontline states in the war. So what do they want? A relaxation of the emergency rules of security and other governance and human rights abridgements and a return to normal state of things in those States? It was very appalling for me to watch these 'patriotic' legislators argue with passion that the emergency status must be halted and reversed. And then with a snicker in their faces, they referred the President to a section of the constitution, which he could rely on "if he so wished" to fight the insurgents. Indeed, it led me to conclude that there is really little understanding of the deep challenge that this country is facing. In the first place, the emergency status was reluctantly approved and because the war had not ended after 18 months, we should abandon the status and return to business as usual! What a tragedy! It is akin to saying that because a patient who has been on the machine for months, has not fully recovered , we should yank him off the life machine and allow him 'freedom' to move about and go wherever he wants!

In the first place, I am sorry to say that the type of Emergency rule we have in the three frontline states is a misnomer, a child's play if you ask me. What kind of emergency rule do we have, and all the political structures remain in place and everybody and everything remains as normal except for checkpoints or the need to run when the insurgents advance. And yet we expect such "childish" emergency status to yield ' magical' result in a few months. I am not holding brief or making any excuses for the military. They are only part of us. We have the military we deserve, just as we have the leadership we deserve. Period. Otherwise how can an army in war find time and resources to gather its senior army officers at the Le meridian hotel in Uyo for the Chief of Army conference, to listen to some political speeches and then savour the 'hospitality' of the Akwa Ibom people in the evenings. War strategies are not discussed in the front of Television cameras. No,we are not yet at war !

Nevertheless, I am pleased with General Gowon's speech read by General Marwa. Unlike the Commander-in-chief who in his characteristic 'gentle' manner expressed satisfaction with the performance of the army, General Gowon told the army some hard truths. Gowon prosecuted a civil war with much less number of soldiers and with much smaller equipment and Armour. So he has experience as a true General who became one in the battlefield. My simple and perhaps 'foolish' question is, can we recall him, not as head of State but as Military commander to use his experience to prosecute this new war? After all, I am told that all retired soldiers are on the reserve list. Now that we have 'broken ' our military partnership with America, perhaps General Gowon can link us up with his wartime partners in Russia and elsewhere . To me, this matter is serious and we must do what can be done to stop this daily massacre of innocent Nigerians.

Brigadier- General Mohammed Buba Marwa must have been sent by Gowon to the army conference to make a point. I do not know if Marwa fought in the Nigeria- Biafra civil war, but he proved a very courageous officer when he was Military Governor of Lagos State. When Lagos was threatened by some 'bombers and terrorists', Marwa came out boldly and drew a line on the sand and dared the 'terrorists' to cross the line. The siege ended. That's the stuff of Generals we need to fight this new war. Not the type that would announce publicly that the insurgency would end last April and in December, the insurgency is escalating. And nothing happens to him . He does not resign, retains his command and indeed is rewarded with National honours. This week, the Minister of Interior and the Police Chief were fired by President Kenyatta because the alshabab terrorists killed some Kenyans and indeed seem to be getting the upper hand in their onslaught against Kenya.

I believe that our commander-in-chief, must be rebuking the military in Private and expressing his disgust and frustration at the Security meetings. But because he is a civilian commander-in-chief, who is by nature genteel, considerate, and democratic, he seems to excise a lot of restraint and patience. That is why I totally disagree with Professor WOLE Soyinka that President Jonathan is Nebuchadnezzar. No way at all. There is no semblance at all except in the creative imagination of the literary giant. What's the evidence? That he allowed the Police to try to block the gate to the National Assembly or that he recognized a faction of the Governors' forum of 16 members as against that with 19 members?. No,those are not sufficient travesties at all to associate our meek president with an arrogant and Pagan warrior like the biblical King Nebuchadnezzar. By the way, it was refreshing to hear the erudite ( traditional worshipper ?) Professor quote the Bible. I accept that our President has his weaknesses- real and perceived,and also that as the President and commander-in-chief, the buck stops on his table. But Why was the National Assembly, especially the House of Assembly able to sit on that fateful day? Was it because they overcame the Police with force? Why were those 'honourable' members who scaled the gate as 'bandits' and who had their 'finest day' according to the Professor, not pushed back or shot at?. What will have happened if any of these happened?. What name should we have called the President then? If 'Nebuchadnezzar' was the President of Nigeria, cunny man Tambuwal will never have succeeded in his 'coup' against his party to become Speaker, not to talk of remaining in the position till date. Even Obasanjo and many of our democratic poster men- Asiwaju, Turaki, uncommon transformer, Comrade and CRA will never have allowed it, not to talk of Nebuchadnezzar . That is the bitter truth. If 'Nebuchadnezzar' was president of Nigeria, all those men who promised to make the Country ungovernable would be in jail at the minimum by now. You could not try that with APC Presidential hopeful- General Muhammad Buhari ! If 'Nebuchadnezzar ' was President, he could never declare a state of Emergency in three states and leave the Governors and all the political structures in place. Even the current 'National model' and ' oracle of Politics and governance' President Olusegun Obasanjo sought by all and sundry would not have allowed this. For sure, when Professor Wole Soyinka was the head of the Pyrates confraternity, he would not have crossed his hands and watched his officers gang up to overthrow him or cast his support for any rebellious group so that the World would call him 'saint wole'. To the best of my knowledge, no leader anywhere in the World will support a group who is bent on working against his ambition or resisting his authority.Some Governors were leading a rebellion against the President and his ambition and interest and we wanted him to be quiet or support them to achieve their aim. Only Jesus could do that!

I do not want to sound alarmist, but I plead with our leaders- Political, Traditional, Military and Spiritual to take this Boko Haram onslaught more seriously than we seem to be taking it. My sense of warfare, tells me that who ever is leading or funding this war is determined. He seems to have a mission and looks to me to be in this for the long haul. Just as we are about to halt their bombing, they begin to advance and take territories, and we begin to halt their advance and recover territories, they escalate bombing. How were they able to drive into the centre of Damaturu, capital of Yobe State, reaching the Government house,before they were repelled? If they could achieve that, I would not underrate their ability to hit another State capital, the same way. So let us come out of our apparent complacency especially those of us who think we leave far from the war front. May be we should declare a state of Emergency over the whole country so that we all can behave like a people at war. In my mind, it is better to be over prepared than to be underprepared. This shedding of blood of ordinary Nigerians must be stopped. By all means!

Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa OFR


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