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By Idang Alibi
When the inspiration for this piece came, several titles for it played in my mind. Some of them are: ‘’Is the Nigerian Military Incompetent?’’, ‘’Insurgency: From Frying Pan to Naked Fire?’’, ‘’America’s Offer: A Greek Gift’’, ‘’Let the Military Speak Out’’, ‘’Jonathan, Do Not Succumb to Pressure’’, ‘’Have Nigerians Heard of Madame Mhu of Vietnam?’’ ‘’National Assembly, What Say You?’’, ‘’Mr. Idang Alibi: the Man Who Said ‘No’’’, ‘’idang Alibi: A Lone Voice in the Sea of Yes’’, ‘’I am Unhappy’’, ‘’I am Dismayed’’, Chibok Girls’ Rescue: What are the Rules of Engagement?, etc.
For various professional, technical and commonsensical reasons, I jettisoned all these and many more titles in favour of the one that has attracted you to read this piece. But dear reader, I have volunteered information on these other many titles that I did away with in order to give you insight into my thinking on the ‘selfless, ‘humanitarian’ offer by the Americans, nay, other world powers, to ‘help’ the Nigerian government rescue her over 200 school girls abducted by the Boko Haram terrorists about three weeks ago.
The summary of my thinking on the matter, as you can glean from the harvest of titles that came into my head, is that as a Nigerian patriot I am shocked, flabbergasted, outraged, dismayed, disappointed, unhappy, depressed and I feel betrayed by my government in ‘accepting’ the offer to ‘help’. I have put the words selfless, humanitarian, accepting and help in quotes because the whole business of selfless, humanitarian motivation by the Americans and others to want to bring their military to help us with our security challenge and our government’s claim that it has accepted the ‘good’ offer is orchestrated, contrived and deceitful.
The world powers, especially the Americans, have for long been desperately interested in having a foothold on Nigeria for various strategic interests. The world-wide hysteria that was generated by the abduction of the school girls provided a very good pretext for the world powers to achieve their long ago dream to dig in in Nigeria and have the opportunity to manipulate our politics for their own goals. I therefore suspect that the government was pressured, blackmailed and intimidated to ‘accept’ the offer for the so-called humanitarian intervention.
The whole publicity and concern given to the abduction of the girls by the Western media and important personalities in Western governance and administration is very highly suspicious by any discerning person who understands the chicanery, duplicity, callousness and inhumanity of many of those who run the affairs of the West. They see things only in terms of whether it will offer them economic and geo-political advantages. They have scant regard for what they now tell us is humanitarian concern. We in Africa and other parts of the developing world share a common humanity with them only to the extent that we are a market for them to sell their manufactured goods and a free-for- all jungle for them to exploit our abundant natural resources to feed their industries, create jobs for their people and give them and their people a high standard of living. Anyone in Africa or anywhere else in the underdeveloped world who thinks they have a nobler goal in mind is living in a fool’s paradise.
The type of agreement Nigeria now has with the Americans and co is like the type of agreement that a sheep signs with the lion to help him chase away the wolf. The lion may eventually help the sheep chase away the wolf but in the end the sheep will end up in the belly of the lion! Can you now see why I thought of the title Insurgency: From Frying Pan to Naked Fire?President Jonathan said quite correctly some time ago that any nation that is unfortunate to have terrorists on its hands is in for a very big trouble. They are not easy to defeat militarily and quickly as many Nigerians expect our military to defeat Boko Haram and rescue the girls held hostage. You require prayer and sensible home grown efforts to deal with terrorists.
Every once in a while terrorists will wreak havoc but in many cases they do not have the strength to overthrow governments and impose their will on everyone in the polity. But my reading of history has taught me that when you have a domestic enemy and you appeal to foreign powers to come help you deal with him, they may help you quite alright but in the end you will become their puppet. And this, clearly, is what Nigeria has just done by ‘accepting’ the offer of the Americans and co. The type of problem Jonathan has on his hands in form of the Boko Haram challenge and particularly the outrage it committed by abducting school girls, is the type of challenge that tries and tests a leader to see if he has the potential to be a statesman or a politician who is pushed by an outpouring of sentiments and hysteria to succumb to pressure. This bears out one of my thought of titles Jonathan, do not Succumb to Pressure.
The times we are in demand that Jonathan keeps his cool while all others are losing theirs. This is not time for a leader to listen to activists, TV and radio pundits and great newspaper columnists whose greatness lies in the fact that they can make stirring speeches and write impassioned articles in flowering language calling for ‘decisive action’ when they cannot offer one concrete useful idea about that action they want you to take. Talk, we all know, is cheap. This is a time that President Jonathan needs to surround himself with a few able, clear-headed, cool, calm and collected individuals with super-nationalist credentials who may sound callous because they are realists who are not moved by popular sentiments but by what will translate to the nation’s ultimate good.
It is clear to me that in accepting the American and company’s offer, Jonathan bowed to popular pressure. If what presidential spokesman Rueben Abati said is to be believed, the time of the offer through a telephone call to our president and the acceptance of the offer was too short for any proper rules of engagement to have been worked out that will guarantee our sovereignty and national safety and security in the long term. My pastor taught me that in any business relationship even between me and my blood brothers and sisters, not to talk of outsiders, there should be a proper agreement set out in writing which clearly defines the rules of engagement. Given the nature of this particular relationship, details of the agreement between the Nigerian government and the ‘helpers’ may not all be given out. But what are the main points of the agreement? This concern is what led me to thinking of heading this piece Rescue of Chibok Girls: What are the Rules of Engagement? To be concluded next week by the grace of God.
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