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THE QUESTION: Are Nigerians more lenient with Buhari on Boko Haram?

THE QUESTION: Are Nigerians more lenient with Buhari on Boko Haram?
July 08
17:28 2015

This piece is designed to answer – or at least try to answer – a question. But that is strictly on the assumption that one other question requires no answer: since the May 29 swearing-in of Muhammadu Buhari as president, Boko Haram has emerged a bitterer destructive force. There is no question that the scale and number of bomb blasts in the last one month far outweigh the figures for the month preceding the election that returned Buhari to power.

As this piece was being written in Lagos, southwestern Nigeria, it was a mournful atmosphere in Zaria, north-western Kaduna state, few hours after at least 25 people, including a two-year-old, were killed in a bomb blast at the local government headquarters where primary school teachers and other public officials from Lere and Ikara local governments were undergoing biometric verification. Thirty-two injured people were rushed to the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) teaching hospital.

That Zaria attack happened at a time many were still coming to terms with news, late on Monday night, that a teenage female suicide bomber failed in her attempt to blow up the popular Umar Ibn Khattab mosque on Zoo road in Kano metropolis, Kano state. Not that the attack was entirely harmless; the bomber died while some members of the vigilante group attached to the church suffered injuries.

The previous day was even bloodier. That Sunday, a suicide bomber killed six people at a branch of the Redeemed Christian Church of God in the Jigawa area of Potiskum, Yobe state. The casualty toll may have been higher, but a Red Cross official and a witness said the attack happened while some members of the church “were still on their way”.

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By evening, Boko Haram had shifted its target from the northeast to the north-central; and by 9pm 44 people were lying motionless and another 47 injured after bombers hit a mosque and a restaurant in Jos, capital of Plateau state. On July 2, the deadliest day of all, 145 Nigerians were murdered over two separate raids on Mussaram I and Mussaram II, Monguno local government area of Borno state. In all, over the last week, there was hardly a day when Boko Haram did not strike.

In the era of Goodluck Jonathan, the social media would have been awash with stinging criticism of the president. But as it seems, Buhari still remains immune to such criticism, prompting questions on whether Nigerians are offering their current president the kind of loyalty that his predecessor did not receive. Did Nigerians desert Jonathan when he needed them to stand by him in the fight against Boko Haram?

YES, THEY DID

It is hard to imagine a time when it didn’t seem that Jonathan was the one directly bombing Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states. Same for the Chibok kidnap. The All Progressives Congress (APC) deployed its highly exaggerative publicity machinery to blame the then president for insurgency. So intense was the media campaign that Boko Haram’s atrocities emerged one of the talking points of the 2015 presidential election. Without the whole Boko Haram campaign, perhaps Jonathan would have won a second term in office and Buhari may never have had even a sniff of the presidency.

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Maybe because Boko Haram went violent in the year preceding Jonathan’s ascendancy (in acting capacity), the killings were novel at the time; even the Niger Delta militancy was more about abduction for ransom than the snuffing of lives. Therefore, the most convenient option was to blame government, so Jonathan got all the flak even if he didn’t deserve it.

NO, THEY DIDN’T

What Nigerians are doing with Buhari in his season of Boko Haram killings has no relationship with words in the ilk of “support” or “loyalty”. The president is simply reaping the reward of the person that he is. In any case, this honeymoon will not last forever.

Compared with Jonathan, Buhari is naturally a more circumspect person and he has had no reason to respond to the killings in a manner that his predecessor did. After more than 80 people were bombed to death in Nyanya, Abuja, in April 2014, Jonathan was dancing away at a PDP rally in Kano two days on. Only a day after at least 48 people were killed in a blast in Potiskum in November 2014, Yobe, the president organised a colourful ceremony to announce his presidential ambition. As long as Buhari does not get involved in actions capable of being interpreted as undermining the grief of victims and their families, he will continue enjoying a measure of support.

Far from loyalty, Buhari is a beneficiary of the willingness of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to run a more responsible opposition in terms of media pronouncements. In Jonathan’s time, APC took advantage of nearly every Boko Haram raid to secure some political capital for itself ahead of the 2015 election. But after the killing of 145 Nigerians across two Borno villages on July 2, PDP released a statement to say it would stand by Buhari in whatever strategies he devised for ending the bloodletting. So far, PDP has conducted its business of opposition politicking in a far more responsible manner than APC managed to; and this cannot be isolated from the cooperation Buhari is currently enjoying from Nigerians.

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9 Comments

  1. sawstonite
    sawstonite July 08, 17:45

    What you conveniently forgot was that it was during Jonathan’s tenure that Boko Haram became more powerful because he failed to take action while the terrorists were yet to acquire more powerful weapons and develop relationship with other terrorists groups. Jonathan also went to sleep for 2 weeks after the Chibok girls were kidnapped and took no action against the military who had 5 hours notice to intercept the kidnappers without taking action. Buhari does not yet own the war against Boko Haram terrorists. In 6-9 months, if the situation remains the same or worse then it will be time to blame Buhari. The terrorists are out right now to prove to Nigerians that Buhari is not capable of taking them on. Once the present government is fully constituted and the defence chiefs replaced, there will be a change of tactics and strategy. What is missing from the current clueless generals is the use of intelligence and a lot of reliance on crude force. It should not be forgotten that all the South African mercenaries recruited by Jonathan have departed as they will not be paid by the new government. They were brought in by Jonathan to present Nigerians with a false sense of achievement for the purpose of the election.

    Reply to this comment
    • Aliba
      Aliba July 08, 18:05

      Your comment and others like yours are the reasons why Nigeria is not moving forward – not taking responsibility. You do not have to remind readers that Jonathan was inept. We know that and he paid for it. But don’t forget that he lost to Buhari because of Boko Haram. Therefore, we have every reason to hold Buhari’s feet to fire for him to justify our trust. Period.

      Reply to this comment
    • VIC
      VIC July 09, 08:46

      Maybe, he should have waited for 6-9months before taking oaths as the C-in-C. APC succeeded in turning the hearts of Nigerians against President Jonathan. Like a sacrificial lamb, he willingly succumbed to APC’s blackmail just for peace to reign. I think it’s high time people like you allowed him a little peace for himself.

      Reply to this comment
  2. Aliba
    Aliba July 08, 17:55

    Its interesting to hear president Buhari asking Nigeirans for time and patience to allow him room to figure out how to degrade and vanquish the notorious Boko Haram torrorists. Jonathan did not get such respite. In fact, some suggested he probably was directing the killings. Buhari might just get his wish. One should not forget that it was the same BH who shot Buhari to power and one would have thought that for him, defeating BH should be in his front burner. Not at all. Rather Buhari wants to consult with neighbors, and the United State; everybody. In other words, Buhari has no plans prior even as Nigerians believe he is the guy for the job. I have no sympathy for Goodluck who allowed his luck to run out due to ineptitude. Isn’t it ironic that under Buhari’s nose, BH has upped its murderous game now encroaching the middlebelt.

    Reply to this comment
  3. Akan
    Akan July 08, 18:45

    If Boko Haram were working for me to get power before they cease their action, I’ll encourage them to bomb some more before we bring our deal to an end. Buhari will certainly end Boko Haram. That not because he’s better than Jonathan but simply because the deed is done.

    Reply to this comment
  4. gabs
    gabs July 09, 11:49

    GEJ was a victim of high powered campaign of propaganda of south west and the hatred the the Northern Nigeria have for south east and south south part of Nigeria. The south west has always been known to employ machinery of propaganda and campaign of calumny during election, and they did that excellently well during last election and it worked for them. A typical northerner will never criticize a fellow northerner even when he is not getting it right, so Buhari will continue to enjoy the support of the north even when he is failing, you can’t get such solidarity from a southerner. Sincerely i do not hope to see PMB do anything significantly more than GEJ because just as GEJ Buhari inherited a weak military. The best PMB can do to make a difference is to lobby for help of international community(western). PMB will continue to enjoy the support of the north come what may, and south west will keep mute since they masterminded rise of APC to power

    Reply to this comment
  5. Isaac Noru
    Isaac Noru July 10, 14:16

    Gabs, you are so right!

    Reply to this comment
  6. Bright
    Bright July 20, 00:46

    PMB has no business being power. How can someone who was shouting that BH can be destroyed in less than three months now running from pillar to post looking for help. When GEJ solicited for help many lovers of APC opened their wide mouth criticising his strategies. When GEJ was there gas pipelines to our power stations were always vandalised, now nothing like dat happens anymore; which is one of d reasons power supply is relatively constant now in so parts of the nation. PMB will work but never shud we expect him to do magic. He is losing d war against BH. He will lose corruption war if he does not follow d rule of law when prosecuting only PDP thieves bcos I know that APC thieves like Ameachi will be spared. God bless Nigeria.

    Reply to this comment
  7. Sam
    Sam April 20, 18:29

    I really agree with Gabs. Although the president has been in power for almost a year now. I guess it’s safe to assume that the so called ‘honeymoon’ is over.

    Reply to this comment

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