President Jonathan, It is Time To Own Your Honour, By Omano Edigheji

Mothers of abducted Chibok Schoolgirls

Your Excellency, Dr. President Jonathan, I am using this medium to urge you to urgently relocate and operate the seat of power from Borno State for a week.  You can then spend a week each in Yobe and Adamawa states. Demonstrate to Nigerians and the world that you are president of all parts of Nigeria, and that you are not only President of Aso Rock.

Dr. President, some of the “yes men and women” who surround you would read this and tell you to ignore it because they are likely to allege that I want your administration to fail, as they have done to most people who have pointed to the failings of your government.  That will be far from the truth. I supported your aspiration to become president and I made modest contributions to you assuming the office of president following the death of your predecessor, and subsequently supported your campaign to win the 2011 election.

This piece is motivated not by my religion or place of birth but by two reasons – patriotism and the need to #BringBackOurGirls live and now. My commitment is to Nigeria and its people, and I will support any administration that can secure the lives and properties of all Nigerians, irrespective of religious and ethnic backgrounds; promote social justice and transform the structure of our economy and society to be more inclusive.  Dr. President, your various missteps since you assumed the presidency following the election have made me question my support for your administration, and I am sure most people that supported your aspiration to become president feel the same way, especially those that want Nigeria to progress.

I beg and urge you to relocate the seat of power to and operate from Borno, Yobe and Adamawa for three weeks, one week each in the three states.  I am appealing to you to take this important step because your inability to put an end to Boko Haram terrorism and to #BringBackOurGirls is eroding the confidence of Nigerians and the international community in your government.  And it is making Nigerians, especially those in the affected states more unsafe; helpless; and hopeless.  Extending the period of emergency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa must be accompanied by your commitment to truly secure the lives of citizens living in those states.

The erosion of confidence in your government is not the work of yesterday’s men and women, or those that your yes wo/men conceived as being bitter. It is also not due to the main opposition party.  After all, Hillary Clinton and Senator John McCain, who have criticized your handling of Boko Haram, are not yesterday’s men and women, neither are they bitter nor members of the APC. Rather, the erosion of the credibility of your government among Nigerians and the international community is primarily because it has failed in its primary responsibility to Nigerians, that of protecting their lives and properties. It is not clear to citizens and the world what your government is doing to ensure that Nigerians live in a safe society. If anything, it seems your government is telling Nigerians OYO (ON-YOU-OWN) when it comes to protecting their lives and properties.

Your government recently missed an important opportunity to showcase to the global community that Nigeria is a rising economic power. Having claimed the position of the largest economy in Africa following the rebasing of the Nigerian economy, the just-concluded World Economic Forum for Africa (WEFA) offered your administration a good opportunity  to showcase Nigeria to the world as a rising economic power, even though the poor standard of living of the majority of Nigerians is unaffected by the rebasing. However, your administration squandered such an important moment because of its poor handling of the kidnapping of over 200 Chibok school girls. As a consequence, most participants at the WEFA rightly focused on #BringBackOurGirls and the insecurity in Nigeria.  The WEFA was an occasion to tell the world that Nigeria is a good place for investment. I am sure that you are aware that some firms and individuals that were to attend cancelled their participation at the WEFA in Abuja because of the insecurity in the country, exemplified by the kidnapping of our daughters, the Chibok schoolgirls. Throughout this entire fiasco, nobody has lost his/her job for the poor handling of the kidnapping.

The poor handling by your administration of the kidnapping of these girls is beyond imagination. It shows the incompetence of your government. How can key officials of your administration claim that most of the girls have been released only for that claim to be false? Kema Chikwe, the National Women Leader of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), of which you are the leader, tried to deny that the girls were kidnapped, and that the whole episode was an attempt to discredit your government. This was followed by the show of shame by the first lady. One of your ardent supporters, Mujahid Dokubo-Asari, who will want Nigeria to break up if you do not win the 2015 presidential election, followed suit by allegedly leading an anti-BringBackOurGirls campaign.

In all of the above, as president, you have not sanctioned anybody for the federal government’s poor handling of the kidnapping of these girls, nor have you disassociated your presidency from any of utterances that questioned the veracity of the kidnapping of the Chibok girls.  This general incompetence and lack of empathy has been displayed by your Excellency. A competent president would not have told the world that he doesn’t know where the girls are. A competent president would not have waited for about two weeks before addressing the nation and the world about the kidnapping of over 200 schoolgirls. A competent president would have visited the scene of the kidnapping a day after the incident. A competent president would have visited and comforted the parents of the kidnapped schoolgirls.

Dr. President Jonathan, you have yet to visit Chibok a month after the incident! We have just received the news that a reported planned visit by you has been cancelled because of security concerns. Another missed step!  If Chibok is not safe for the Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, how safe is it for the people of the community? Dr. President, you have yet to comfort the parents of the girls in person! You have yet to comfort the Chibok community and the people of Borno State! Dr. President, have you not seen President Barack Obama being the Comforter-in-Chief whenever there is tragedy in the US?  Presidents are supposed to be double C-I-Cs (Commander-In-Chief and Comforter-In- Chief). You have failed on both counts. Dr. President, what are you telling Nigerians and the world? All of the missteps of the federal government support the proposition that Nigeria is on auto-pilot.

It is unfathomable that you or anybody in your administration has deemed it fit to address the rallies and vigils taking place at Fountain Square, Abuja to #BringBackOurGirls.  A caring president would have gone to address the rallies to show support and to use them as platforms to mobilize Nigerians in support of the Chibok schoolgirls and against Boko Haram.

Your Excellency, you have shown a nonchalant attitude towards the fight against terrorism, and some of the steps of your government and the Yar’Adua government of which you were Vice President may have unwittingly aided terrorism and kidnapping in the country. Here, I am referring to the amnesty programme for the so-called Niger Delta militants, some of whose actions were criminal in nature.  Billions of naira is spent yearly on the amnesty programme. Through this programme, you unwittingly tell the youth in other parts of the country that terrorist activities pay. It is no wonder that some are advocating amnesty for Boko Haram.  Until you vigorously enforce the law against kidnapping and terrorism, and demonstrate qualities of a leader who wants to end terrorism, corruption and other acts of criminality,  Nigeria and Nigerians are in trouble and unsafe. Continued insecurity will make it difficult to attract local and international investors, with the attendant consequences of increasing unemployment, under-employment and poverty.

Dr. President, you were not elected to give excuses about the challenges facing Nigeria, but to solve them. Take urgent steps to end the Boko Haram insurgency. Bring Boko Haram and other terrorist organisations, including armed Niger Delta militants, to book. But this should not be an excuse to suppress political opponents who have no hand in terrorism. Also, this should not be an excuse for further human rights violations in the North East. This is a call to action. Enhance the capacity of our armed forces, improve their conditions of service, provide them with the necessary equipment, and give them better training to enable them defeat all terrorist organisations. Mobilize ordinary citizens in this effort. It is also important that, Dr. President formulate a comprehensive reconstruction and development programme for the North East to among others create income generating opportunities for people in the zone. The programmes also need to have strong social elements to be put young people in the area into schools, and provide general access to healthcare.

It behooves the Nigerian political elite to join hands with the government to defeat terrorism because unabated terrorist acts will destroy Nigeria and consumed the elite. Therefore, working with the present administration is in their self interest. The government must however, provide the leadership.

Dr. President, we want nothing less than a concerted fight by your administration to defeat terrorism, including Boko Haram and to #BringBackOurGirls now and alive. In this, your administration will have an overwhelming support of Nigerians. If you and your administration cannot #BringBackOurGirls live and now, you should resign immediately to save Nigeria and its people from the stranglehold of terrorists and other criminal organizations and individuals.

Kindly  follow Dr. Omano Edigheji on twitter @OmanoE


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