I have seen that there is no leader over Nigeria, so what should the people do? The people of Israel had a similar experience thousands of years ago, when there was no leader in Israel, and so every man did what was right in their eyes. Boko Haram group struck some churches in Kaduna state on Sunday, June 17, 2012. Ah, this time, the victims or the aggrieved struck back at symbols which, in their opinion, most closely represented the aggressor, Boko Haram. The word that has popped up now is “reprisals”. Now, a new dimension has been introduced into the crisis of bombings in Nigeria.
It is my consistent position that if the leadership fails to provide security to life and property and welfare for the people, then the people do not owe it loyalty; such leadership has compromised its purpose. For a long time Nigerians have suffered as the Jonathan government looked on helplessly as Boko Haram continued to kill innocent Nigerians and desecrate Christian places of worship, killing even women and children. The new dimension of reprisal attacks against Boko Haram provocations has sent across a poignant message that the people have now decided to fight for their safety and honor because the government has failed them. It is only an indicator that the Nigerian government has lost respect, integrity, and the confidence of the people. I saw war in Nigeria before that Sunday of reprisals; it was a deadly experience. The future of Nigeria can be guaranteed by the removal of the current Nigerian leadership and convocation of a sovereign national conference. This removal may come either constitutionally (via impeachment of the president and his deputy) or by a forceful overthrow by a group of patriots who can only be welcome if immediately after doing so, shall surrender Nigeria to her people for a sovereign national conference. The safety and future of Nigeria is greater than the political ambition of one man or his people.
President Jonathan lacks both the moral and mental capacity to lead Nigeria. In truth, he is not leading. The biblical David testified that when a lion and bear came and took one of his sheep, he went after them and smote them. Nigerians are being killed weekly and the president is helpless. I wonder how he manages to sleep with this obvious self-conviction that he has failed the people he should protect; he has not gone after the lions and bears. What other definition of failure of leadership do we seek other than that the shepherd has not gone to look for that one lamb that is lost? When the senate president, David Mark said after the Sunday reprisals that they (“leaders”) would “continue to appeal to people who are responsible [for the spate of violence in Nigeria]” to desist, it further confirmed that we have no leader. Leaders don’t “appeal” to criminals; they apprehend and punish them. What is the use of a country if its leaders can’t defend the people?
Why does President Jonathan lack moral authority to lead? When officials in Jonathan’s government could not answer the simple question on who approved the extra budgetary expenditure on fuel subsidy payments in 2011, Jonathan did nothing. When the fuel subsidy probe exposed to all Nigerians the apparent collaboration of government officials in the fuel subsidy fraud, the president did nothing. The president himself has been directly accused of acts that threatened Nigeria’s security (Refer to Henry Okah’s affidavit sworn to in a South African court this year). The president himself has openly confessed that he has Boko haram members in his government. Does Jonathan lack the power to sack any government official working in the executive arm of government? President Jonathan’s security adviser openly accused Jonathan’s party of being responsible for the monster called Boko Haram. Impunity is an appropriate word that can be used to describe the actions or inactions of Jonathan’s government.
President Jonathan lacks the mental or intellectual dexterity required to lead because he has run out of ideas to maintain security in the land. I should believe that he himself would be bored by any more condolences to victims of Boko Haram attacks. He has no inspiring words for the people of Nigeria. The last time he addressed the nation, he made such terrible pronouncement that threw the University of Lagos students into the streets, leading to a two-week shut-down of that university.
Whenever formal leadership fails, informal leadership is the result. When people feel endangered and there is no help from their formal leaders, they would quickly accept informal leadership that could provide some succour. President Jonathan is insidiously ceding leadership to informal leaders. Should Nigerians wait until more reprisals against perceived and real aggressive actions become so common; what happened in Kaduna only reveals a new way of responding to Boko Haram by the victims. It is not right to call on Christians to leave “vengeance to God.” What happened in Kaduna on that “reprisal Sunday” was a message, harbinger of the deadlier days that lie ahead. Christians in Nigeria, who are at the war front without any protection from the Jonathan government, would be acting in self-annihilation if they do nothing (just like the Jonathan government) and watch their children, wives, and relatives killed every week simply because they have gone to their worship centers to worship. It should not be surprising if they carry guns and other weapons of defence to their churches every week. The response of President Jonathan would determine the next course of action.
When Nehemiah went to re-build the walls of Jerusalem, he and his people faced constant opposition and danger even to their lives. What did they do in such circumstance when they had only them to protect themselves? They went to work with weapons. While they built the walls, they also watched out for the adversary. This will happen in Nigeria should the Jonathan government continue to look on helplessly as the same pattern of attacks continue weekly against the church. What we are caught in is a war. In war, anything is fair. It is only disgusting if the adversary (Boko Haram) threatens to continue attacking Christians and killing even women and children until Christians in Nigeria become Muslims. This is utter nonsense! And if the Nigerian government refrains from stopping this, then even the moderate Christians will find it difficult to restrain reprisal attacks. But I see anarchy because President Jonathan is either incompetent or cowardly.
Recent Judicial pronouncements also threaten anarchy in Nigeria. When the Supreme Court of Nigeria says that the principle of fair hearing in the Nigerian constitution does not keep in abeyance the 180 day-limitation on electoral litigation, and so a litigant “can go to hell” even though his claims have not been duly heard because of deliberate delays occasioned by the respondent, it makes a statement that in 2015 the courts may not be relied upon for determination of electoral disputes. When the Supreme Court bears no compunction upon its soul even as it interprets the constitution in a way that undercuts justice (fair hearing), it has sent out a strong message that it ceases to be the ultimate temple of justice in Nigeria; anarchy is the result.
The Nigerian legislature is presently enmeshed in one scandal and another, with one of its members facing prosecution for his involvement with Boko Haram. A former president recently referred to the legislature in Nigeria (both at the state and national levels) as a gathering of rogues and robbers. The integrity of this arm of government has been rubbished by this spate of scandals—fuel subsidy probe scandal, pension fund probe scandal, capital market probe scandal, and the electricity expenditure probe scandal. Although there have been no definitive judicial convictions in any of those scandals, the image of the legislature has not been helped by them.
Therefore, the executive, judicial, and legislative arms of the PDP-led government have only acted to create a state of anarchy in Nigeria. We the people are left with one option—the creation of informal leadership for self-protection and survival in this state of anarchy.
Leonard Karshima Shilgba is an Associate Professor of Mathematics with the American University of Nigeria and chair of the Middle Belt Alliance (www.middlebeltalliance.org )