The emergency rule prevailing in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States had been received with cautious optimism by a cross-section of Nigerians when the Goodluck Jonathan administration first initiated the idea. Nigerians’ caution was hinged on the need to ensure that as desirable as this measure was (and still is) it would not be abused by the authorities concerned nor used as an excuse to enthrone diarchy or full-blown dictatorship in these embattled states.
At the same time, all compatriots were aware that the Boko Haram uprising which had necessitated the emergency measure in the first place was spiraling out of control at alarming rate. Hence, there was hardly any dissenting voice when the National Assembly approved the President’s request for this drastic measure not once, not twice, but thrice.
It is against this backdrop that when the commander-in-chief of the Federal Republic requested for yet another six-month extension of emergency rule a few weeks ago, pertinent posers flowed from the right, left, and centre. What, for instance, has the measure achieved after nearly two years? And why has it been possible for the dare-devil insurgents to overrun towns and communities in the three Northeast States with aplomb, almost as if Nigeria has no military force in these areas?
These questions particularly popped to the surface following the recent liberation of some of the territories which Boko Haram had annexed by groups of untrained local hunters. Not only did those lion-hearted but ill-equipped hunters ventured where our supposedly well trained and armed-to-the-teeth troops feared to tread, they confronted the lion (insurgents) in their den and conquered them with relative ease. So much so that their patriotism and gallantry put a against-size question mark against the prowess of those being paid to defend Nigeria’s territorial integrity.
Bearing in mind the foregoing narrative, and not forgetting that the President’s bid to secure the National Assembly’s approval for the latest extension was undermined by officialdom’s pig-headed effort to oust the House of Representatives Speaker Aminu Tambuwal, we at DESERT HERALD, like millions of our compatriots across the land, dare say without fear of contradiction that the challenge at hand goes beyond extending the Emergency for a record fourth time.
For the avoidance of doubt, it’s imperative to emphasis that we are not against the President’s latest request per se, nor for that matter any measure that would help exterminate the cancer called insurgency. At the same time, it bears emphasizing that emergency rule, as helpful as it is, cannot on its own curb, let alone end, the raging insurgency. Otherwise, the whole problem would have been dealt with successfully by now (as opposed to a situation whereby the insurgents have continued to enjoy the upper hand).
Consequently, it is our considered opinion that even as the National Assembly is set to consider Jonathan’s request for a further six-month extension, sobering reflection should reign supreme. Issues to reflect upon include the following: Why are complaints of poor welfare and shortage of equipment rampant among our troops despite the princely sums being voted for the anti-terror campaign? And why, despite the pervasive presence of our troops in the three beleaguered states, the insurgents seemingly operate without restraint, taking territories with relative ease?
We agree with those who contend that had the troops not been there, the situation would have been more catastrophic. That may be so, but conventional wisdom, nay common sense, dictates that Nigeria cannot afford to extend Emergency continuously even as our fellow citizens in Yobe, Adamawa, and Borno are being slaughtered like common fowls. Yes to emergency, but an even more emphatic YES to proactive, decisive action!