In the past few days some concerted and vigorous efforts are being made by leaders of the Islamic North of Nigeria to change the world's opinion as to what constitutes the truth about the Islamic fundamentalist group, Boko Haram. The campaign statements of these leaders have been so loud such that in just a few days listeners' ears are almost deafened and the air waves so inundated. Now people are beginning to ask why the sudden shift from deafening silence and, on many occasions even egging on the group, to such a high pitched dissociation or differentiation and explaining. What changed? Before now the rest of the world has continued to ask, what does the Northern leaders say about the excessive Islamic killings and other abhorrent activities of the group which the world community has unanimously classified as an Islamic terrorist group based out of Nigeria's North and modeled after the Taliban terrorist cell of the Middle East/Southeast Asia and North Africa.
Now what you are hearing from the Northern leaders is a complete volte-face of what had been and what the people were used to. It is even being reported that Boko Haram is now disclaiming all their former claims in the recent time, such as the Madalla Church and other churches bombing and machine-gunning of Christians across Northern Nigeria. What a smart move. Jean Herskovits and the rest of them are proving to be smart political strategists but in this case they are a little step behind. The cat is already out of the bag. They will need to try harder to sell this ice to the Eskimos. The script they are reading from is simple enough and does not need much sophistication to unravel.
The script according to Ms. Herskovits and co says to the Muslim North; do not make this battle appear as a fight between Christians and Muslims even though everyone knows that it is. It doesn't matter, the majority of the people is gullible and will always sincerely believe only what you want them to believe. Even when they see, hear and know a different reality, they will only believe what you tell them to believe especially if the telling is coming from foreign "pundits" and news media. Use reputable foreign media outlets like the New Times and tell the world that Boko Haram of the North of Nigeria is fighting injustice.
When they ask you what injustice? Tell them poverty, unemployment and lack of infrastructure in the North of Nigeria. Since it is a Southern Christian President that is in power, you must be careful not to say you are fighting against the presidency of the Southern Christian just because you have always believed that you are born to rule. Tell the world that poverty and underdevelopment are more in the North and that the people there live on $2 or less per day and it is because of the leadership failings of the Southern Christian President who has just been in power for less than two years. You must close the people's mind from remembering that the Muslim Northern and Western leaders had been in power for nearly fifty years out of Nigeria's fifty years of independence. Can any political game plan be simpler than that and be more effective. Of course not, the simpler and more absurd, the more effective it will be, that is the reality of how most backward human beings process social and political information. That is what makes them backward, anyway.
What baffles some of us about Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria's President and the other Christian politicians from the Southeast is that they seem not to understand the game of politics or are too naïve to play the tough game. But the truth is that with the power of incumbency they can do better than what they are currently doing. Look at it, Nasir el-Rufai and the other Muslim North politicians have finally found the lines they think is convincing enough to repeat to a world they presume to be completely bereft of reasoning power. They chant them as by rote at every given opportunity and, for them it's a masterstroke, as they smile and nod to one another at how smart they are and how gullible the rest people can be.
These things are game plans. Before now the Muslim North leaders had seemed to be caught unawares. They would not say much until they could find some plausible explanations. But they have finally found their voice; much of the killings and bombings are after all not the actions of the Boko Haram group. Boko Haram could not have worn jeans; they wear kaftans, so said el-Rufai as he struggled in gallant defense of the Boko Haram group. So, the bombers and killers are not Muslims but Southern Christians, he continues, who bomb churches and kill Christians and impute the crimes on the Muslim Boko Haram. Such claims by the Northern elite and leaders cannot surprise any locals like some of us who have witnessed cases in the local market places when thieves were being chased and in the midst of the crowd confusions, the bold ones would deftly and almost magically melt into the pursuing crowd and shift the crowd's attention from themselves to some unfortunate innocent ones in the crowd and in the process quietly walk away scot-free.
The Northern and Western Muslims of Nigeria have over the years used the oil money to secure the friendship and sympathy of people like Jean Herskovits, John Campbell, the former United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Andrew Young and some others who write and get published in reputable news outlets around the world and thereby make their falsified stories about the truth of the situations in Nigeria appear authentic. Why is the table turned this way? Why would not the Southeastern Christian politicians spend a little bit of money on public relations? This is sad. The same mistake was made by Emeka Ojukwu and the others in the Biafra of the 1960s, they allowed the Northern and Western Muslims of Nigeria to use the oil which is located within the Southeastern region, Biafra to negotiate with and secure the alliance of the Western countries such as Britain and the then USSR. Biafra should have mortgaged the oil in their land to secure their freedom but they failed to do just that and the Muslim North and West which have no oil used Biafra's oil instead. Jonathan today has the advantage of history to work with. He must not let himself be slaughtered by the Northern and Western Muslims of Nigeria like they did to Aguiyi Ironsi who refused to listen to the fact that the North wanted to kill him until they did. In spite of all the warnings he still retained around him the Northern elements who would murder him. He acted stupidly on that count. Ojukwu on his part had the advantage of oil within his territory but he failed to avail himself of that advantage and he lost the Biafra War as a result. That was stupid, too.
Jonathan and the rest of the Southeastern Christian politicians must not let the same history to repeat. It would be foolhardy and no one will shed any tears for them. Let them act boldly, be creative, make the first move rather than react to the moves of the Muslim North and West of Nigeria. They should shop around the world for supporters and sympathizers who would write and talk in favor of their own position. They must never make the mistake of thinking that because they are Christians some of the Western nations will support them if they would not negotiate and lobby with the money and oil within their territory. Nigeria will not survive any much longer; they had better get used to it and start winning friends and supporters around the world while they have the time. And these potential friends will not do it for nothing. They will need money for logistics and operating expenses. That my friends, cannot be regarded as corruption.
To gain the confidence and support of countries and corporate bodies around the world you must be very clear with them on what economic gains that they stand to get out of the relationship. The Muslim North that conceived and equipped Boko Haram may still want to hold off for a little longer hence they are using people like Ms. Herskovits to buy time. But it is too late now and the North as always is prepared to fight dirty. Jonathan and co should not be deceived and cannot afford to relax their guard at any time. The Muslim North has got enough war materials and weapons and men to match the so-called Nigerian military in combat for several months if Jonathan and co are banking on that. The people behind Boko Haram are the same people who are out right now campaigning vigorously and disclaiming the claims of the group. Someone would want to ask if their disclamations do not make them look childish and stupid. No, that is politics and some people call such dirty politics but they get away with it and that is what matters.
You can choose to beat them rather than join them. Jonathan and co must put together the only effective plan of action that is available to them; partition Nigeria. Let the groups that have commonality of interests and world views merge if they so wish and go their separate ways. Nigeria as it is will never work. It's absolutely stupid to continue to hold off the day that can as well come today. It's a tough and pragmatic decision like this at a time like this that distinguishes the man. Nigeria's greatest and only problem is its diversity. So, Boko Haram instead of being Nigeria's problem is rather the solution, if Jonathan can do the right thing.