Mr Femi Adesina is Special Adviser on Media to the Nigerian President. The above article was his inaugural weekly post.
That a seasoned journalist like Femi Adesina is writing flippantly about the Boko Haram and Bandits is a disturbing indication of the term, OYO( On Your Own). It is a pointer to the stance of Mr Adesina and his fellow “personal staff” on the President’s commitment to National matters.
Femi Adesina does not even remember the date the President made the momentous declaration of his “willingness” to “negotiate” with Boko Haram ( and other miscreants?). Thus Femi writes,”Sometime in the early days,..”.Shocking. In other climes, the Public is continuously reminded of this pledge. Femi does not remember the simple date.
On National Chagrin
Dear Femi, you are right on one point: The collective national sense of chagrin. The chagrin was great then It still is great. Certainly you’ve not lost a loved one in a senseless war. I do not need to know how to “fire” a catapult – to pluck a mango. I do not need to know how to handle a gun, to know that my President misstepped, so early in his Administration. You have this unfortunate penchant of talking down on critics. Always have at the back of your mind,the poet, Chris Okigbo’s admonition:
And This From Jadum:
- And there are here
- the errors of the rendering…
- In ordinary language, Okigbo was advising us to listen to what even a madman, “Jadum”, was saying. In them are nuggets of wisdom. But, you, Femi, believe, we, the entire country, dared not and should not point out any errors, the President makes. Haba!
- You write as if President Buhari wrote the epochal The Art of War. You write as if President Buhari does not need an Army or Commanders or Security advisers or inputs from anybody. Your oblique reference to catapult ( and David’s catapult) shows that disdain. After all, David killed Goliath. Wrong analogy, my brother. Boko Haram is not bigger than the Nigerian Armed Forces. You write as if Buhari can singlehandedly march into the Northeast and annihilate BH. I know he’s not that vain. Otherwise, he would not have insisted truculently on retaining the Service Chiefs. If I may ask Femi,what is an assault weapon? Which weapon,in the strictest sense,is not an assault weapon? After all,the Masters of unarmed combat, can with a woman’s hair comb, kill a man. We are not Israelis, so the whole nation cannot be soldiers or had military training. How I wish otherwise !But, sir, we can complain. We can grumble. It’s a Constitutional Right. Indeed, since our fathers, mothers, sons and daughters, are, in one way or the other, involved or have been scarred and scared, by the crazy Boko Haram, we must talk.
- On Negotiations
- You do possess a high sense of righteousness. The “bitter Enders”, who called you names, were making a point, but, from your high throne, you chose not to hear their argument. That’s why I quoted Chris Okigbo, for you. Nobody should be ignored. Well, Mr Adesina, while all conflicts must end at the negotiation table,after you have “pulverised” the enemy. After you have beaten him to “pulp”,you realise that you have the upper hand, but, you wonder at his spirit. So, you ask for talks. You write with Beautiful naivety and ignorance. A negotiation does not necessarily mean,peace or surrender, by either party. In war, either you or the enemy can feign retreat. It usually is either to trap the enemy or to regroup, restrategize and thus gain time. In that situation, you call for a truce.
Chief Femi, let me ask you. A few years ago, when you lashed out at politicians who promised but didn’t deliver or did nothing at all,were those diatribes, mere political ground gaining? Here we are, 10 years on, still losing loved ones, in a useless, senseless war,in which you termed Boko Haram, “vermin”,I ask you, did we vote for negotiation and “deradicalisation”( whatever that means!)? No. We voted, as you categorically stated, to stamp out vermin.We voted for the complete destruction of Boko Haram. It was a non-negotiable plan. At what point did that change? You agreed that there are foreigners, in the ISWAP/BH camp. So, how was it decided that all those you “deradicalised” are Nigerians? Was there any Biblical test of Shibboleth? You “deradicalise” them, foreigners and all – bear in mind that once you have the rudiments of weapon handling,or in your words,how to fire an assault weapon,you never forget – then, you release them to Bornu and Zamfara States, with unnecessary fanfare. The two Governments are Ill -prepared, ill-equipped, for the psycho-social resettlement of these wild, young, restless, former fighters. The only discipline they have had so far, is the ability to point the assault weapon at an enemy and pull the trigger. The gun is on permanent automatic.
Mr Adesina, this is a riposte. I intend to reply you even more fully later. The days when you shout people down is over. As Nigerians,are wont to say, “na you de give me food?”. Can you imagine that Party faithfuls can dare the National Chairman of the ruling Party? In years past, could anyone have dared? Nigerians don’t care if President Buhari was a corporal. After all, Hitler was a corporal. Napoleon was a mere captain, as were Sankara, Jerry Rawlings, Blaise Campaore, Winston Churchill. As for Generals, who became Civilian Presidents, we have George Washington, Eisenhower, Al Sissi, and our own inimitable Olusegun Obasanjo. In fact, Obasanjo fought so hard that he was assigned to receive the Instrument of Surrender from one Mr Philip Effiong, of Biafra. We voted in 2015, that since, President Jonathan was a” bloody civilan” and didn’t have the liver to prosecute the Boko Haram war, let us try Buhari. Were we wrong to have chosen him to end the war? He promised. 5 whole years on, all we get are promises. Femi, please note that: You negotiate from a position of strength. No two equally matched foes, will ever agree to sit down. In Chess, you ask for a draw when the chances for a stalemate is very low. By announcing that you are willing to negotiate, you gave Boko Haram the wrong signal. Your reference to the recent US-Taliban Agreement,is wrongly read:1) the Taliban are apparently the most ” moderate” of the numerous warring parties in Afghanistan; and the US needs an “ally” for the weak Government of Abdullah Abdullah; 2) recall that during the Post signing Press Conference, the US Secy of State, Mr Pompei, assured ominously that if the Taliban reneges, the US will come down on them. That is the position of strength,sir. Thus, on Fri,5Mar 2020, when there was gunfire and violence at an occasion, Mr Abdullah was attending, the Talibans, were screeching hysterically that they had no hand in it, 3) this is Election Year and Mr Trump will say and do anything to ensure the “boys” are safe.
On the Nigerian Armed Forces
The Nigerian Armed Forces rank among the best in the world. No Army, not since the Spartans, can endure what our soldiers endure. Honestly, while agreeing with you that we want the guns silent, as fast as possible, I firmly believe that a complete change of tactics, must be used. I don’t agree that the President should change the Service Chiefs,in the middle of the game. It’s not done. In 1945, the British waited till after the 2nd World War, then, packed Mr Churchill out of No10 Downing Street.
The Nigerian Army has 7 Fit and Fighting Divisions. Why can’t the Army High Command send in at least three Divisions?Using the time-tested Principles of war – and other ingenious tactics,after all, you said that all’s fair in war, including Genghis khan’s scorched earth policy, I believe by Easter, Boko Haram will be history.
To save lives, the Nigerian Military must take radical decisions:1) Burn down Sambisa Forest completely. “Advise all villages to pack out in 1 day. We know that when violence threatens, nobody pauses to reminisce. 2) Encirclement. Encircle Sambisa Forest with the Navy covering Lake Tchad, the Airforce overhead 24/7 to mount aerial surveillance. Then Burn the Forest down! 3) Disband the Multinational Joint Task Force( MNJTF). A “secret” between two people is insecure enough, among three or four people, it’s an open “secret”.
You know what I mean.