- Category: POLITICS
- Published on Wednesday, 15 August 2012 23:11
- Written by Oluwatoyin Adepoju
I am uncomfortable with this ASUU communique below. I appreciate all other points it makes but I consider its submission on insecurity in Nigeria as a lazy summation. It looks lazy to me because it lumps all the security problems in the country under one umbrella. I consider that dangerous because there is a world of difference
between other security problems and the menace of Islamic terrorism, represented by Boko Haram, manifest as the bombs ASUU referred to.
Even if one grants or leaves open to debate the question of the relationship between Boko Haram and social injustice, its character as an expression of violent Islamic extremism, a phenomenon centred in the ideological vision of the absolute supremacy of Islamic civilisation, an ideology at play in the struggles to enforce a harsh forms of Sharia by Islamic militants in Mali, Kenya, , Somalia and Afghanistan, cannot be ignored.
The effort to ignore the ideological roots of Boko Haram while focusing on the so called poverty factor has been a ploy of a good number of vocal Muslims from Northern Nigeria, the home of Boko Haram. Foremost among these voices are some members of the region's political, economic and religious elite, people who found their voices after Boko Haram gathered deadly momentum, vocals figures who steadfastly refuse to acknowledge the existence of violent radical Islam as expressed in Boko Haram.
This focus on social injustice issues feeds into a politicisation of the problem by focusing on the Jonathan administration as the embodiment of problems accumulated from decades of mismanagement of Nigeria, a strategy that cannot be divorced from the bitterness of a significant number of Northerners of the Presidency slipping from their grasp in 2011 and endless strategising to get it back in 2015.
Hovering over the entire scenario is the absolute concept for the Nigerian state exorcised by Northern Nigerian politicians like Abubakar Atiku, who promised violent change because a Northerner did not become President, a threat that preceded the escalation and outright anti-government politicisation of Boko Haram terror after the present government was sworn in.
I suspect ASUU found itself in this position because it could not work out how to present a more carefully crafted communique, particularly since it seems to have a chairman from Northern Nigerian, many vocal members of whom pretend as if extremist Islam does not exist as a trans-national ideological and military force, and that once Nigeria's problems of management are solved all will be well.
I will be circulating debates from Nigerian centred groups that demonstrate the urgent need to fight Boko Haram at both military and ideological levels.
An aspect of this ideological struggle is the fight against the perception represented by what one one Boko Haram justifier described of the terrorist group as fighting against a 'corrupt secular government' to which I replied, is the antidote for such a government the purity of Islamic extremism achieved through large scale murder?
We must not allow the noose to tighten around Nigerian because we did not keep our eyes open.
I also suspect that the position expressed on the idea of a Sovereign National Conference is less than robust.
I think so because it seems increasingly clear that the problem of Nigeria is operating on two major levels.
Unifying those two levels is the question of citizenship- what does it mean to be a Nigerian?
This question relates to issues of loyalty to the nation which one considers oneself to be a member of. If one is loyal to one's nation, is one likely to impoverish the nation for one's private ends?
Many Nigerians have little or no loyalty to Nigeria. My membership of Igbo centred and Hausa/Fulani centred egroups in particular convinces me that the image of Nigeria possessed by various ethnicities is not one of a cohesive national force.
The more disturbing cases among some Igbos shows them seeing themselves as hostages in a country still at war with Igbos even decades after the end of the Nigerian Civil War. The more egregious cases among the Hausa/Fulani shows a level of contempt for the Jonathan government and a readiness to trash its efforts that cannot be purely a response to perceived performance but perhaps, if I may speculate, a deeply rooted sense of being cheated, in the person of a Southern President, of what should be theirs.
Other egroups I belong to, the vocal members of the Binis in Edo state and a group in Ogun state whose agitations I have been exposed to, show a scramble to position themselves in the most advantageous position in the sun of national opportunities, placing as second place the principles of justice based upon qualifications. A rallying cry has been 'If others are doing it, why shouldn't we?'
Personally, I don't see how the country can develop without the creation of a cohesive sense of national belonging.
I wonder if that can be achieved by simply asking politicians to stop being corrupt.
In a country that exists only to serve the interests of you and your group, why should you safeguard the interests of the whole?
Ideas about developing this sense of unity, however they are presented, a Sovereign National Conference, among them, cannot be dismissed.
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) yesterday condemned what it called the inept attitude of the Jonathan administration to curtail the activities of Boko Haram and other criminal vices across the country.
Arising from its National Executive Council meeting, held at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, ASUU President, Dr. Nasir F. Isa, said the insecurity problem in Nigeria was an expression of the people’s anger over the high level of injustice against the masses, hunger, deprivation and failure of government to tackle corruption squarely.
Addressing newsmen at the end of the NEC meeting, Isa, with the union’s immediate past president, Prof. Ukachukwu Awuzie, challenged governments at all levels to make the security and welfare of the citizens their priority, regretting that in spite of the huge budgetary allocation to security, bombings, kidnappings and armed robbery had become a daily occurrence.
The union also noted that the spiral increase in the prices of essential commodities, low standard of living and joblessness had pushed many citizens into criminal activities.
It said: “The spate of insecurity in the country has continued unabated. On daily basis, the newsstands are awash with reports of bombings, kidnappings, assassinations, armed robberies, arson, and related acts of violence perpetrated against the Nigerian people and foreigners alike.
“There are also reports of spiral inflation and phenomenal increase in commodity prices, leading to food insecurity and reduction in standard of living across the country.
“Joblessness, homelessness, and decreasing access to education and other indices of underdevelopment now characterize our national life.”
Expressing worry that crime and corruption were assuming new dimension in the country, the union said, “Frightening dimension of insecurity today is the increasing phenomenon of crude oil theft”, adding that “about 50 percent of Nigeria’s total production is pilfered”.
ASUU condemned proposals for a Sovereign National Conference, maintaining that what the country needed was a change of attitude on the part of its leaders.
According to it, “Sovereign National Conference has never worked anywhere. The recent example is that of Sudan, even though the South Sudan has gained independence, peace has not returned in that place; so the fundamental issues of corruption and looting of public fund should be addressed.
“There is high level of injustice in the country; a situation where somebody who steals N1,000 is sentenced to one year imprisonment and then a politician steals billions of naira and, through plea bargaining, he is sentenced to six months imprisonment is not acceptable to the people.
“People are noting these injustices in the land and they express their disaffection in negative ways.”
Isa, however, challenged the federal government on the full implementation of the 2012 budget stressing that the politicisation of the budget would not augur well for the country.
He added: “I don’t want to say whether President Jonathan should be impeached or not, but ASUU demands that the budget should be fully implemented. We recall that this controversy has become perennial and in fact a yearly affair.
“To this end, the union condemns the unnecessary politicisation of the budget implementation and calls on the Federal Executive Council and National Assembly to get their acts together and do all that it takes to enhance the economic well-being of the citizenry on a sustainable basis.”
Citing the Rivers State University of Science and Technology (RSUST) as an example, the union condemned what it described as “undue interference of state governors in state university administration”.
It also faulted the renaming of universities in the country as well as visit of the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) to the University of Nigeria and other universities in the country, describing it as illegal.