Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Buhari: Time To Change Strategy

By Sunny Ikhioya
Strategy is the path, course or way we choose to attain our goals. There are many strategies. What succeeds in one clime may not in another. We have not been adopting the right strategies to the challenges facing this country and that is why we are still adrift. What are the goals and vision of Nigeria as a nation? It is a united, peaceful, strong and prosperous nation. How close are we to attaining these goals? Very far, the reason is that we keep applying the same remedy to the same problem without success and successive regimes have been guilty of this.
The present government is threading the same path and will get the same result unless it re-directs its course. Not a few of us are agreed of the fact that President Muhammadu Buhari represents the best hope for the stabilization of this country, at this point in our history. This is why his coming was greeted with general acceptance from every part of the country.
Even President Goodluck Jonathan’s trouble shooter, Chief E K Clark did a u-turn and welcomed his coming. There was relative peace in the land from the south to the north in the first two months after the elections; even the dreaded Boko Haram was silent. Nine months into the government, disillusionment is beginning to set in and pockets of resistance are beginning to spring up here and there. How did the regime squander the goodwill it received then? Will it continue to hold the past government responsible for its inactions? Don’t we know already that the past government performed woefully? Is that not why they were voted out? Were we not promised change and no less? President Muhammadu Buhari The principal thing in the movement forward for this country is peace and tranquility, we can only get that if we are united with a common purpose, every time this country has moved forward in terms of development, there has been almost unanimity of purpose by all. Before the coming of the military, the regions were run autonomously and each progressed accordingly.
The Yakubu Gowon years, backed by oil money also witnessed a period of happiness for Nigerians, even the devastation caused by the civil war was ameliorated to a great extent but outside these two regimes, what have we seen? The enthronement of mediocrity by successive rulers: ethnicity, cronyism, sectional interests, religious acrimonies and glaring inequitable distribution of our common wealth, through shameless manipulations and rationalisations. Let us not deceive ourselves, until we address the challenge of ‘oneness’ in this country, we will make no progress. No economic miracle can address that, even if you bring in the best brains, the people must be willing to be led. Nine months after, why are the pockets of resistance on the rise? The government must avoid situations where dissidents manifest.
It is always better to talk than to allow them to go underground. Ben Ezeamalu writing in the February 1 edition of Sahara Reporters quoted Max Abrahms thus; “History shows that terrorist groups are extra ordinarily difficult to snuff out once they have reached a critical mass. The truth is that terrorism is very easy to perpetrate.” The solution to checking insurgency is openness, equity and proper rule of law. When you allow the law to take its course naturally, without any interference, the people will be open to your intentions but when the law courts have made pronouncements and you use wisdom and logic to do otherwise, then it is obvious that you are only adding fuel to the already ignited fire.
President Muhammadu Buhari is still suffused with the military culture. Unfortunately, with what the world has come to realise, extreme force does not give you results. We must begin to apply very effective means of communication between the government and various interest groups. Government decisions must not be seen to be biased or favoring particular interests. Speaking in Addis Ababa as reported in the Vanguard of February 1, 2016, President Muhammadu Buhari said; “The theft of the oil market by some Nigerians who happen to live there who feel that the oil belongs to them and not the country is an irritating thing for those of us who participated in the civil war for 30 months in which at least 2million Nigerians were killed”.
Such a statement is inappropriate at this point in our history, where various ethnic groups are clamouring for their freedom to determine how their God given resources are managed. Is Buhari telling us that the north participated in the civil war because of the oil in the Niger Delta? Before then, what was the formula for revenue sharing accruing to the nation? With the sacrifices of the Niger Delta to the development of this country, they surely deserve a better treatment, instead of spiteful and disdainful comments that will further incite the people. Why are the oil wells ceded to people from other parts of the country and not indigenes of the place? Why can’t the people enjoy the fruits of their sufferings, that is fruits from the environmental degradation of their land, severe health risks and pillaging by international oil companies and the federal and state governments? Such are the causes of insurgency in the land.
The solution to Nigeria’s problem lies in a total restructuring of the system. First do away with the over bloated and wasteful central government and allow the states and regions to determine their resources. They will then be free to collaborate with whoever and whatever neighbouring states that they deem fit. We should not take the issue of insurgency lightly, at least the Boko Haram has shown us enough of that. You can only look at Iraq, Syria and Libya to see a vivid picture of what happens when insurgents are allowed to thrive. 
As I was rounding up this piece, news just came that a foreign vessel has been hijacked in the Nigerian waters, this has not happened for some years now. Are we going back to the dark days in the south south waters? Do we have the wherewithal to contain the Boko Haram, Niger Delta militants and Biafran separatists simultaneously, if push turns to shove? Our strategists must analyze the situation carefully and advise the government correctly. History has shown that you achieve more with talking than to war-war, without peace and unity; there cannot be any economic or political progress.
Sunny Ikhioya, a commentator on public issues.

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