Nigerians have expressed reservations about the Federal Government’s willingness to accept the US government’s offer to assist in identifying the sponsors of Boko Haram, which has waged an insurgency war against Nigeria for the past 12 years.
Some security experts, former diplomats, and leaders of some socio-cultural/civil society organizations in the country believe that accepting the proposal is the best option for the country at this time, but they are wary of President Muhammadu Buhari’s reaction.
Remember that during a round-table discussion on US-Nigeria military cooperation with journalists in Abuja last Monday night, US Ambassador to Nigeria Mary Beth Leonard stated that her country was eager to partner with Nigeria in identifying Boko Haram sponsors.
Dennis Amachree, a former Assistant Director of the Department of State Services, stated that the United States had been open to assisting Nigeria, particularly in the fight against terrorism, but that the question now was whether the Federal Government would accept the current gesture.
“Are we prepared to arrest and prosecute these sponsors if they are exposed?” he asked. Are we just going to lock them up like we have in the past? These are the concerns, and if we do not address them, Americans may lose interest. Nigeria would be wise to accept the offer, as the country is at a crossroads and will gratefully accept any assistance. When the US agrees to help Nigeria, it means they’ll bring some of their cutting-edge technology with them, boosting Nigerian security agencies’ capabilities.”
Rear Admiral Godwill Siempre Ombo, a former Naval Chief, simply stated, “These are touchy questions.” Who truly wants to put an end to problems in his or her life if he or she is unwilling to accept help to do so?”
According to Prof. Bola Akinterinwa, former Director-General of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), “if the Nigerian government is serious about ending Boko Haram, the government should consider it as an opportunity to be taken advantage of.”
“I recall the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, accusing the international community, particularly the big powers, of blocking all Nigerian efforts to deal with the Boko Haram group in 2020, either in July or August,” he continued.
“By that time, Lai Mohammed was accusing the US, the major powers, and their allies, holding them responsible for the Nigerian government’s inability to contain the Book Haram insurgency.
“Now, a year later, the United States is offering to help figure out who is doing what and who is funding the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria. It will be illogical for the Nigerian government to accuse the big powers of blocking their efforts in 2020, and then refuse to de-block your alleged efforts now that they have been de-blocked.
“What I’m saying is that the first point is that the Nigerian government requested assistance, but it was allegedly denied. It is only logical to accept now that the United States has offered the option of de-blocking.
“The second point is that Nigerians have been urging President Buhari to seek international assistance in combating Boko Haram. If the government agrees, he will be fulfilling a public demand that Boko Haram cannot be defeated without international assistance. So, if they accept the help, it is in keeping with the Nigerian public’s spirit.
“Third, the reason we should support the United States in revealing is that Nigerians have been accusing the Nigerian government of knowing all those responsible for Boko Haram.
“Theophilus Danjuma had previously accused the military of supporting Boko Haram. The meeting with Boko Haram commanders was reported by Dr. Malaifa Obadiah.
“On Channel TV just last week, Commodore Omowunmi said that nothing happened to the people they arrested for Boko Haram from 2007 to 2009, and that the government is aware of this. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has stated that a Fulanisation agenda is in the works. So, if Nigerians know who is in charge but won’t say it, we’ll need the help of a country like the United States to reveal the truth.”
Emmanuel Yawe, a spokesman for the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), said the time has come for the government to swallow its pride and work with the US government to expose those responsible for the terrorism and banditry that has nearly torn the country apart.
According to him, the US government’s offer to help Nigeria find solutions to the current insecurity by exposing those responsible would go a long way toward ending the problems.
“We have been battling these security challenges for many years,” Yawe said. Our students have been kidnapped, the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) has been raided, and many people remain in the hands of kidnappers. And our government has done nothing to help. If the United States offers assistance, we should accept it quickly because our government appears incapable of identifying and combating those who cause insecurity.
“Today, Nigeria is in a desperate situation. Accept the American offer and allow them to assist us in getting out of this precarious situation.”
Elder Anthony Sani, a former Secretary-General of the ACF, also stated that the American government’s ability to confront and defeat terrorism is unquestionable, adding that “the US has done this in the past by not only exposing those behind terrorism but also fighting them.”
“Terrorism knows no national borders,” he said. That is why Osama Bin Laden’s Al Qaeda was able to set up shop in Afghanistan and attack the Pentagon and the Twin Towers in New York on September 11, 2001. That is also why, in order to combat ISIS, America formed a coalition of 66, and now 102, countries of various faiths.
“It’s all because terrorism is a global threat, not a local phenomenon. That explains why the late Sheik Shekau was valued at $7 million in America. And, if you consider identifying terrorism’s sponsors as part of the fight against it, there’s nothing wrong with America assisting Nigeria in identifying the perpetrators in order to put a stop to it.”
The ACF commander noted that intelligence sharing between and among nations could help “improve efforts to end the threat of terrorism, which has now become a global phenomenon.”
We can’t handle it on our own any longer. There should be no limits to the fight to bring the country out of its current state of insecurity. What is clear is that Nigeria’s internal security cannot be managed by the country alone.”
Chief Goddy Uwazuruike, a former President General of Aka Ikenga, expressed concern that the Federal Government would ignore the offer.
He claimed that the government’s efforts to reduce insecurity in the country had failed due to insincerity, and that it had continued to ignore offers of assistance and information on crimes, particularly those involving certain elements in the country.
“I am aware that there is a cliché in today’s world: ‘follow the money trail.’ You can see the movement of money and how it ends if you follow the money trail. This is something the Americans have been working on for a long time to track down those who are funding instability, terrorism, and other criminal activities. What happened to Hushpuppi, for example? The Nigerian government took no action. The Americans are prepared to investigate what is going on, and by the time they get to the top officials, the federal government will be stumbling over its words.
“Similarly, why is the Federal Government reluctant to name those who are financing terrorism – Boko Haram and bandits – if it is serious about fighting corruption and those who are financing terrorism? Those who recently shot down military aircraft are not amateurs; they are professionals, and financing such an operation requires a large sum of money. So, how did the cash flow? Nobody carries cash; instead, they send money via the Internet system, which is why the Americans say, “Let us help you.” Believe me when I say that the Americans are aware. There is an alarm that goes off when a million dollars is moved from one account to another. The herdsmen’s AK47 is now worth around N450,000 or more. You don’t carry cash if you want to finance something like this; you move money over the Internet. The knowledge of the United States is used by everyone who is wealthy. But I’m not sure if the Nigerian government is willing.
“My concern is that the Nigerian government is uninterested in the project. The Nigerian government will retaliate if the Americans can prove that some individuals are funding IPOB. Meanwhile, no one has been able to link even one AK47 to the IPOB. As a result, the Nigerian government is uninterested in the American offer unless it relates to the IPOB. They won’t even say they’re rejecting the offer; instead, they’ll ignore it. So, if the government wants to address insecurity in the country, it knows what to do: accept the offer and collaborate with it. However, I urge the American government to keep working. One day, a government will be in place that is interested in those things.”
Chief Chekwas Okorie, a former National Chairman of the defunct United Progressives Party (UPP), said the offer was a welcome one that the Federal Government should seize with both hands.
Okorie insisted that the government formally accept it, explaining that the government and individuals had previously appealed to the international community for help in resolving the country’s security issues.
“It is a welcome call because, for many years, right from President Jonathan’s time, I have been a strong advocate of seeking international assistance to fight insurgency in Nigeria, and I have always advised that we cannot hide behind the toga of national pride and be losing opportunities to seek help to solve a problem that has become so overwhelming and is threatening the stability of the country,” he said. We should take the offer with both hands if it is almost unsolicited. Assisting in the disclosure of Boko Haram’s sponsors is similar to assisting in the resolution of the insurgency because everyone knows how sophisticated they are equipped and this is a costly endeavor. You should be aware of how much it costs Nigeria to defend itself. So, I support it, the government should defend it, and if credible information is provided, we want to see the government act on it and show the public that action is being taken.
“The issue we’re having is a lack of enthusiasm to act on information that even the government has access to. Not long ago, it was announced that at least 400 Nigerians had been identified as sponsors of Boko Haram or as providing money laundering facilities. We had hoped that at the very least, those people would have been charged in court, because when you charge someone in court, it becomes public information, and the list will be added to it. But nothing has happened so far, and it was the government that disseminated that information and raised Nigerians’ expectations, which are now hanging in the balance.”
In terms of the offer’s security implications, Okorie said it will help boost the morale of officers fighting various crimes, noting that “we will now know the people we’re dealing with and how well connected they’ve been.”
“The offer in no way jeopardizes our security. It will, in fact, assist it. The United States has the technological capability to know. Did they get our permission to detain DSP Kyari, who was being applauded here? Despite this, they went ahead and exposed him. They have the knowledge. All we have to do now is formally accept it, and it will appear. They don’t need our permission to enter; all they’re saying is that if you want it, we can give it to you. But I believe we should aspire to it. I believe we should accept the offer with open arms because it is information that they already have,” he added.
Leaders of two prominent Yoruba socio-political organizations, the Afenifere and the Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE), both expressed doubts about the Federal Government’s willingness to accept the US proposal.
While Afenifere’s chairman, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, said it was unnecessary for the US government to waste time and resources helping Nigeria identify Boko Haram sponsors, YCE’s Secretary-General, Dr. Kunle Olajide, said that since the government has clearly failed and lacks the political will to apprehend the faces behind Boko Haram, any country within the region could help.
According to the YCE scribe, foreign intervention in Nigeria’s security situation is now necessary because the incumbent government has repeatedly told Nigerians that it has the dossier of all Boko Haram sponsors and that it will prosecute them soon, but nothing has happened.
“Boko Haram has devolved into banditry, and they are now using it to make money at the expense of Nigerian lives and property. If it leads to a solution, the idea is a welcome development.”
He claimed that the United States and other world powers could not afford to ignore what is going on in Nigeria because they have citizens there and other vested interests that they could not ignore.
“Let help come from outside if this government fails to expose Boko Haram’s sponsors,” he added.
Adebanjo, on the other hand, questioned President Buhari’s willingness to accept any offer that would help the country overcome its current security challenges.
“He’s on a mission to Fulanise and Islamize Nigeria.” The truth is that this government is establishing a Fulani hegemony in order to Islamize the country. What purpose does America’s offer serve if the person in charge of our affairs is a criminal?
“This president is establishing a totalitarian government that is not being hammered by the media. The only power he wields is the current Constitution, which was ratified in 1999.
“America does not need to come because we have the capability to deal with the situation; Buhari is the only roadblock.”
Emmanuel Onwubiko, the National Coordinator of the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) and a former national commissioner of the National Human Rights Commission of Nigeria, also charged the Buhari administration with a lack of willingness to “take the right kinds of battles to Boko Haram terrorists for whatever pedestrian, clandestine, and spurious reasons.”
“As a result, it is unlikely that the government will accept this opportunity and window offered by the US government to identify and sanction the sponsors of Boko Haram terrorists in Nigeria, who have waged a continuous war against the Nigerian state and citizens for over a decade,” he added.
“This emphasizes the need for a collective approach rather than leaving the fight to individual countries, many of which lack the resources to confront the threat of terrorism alone,” he added.
“The time it took America to fight terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the time Somalia has spent fighting Al-Shabaab without success, should highlight the importance of a collective approach to the war on terrorism.”
Chief Alex Chiedozie Ogbonnia, the National Publicity Secretary of the apex Igbo socio-cultural organization, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, said in Enugu that the country needs as much collaboration as possible to combat rising insecurity. He claimed that recent events indicated that Nigeria’s security forces were no longer capable of ensuring the country’s security.
“The level of insecurity in Nigeria necessitates international collaboration to overcome,” Ogbonnia said. It has been demonstrated over time that we will not be able to overcome our security challenges without international assistance.
“We have always requested international intervention; even during the tenure of Goodluck Jonathan, we sought international assistance. The issue is that the government has not clearly defined support so that others can understand the magnitude of the issues they face.
“For example, if you surf the Internet, you’ll notice that the global community considers herders to be terrorists. They are, however, treated with kid gloves in Nigeria. How can something that you call unknown gunmen remain unknown for such a long time when you have security professionals on hand? This type of double-dealing is despised in advanced society.
“You will see a way out of the security challenges we face if Nigeria begins to define things the way they are and with sincerity of purpose. When citizens’ lives and property are in jeopardy, they turn to them for assistance. On the other hand, there will be a problem if the government appears to be overwhelmed because unscrupulous elements control weapons of mass destruction.
“It has undoubtedly come to the point where Nigeria must clearly define her problems in order for the international community to recognize the sincerity with which she is approaching their resolution.
“The United States’ offer can help our society survive because we have reached a point where
“Accepting the offer implies that it will contribute to the end of Boko Haram terrorists’ troubles and terrorism. If the government accepts the offer, which I don’t believe is a problem, it will be the first and most important step toward demonstrating that the current administration is serious about prosecuting these saboteurs for funding a terrorist organization that has killed over 30,000 people.
“The implication of refusing is that Nigerians will confirm their worst fears that the president and his officials are to blame for the recent spate of terror attacks by Boko Haram terrorists; because if the government fails to act to bring the perpetrators to justice, it will automatically imply that the government backs Boko Haram terrorists.
“The strategic security importance of identifying terrorist funders is that it will provide the nation with the long-awaited opportunity to put an end to the most pervasive acts of terrorism that the country has faced in over a century, and then it will be an opportunity for both the government and citizens to ensure that the perpetrators of terrorism are brought to justice, either locally or internationally.
“Nigerians should put pressure on the US government to list the sponsors of Boko Haram terrorists as soon as possible.”
Mr. Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, Executive Director of the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), also stated that the question is whether Nigeria wants those sponsors identified.
“Nigeria’s security agencies are understandably overburdened by the variety of security issues that need to be addressed. In 30 of the country’s 36 states, military units have been deployed to quell internal unrest. As a result, additional non-kinetic support against the northeast’s unyielding insurgents is ideal. This collaboration window currently available necessitates obtaining political commitment from those in positions of power.
“Keep in mind that with someone like Pantami and his recent Pandora box, the government will be surprised if this agreement is reached. In fact, it will be the administration’s biggest shock. We knew how many times this regime deceived Nigerians by threatening to publish the names of those who robbed the country blindly. “Unfortunately, nothing was ever published,” he explained.
“I will conclude by saying that Nigeria will not pursue this issue,” Rafsanjani said. This is due to numerous inconsistencies throughout the entire Boko Haram operation chain. The military has been chastised on several occasions for disclosing internal information that could jeopardize troop operations.
“If this goes through, it means that the number of people who will fall into the sticky mud will be enormous. Not only that, but those who will be targeted will be in positions of power.”
While urging the Federal Government to accept the offer, Jehu Onyekwere Nnaji, a professor of International Law and Global Politics, stated that it would help uncover the people behind the mask of terrorism in Nigeria.
“This is especially important because it will greatly assist Nigeria in rooting out terrorism. It makes no difference whether the sponsors are from within or outside Nigeria; the fact remains that the sinister development that has been sabotaging the efforts of well-meaning Nigerians must be exposed, and until that is done, we will continue to run around the circus, and the fight against terrorism will be a moonshine,” he said.