Synopses of our Editions, from January–December of 2014
(Conscience Triumph Edition of January 2015)
By Ayuba Kajang
The immediate concern of Conscience Triumph Newspaper in the year 2014 was the role of the media and politics in our contemporary society. Accordingly, the Fourth Estate of the realm should perform its role without bias as we continue in our experience of Democratic Governance.
A point in time past has exposed the media to some fact that there is tribalism in reporting stories or writing editorials or comments. A scan through some reports on the state of insecurity in the country in the various media organizations in the geo-political zones shows that reports are carried to favour whoever the parties have affiliation with.
Among the basic concepts within a democratic form of state is the realization that the state and all citizens are best served, if all questions of public interest are discussed freely and in full consciousness of responsibility. On the other hand, although it may be the design of newspaper or magazine, which draws readers’ attention initially, it is the writings that bring readers back for more.
In an age where the media exposure is a virtual necessity in selling government policies and projects or winning support, media practitioners must realize that they serve as the eyes and ears of the public because by their professional experience, they have privileged government information.
Since the public in most cases have no idea of what is happening in government, the media must ensure that they at all times provide relevant, accurate and time information to the public concerning activities of the nation.
As the activities of Boko Haram threaten our democracy and political tension heightens the media, the people and the politicians must be on guard. The media must shun all attempts to be used to promote negative and misleading reports.
Politicians must remember that their programmes are significant if a very large number of people benefit from them. One word that would stabilize any politician in office is credibility. If they are sincerely accountable to the public, they have no reason to fear the opposition.
In our February edition, Conscience Triumph observed that the bane of leadership is the cause of Nigeria’s failure to harness her potentials. It did not see any reason why Nigeria should import petrol even when we have crude oil in abundance. We also import rice and beans that our land can produce in abundance. Yet, we drive the best of cars and live in the best of edifies, visit the best places in the world for holiday and use the most expensive electronic and telecom gadgets. It is now a sign of poverty for a Nigerian to ride a saloon car. Four-wheel drive vehicles are the in-thing. Even government officials, who were known to use only Peugeot products as official cars as a sign of modesty, have upgraded to Toyota Prado as official vehicle without any iota of shame, in a country where about 75 per cent live below poverty line. Private jets have become as common as cars. A nation that imports toothpicks and pins flaunts wealth and wallows in ostentation at a time its children are trooping to Ghana, South African and the UK for university education and its sick people are running to India for treatment.
India produces automobiles and exports it to the world. India’s medical care is second to none, with even Americans and Europeans travelling to the country for medical treatment. India has joined the nuclear power nations. India has launched a successful mission to the moon. Yet, bicycles and tricyles are common sights in India. But in Nigeria, only the wretched of the earth ride bicycles.
We have intentionally chosen to compare Nigeria with India rather than China, South Korea, Brazil, Malaysia, or Singapore, because of the similarities between India and Nigeria. But these countries were not as promising as Nigeria at the time of our independence.
Some would say that our undoing is our size. The 2012 United Nations estimate puts Nigeria’s population at 166,000 million, while India has a population of 1.2 billion. Some would blame it on the multiplicity of ethnic groups. We have 250 ethnic groups; India has more than 2,000. Some would hang it on the diversity in religion: We have two major religions – Christianity and Islam; but India has many. Some would say it is because we are young as an independent nation: We have 54 years of independence; India has 65 years.
Let everyone tidy up his or her corner first and demand fervently that our leaders tidy their area of governance. Our nation is degenerating at a fast pace and we need to save it now or it may be too late.
In our March edition, Conscience Triumph concerned with curbing insurgency in Nigeria. It observes that more than any other issue in Nigeria today, the greatest concern has been the security condition of the country. Almost on daily basis, there are accounts of several security threats arising from armed robberies, assassinations, armed militancy and banditry, kidnapping, bombings and of recent, the blood-let from a religious sect called Boko Haram who say they are opposed to Western education and are ready to attack every vestige of Western civilization.
Indeed the rate of crime and criminality as exemplified in the high incidence of kidnapping, bombings, and other organized crimes has sadly moved from the realm of security threat to an area of real and present danger. The frightening security condition in Nigeria has not only been a source of worry, it has also dented Nigeria’s international status.
Conscience Triumph is however of the considered opinion that serious security collaboration and intelligence sharing must be urgently evolved to arrest security breaches, and this needs to go beyond the shores of the nation. The federal government must build inter-agency co-operation through diplomatic channel/pacts, and international intelligence to ensure that crime of whatever scale is nipped in the bud.
Most importantly, there is the overriding need to promptly move to demilitarize the Nigerian society and reduce the heavy influx of arms and ammunition in the country, which have unfortunately gone into the wrong hands.
The April edition deals mostly on the concluded National Conference and what it is all about. In trying to understand the National Conference, we quote Chiefs Gani Fawehinmi, who on March 22, 2000, said, “The primary duty of the Sovereign National Conference is to address and find solutions to the key problems affecting Nigeria since 1914 to date. The concern is to remove all obstacles, which have prevented the country from establishing political justice, economic justice, social justice, cultural justice, religious justice, and to construct a new constitutional framework in terms of the system of government – structurally, economically, socially, culturally and religiously.”
The May edition of Conscience Triumph lamented on the worsening insecurity in Nigeria. The gory incidents of continuing terrorist insurgency and insecurity in parts of some states in the North have provided another reason for worry over the claims by the Federal Government to be in control of the security challenges in the country. The fatal multiple explosions at Nyanya and the abduction of over 200 female students of Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, in Chibok Local Government Area in Borno State and the violent attacks in Taraba State by gunmen do not speak well for the security score-card of Nigeria.
Conscience Triumph decried the security situation in the country, urging the federal government to be proactive in tackling the menace. The federal government needs to wake up and do more, so that all these will fizzle out.
The June edition also lament on the kind of grief, tears, for our country. Ours is a country where sorrow, grief and tears form the fulcrum of people’s life.
In our time, there is hardly a passing day without hundreds of people shedding tears. There is scarcely a bloodless day here. Rarely do we have a day without heartbreak. Each passing day comes with its bloodbath and bereavements. And the questions: How on earth did we arrive here? We mean, how? How did we suddenly take a negative centre-stage in the world, with America, UK, China and other countries building up to rescue us? How did we get to this crossroad, where it is no longer Nigeria sending their combatant soldiers to Liberia, Sierra Leone, and many others on peace keeping missions, and countries are now flooding here to rescue us? Why is it all grief, tears for our country? It is partly because of the 38 years of maladministrations of military, etc.
In our July edition, we try to examine how division in the army is hindering the war against Boko Haram. In addition to corruption, inadequate armament, low morale and possible collusion with the enemy, the growing rift between officers and non-commissioned officers (NCOs) has been identified as one of the factors that have hindered the country’s counter-terrorism efforts in the North-East.
Worried by the ugly development, the military has traced the remote and immediate causes of this alarming trend to three major factors, including the overbearing influence of the elite during recruitment process such that candidates without a passion for the profession are being recruited into the armed forces. It was revealed that most political figures, traditional rulers and influential personalities under the erroneous notion that the military is a money-making establishment rather than war fighting profession, put enormous pressure on the service to recruit their candidates who are not suitable for the job.
The September edition tries to look at insecurity in Nigeria beyond Boko Haram insurgency. The unabated waves of terror attacks and series of deadly bomb blasts by the callous, devilish and demonic militant movement, Boko Haram, in the Northern part of the country, have continued to heighten and exacerbate the palpable state of insecurity in the land. The incessant bombings, which have claimed many innocent lives, as well as the barbaric and inconsiderable criminal abduction of over 200 Chibok school girls plus others, have continued to generate wide spread global concern, outrage and condemnation.
While mass protest and advocacy campaigns have continued to be staged on all parts of Nigeria and major cities around the world, calling for the prompt rescue and safe release of the girls, many people believe that with the abominable and unthinkable abduction of those young school girls, the Boko Haram insurgents have clearly crossed the red line! Against this gloomy backdrop, it is heartening that a coalition of countries, including the United States, Britain, France, Canada, China and Israel, have lately intervened to assist Nigeria in rescuing the Chibok school girls and end the Boko Haram insurgency.
Our October edition came up with a proposal, that it is time to negotiate the unity of Nigeria. This is more so, with the daunting security challenges of the Boko Haram sect in the North-East and the discord between the Southern and Northern delegates to the defunct National Conference, there is urgent need to negotiate the unity of the country. Nigerians are not oblivious of how the various nations that presently constitute Nigeria came into the country through the amalgamation of the colony of Lagos and the Protectorate of Southern Nigeria in 1906, that of Northern and Southern Protectorates to form Nigeria in 1914 by Lord Lugard, which were done by a political fiat without the consent of the various ethnic nationalities that constitute the protectorates!
People do not come together under a union without first discussing and agreeing on the terms, modalities and conditions under which they will coexist. So far, it is only the multi-ethnic and religious people of Nigeria that were foisted into a country without according them the right to discuss the terms and conditions under which they would coexist. This is why after 100 years of coexistence and 54 years of independence, there is no national interest as Nigerians are divided along ethnic, religious and regional lines.
Our November edition deals on how Nigeria is on the brink. Security reports emanating from the North-Eastern part of the country indicate that, that part of Nigeria, the much-vaunted giant of Africa, is on the brink of completely failing into the hands of Boko Haram insurgents. The terrorists are threatening the nation’s geopolitical and demographic unity, more than anything else, in recent history. Since 2009, when the disaffected Islamists began shooting at security agents, burning local villages and attacking Christians and burning churches, the governments at various levels paid scant attention to the group.
Now, Boko Haram menace has festered and is pecking debilitatingly at sinews that hold the country together. Apart from venting its spleen on citizens and major government infrastructure in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe States, Boko Haram has graduated to a fearsome animal snarling at the corporate existence of Nigeria as an entity. In the past couple of months, the fundamentalists have been annexing Nigerian towns, one after another. Every day, Nigerians are told about efforts to rid the northeast of Boko Haram. Yet, the reports that come out of that zone leave everyone disheartened and frightened about the potential repercussion, if Boko Haram eventually invades Maiduguri, capital of Borno State. It is time to wake up to the reality on the ground. The most effective approach to combat the blood-thirsty jihadists, we believe, is to have a joint international military operation. Just as we had the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), in Somalia, to tackle al-shabab or the multi-national Operation Lightning Thunder to find Joseph Kone, the dreaded leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, a similar operation will be an ideal antidote to confront Boko Haram that appears to have overwhelmed Nigeria’s armed forces.
Our December edition of Conscience Triumph harped on the Chief of Defence Staff‘s fleckless remarks on the issue of Boko Haram. Alex Badeh, an Air Chief and Nigeria’s Chief of Defence Staff, was quoted as saying it is immaterial which town Boko Haram has taken. The comment followed questions posed to him by newsmen regarding the fall of Vintim, his hometown, to Boko Haram Islamists. The CDS responded that he was always worried, irrespective of the territory overrun by the insurgents. On the surface, the CDS may have appeared to assuage the fears of his countrymen by indicating how much he cared about their security. He really means well in that regard, it appears. The problem is, the casualties from the Boko Haram-yoked zone are far too depressing to accept Badeh’s feckless comment as a mark of patriotism and mark of military craftsmanship. If anything, we believe the military brass hat’s attitude to the success recorded by Boko Haram is that of a man who has failed in his responsibility.
Under his watch as head of Nigeria’s military, we have lost many local government areas to Boko Haram across Borno, Adamawa and Yobe States. Under his watch, we have had Nigerian soldiers fleeing to foreign territories because they couldn’t confront the superior onslaught from the insurgents. With Badeh at the helm of the Nigerian military, the crisis on the North-East simply grew from bad to worse, as communities and towns continue to fall, and even states are on the brink of being overrun by Boko Haram.
By refusing to call for direct international support, Badeh and the Nigerian government should take the blame for the level of havoc done by Boko Haram in parts of the country. We recall that the other officers, who in the capacity of the current service chiefs, lost their jobs, did not fare lesser than the present occupants of offices of Chief of Army Staff, Naval and Air Staff, including their superior, the Chief of Defence Staff. They have failed the country through their actions and inactions. And there is no evidence that under their leadership the nation can get out of this insurgency quagmire. Isn’t it a shame that while Nigeria is chasing peace for Burkina Faso, the nation is under serious siege by Boko Haram? Between Nigeria and Burkina Faso, which country needs urgent intervention most?