My fellow Nigerians, On the 1st of October we entered our jubilee with a bomb blast that took the lives of many of our beloved countrymen. This is indeed a tragedy for our dear country. If even one life was lost on that day, it is still a tragedy.
Prior to the bomb blast and celebration of Nigeria’s 50th celebration, the politicians were arguing whether or not the 2011 elections should be zoned. Believe it or not, there are actually very reasonable arguments for either side that I wont necessarily go into now. My main issue is with the discussion surrounding an impending election being on the topic of power rotation and not the issues and problems facing the people of this great nation. Whether or not the presidency is zoned is irrelevant because I would like to believe each region of the country is capable of producing a competent president hence the argument that those who are for zoning are not looking out for the good of the country is ridiculous. It is ok to zone as long as you are able to provide a credible candidate capable of solving some of the nations issues.
Back to the topic at hand, it is in the context of this zoning arrangement and push of several individuals and parties to force themselves on the Nigerian people (read IBB, Jonathan, PDP etc) that the bomb blast occurred. Now for those who read this, I would encourage you to put sentiments aside.
The government received intelligence from US and UK sources presumably on the Tuesday before the attack. This would explain the absence of any US/UK envoy at the intended target as well as many invited countries at the celebrations as a whole. In defense of the Nigerian government, they proceeded to beef up security and established a perimeter. The attack occurred just outside the security perimeter they had established. My Issue with this is that if one receives intelligence about an impending attack is the first impulse to sit and defend the intended target or to go after supposed suspects, interrogate and investigate and approach informants. It seems the Nigerian government in doing this placed the security of the dignitaries at the intended target above that of ordinary citizens who would have been drawn to the celebrations and would have been left outside the perimeter due to their non-VIP status. It is my opinion that the government did not take the warning seriously. I know I wouldn’t have simply because I never believed any Nigerian capable of terrorism.
Another interesting point in the whole matter is that throughout the celebrations two of President Jonathan’s opponents in his party PDP, former Vice President Atiku and former President Babanginda did not attend any of the events in Abuja. This was despite the fact that every other living former president attended the events. As I watched the events, I found this really odd. Now in the media, the two former leaders mentioned that they were not invited to the events. Was this done to spite them or did President Jonathan have some alterior motives?
The morning of the attacks, MEND sent a warning to all media houses and to security forces about the impending attacks. After the attacks, they claimed responsibility for the attack an their leader in exile, Henry Okah was arrested in South Africa. However immediately after the attacks, the president came out and said that MEND was not responsible for the attacks and he knew who was. I was amazed because it meant either this man didn’t know how to speak properly. Reason with me here, if this had happened in any other country, the president would come out and condemn the attack and promise the public that the perpetrators would be brought to swift justice. Even if he knew who did, he should have kept it to himself and awaited the outcome of a proper investigation. Maybe he should have told us who did it, or was he planning to frame someone?
In the midst of all this the president replaced the National Security Adviser and replaced him with a close confidant of his who happens to be from his state. Coincidence? Or was he simply replaced because of his incompetence in relation to the attacks. Unconfirmed reports have it that the former security adviser was asked if he could arrest former President Babangida without proof and refused.
So not quite after the attack, some people from the Niger Delta were arrested (Nigerian Police is famous from framing people when under pressure) as well as the campaign manager of former President Babangida’s 2011 presidential bid. It was alleged that some text messages implicating him were found. I thought, how convenient. However despite this overwhelming “evidence”, he was released the following day.
The next day, the arrested leader of MEND claims that a presidential aide called him and informed him to withdraw the claim by MEND on the attack so the President could blame Northern Politicians. Keep in mind that many of the Northern governors have already endorsed President Jonathan for the 2011 Presidency. Of course the Presidency released a statement denying the claims. Also former millitants converged on Abuja to declare that MEND had nothing to do with bombing. I m confused.
Personally, I do not like IBB and I believe he is responsible for many of the problems we face as a nation today. However, not liking someone has never been a reason to blame him for a crime against his own country. I sincerely hope that President Jonathan is not trying to use the tragedy for political gain. It seems everyone is and no one is paying attention to the most important thing, justice and the victims. Lets hope this doesn’t add to the already tense atmosphere leading to the 2011 elections. Let us not let ourselves be ruled by terrorists. In reality, who are the terrorists? Is it the government? Is it IBB? Or is it the politicians? Only time would tell, until then. Nigerians should choose their leaders wisely