Independence: Pro-democracy group cautions north east leaders against using Boko Haram as excuse not to develop their constituencies
The National Democratic Front (NDF) has challenged political elites from the North-East to provide basic infrastructures in their communities and stop shying away from their responsibilities under the guise of Boko Haram.
The pro-democracy group made the call in a press conference to mark Nigeria’s 59th Independence in Abuja on Tuesday.
In a statement signed by secretary-general, Bolaji Abdulkadir, the National Democratic Front called on the region’s political class to wake up to its responsibility in the war against terrorism.
Instead of fulfilling their obligation, the NDF says these politically embittered persons have continued to empower terrorists, gloriously endorsing their activities.
The NDF was particularly critical of Ahmadu Jaha, the lawmaker representing Damboa/Gwoza/Chibok in the National Assembly who openly sang the praises of the Boko Haram terrorists.
The group, therefore, charged Jaha and his likes to wake up to their responsibility and stop blaming others for the woes they have brought upon their own region.
According to the NDF, it is only when basic amenities are provided that natives can return to liberated communities.
Read full statement below:
The National Democratic Front, NDF, has been following the war against terrorism in the north-east, especially Borno state, with keen interest given its impact on long term peace and security for Nigeria. One worrisome trend we discovered is that the war against terrorism continues be politicised to the point of almost having a war within a war.
In the lead up to the 2019 General Elections, NDF raised alarm over the opposition’s support for terrorists in the hope of using them to discredit the then candidacy of President Muhammadu Buhari by creating the impression that he has failed to secure the country. The elections are now over yet the monster set in motion out of political desperation has continue to grow without those that awoken it refusing to tame it.
In addition to refusing to accept responsibility for re-arming Boko Haram terrorists, it appears politically embittered persons have continue to empower terrorists in the region. They have even scaled up their support to now include endorsement of the terror group by ascribing invincibility to its fighters while demonizing the army that is sacrificing much to restore peace and security to the troubled area.
This unsettling development has been manifesting in the form of media interviews, planted or sponsored news reports and statements that stop short of recognizing Boko Haram as a parallel nation to whom these politicians defer. They have sunken to a new low as demonstrated by a member of the House of Representatives, Ahmadu Jaha, who used Green Chambers of the National Assembly to sing the praises of the terrorist organization, which he rated higher than the military of his own country, and that is assuming he still considers himself a Nigerian and not a subject of an illusionary Islamic State caliphate.
It is tragic that this surrender to Boko Haram by these type of politicians is more deliberate than circumstantial. There was a coordinated willingness to abdicate political responsibility to terrorists. This is why the international media partners of these politicians are able to report that insurgents are providing essential services that politicians have failed to provide for their own constituents, which in turn makes these constituents to become willing informants for terrorists. So it rarely matters that the military continually decimate the terrorists, the collusion of the politicians continue to drive people in the affected areas back into the embrace of Boko Haram. So much as military might, strategy, engagement and persistence has been keeping the terrorists in check, the political will and action to end terrorism are still missing.
NDF is demanding that the politicians in the northeast must wake up to their responsibility and stop blaming others for the woes they have brought upon their own region. They have to start undoing the damage they did to themselves to that they can finally begin to enjoy peace and security like other parts of the country.
A starting point the NDF is prescribing is for the politicians from the north east to cease and desist from giving further support to Boko Haram, whether directly or indirectly. This include these politicians reviewing the money they give out to people that eventually funnel same to the terrorists. They must also cease hostile communication against the military since this only serves to boost the morale of insurgents while depressing troops’. It is trite to say that north east politicians must stop playing politics with the issue of insurgency by waking up to support the military and the rest of the world to end the scourge of Boko Haram.
The next step is for these politicians to unanimously volunteer information that will assist the military and security agencies in a way that will support the decommissioning of the terrorist cells that enjoy political support and protection. It is critical for this to happen since these cells that enjoy the protection of politicians are key tools for recruiting new members for the terrorists.
A further requirement is for the politicians to allow money meant for rebuilding the northeast to be used for exactly that purpose instead of embezzling it like they had done funds meant for their constituencies for several decades. They must realize that such funds are not meant for buying bullet proof cars or escaping to the cushy life in Abuja but is rather meant to develop the region so that the people will identify with them instead of being sympathetic to terrorists.
When these other steps have been taken, the politicians must then reset their behaviour to appreciate and focus on what is needed to develop their constituencies. The things that they had refused to provide for their citizens for several decades must now be urgently provided to reverse not just the punishing scourge of terrorism but to also eradicate the sheer human misery that is the existence of people in the area even before the insurgency took hold.
They need to focus on building infrastructure, schools, hospitals, good roads and facilities that will help rebuild the economy of the region. This will also help to return people in liberated communities back to their farms so that they can again become productive to themselves and to the overall economy.
These are the minimum basics that must be provided for the people, who in spite of their situation have put up with selfish politicians that they are saddled with. Morality requires that the politicians wake up to these responsibilities instead of trying to blame the military or the federal government for the problem they created for themselves and their people.
NDF is strongly of the view that the people of the northeast begin to hold their politicians to account in this manner until they learn what their responsibilities are and get about meeting them. The citizens should consider strong monitoring of the finances of these politicians and reporting anything untoward to the nation’s anti-graft agencies. Politicians from the northeast must not continue be the weak link in the safety, security and development of Nigeria.