By Musa Yakubu
Senator John McCain
A few days ago, Sen. John McCain made what must go down as one of the most outrageous, most demeaning and most unacceptable statements ever made against our leader and our country. In an interview with CNN, he said, “We shouldn’t have waited for a practically non existing government to give us the go ahead before mounting a humanitarian effort to rescue those girls”.
There are words that no one has the right to use against another country and Sen. John McCain crossed the line with that infamous comment. Nigeria is facing what is perhaps its greatest challenge since the civil war and the tragic abduction of over 200 girls is a painful and sad chapter which the entire nation has struggled to cope with this past one month.
It is uncharitable for a ranking Senator and perennial presidential candidate like Sen. McCain to use this event as an opportunity to insult our country. The Jonathan administration is a legitimately and overwhelmingly elected government and no one, least of all one who failed so many times to clinch the highest post in his country, should be allowed to speak of it so disparagingly.
With all due respect, Nigeria is too big, too important, for one foreigner to speak of with such disrespect. At the very least, he should be made to tender an unreserved apology and withdraw those reckless words.
What is even sadder is that some Nigerians, because of their inveterate hatred of this government, seem to see nothing wrong with this statement. They forget that such an insult on the government of our country is an insult on all of us.
Even the international media has bought into this malicious farce and prefer to refer to our nation and its leaders in disparaging terms. The usual courtesy given to government officials from other countries is denied us. Since Christiana Amanpour had that interview where she tried to harangue our President over the challenges in the power sector, the media has come to see our nation’s leaders as fair game.
The latest video conference that the CNN had with Labaran Maku, the minister of information, was hardly decent journalism as the anchor practically threw caution to the wind in trying to get the minister to respond in the way she wants. So sad was the whole episode that after the conference interview, the station had to show a disclaimer dissociating itself from the views, if not the method, used in that interview.
It is imperative to point out that even our own people seem to think it fit and proper to throw decorum away and use insulting language when discussing how our leaders are handling the current crisis. This is both unnecessary and retrogressive.
It is true that either by accident or design, Boko Haram has all of a sudden become the number one issue in the country today, the parameter by which not only the government, but the nation itself, is judged. It is also true that in times of crisis, there is the tendency to become too emotive and lash out at the government in power.
While it is natural for people to blame their leaders for perceived failures, Nigerians must resist the temptation to be unreasonable. The impression is being created that the administration is incompetent and uncaring, that it has done nothing to stem the activities of the terrorists. Nothing can be far from the truth.
The fight against terrorism is slow and arduous and can be frustrating for those who do not understand how difficult it is, how very enervating. It is not conventional warfare and the opponent does not follow any of the rules that have been so meticulously spelt out in the Geneva Convention. Indeed, they don’t believe in any Rules of Engagement.
It usually takes years to root out such insurgents. Soldiers have to be retrained; operational manuals thrown out and new ones designed; attitudes have to be changed, habits learned or unlearned; new tools of war bought to meet new strategies; and countless other subtle changes to match a nefarious and devious foe. As would be expected, none of this is easy. So the statements being made to rubbish every effort the government is making to fight the insurgency is truly misplaced and in bad taste.
He has been called names and it was even ridiculously suggested that he should put on some kind of uniform and personally go and fight Boko Haram in the Sambisa forest. Please enough of these insults. We must remember that we are not just insulting our President, but are making a caricature of the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
It is sad that we have allowed sentiments to becloud our judgements to the extent that we fail to see that the President is doing everything possible to end the insurgence. Examples include the pronouncement of a 12 month emergency rule in the affected states and has presently written to the National Assembly for an extension of the rule; he has changed his service chiefs and Minister of Defence and even his security adviser in the effort to stop this menace.
He has increased the budget for the Defence Ministry. He is looking out for the needs and welfare of our troops such that, he promptly ordered the redeployment of the GOC 7th Division, Major General Abubakar Mohammed, the man in charge of the troops formed to engage the terrorists in their home turf. So the government is continuously reviewing strategies and men in order to fit into the amorphous situation we have found ourselves.
It is time for every well-meaning Nigerian to come together to put an end to the mayhem that is slowly engulfing us. It is simply unacceptable that we should be engaged in lampooning every effort of this government.
If there is ever a time that we need to bury our mountain of differences as a nation and come together as one, this is it. It is time to stop being sentimental because the present evil wind would do nobody any good. Boko Haram has unfortunately become a large menace and an effective way to crack it is to come together as one people to tackle this matter.
We must put sentiments aside and rally behind President Jonathan, as he tries to deal with the insurgence. Instead of these vapid emoting and blame game, we should borrow a leaf from the Americans. During their terror attacks, when the twin towers were blown away; the Democrats did not blame the ruling Republicans; rather, they came together in the fight against terror.
Instead of distracting the President with endless criticisms, one would expect that every Nigerian rally behind him and cooperate with him put an end to the present senseless killings of Nigerians. Something is definitely wrong with the reasoning that it is all right to work against the progress of one’s nation just because you do not like the face of the man at the helm of affairs.
Musa Yakubu is a former reporter and now runs an NGO.
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