Monday, December 7, 2020 5:00 am
By Hope O’Rukevbe Eghagha
I was miffed to no end last week when Nigerians took unnecessary umbrage at the exotic, fiercely loyal presidential spokesman, the sardonically inimitable and infinitely loquacious Mallam Garba Shehu over statements he made about the Boko-Haram-slaughtered farmers of Zabarmari Borno State, to the effect that the farmers ought to have obtained clearance from the Army High Command before venturing out to their harmless occupation of farming that sad 29th day of November 2020, and that although he sympathized with the bereaved, the hard truth was that they had no business going to their farms at that material time, without clearance, and that it was a hard price to pay for this omission! Shehu, I must say, must be congratulated for being frank and truthful and saying it as it is, without mining words even though many do not agree with him!
You know, the country must realize that we are at war. A long drawn war! Enough of the nonsense about peace! Where is peace? What is peace? War time protocols must follow. War time protocols must be followed. Isn’t that why the EndSARS mischief makers are being harassed after government promised them good things for their efforts like reforming the police and scrapping the notorious and scandalous SARS?
Panels of inquiry! Seized passports! Arrests and police harassment! Frozen accounts! Aren’t these excellent reactions to EndSARS? We need security clearance any time we want to travel, especially farmers in the land. In most villages where hapless and poor citizens use the bush for toilet, I expect them to also get clearance from the Army. It is only logical. Garba Shehu’s was an excellent piece of foolish advice coming from the highest respectable quarters in our polity! I endorse is fully simply because anyone who is appointed by the state must be obeyed in all things! And a very sensitive piece of advice too! Shehu deserves an award for words of wisdom! At the end of President Buhari’s tenure, I expect Garba Shehu to be conferred with a GAPII award (Grand Commander of Profoundly Inane Ideas)!
For some reason, Twitter caught fire and poor Mallam Shehu was compelled to explain and re-explain the meaning of his beautifully-insensitive, deeply inane, and profoundly nescient statement on behalf of our dynamic messiah president, His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari, the leader who never sleeps because he is always dreaming of how to rid Nigeria of official corruption! He has been fervent, resolute, and firm on the issue of keeping the security chiefs in place. We must commend our president for his loyalty to his service chiefs. Very few Commanders-in-Chief are capable of such infinite loyalty. Asinine fellows have been calling for the bloody heads of the triumphant Service Chiefs. It is my considered view that they must remain in office till death do them part in the next fifty years. Their efficiency is legendary!
For the records, Nigerians must know that this is not the first massacre of citizens by scoundrel herdsmen or Boko Haram infidels. Have we forgotten the Agatu killings of March 2018? We are told that since 2013, the Boko Haram conflict has made over 250,000 people flee into Cameroun, Chad and Niger. By July 2009, over 700 persons had been killed by the wonderfully bloody Boko Haram. What about the Chibok girls kidnapped and ‘wifed’ by the hounds of Boko Haram? So, killings are not new and Holy Garba was also subtly reminding us that we should not make much noise about killings, we should not make a mountain of a molehill. We ought to be used to it now. You know, it’s the new normal! Slaughtering reason and government blaming the people!
To avoid any doubts, here I quote the very compassionate presidential spokesman: ‘much of those areas have been liberated from Boko Haram terrorists but there are a number of spaces that have not been cleared for the return of villagers who have been displaced. So, ideally, all of these places ought to pass the test of military clearances before farmers or settlers resume activities on those fields…is there any clearance by the military which is in total control of those areas? Did anybody as to resume activities? I have been told by the military leaders that they have not been so advised’!
In view of the above, I recommend that anyone who wishes to go to the farms henceforth should write a letter to Chief of Staff Nigerian Army and copy the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria. These gentlemen do not take the security of Nigerians lightly and would like to secure our lives. We should also be able to write to them each time we must travel on our highways. If that Oba of Ifon my schoolmate at University of Jos had written to the President before travelling those scoundrels wouldn’t have done their dastardly act. God is watching!
I also read somewhere that some northern elders have called on the President to resign! Why? Because forty-three ordinary farmers were slaughtered? When over seventy-three died in Agatu did he resign? A ridiculous and preposterous proposal if ever there was one, from the depths of a filthy stomach. Messiah Buhari will rule till 2023 and perhaps beyond if Heaven gives the go-ahead. Nigerians should just know that now that we have an incorruptible president everything is okay. He has graciously agreed to appear before the House of Representatives to explain away the level of insecurity in the country. We should thank God for that. What if he had decided to lock himself inside Aso Rock like Donald Trump what would you have done? Perhaps by just appearing before the House, Boko Haram would listen to his plea. They are sure to listen to the President!
I have come to see that spokesmen are mandated to defend their principal, no matter the circumstances, even if it requires the spokesman to emit traces of legerdemain or tomfoolery or outright foolishness in the process. I have also known that good leaders hire intelligent persons as spokesmen because sometimes they the leaders do things that are hard to defend and one would need his total wit to explain away a situation without sounding foolish. However, no matter how intelligent a spokesman is, he cannot change black to white. I know what social media currently makes of Lai and Lie as a first name!
The blood that is shed daily in Nigeria cries to heaven and I am sure God is angry with Abuja, angry with those who have been entrusted with power to secure life and property but are currently just satisfied with acquiring power and dishing out appointments to ethnic cronies. It is such a worldview of power that makes a presidential spokesman implicitly blame ordinary farmers and other Nigerians for dying in their search for daily bread! God is watching. The people are crying! How this will end, we are no prophets to tell! But the signs are not good. Mallam Garba Shehu, do you live in Nigeria?
-Professor Eghagha writes from the University of Lagos