US backing Boko Haram; Jonathan, Buhari should not contest in 2015 ? By Wale Odunsi Daily Post Nigeria
Sheikh Ahmad Abubakar Mahmud Gumi has restated his position that the country would experience worst times if President Goodluck Jonathan and Gen. Muhammadu Buhari contested the 2015 presidential election.
In an interview with Sunday Sun, he disagreed with the belief that Boko Haram was a reaction against Jonathan’s government.
"I don’t buy the argument. Obasanjo is a Southerner, there was no such thing when he was in charge. Gowon is a Christian, there was no such thing during his regime.
"But Maitasine started with Buhari and he mercilessly bombarded them, before Shagari inherited it. Buhari and Shagari are Muslims. So, that dismisses the earlier argument. But assuming it is true, does the President want the killings to continue as he’s presenting himself for re-election? The wisest thing to do, for the sake of my children, his children and your children, is for him not to seek re-election and let’s bring somebody that will not trigger reaction from any section of Nigeria.
"You know Buhari is very popular here in the north. But I said to him, please do not seek to be Nigeria’s President. You know why? It will trigger reaction from another section that doesn’t want him. If Awolowo were to be alive today, I will tell him, Baba, please do not contest Nigeria’s presidency because there is a section of the country that doesn’t like you. So, let us go for people that nobody will take arms against, so he can manage the situation for us. We want to pacify the nation.
"And in doing that, we must not force people who could trigger turmoil on the nation. It’s not defeatist, it is wise. When Nigeria becomes lawless, Boko Haram will have a field day. And that is not an option. We have to talk to ourselves. Whoever helps Nigeria to achieve this is also helping it to stabilize. I just hope people will listen. Terrorism has no boundary.
"Nobody is safe anywhere. It is not going to stop in Nigeria. Nobody can stop Nigerians from going to Europe. So how do you identify terrorists among those traveling? It’s in the best interest of America that terrorism is crushed in Nigeria.
"Terrorism is now an opportunity for every mentally derailed person to kill himself or herself in the name of going to paradise. Somebody is just suffering from depression, but rather than committing suicide and die, he joins an organization that encourages him/her to ‘come and collect weapons and die with others so you can go to paradise.’ So our best option is to open a new page", he stated.
Gumi, a retired military officer, also spoke on why he thinks the United States is backing Boko Haram, the decay in the Nigerian Army, why the Nigerian Army cannot get weapons from the US.
According to him, “When you see insurgency anywhere in the world, like what is happening in Iraq, it is more than what the ordinary eyes can see. In this era of advancement in technology, it is very difficult for a convoy of militants to go about in Hilux vehicles, mounting heavy guns, to be roaming about, without the knowledge, approval and support of the super powers. It is unimaginable.
"These guns cannot be carried by men, they have to be carried by vehicles. High caliber projectors and bullets are carried by these vehicles. And any vehicle that moves can easily be identified from the sky. In fact you cannot carry the guns, you have to dismantle them. So, it is global politics going around."
Asked why there is suspicion of political tone in the ongoing insurgency as well as the likely causes, the Sheikh posited that if nations that have oil break up, it’s the buyers that benefit, not the seller.
"Iraq has a lot of oil. In the north are the Shiites and in the middle are the Sunnis. You cannot just come and divide a country like that out of the blues, except there is a serious reason to divide it.
“And such serious reason could be religious divide not even ethnicity. So, if you want to divide Nigeria, something like Boko Haram is good. Support them, direct them, take a big chunk of Nigeria, and let the rest say, ‘ok, let’s be on our own.’ But that will be extremely difficult for them to do because not even Muslims would like to be under Boko Haram. Not even Muslims, let alone non-Muslims.”
On his view on why the sect seemed to be winning more battles against Nigerian troops, Gumi replied that “What we noticed, before talking about the US angle, is the fact that Boko Haram is getting empowered and protected, while the Nigerian Army is decaying. The Nigerian Army cannot decay from outside, it has to decay from within. So, there is a force also sapping the energy of the Nigerian Army from within.
"The army is not well funded. There is a budget for it quite okay, but it does not trickle down. So, you have to look into the command structure of the armed forces itself. How, in the face of this big threat is the army immune to development? America stopped our army from getting arms, because of the atrocities committed by our army. It’s true, that there was genocide, mass incarceration of people. But the army should have long been equipped before these accusations came up.
“Historically, the Nigerian Army has been an avenue for siphoning billions of naira by our Generals. All the money earmarked for weapons is stolen by our Generals. They are already intoxicated by it. It is like people dealing in cocaine, can you stop them? I could remember when the Infantry Divisions were converted to Mechanized Infantry Divisions, I was in the army myself, then.
“It meant soldiers would no longer go on foot for operations, but move in Armoured Personnel Carriers. But in a whole Division, you find only three APCs refurbished after the Second World War. But look at the billions of naira that have been stolen in the past, in the name of equipping these divisions. The truth is that there was never a truly full Mechanized Division. I left the army in 1987. It was all lies. So, it did not start today.
"When Boko Haram started initially, it was wayo. It was about ‘let’s eat and grab what we can grab’. They never knew it would get out of hand. Once emergency was declared, the army thought they could frighten the society by killing, maiming and arresting some people. They thought that would stop Boko Haram. But instead of curtailing it, they were fuelling it."
On factors that fuelled Boko Haram, Gumi said part of it was psychological.
“Somebody who has lost his father, brother or uncle would just join Boko Haram to seek revenge. Also, soldiers who have seen so many die in detention will lack the courage to fight on. Yes, they are soldiers, but they are also human beings.
"So, with all these, US, will not allow weapons to be sold to an army that has been documented by their own records to have committed atrocities. The US is accountable."
Reminded that Boko Haram is also killing people, the Islamic scholar maintained that, “There is a difference between a constituted authority and an outlawed group. Armed robbers are different from policemen. An armed robber can come in here now and spray everybody, but a policeman cannot do that. No, because there is the issue of legality. We are not rogues, we are a government, and we must be seen to behave like one.
"When there was no threat, they were embezzling the money, without buying any weapons. But now they truly need the weapons, but the US is saying no because it feels giving Nigerian Army weapons is like giving weapons to Boko Haram, no difference. Boko Haram kills and Nigerian Army kills. They bury people, you bury people. They slaughter, you slaughter, no difference.
"So do you expect Boko Haram to obey the Geneva Convention? No, it has no respect for that. So, if the US wants to divide Nigeria, what the Nigerian government did, and has been doing, perfectly fits into their plan. The US did not need to do much. We just fell into the trap."
On possibility of Nigeria turning to Russia to purchase arms, the Sheikh stated that weapons can be purchased from anywhere.
"Nothing stops us from doing that. But the greatest sacrifice we must make to end these mindless killings is to stop the recycling of political leaders. We need new politicians, whether in PDP or APC, give us new set of people, so we can open a new page and begin afresh".