TO quite many that are already counting days to the end of the year, it is time they started counting their blessings-by rolling out the drums. But to some, notably Ladi Thompson, a humanist pastor cum activist, this is no moment for any drum to even “whisper!”
“Why must we dance –to celebrate the thousands that have been mowed down by the dreaded insurgents … to celebrate the inexplicable abduction of those 219 innocent girls – the future of our beleaguered nation?
Pastor Thompson’s emotion crumbled pitiably at his Ilupeju, Lagos office, where the encounter with this reporter took place earlier in the week.
“God, please take control,” Thompson, the Special Adviser to the President, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) on Conflict Resolution and Security Matters, pleaded.
But we have cause to heave a sigh of relief, pastor. We heard that our soldiers are rising to the task of containing them (the insurgents)” the reporter cut in, apparently to soothe his frayed nerves.
“We must refuse to be deceived at this point. Our soldiers are getting discouraged. While we were counselling some of them, we found out that Nigerian Air Force men were “shelling” our soldiers. Guns supplied to the Nigerian Army were mysteriously found in the hands of the enemies. And sadly, some of our soldiers shoot into the air instead of shooting at the enemies …where are we heading for?
“Many of our men don’t live to collect their first pay. It is obvious that there is infiltration in high levels and it is a clear fact that a house divided against itself would not stand. Our government must know that there is no global definition for terrorism. Each country defines and tackles insurgency in its own peculiar way to propagate its own existence,” he said.
On the way forward, Pastor Thompson said: “There is the need for us to put together experts that will define terrorism from the Nigerian and African perspectives. We must realise that one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist.
“President Goodluck Jonathan needs to recognise that we are in a state of war. We must know that the military is not the main solution to the war. We are dealing with moles in high places and they must be fished out. There must be an empowered bi-partisan body of critical thinkers to weed them out. All political activities must be put on hold for now.
“In the interim, President Jonathan should inaugurate an all-inclusive body for governance, while we sort out the issue of Nigeria’s future and the stability of its territorial integrity.
“We need, for instance, a platform where somebody such as President Jonathan and the patriotic few such as the Osun State Governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola would sit on a roundtable to discuss the nation’s future. I mentioned Aregbesola because of the Omoluabi ethos of his government, which is the key thing needed to turn things around in this country.
“It is about patriotism, integrity, unconditional love, Godliness, fear of God and fellow-feeling. Since it is working wonderfully in Osun State, it can work for the entire country. We must not throw away the golden goose because of tribal sentiments.
On what Aregbesola’s style of governance has to do with the war against insurgency, Pastor Thompson said: “What is happening requires the kind of rare fundamental re-orientation that is happening in Osun State. It is beyond cosmetics.
“We can no longer avoid the issues that should have been handled fundamentally, which were not. Many of us thought the recent national conference would engender the desired solution, but unfortunately, the no-go areas are the issues causing problems in the country. So, we are back to square one.
“Sadly, the constitution of the conference was badly skewed because 95 per cent of those that were out to carve a future for the country belong to the typewriter generation that is still hooked on tribal, ethnic and religious rivalry oiled by corruption.
“So, their results are predictable and totally useless when it comes to forging a way for a digital generation.”
Using findings from various researches as premise for his argument, Pastor Thompson advised that “we must waste no further time in putting in place a regional defence mechanism.”
Continuing, he said: “In the event that we fail to hearken to the voice of wisdom, by refusing to implement all these things because some of us are still blinded by our political ambitions, it is going to be a matter of weeks before we realise that our leaders have slept for too long.”
Noting that the failure of Nigerian leadership has “made us a bitter disappointment to the rest of Africa,” he added that “it will be very unfair to the younger generation because in the event of a meltdown, African youths are not going to find any cushion anywhere in Africa because there is a lot of resentment against Nigeria.”
Pastor Thompson warned that it would be too late for the country if, in the next three months, the Jonathan-led administration fails to declare a state of war against all the secret agents in government as the insurgents continue to advance.
“When history books are written, it will be noted that there were some who belonged to a typewriter generation; people who were so self-centred, greedy and so myopic to the extent that all they planned to do was to steal the tomorrow of the youth to create comfort throughout their own lifetime.
“However, their names will go down in history as belonging to the worst generation in Africa’s history,” the cleric said.