Originally appeared in NEXT on May 12, 2011
Osama, Anini and other Wars on Terror
By Tolu Ogunlesi
The killing of Osama bin Laden has shown just how obsessed Nigerians are with generating conspiracy theories about matters that do not concern them.
When the citizens of a country that consistently fails to correctly identify its own terrorists feel no sense of irony or shame in challenging one that takes its internal and external security seriously, you know it’s time to change the channel.
Do you find it hard to believe Nigerians were actually loving the sounds of their own voices as they issued all sorts of messages calling on President Obama to release visual evidence of the death of Osama bin Laden?
I’m appealing to all newly-elected governors to please add mass payment of Blackberry/DSTV/HITV subscription fees to their annual WAEC/JAMB fee payments – we urgently need to find stimulating distractions for Nigerians, so they can keep their irritating opinions to themselves next time Serious Nations of the World are discussing law enforcement matters.
The videos that apply to us, and that we’ve already seen – e.g. of that woman who, during the recent elections, was busy thumb-printing ballot papers like she was running a race against an approaching apocalypse – what have we done with them? Instead we forward those in chain emails (“Come and see INEC wonder!”) and then sit back to tie wrapper and postulate from chewing-stick-stuffed mouths: “Eh, unless Obama show us video, me I no dey believe say Osama don die o.” “Aha now, why the man no wan show us video sef?”
I continue to be baffled by our genius for failing to see the obvious indictments screaming at us in all of these. To evade detection by his technologically-sophisticated pursuers Osama bin Laden lived for years in a compound without internet or telephone lines. MEND’s Jomo Gbomo on the other hand, is in regular email contact with the Nigerian authorities and the media. I can imagine the National Security Adviser hissing and clicking on ‘SEND TO SPAM’ every time an email appears from Mr. Gbomo.
The last time we heard said from the office of that Adviser it was to issue unnecessary warnings to ordinary citizens regarding their conduct at polling units. When columnist and professor Okey Ndibe was invited for questioning early this year, the story (correct me if I’m wrong) was that his name featured on an SSS watch-list that had not been updated in a while.
We are the tail-less cow who has to depend on God for relief from flies. Frankly I think we’d be better off entrusting our national security to a joint committee of Divine Powers drawn from all our local and imported religions.
Now ask yourself: when was the last time Nigerians had any cause to be proud of efficiency of their law enforcement agencies? Anini’s era?
As an Armed Forces Ruling Council meeting drew to a close in October 1986, President Ibrahim Babangida reportedly turned to the Inspector General of Police, Etim Inyang, and snarled: “My friend, where is Anini?”
Three months later Anini was in the can, sealed and ready for execution. I don’t know if IBB watched the capture live from the “Situation Room” of Dodan Barracks. Neither do I know if he gave a triumphant televised speech to the nation. (One person I do know who was prevented from giving his own triumphant speech was Muhammadu Buhari, whose boys bungled the Umaru Dikko operation twenty-seven years ago.)
Ten years after Anini, one imagines Sani Abacha turning to Sgt. Rogers, his bloodshot eyes concealed behind his trademark dark glasses: “My friend, where is Wole Soyinka?” Thankfully, they never found Kongi.
But it continues to be a tragedy when a country’s intelligence agencies find their fullest expression in the oppression of ordinary, innocent citizens; as opposed to the criminals who daily wage war against the country.
I keep imagining that someday soon, President Jonathan will pleasantly surprise the nation with a midnight broadcast (a day or two after releasing the long-form / unabridged version of his PhD thesis, to quell Sahara Reporters rumours that he submitted a children’s story as dissertation):
“Good evening. Tonight, I can report to the Nigerian people and to the world that Nigeria has conducted a series of operations that disabled the largest generator-manufacturing factories on the planet. Today, at my direction, Nigeria launched a targeted operation against compounds in the cities of Guangzhou, Zhongshan and Shanghai in China. A small team of Nigerians carried out the operations with extraordinary courage and capability. No Nigerians were harmed. They took care to avoid civilian casualties. After a firefight, they dealt what we believe is a significant blow to the manufacture of generators in China, thus guaranteeing that the end is in sight for power failure in Nigeria.”
Oh that will be the day. Imagine the rejoicing across the land; inebriated Nigerians trooping to the streets to celebrate a turning point in the War on the Terror of Darkness.
Until then, dream on, I tell myself. Meanwhile there are more important tasks to be done, like wondering if I should be concerned that a Diesel King is my president’s new best friend. Or checking to see if Jomo Gbomo has replied my latest email…
(c) Tolu Ogunlesi 2015