Neither are the clouds over Nigeria’s insecurity crisis clearing nor do the key players on all fronts appear to think that the gamesmanship can go out of control. At a time of potentially explosive elite fragmentation and thick populist sentiments over identity differences, the sort of gamesmanship going on across Nigeria can provide no one with comfort. The textual can quickly become the real. This is more so in a climate of sundry commentators who know not much of what they are commenting upon beyond what they saw on Facebook or one Whatsapp chat group.
Not only has President Muhammadu Buhari chosen a Christian discursive space – Christianity Today – to respond framing of him as an Islamic bigot only to be challenged by the Christian Association of Nigeria, (CAN) as well as opposition leader, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the North from where he comes has formed its own regional security self-help militia similar to what the Southwest did a few weeks ago that put it on collision course with the Federal Government.
Only two good stories might be the reported air raid on an Ansaru terrorist camp in Birnin Gwari in Kaduna State by the Police and the Air Force in which 250 of them were eliminated as well as governors of the Southeast turning down resurrecting what is the equivalent of what the Southwest and the North have done by way of regional militia but there is no knowing what other regional blocks might be planning.
While awaiting popular reaction to this story, the defining element of the crisis remains intact. It is that President Muhammadu Buhari who should have been the father figure of the nation as envisaged in the Constitution is himself implicated in the crisis. It has nothing to do with whether the allegation against the president is true or not true. Rather, it is that the allegations against him have denied him the legitimacy to play the role of chief interpreter and a credible chief crisis manager. That is really where the danger lies in the current crisis for Nigeria.
It is the danger some observers are sure the president does not appear to appreciate, given his responses to the allegation such as choosing to use a Christian audience medium to dispel the allegation. According to such observers, the president assumes that the problem is merely a matter of convincing the audience he has in mind and is targeting by choosing that medium. Unfortunately, truth is not a matter of the facts but of interpretation. Great as the effort to use that medium, he may still not be communicating until he addresses the basis of the interpretation. The interpretation of the overwhelming presence in government of certain identity, especially in the security axis is what is implicating the president. That is the silence undoing the president in spite of his denials. At a time of grave security crisis, there is no way that will not be interpreted as a hidden agenda in an over-diverse polity.
It is surprising that the president would allow the launching of a Northern regional militia at a time of felt and actual insecurity under a government headed by a Northerner and when the North, more than any other of the defunct regions, is worst hit by disunity. Questions of who this militia will be pursuing will naturally be raised – bandits, renegade killers or terrorists? Apart from that, does it then suddenly mean Amotekun in the Southwest is no longer illegal? All these raise questions about where the deterrent sense of managing the current siege might be coming from within the current government?
There seems to be an inability to transcend enemy images from the past but is that the issue now or the possibility of building consensus and mobilizing the nation to overcome its worst insecurity crisis in history?