18 months of Emergency Rule: What gains, what pains? By Ahmad Sajoh

emergency rule

By Monday the 17th of November 2014, the Emergency Rule imposed on the three North-Eastern States of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa had exhausted the 3rd tranche of Six Months each. Effectively, the States have been under Emergency Rule for 18 Months. Since the announcement of the extension, Nigerians have been commenting on the issue using various Media. For those of us living in States under Emergency Rule, Some of these comments are indeed instructive. We have observed that most of the initial emporia about the desirability or otherwise of the State of Emergency has died down. Now the comments are mostly on the gains of process. And majority of commentators are quick to observe that the situation had gotten worst since the imposition of State of Emergency on the three states.
Perhaps it is necessary for those of us living in States under Emergency Rule to provide an informed analysis of the gains and indeed the pains of the process. At the time the Emergency Rule was first pronounced in May 2013, we in Adamawa State had pretty little insurgency activities. Our School System was stable, our Tertiary Institutions were open and functioning, and no Adamawa territory was overrun by the Insurgents. We also had no Internally Displaced Persons or IDPs anywhere within Adamawa State. Today, all Schools are closed down; one of the three Senatorial Districts is in the hands of the insurgents with a large chunk of second under threat while we have thousands of IDPs Scattered all over the remaining portion of the State. Meanwhile Movement of persons within the State has been restricted and relationship curtailed. Under such circumstances, it is difficult to convince anyone living in states under Emergency Rule that the process is succeeding.
Apologist of Emergency Rule have always threatened that if we do not accept it, the president will withdraw all military forces from our States and leave us at the mercy of the insurgents. The president himself had said something similar when he threatened the Governor of Borno State that if he withdraws the Military from Borno State, the Governor will not remain in Maiduguri for a minute. But recent events have shown that such threats are even needless. Under Emergency Rule and with Sundry Military and Police check points littered all over our roads and high ways, Insurgents drive through major roads until they reach their destinations unchallenged. Even the night time curfews are needless because Mubi town was taken over in broad daylight.
With Soldiers withdrawing from battle fields in the name of tactical maneuver, with Barracks being overrun and an Air Force Base closed in Maiduguri, what exactly is the worth of the threat by the apologists of Emergency Rule? Considering that it took the brave exploits of our youth known as Civilian JTF to contain the insurgency in some parts of Borno and Yobe States, and even braver hunters and Vigilantes to defeat the Insurgents in Adamawa State and Kala-Balge Borno State, What are all these threats about? 18 Months under Emergency Rule I have lost my Nigerian Citizenship (at least technically) since my home town is in the hands of the insurgents who have renamed it ‘’Madinatul-Islam”, My children cannot go to School while I and my family live under Constant threat of being forced to escape from Yola to God knows where. How on earth can you convince me and many others living in states under Emergency Rule and going through similar experiences that this thing is working and indeed desirable? While I get stuck at a Military check point for hours in the name of Emergency Rule, the insurgents get unfettered access to pass through these same areas unmolested and unchallenged.
Yesterday I learnt of the pathetic story of a group of persons that fled Yola to Kano out of fear. Their Bus which belonged to the NUT had an accident and they all died. If only Emergency Rule provided them the safety required, they wouldn’t have had to risk their lives on the road running from one danger and falling unto another. If Emergency Rule were working, will there have been any need for anyone to flee his ancestral home for an unknown destination? Aside from the human tragedy which the insurgency has inflicted on us and the inability of the Emergency Rule to contain it, how else do we evaluate this Emergency Rule?
At the beginning when Emergency Rule was imposed on Adamawa state in 2013, we had been cautiously optimistic even though we saw more politics than Security concerns in the declaration. At that time, Adamawa had purely challenges of criminals and criminality rather than insurgency. Now we are no longer even doubtful. The emphasis of the Emergency Rule has essentially been to serve some political interest rather than contain security threats in our States. That is why Friends of the Presidency have Maiduguri Airport open to them when they want to land but closed to all others including the state Governor. That is why the President will visit Chad with an ex- Governor of Borno State and exclude a sitting Governor. That is why the Military will provide protection for a suspected sponsor of the insurgency to conduct a political rally in Maiduguri while communities are left without protection. That is why the Insurgents over run Mubi and for days the authorities in Abuja kept quiet. That is why Soldiers withdrew from Mubi almost two hours before the Insurgents arrive. That is why the Leadership of the country can afford to enjoy a good dance show ever when bombs explode other parts of the country. In short, Politics is what makes our leaders celebrate while we mourned.
Since the Presidency had taken a decision to extend the State of Emergency for another 6 months, our attention will now return to the National Assembly. Will they sanction this extension of Emergency Rule? If they eventually do, what reasons will compel them to do so? Why can’t the members of the National Assembly conduct Public Hearings in the affected States to evaluate the process before acceding to the President’s request? Why are we being governed with such level of high handedness as if this is a dictatorship? The usual excuse that Security matters should not be discussed in public is all rubbish. When Soldiers run away from the battle field into another country it is public knowledge. When a Military Barrack is taken over by insurgents it is Public Knowledge. When territories are taken over and declared Madinatul-whatever, it is Public knowledge. When thousands are displaced and rendered homeless in make-shift camps, it is Public knowledge. Why should discussions on the plight of the affected communities, the victims and the experiences of the brave men and women of services be classified? Why should inputs from affected persons be forbidden? Something is definitely wrong with our own brand of democracy.
After 18 Months of living under Emergency Rule, one could safely say that for those of us directly affected, there are more pains than gains. We have seen many lows and literally no highs. We have witnessed very little successes in containing the insurgency within the period under Emergency Rule. We have observed the supreme sacrifices a few brave service men and women had to make even though the gains are few. We have borne the brunt of the insurgency with pain and hardships. We have witnessed the disgrace of Camerounian Gendarmes harbouring and protecting our forces. We have witnessed a mutiny by our soldiers and a proxy mutiny by their wives. We have seen our girls kidnapped and our women forcefully married. We have seen our Churches burnt and our brethren slaughtered in cold blood. We have temporarily lost our Nationality and our parents forcefully relocated to another country. We have heard several empty promises by our leaders and Military Commanders promising an end to the insurgents at dates that come and go. We have witnessed a phantom cease-fire that ended up ceasing more of our land. And yet our Rulers want to impose another six months of Emergency Rule without any change in form or character. May God Save his People?

Ahmad Sajoh wrote from Wauru Jabbe, Jimeta-Yola.

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