Boko Haram and the wailers
Currently, the right to freedom has been under siege in several parts of the country. Insecurity of lives and property has dominated the news in the country for the wrong reason. From Chibok to Dapchi, school girls are being kidnapped by the dreaded Boko Haram insurgents. From Zamfara to Sokoto banditry and highway robbery have been the order of the day, and so it is in several other places across the country. The frequent havoc continues to put image of the country in bad light. In some parts of northern states, life can be described as shot and brutish due to killings and kidnapping that have gone on unabated. The damage caused by the insurgents and bandits is not only obvious but very devastating. People have abandoned their homes and communities as they consider their ancestral land unsafe.
From inception when Boko Haram reared its frightful face, it has been difficult to understand the position of some notable elders and leaders of thought from the north concerning the group. Perhaps their continued silence on the atrocities committed by the group triggered the speaker, House of Representative, Yakubu Dogara to speak thus: “On the issue of insecurity, all of us know what is happening in most parts of the North, particularly in Borno, Abuja, Kaduna, Zamfara and Katsina and even Sokoto now. In fact, it is a general problem in the country … where are the leaders of Northern Nigeria? The truth is that if we don’t rise to the challenge, sooner than later, if things continue this way, we are not going to have a country…”
Therefore, it is not enough to rush to President Muhammadu Buhari in Aso Rock and weep like a “baby” as governor Kashim Shettima of Borno state was recently reported or for governor to put his office on the line, wishing to step down if “state of emergency rule” will end insurgency like governor Abdullaziz Yari of Zamfara state is willing to do. Even the alarm raised by governor Aminu Masari of Katsina state that nobody is safe in the state is a huge concern knowing that people’s lives are involved. No doubt, the bulk stops at the president’s table. But, it is absolutely not an overstatement to conclude that government at all levels is not doing enough to combat insecurity in the nation. The war on insurgency cannot be won by NATO (no action talk only) or simply by sympathy over crocodile tears or a cheap political sentiments and even a self inflicted pain that triggered the alarm. Furthermore, the inflexible traditional institutions, culture, religion and the lackadaisical attitudes of Nigerians to give vital information will continue to compound the insecurity palaver.
No one should fall for the argument that the activities of Boko Haram or bandits as some chose to call the criminals are not associated with politics. Rather than the government simply smashing the insurgents group giving the account of governor Yari that most of the Boko Haram camps are known by locals. Yet, they chose to continue romancing the “precious stone” and hide behind the excuse as governor Yari pointed out in a report that “…if the security agencies take their job seriously, within a short time, we will get out of this mess”. To complicate matters or perhaps give the bandits an edge, governor Yari said: “…there is no place being occupied by the armed bandits in Zamfara state. They live and operate in the forest. They strike and run”. If one may ask: does governor Yari expect the bandits to take over the administration of some local government areas in his state before he realizes that Zamfara’s forest is part of the state? Is he not aware that most citizens of the state depend on the forest for their livelihood? The farmers and hunters for instance.
It is absolutely disheartening to learn that Nigeria has been injured and weakened by its own treacherous elite. The government and elite class should also know that insecurity represents a fundamental threat to democracy. And the implication could be alarming as insecurity may breed an air of frustration over the masses whose anger may be difficult to put under control.
Perhaps, the best outcome from this quagmire would be a radical break with the past. What the nation needs at this crucial moment is a strong reformist government that will vigorously tackle economic recovery and make education its prime focus. But that could be a wild goose chase given the entrenched personal and political interest coupled with the bitter divisions within the leadership and elite class. Therefore, it may not be easy to ensure political conformity that will give birth to a people-oriented government. In that case, Nigeria and Nigerians will continue to muddle with the lie and pretence of peaceful coexistence.
It is evident that as election approaches, the political storm thickens and candidates emerge with all sorts of adorable strategy and political outlines and promises of how far and how best to pursue economic reform. Once given the opportunity to govern, their voices begin to sound like a broken record as their stories resemble dispatches from an earlier darker era. Which is why, politicians are seldom predictable and can at least be said with certainty that many among them are shameless comedians and promise breakers.
Understandably, the north is not the only region suffering the humiliation. Therefore, government must find a way to genuinely allow peace to reign and to rally people with strong conviction to act and live together based on common interests and universal aspirations for security, dignity and equality. Politicians, traditional rulers and indeed all stakeholders in the Nigeria project must have at the back of their mind that a global recycling drive in peoples’ honour is in their past works. If you ask Nigerians what they deserve most, the likeliest answer would be ‘peace’, though there are plenty of other needs. But with peace, confidence will be reposed in the people as it will ensure they exist in cordial relationship and believe in the Nigeria project.
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