By Rotimi Fasan
THE strikes by terrorists in Northern Nigeria have become a weekly affair now threatening to occur on daily basis. And when that becomes the case, that is when the mindless waste of life and property in the North becomes a daily event, then we can be sure we are on the way to Somali or some other parts of the planet blighted by war and other man-made calamities.
It would be total chaos, a return to the nasty and brutish world of Hobbes in which life is short. This, no doubt, is the goal of the terrorists and we must not allow it.
The spate of killings in Nigeria, especially killings that go unreported but which people witness in different parts of the country, killings that never make the usually grossly underestimated statistics put out there by relevant authorities- but the spate of these killings are high on their own without the inputs from terrorists.
Now that we have beasts in the guises of human beings in our midst, scums of the human species that have made a vocation of the killing of innocents, people that have never offended them and of whom they know nothing other than the idea they profess beliefs and/or belong in groups different from theirs- now we have such skunks on the prowl, our collective response should be to go after them and smoke them out of their hiding places without compromise.
What is going on with the mass murders of Nigerians is simply unacceptable and no sane country under the rule of law should accept this.
The complicated politics of the Nigerian state with its overtones of ethnic sentiments, however, allows confirmed criminals to be treated as religious hotheads. This leaves room for the accommodation of all kinds of criminalities. Some people just wake up from wherever they see as their home and go out to kill others quietly minding their business elsewhere. And they have their supporters who want the rest of us to believe that this is happening because there are no jobs out there or because some groups have been schemed out of the gains of the Nigerian society.
The attack on worshippers at a Deeper Life Church in Okene last week, after the bombings in Sokoto and the suicide attack on an emir in Yobe, are signs that the terrorists are spreading their dragnets farther afield.
They are expanding the theatre of their criminal activities while government continues to act like the perpetrators of these inhuman crimes are just some disgruntled elements that could be rounded up whenever Abuja decides. But if things were as simple as this then we should not be where we are today where common terrorists continue to move from one place to another committing abominable murders while the authorities feed people with lies that it has things under control.
It is not that Abuja cannot rise to arrest the slide into anarchy, it’s not that the criminals have overwhelming fire power or control of the parts of the country where they’ve been operating.
It’s just that the will to act has been lacking and the strategy of fighting the criminals is clearly not working. The President has had a change of security advisers and more security personnel are, we are told, getting more counter terrorism/insurgency training but the fruits of these efforts are hardly evident. Government, one would want to believe, has information on which it bases its action and the security agencies are supposedly working but they are not doing enough to protect life and somebody somewhere should take responsibility for this.
We cannot all sit back and wring our hands in helplessness while some idiots go around taking lives and destroying property at random.
President Goodluck Jonathan may be doing his best but his best has to be bettered in the circumstances. More than any other person, that task belongs to him.
Part of the reason things are going this way, we must admit, is because the terrorists read his body language and don’t see him as being in control. He needs to act with more firmness and move away from his vexing attitude of throwing platitudes and worn moralities on how Nigerians should take heart because terrorism is a global problem each time they are besieged.
Jonathan should be firm but not in the fashion of a coward who boldly rushes into action in a bid to mask his fear. Nigeria is not one of those volatile spots that could be said to be faced with inherent contradictions that make resort to terrorism on the scale we are witnessing today begin to make any sense.
Yet the situation in parts of Nigeria today reminds one of Iraq in the immediate aftermath of the US invasion. At other times you see a picture of Afghanistan emerging from the confused atmosphere of the nearly everyday killings and suicide murders in the North.
Except that the terrorists and their sponsors have seen a Nigerian leader that is not firm enough in their estimation, they would not be going on the way they are right now. They are out to create a state of chaos, a place where it could be rightly said that there is neither order nor societal values in the manner they go after authority figures and institutions.
They attack security personnel and their offices, people working in the service of government, including members of the youth corps are fair game; state institutions, law makers and now emirs have received full doses of the terrorists’ treatment. They bomb churches and destroy mosques with equal ferocity.
Certainly these are terrorists with an anarchist agenda. By the time others begin to fight back to defend themselves, as they surely must when they arrive at the realisation or belief government cannot protect them, we would all be working on our personal perception and principles of what is right or legal- effectively in a state of chaos.
This is the direction the terrorists want to push the country and now is the time for Abuja and all those who have been speaking from both sides of the mouth in the affected part of the country to stand up and be counted. That may be the essence of the call by some to Northern leaders to condemn these terrorists in very unambiguous terms.
Understandably, some of them have been silent or have refused to condemn the terrorists who are the real infidels they claim they are fighting- many, it is obvious, cannot speak in open condemnation of the terrorists because they are afraid of being made targets of attack but with the indiscriminate killings going on, let nobody think their silence can guaranty safety. The killers can only get more brazen not relent.