By Ladi Thompson
ON Wednesday, the abducted Chibok schoolgirls marked 100 days in captivity, abuse and bondage. The subject is of grave concern, a serious issue and of paramount importance to Nigeria’s history. The issue of 100 days disappearance of Chibok girls must be approached with gravity, put in its proper place and given its proper weight. First of all it must not be a platform for inconsiderate adventurism, political jobbery or insensitive mockery. The 100 days of our missing girls is the site of a national ebeenezer that could mark the turning point of our national fortunes. This is the platform on which we must allow the world to understand that the missing girls are representative of many others that have disappeared under similar circumstances in lesser numbers over the decades of Nigerian history.
The 100 days should be about concern for the missing girls, those who were kidnapped before them, those kidnapped after them, the grieving parents left behind, the parents that have died because of the shock, the relatives that have developed illnesses and diseases including psychological disorders and the ravaged communities that have been under siege since then. The 100 days should be a call to sobriety for a nation that has carried on with business as usual unaware of the terrible death toll that the terrorist attacks have exacted in the immediate regions affected.
In the assessment of the 100 days we must reflect on the subtle strategy by which a Nigeria has been dragged into a war form that is just being registered in the lexicon of modern military libraries of the war colleges across the globe. We should consider carefully the chameleonic nature of the devastating campaign that has not only terminated lives in hundreds of thousands over the years in Nigeria but has made life miserable for many citizens dwelling in the Northern regions of the nation by injecting gross abuses and injustices as acceptable norms in the system.
Looking back at the 100 days we need to caution the emerging protest groups both local and foreign backed to consider thier strategies well and take into consideration that they are not up against the standard textbook injustices that plagued European nations and the United States of America in the years gone by. As a nation we must be educated to know that the satanic device that has swallowed our girls for 100 days is not in the same boat as the problems that were solved by Ghandi, Martin Luther King Jnr and other heroes of the non-violence advocacy. While there is need for us to pressure our government to acknowledge the satanic war form that is threatening our national future it must not be done in way to deride or denigrate the Nigerian president, his government and the noble soldiers of the Nigerian Armed Forces.
The nation needs to be assured that the groups that have largely ignored the North Eastern war zones to concentrate their campaigns in Abuja are not violating the basic rules of nonviolent advocacy. One of the pillars of acceptable nonviolent campaigns for change is that the groups seek to defeat injustices and evil instead of people. This means that vindictive and personality targeted activities are definitely off key. Another key pillar that marks genuine nonviolence protest is the mindset of willingness of its campaigners to accept persecution without retaliating in order to convict the conscience of the oppressor. When all things are taken into consideration we might need to consider carefully that the standard nonviolence techniques were originally designed to resolve oppressive problems rooted in militarism, racism, poverty and colonialism. The real problem behind the Chibok attack is a different kettle of fish and cannot be resolved with a wrong medicine.
For the avoidance of doubt we need to affirm that the Boko a Haram by self definition are Islamist ideologues that are seeking to destroy the Nigerian state to eradicate women’s rights, the political vote and religious plurality. The global resurgence of Islamism is a documented fact and its mixture with an ancient strain in Nigeria is what produces the venomous hybrid known as the Boko Haram. By definition the Boko Haram is an unrelenting, fascistic, vicious and amoral “Socio-economic-judicial-militaristic-financial-cultural-linguistic” hydra masked in a religious garb. In the year 1905 it masked itself in a Catholic disguise to waste lives and destroy much in a 200 year campaign but in Nigeria it had donned the disguise of Islam. This is why the 1st national lesson that must come out of the 100 day platform should be that “we cannot apply medicine designed for headaches to a cancerous tumor”. I stand to be corrected but one of the Abuja activists that ventured into the Chibok area made an open confession that the reality on ground did not conform to the textbook pattern of revolution they had imagined.
I have nothing against creative protests to put pressure on the Federal Government but insist that such actions must not be counter productive. The average Nigerian does not understand the global dimension of the boko haram menace and fewer Nigerians understand the reason why it is being reported as an insurrection in Nigeria but labelled differently in Europe and the USA by a section of the media. On the global scale this problem had proven itself to be a tough nut to crack and the major nations of the world are making a tactical withdrawal from Afghanistan and nobody would object if Nigeria is stupid enough to advertise itself as the new frontier for the global war against terror. The strategic inactivity of major nations in Sambisa forest might not be unconnected to this hope that is being nursed by those who wish us evil.
The level of intelligence at which this war is being waged seems to be beyond the ability of the Nigerian mind! There are nations that would readily sponsor any group that will weaken the Nigerian Government and divide opinions in the nation. I dare say that the “Bringbackourgirls” campaign needs to reconsider its strategy because the Boko Haram intelligentsia may have encouraged Shekau to taunt them publicly in order to help their campaign. The next question would be “why would the Boko Haram be encouraging them?” To answer that we would need to borrow a strategic terminology known as “the Useful Idiot” syndrome. Neither Daladier nor Chamberlain suspected that Adolf Hitler was planning a global war when they went to wine and dine with him in Berlin to sign a peace accord. These men of great stature are recorded in history as “Useful Idiots” because they were used by Hitler to weaken their nations while Nazi Germany was preparing to expand the war.
The 2nd lesson from the 100 days platform should be that the destiny of our kidnapped girls is a pointer to the future of Nigeria if we do not act on time. Creative campaigns have to be mounted to pressure the GEJ government to focus fully on recognizing the state of war that Nigeria is in currently. We need to evacuate all civilians from the war zone and concentrate on crushing the menace speedily. GEJ must be pressured into building bridges across all political divides and persuasions to forge an accord where the best of a Nigeria is focused on solving this problem. If the USA did not get some things right after the 9/11 affront their nation would have been overrun by now. The possibility of elections holding in 2015 is very slim and the political class needs to be educated fast. Many foreign nations know that Nigeria has been asleep for too long and the peculiarity of this type of war is that its moles often work to weaken the state structure from within. Without breaking stride we must encourage GEJ to create a new machinery that will systematically weed out all the moles and compromised persons in high places. The primary objective of the new machinery must be to remove the religious cover of the Boko Haram in such a way that the average Nigerian Muslim would be freed from needless pressure to join in the task of nation building. While the new machinery engages the intelligent operators behind the local Boko Haram and the global hydra we need to graduate from being a beggar nation to take our seat of dignity alongside other nations of the world.
On a 3rd count Nigerians have to look inwards and quit expecting salvation to come from our colonial lords or any other world power. Let us take for example the big stick of the last standing world power. While there is no doubt that the southern half of Nigeria worships the very ground that Americans tread upon we need to do a critical assessment as to whether the love is reciprocal. We must accept the fact that a large expanse of northern Nigeria worships the Arab culture with equal fervor. Instead of counting this as a disadvantage we must understand that we are uniquely positioned to make contributions to the global effort that even the US cannot make. A good study of the Boko Haram menace and its genre will teach any willing student that Osama bin Ladins engineering skills tweaked Islamism to take advantage of the celebrated gaps between state and religion that define modern democracies.That separation of state and religion is one of the reasons that American styled democracy has never taken root in African nations. As Africans we Nigerians too are a hyper-religious people and the globe has not seemed to notice that our cultural platforms allow us to glide over the religion and state borders with the ease of an ice skater across the rink. While no sane person would argue against the American model it would be difficult to name one single nation that has emulated it successfully.
In Nigeria we will have to accept our limitation in comparison to the USA despite the common experience of colonialism. American history teaches us that their democracy stands on a foundation that was paid for in full by principles of equality that cost many lives while Nigeria negotiated with colonial values and reached a compromise to buy an independence that was not really free. The American Declaration of Independence is its greatest asset and all attempts to spread democracy while ignoring its foundation is an exercise in futility. Watching from Nigeria we cannot but wonder what the US can offer us when Mexico standing next to their borders has not profited much from its influence directly. The mysterious dealings of the US state department in Nigeria has not helped matters either. Up until 2012 they seemed to be weighing in on the side of the Boko Haram as a freedom fighting group and they fought tooth and nail to prevent the Foreign Terrorist Organization designation. In a nut shell Nigerians have to accept that salvation cannot come from abroad. Instead of tearing down and disrespecting GEJ we need to encourage, strentghen and pressure him to action. GEJ as the father of the nation (a purely African construct) needs to sound a clarion to unite everyone across every known divide in Nigeria. If we do not use our unique African advantages to best the strength of the Boko Haram ideology we will eventually all perish together. We expect GEJ to offer all his political opponents the olive branch so that individuals like the Ogbeni governor of Osun and many other Nigerian assets can work together on the same table. Rauf Aregbesola in particular had been shouting himself hoarse on the danger that the unattended almajiris problem would eventually bring in to Nigeria.
When we consider that there will be no nation to govern if the Boko Haram succeeds this possibility will not sound so distant. Both religions of Islam and Christianity were berthed in the Middle East and Africans have no business killing one another over religious matters. We need to offer the globe the unique formula that exists in most African cultures that puts a pragmatic lid on religious hate crimes. In ancient Africa we were gulled by demonic deities into offering human sacrifices and blood was shed copiously. Africans know that signature too well and cannot permit a return to that form of darkness. We must call for a formal recognition of the declaration of war that Boko Haram has been waging and suspend all political activities for a season to focus on defending the integrity of our nation and restoration of value to human worth. Nigeria should be the site were the global resurgence of Islamism will meet its Waterloo. We have the sophisticated sociocultural tools that can remove its religious cover to expose its satanic agenda. If our Nigerian political gladiators can bury their hatchets to work toward this noble goal Nigeria will reap a fresh beginning and set the pace for the restoration of dignity to African life. If we ignore the ominous signs in the horizon Nigeria will be taken by surprise and the curtains will be drawn on the hopes of West Africa’s giant. It is pertinent to mention that the Boko Haram is quietly gaining grounds in the North East and our parents have been imploring our teams to rescue their children and evacuate them asan assurance that their family lines will continue to exist after their towns and villages are finally exterminated.
The fourth lesson of the 100 days is taken from the youthful composition of the abductees. This means that our youths can no longer sit by idly as the future is being destroyed. Youths must be mobilized in a creative way to pressure the nation into urgent action. This season of war would be a good time to effect the paradigm shift that will give Nigerian youths something to live for. The incumbent administration will either go down in history as the fresh beginning of great national revival or the painful end of a torturous experimentation in African statehood. There is much more at stake than we have been prepared to admit. A study on the use and effect of terror as a weapon in human society will reveal the level of trauma that already exists in the Nigerian society. We must use the 100 day platform to erect a resistance flag against the spread of terror and panic in our citizenry.
The fifth and final lesson we can glean on the 100 day platform is that the Boko Haram will never be totally defeated until the monster of corruption is tackled in Nigeria. Ignoring all models that have not worked, the nation must come up with a partnership between government and the grassroots to engineer an Africanized sociocultural solution to the corruption monster. By so doing we will also carpet the dubious foreign interests that wish to distract Nigeria from the true nature of the Bomo Haram. When we look inwards we will discover that these financial probity and moral modulation techniques already exist in our heritage. In conclusion we must remember that the brightest dawn is often preceded by the darkest hour. The wind is blowing hard and the shadows are growing longer but we must believe that our nation will not only survive this present danger but we will go on to thrive as the model nation of Africa when this is all over. Bodies like the Gabawasa Women & Childrens Initiative should be encouraged because they have served in the North Eastern states for more than a decade sponsoring children and comforting victims irrespective of creed, tongue or religious persuasion. Applying love with skill and applying pressure with surgical precision we shall surely overcome.
Rev. Ladi Thompson, founder/Senior Pastor of Living Waters Unlimited Church, and the international co-ordinator of Macedonian Initiative, a non-government, non-denominational organization established to provide succour to Christians persecuted because of their belief in Jesus Christ.