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Terrorists and the Rest of Us

There is one strand of convergence between Mallam El Rufai, politician turned columnist, and I in the last piece from his intriguing ink pot.

That is that objectivity is the ultimate victim when political considerations becloud the sphere of ideas. Ordinarily, the misfortune of one family in Africa usually brings every one rallying around them. Most people, with the exception of extremists who may end up being perceived as witches, find it easy to abandon old quarrels and join the rank of sympathisers when something unexpected goes wrong. Indeed, in times of adversities, sworn foes usually abandon or suspend their quibbles to face the common enemies as one united force.

Our people believed in resolutions and crisis management. The teeth and the tongue, my mother used to say, as close as they are, neighbours living together in one little mouth, sometimes quarrel. But they have no option but to resolve the dispute and regain harmony. These kind of proverbs influence their commitment to peace.

A study of many parleys of peace in African communities, show that the sacredness of truth was at the heart of most of the challenges they surmounted. And I have found that the erosion of this profound resource in this season of anomy is the reason why things are sliding towards the cliff edge. Have we so completely mortgaged our African souls and turned ourselves to cultural apparitions?

How do we explain the silence from many influential people and, worse, the sniggers from some quarters following the bombing of the engine room of security in Nigeria- the Police headquarter in Abuja. How do we explain the serial attempts to isolate the Inspector General of Police and the random castigation of the police for the promise to bring terrorists to book?

What point is being made here? That rather than pledge to deal decisively with people who are hounding and killing policemen, the IGP should have pleaded with them to spare his job and his men.

If Hafiz Ringim can be said to be “boasting” as the cartoonists are putting it, is the spirit of his statement not in the interest of the Nigerian people? That is to say that the people of Nigeria can not have their sovereignty and liberty usurped by any masked group. It was someone’s job to make that declaration on behalf of all of us and that person can not be renounced even if a thousand bomb blasts come rumbling after.

I have nothing against the suggestion by Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the National Publicity Secretary of Action Congress of Nigeria, that President Goodluck Jonathan should take the lead in engaging the Boko Haram sect instead of leaving it to the the Borno state governor, but deriding the IGP for saying that the days of the sect are numbered is taking partisan politics too far.

It was the job of one man to read the riot act against the present prime public enemies, but that man was speaking on our behalf and to tell such a man to “talk less and show more tact” as reported is to deny him the support that is desirable at this time.

The issue of security is way beyond politics. The sacredness of life and the primal task of protecting life is a duty for all men of goodwill. It is not an assignment we can wash our hands off of. We can assign it to the police and government and then take ring side seat, running commentary and casting aspersion. As one prudent columnist said- we are all in one same boat and must commit to baling the water gushing in. Any political party perceived as a critical observer in this terrorism matter will certainly lose goodwill.

Lai goes further to encourage the Boko Haram and all other agents of darkness that read his opinion by stating that “Nigeria currently lacks the capacity to use force to crush the Boko Haram sect…It is apparent that a sect that has claimed responsibility for bombings at military barracks as well as the headquarters of the police cannot be intimidated by six APCs, which the police said they had moved to Borno State.”

Lai is apparently still stuck in the campaign mode and needs to be reminded of the fact that the people of Nigeria can not be bowed by any number of credit for cowardly bombing of any number of barracks or headquarter and no politician can impress us at this time by suggesting that the Nigerian state has no option be to negotiate. Clearly, political solutions are available and should be explored.

It is also clear that such negotiation will not be out of cowardice but out of the African preference for peace whenever it is achievable via dialogue.

Those who choose to arm themselves against the state must be willing to come to the table with feasible agenda or else negotiation will be impossible. Bending over to the extent of harming the commonwealth and subjugating our constitution to the whims of any sect is not an option.

Positions like Ringim must beg and resign before we can negotiate is a ridiculous posture that advocates of engagement must begin to drum into the ears of the religious militants. One of their conditions is that sharia should be adopted by all states in the north. The constitution gives the power to make that decision to the majority of the people of the north and not to a few people with guns and bombs.

Of the many comments so far etched in the ideo-sphere, MASSOB’s leader’s threat to start violence as the only language that Nigeria understands is  the most disturbing in the sense that as we pursue our stick and carrot initiative, we must never allow the state to plummet to the abyss where thieves and all shades of brigands start to demand for amnesty deals.

Alhaji Lai Mohammed still takes the cake in my opinion by making the following postulation which begs for investigation:
“Boko Haram is a product of politics gone awry, as the former Borno State governor allegedly used the sect to further his political career only to dump it unceremoniously.”

Could this be the clue to identifying the marauders behind the siege or mere mud slinging? There are names implied here. I think the police can start digging from this allegation.

For the rest of us ordinary Nigerians, let us all be watchful. It bears repetition to say that the police need us for any clue, any information, any suggestion that can end this menace.


By Aoiri Obaigbo


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