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The lexicon of Boko Haram

SIMPLY put, a lexicon, among other meanings, connotes all the words and phrases used in a particular language or subject; all the words and phrases used and known by a particular person or group of people.

With the effect of time and circumstances however, lexicons evolve, as well as wither, in any given society. Some impact positively, leading to positive change while others inspire fear, apathy or outright repulsion as can be seen or deduced from events and experiences in other climes.

Nigeria, overtime, has had a fair share of these apprehension raisers or mood swingers and incidentally has displayed an uncanny ability to adapt to or cope with them. Today we are confronted with the unenviable scenario of Boko Haram, whatever it really means. For the typical Nigerian today, whether those described as naïve, the sensitive or the hypersensitive, Boko Haram, as a lexicon means trouble!

It means bombing and it means “pull the system down’’. Otherwise what justification would there be for what they are doing now? The truth, so to speak, is that Nigeria is a country so well loved by God, and richly endowed with overflowing human and material resources, enough to meet all our development needs.

Throwing bombs into market places where everybody, irrespective of social or religious persuasion would need to go and transact for a living, and spraying bullets in both relaxation spots and places of worship only means that the perpetrators neither want people to relax  in the physical nor obtain benefaction from God. What an irony. Equally, being overtly anti-government, hostile to peace and public order, and blasting bank volts give the actors the colours of brigands and marauders.

Some people have said Boko Haram may represent a cause, and may perhaps be a revolt arising from social deprivation, and illiteracy. If that were an argument it would de begging the question or amount to a fallacy. A socially and economically deprived person would not have the type of funds needed to purchase and import arms. Likewise an illiterate person would not have the savvy to do the sort of high intelligence activities that the Boko Haram people are doing.

The real Boko Haram people are not the downtrodden mob that we see carrying the swords and daggers, and who are being manipulated. Those ones are in need of empathy, education and empowerment. Ordinarily they would not want to do what they have been led into doing if they had an option. They would rather want better education, better welfare, a secure and guaranteed future, and an unimpeded enjoyment of the full benefits of being proud Nigerians. The real felons are the faceless people who are taking advantage of the poor and hungry.

No doubt there have been challenges of development all over the country which predate our independence and still exist to the present time. It is incontrovertible also that previous leaderships did not address Nigeria’s corporate development problems squarely, and did not justify the funds appropriated for developmental programmes, leading to the coinage of lexicons like MASOP, Egbesu Boys, Niger Delta Militants, MASSOB, OPC, etc, whatever they stood for.

The profligacy of yesteryears, the poor governance index at all levels, the high incidence of personal and group indiscipline aggregated to predispose our society to the prevalent present day dangers staring us in the face.

Indeed, until recently that President Goodluck Jonathan is insisting on paradigm shift and transformational governance, Nigeria’s political evolution had not produced personae that are the actual choices of the people. The judicial reversals of declarations of some previously declared winners in elections give credence to the dire need to reform Nigeria’s electoral perspectives.

It is to President Jonathan’s credit that he maintained his pre-election pledge to give Nigeria a credible electoral process and he did.

Prof. Attahiru Jega and his team will evidently go down into history as persons who did a damn good job, thus setting the tone and ambience for improvements in future elections in Nigeria. The innovations they put in place and the calibre of persons with names and pedigree to protect, brought in to perform a number of functions during the elections, was one of Jega’s masterstrokes.

Of special note has been the President’s own lexicon in responding to the menace of Boko Haram. Before the elections it was: “I have no enemies to fight”. Today he has not shifted from his humane and conciliatory nature. His security agencies have talked tough and do have the capacity to move from snarling to biting. But as a father to the nation, the President has rather encouraged dialogue and logical reasoning to prevail. He has spoken peace all through and has urged all Nigerians to pull together in the interest of the nation.

What remains now is for Boko Haram to seize opportunity of the conciliatory posture of the Federal Government and change its lexicon which does no one any good. It should give up on the pursuit of revenge as some people have imputed.

The members should see the brighter side of life and if need be, organize themselves into a coherent and legal entity to press their cause. Who knows whether its energy could translate into a propulsion for accelerated national development. Who knows if the fear of the types of Boko Haram could lead us into a new consciousness that will make us better people and a greater nation? In that way, Nigerians and even the international community will stand behind them. But now that the language is still crude, outrightly sanguinary and targeted at every body, the pertinent answer to the Boko Haram question is an emphatic NO.

CHARLES CHIKEZIE works with the Federal Ministry of Information & Communications.


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