By Sunny Ikhioya
THE scenerio this Sunday 11th January 2015 was quite amazing, over a million people, from different parts of the world and from diverse religious and political shades, gathered in Paris, to show solidarity on the fight against terrorism. They were defiant and called the bluff of the terrorists ISIS and al-queda. If the intention of the killings of the Charlie Hebdo and other Paris attacks was to cower journalists into retreat and subdue the voices of free speeches and expressions, they failed in this instance.
The record crowd was by far bigger than those who gathered against the Nazis in the past. From reactions so far, it is clear that the terrorists’ actions have back fired, good will always prevail over evil and the inalienable right of man to express his own free will shall never be truncated, not by any force from hell.
That is the spirit, that is the only force that can defeat the terrorists, that is the only way we can bring Boko Haram to its knees. We have witnessed the steady destructions of villages, towns and cities in Nigeria, especially in the north eastern areas of the country. Displaced citizens of Nigeria are scattered all over neighbouring countries.
The actual number cannot be determined but they run into several thousands. Nigeria and her forces are now the butt of jokes but what has made it impossible for the Boko Haram to be flushed out easily? The reasons are not far fetched; it is a combination of apathy on the part of the populace, greed and ambition on the part of people using it to further their economic and political interests and the politics of divisiveness by our present day politicians, who have nothing to offer the people.
When the Boko Haram strikes these days, they do not know whether you are Christian or Muslim, PDP or APC, southerner or northerner, Fulani or Hausa, man or woman, children, etc. Their conscience is beyond beyond redemption, so they go to markets and other public places to plant bombs and destroy innocent lives, the down trodden and oppressed.
They avoid the presidential villa, or governors’ lodges and the homes of other people of inflence who manipulate the destiny of this country. They go for innocent persons, their conscience is really dead.
If the Boko Haram is not tackled by the collective will of the people, nothing any government can do, the government can only act to the extent the people give it liberty to perform, even if you bring in the best generals in the world to govern. We are all living witnesses to the failure of the great United States army to contain terrorism in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya and the on going Syrian war.
Let us be frank about it,Boko Haram will not be defeated unless we collectively agree on it, it should not be a matter campaign. Reducing to a campaign issue is to trivialise the matter and it a great injustice to mankind to play politics with thousands of lives been needlessly destroyed daily.
The people of Paris France have sent a message to the terrorists; ‘your killings will not cow us’. By now the collaborators of the killings will be hiding their heads in shame because even their muslim brothers like the Hamas group have all condemned their actions. So, if they are thinking of a repeat performance, they will be forced to do a rethink.
But back home,Boko Haram is a campaign issue, thereby emboldening them to commit further devilish acts. People are campaigning, whole towns and villages are being destroyed and subdued by terrorists. Some are even calling for elections in these areas, how they intend to see it through, I do not know.
The paris demonstration has shown to us that when it comes to confronting terrorism, there is no black or white, ethnic or religious colouration, all we have is a common enemy. When America goes to war, the republicans and democrats put aside their individual ideological divide and support whoever is in government. When America goes to war, the whole country is one, they are united.
How have we fought this Boko Haram battle? Can we honestly say to ourselves in this country that we have been united in fighting this Boko Haram war? I doubt it.
Imagine if five hundred thousand or a million Nigerians, drawn from across various sections of the north and together with the Bring Back Chibok girls group , gather in Maiduguri and with one voice, say no to Boko Haram. It is the conscience of these misguided youths that we should be addressing. When their own people come out in the open to condemn their actions, they will sit up.
We have failed to address our Boko Haram challenges properly because, some people felt it was not their problem, so regarded them as heroes or present day Robbin Hood, until the whole thing spurn out of control.
We have treated it with levity by allowing barely literate, hate filled, itinerant preachers to hold sway in that part of the country, sowing seeds of discord amongst the people without taking any action, now the single match stick has transformed into a conflagration.
We have treated it with levity because we saw death and destructions in our fellow countrymen but we refused to lend our hands in support, now it is threatening to engulf the whole nation and people are still playing politics or the division game with it. We have seen a sample of what they can do when they invaded the city of Mubi and forced the emir and his team on exile.
They do not respect institutions, whether traditional, religious or government. They destroy anything in sight like a raging Tsunami.
It is in the interest of everyone therefore, that we put this Boko Haram issue to rest and it is a joint responsibility.
Politicians must stop the politics and unite the country towards a common force to truncate this evil in our land.