FOLLOWING the unceasing bloodletting in the North East by radical Islamic sect, Boko Haram, some Nigerian youths gathered in Lagos last week to navigate a way out of the in-surgency, reports OLAYINKA LATONA.
The youth numbering over 500 under the aegis of Non Violence for African Development (NOVAD). Once they settled them, they declared enough was enough. The orgies of violence and bloodletting across the nation, they stressed, must stop forthwith. The youths, drawn from across the nation, frowned at the dehumanising acts of abduction and killing in the region.
Taking the battle right to the origin, they asked to engage leader of the Boko Haram sect, Abubakar Shekau, in an intellectual warfare. “If he succeeds in convincing us that violence is the only way to fix the country then we’d join him in the ongoing crusade,” Stephen Okon, one of the youth leaders offered.
“But if he won’t and cannot, then he should answer our questions before the next abduction and seizure of towns in the northeast,” he continued. Firing the first question, Okon asked: Why are you killing Muslims? According to him, if Shekau claims to be a good Muslim, he should know that no campaign is worth the killing of anyone, let alone fellow Muslims.
He reminded Shekau that when a similar orgy was carried out against Muslims in the old Borno Empire, the late El-Kanemi challenged the crusaders to stop the carnage. In the same vein, the youths told Shekau to stop further killing of Muslims in the name of Jihad.
Florence Agbo took the podium to direct the second question at Shekau: What exactly is your main objective? Agbo pointed out that Shekau has severally said he is after an Islamic state. If that is so, must it be by violence, she wondered. If the campaign is about abolition of western civilisation, what alternatives do Shekau have for the populace?
Granted Shekau has objectives, stated or unstated, but Sam Okoye wanted to know if such objectives must necessarily be achieved through violence and bloodletting? “Must you kill to achieve your goals and purposes?” Okoye demanded.
Bimbo Olaleye recalled that the Arab Spring revolution in North Africa is similar to what the Boko Haram leader is championing. But the Arab Spring, she argued, has not changed the Arab nations. There has been no significant improvement in the quality of lives in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia after the revolution. Is that what Shekau wants for Nigeria, she asked.
Niyi Adeoti reinforced the question on the main objective of the sect, asking “what really is your aim? What are you really after? Adeoti explained this becomes necessary to know in view of the ambivalent acts and utterances of the terrorist leader.
Zainab Mohammed wanted to know what the motivation of Shekau is. The indigene of Zamfara State asked: “What is your motivation? What is driving you? Are you driven by ambition or a thirst for blood? Is it the same Allah we know that is behind all your atrocities?”
Finally, Chinedu Ogbu asked to know the philosophy guiding Boko Haram’s operations and killings. According to him, it is imperative to know so that Nigerians will define the sect’s activities for what they really are. “What is your philosophy? Is this about religion or politics? Are you a religious guerilla leader or a political warlord? Where do you really stand philosophic-ally?”
While waiting for the response of the sect’s leader, the youths challenged him to be human for once and stop the carnage that has turned the nation to almost a theatre of war.
The coordinator of the group, Deji Abodunde, said the youths will keep engaging Shekau in verbal fisticuff until peace re-turns to the region. “We want him to pause and reflect on the gravity of what he is really doing. Something people do things with grave consequences without them knowing.
“So, we want him to know what he is doing and be sure he is very aware of the dire implications. We want peace. We want progress and we do not want anything that will drag us back to the medieval era,” he said.