No Stroking the Tiger

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It all started like a cruel joke. One facility after another: the United Nations office, one church and then another, army mammy markets, media houses. On each occasion, the attack of these institutions by the Boko Haram terrorists left a mind-numbing trail of blood. And then the audacity turned into fool-hardiness: the police stations were targeted, then the police headquarters and army facilities. It was obvious they were begging the government for a fight or were simply testing the will of the government. But the government’s reaction to all these was tepid. “We are shocked by the attacks, we will bring them to justice,” Federal government officials repeated these words like a refrain. The tepidity of the government’s response gave oxygen to the audacity of the terrorists.

A couple of weeks ago, the Federal Government apparently remembered the famous words of an American President, Franklin Roosevelt, that “no man can tame a tiger into a kitten by stroking it.” The government showed its teeth by rolling out the emergency regulation in three states, namely, Borno, Yobe and Adamawa as the soldiers rolled out their tanks to confront the monster. Now the chickens have come home to roost. The gloves are off. The terrorists have their choices set out for them. The choices are two: a fight or a flight. And that is like being between the rock and the hard place. But whether they choose to fight or to flee the problem has left many people, innocent people, caught in the brutal crossfire.

Many families have lost their loved ones. Some loved ones have lost their limbs; many church goers have lost their places of worship, many churches have experienced a huge drop in attendance on Sundays and the country has lost some of the building blocks of its fragile unity which it has tried to nurse in the last 99 years.

Next year, Nigeria will mark the centenary of the amalgamation of the northern and southern protectorates. We are about rolling out the drums and breaking into song and dance if for nothing at least for the fact that Nigeria has managed to remain one despite a fratricidal civil war and dozens of ethnic and religious crises. But the Boko Haram war is a war without boundaries and their adherents without a genuine cause. All they are saying is that they want to Islamize the whole of Northern Nigeria, a region that has a huge Muslim population and a substantial Christian population. The logic of the terrorists is the height of illogic. How do you convert people by bombing them out of existence? But terrorism is never anchored on logic because terrorists operate with the principles of the underworld under the culture of the savages of old. If Sigmund Freud were to be alive today he would have led us into the arcane world of such anarchists.

Several people have tried to interrogate poverty and finger it as providing the jump-off point for terrorism. But no one can buy or build a bomb, buy a car and wire it up with poverty. And if people want a criminal exit from the poverty trap they would probably resort to armed robbery or kidnapping.

But it is possible that what the hawkers of the poverty theory mean is that poverty makes some people, especially people at life’s margin, more easily susceptible to conscription into crime. If that is the case, is Northern Nigeria the only region with a large proportion of poor people? No. Another poser: Is Islam a religion that propels people to take up arms against people, as a means of converting other people into Islam. I say no because the South West region has a large Muslim population and the region has not been stung by the Boko Haram bug. What is the explanation? My answer: the civility and the open-mindedness that western education (which the Boko Haram terrorists detest) provides. No one says there are no cranks among the educated and the civilized but any organised terrorism that has no discernible and genuine cause is unlikely to take root, let alone prosper, among the truly educated and civilized.

Religion has been tested in the past by military and civilian politicians. Muhammadu Buhari, a moslem chose Tunde Idiagbon, another moslem, as his deputy. A few eyebrows were raised but nobody went to war. Moshood Abiola, a Muslim, chose Babagana Kingibe, another Muslim as his running mate in the presidential election of 1993, the heavens didn’t fall. On the contrary, the people voted for them decisively. In these two instances religion passed the accommodation test in flying colours. So where did we go wrong? One, I believe the political shariarisation of the North by some politicians sowed the seeds of this unbridled fanaticism and we ought to hold those politicians responsible. Two, the proliferation of private militias with state of the art arms and ammunition, funded by politicians and businessmen turned a hitherto sane country into a community of gun brandishing youths. Three, there is an unprecedented rise in hate speech by politicians, religious leaders and youths. Yes, democracy promotes free speech but it ought not to fuel incendiary speech making that tends to encourage people to respond violently verbally or by a resort to armed response.

Now with the recent measures one can say that the Federal Government is rising stoutly to the occasion. Those who want to touch the tail of the tiger must know that the tiger has a sting in its tail. But this war cannot be won without the full cooperation of Nigerians. A few hours after the Boston bomb incident that took place a few weeks ago in the United States more than 2000 people supplied information on the incident. This made it possible for the security officials to track down the two brothers who were the alleged bombers. Nigerians hardly perform this simple civic duty, maybe because there is no civic education, or there is a lack of trust in the security operatives or even because of corruption. Whatever is the reason we must realise that it is in our interest to join hands with the government to kill the monster dead.

 

7 COMMENTS

  1. A gud question “Where ve we gone wrong” prior 2 our independence, we jointly fought d monster called colonialism, accomodating n tolerating one another’s weaknesses bt 2day, things ve gone sour. Issues can be addressed wtout d use of force of arms, if we are sensible enough. my people lets join hands 2 bring an end 2 d menance called terrorism.

  2. if education is a crime, d weapon of destruction dey use is as a result of technology acquired thru education, so wat re we saying?

  3. Nice write up.
    However I am one of the voices that believe poverty is the root cause of terrorism or crime in Nigeria. First material poverty and second poverty of the mind.
    The militias formed by politicians will not be possible if there are no poor unemployed youths (graduates and non graduates alike).
    Secondly Nigerian politicians have mental poverty. They are mostly criminals who have obtained money fraudulently and bought their tickets with their ill gotten wealth. People are not only poor materially but also poor mentally because they collect few thousand naira and sell their votes to vultures.
    Look around the world where you have deep rooted terrorism activities and see poverty and corruption.
    So sir , the reasons you gave are correct but their root can be traced back to poverty and corruption.

  4. “So where did we go wrong? One, I believe the political shariarisation of the North by some politicians sowed the seeds of this unbridled fanaticism and we ought to hold those politicians responsible. Two, the proliferation of private militias with state of the art arms and ammunition, funded by politicians and businessmen turned a hitherto sane country into a community of gun brandishing youths. Three, there is an unprecedented rise in hate speech by politicians, religious leaders and youths. Yes, democracy promotes free speech but it ought not to fuel incendiary speech making that tends to encourage people to respond violently verbally or by a resort to armed response”.
    Did you trying looking at the Book of ‘Nigeria’ Genesis? Did you blame the almajiri of today as the cause of what was handed over to them? Have you tried listening to the bigots from the North that swore to wipe the South out and dip their bloody Koran in the Sea?
    The cause of okapi’s smell is in the body!
    If poverty is ok as excuse, remember the silent (But hard working) Biafrans were left with NOTHING (But £20 for lucky few that got it), after the annihilation attempt.
    Truth is that it has gone way recovering and any white washing can continue to exacerbate the pain! Let the Sharians move back to Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, etc., they have over stayed their welcome!

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