On Sunday July 5, Nigeria witnessed incidents of explosions in Jos, Zamfara and Yobe, with the lose of the lives of scores of citizens. Despite, the political transition to to a regime of CHANGE, nevertheless we appear to effectively still be in a state of war, as the ugly narrative of the lose of lives and incidences of injuries continues. Terrorism and the allied cases of insecurity has grown to become a seemingly intractable challenge, putting Nigeria in the circle of failed/failing/malfunctioning states in the world. It is a fact that large-scale organised violence, as carried out by groups like the Taliban, Al-Shabab, ISIS, Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) etc., are features of failed states such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia among others where resources and policies have been mismanaged so badly that governments have become unable to meet basic obligations to its people, like security and the combat against divisive tendencies. Given the exhibited indices, one only acts self-delusional not to call Nigeria a failed or failing state.
What we have today as the challenge of insecurity is a cumulative result of years of misrule, which has ripened into a fertile ground for recruitments into terrorism bolstered by poverty, hunger, joblessness, poor educational standards, the lack of economic infrastructure, etc. that characterise contemporary Nigeria. For sure, in every society there are individuals who believe in violence as the instrument for the propagation of extreme ideology. But socio-economic and political conditions determine whether or not such intention will manifest into organised violence. If America had been like Nigeria or DR Congo, the Dylann Roofs in the society would have brainwashed and recruited several people into terrorist campaigns against blacks.
Former President Goodluck Jonathan was not responsible for Boko Haram. However, his lack of will to combat the group earlier buoyed it to unleash unprecedented, devastating violence on Nigeria. Jonathan made the mistake of listening to the unconscionable voices of sectional demagogues who were appealing for dialogue with the terrorists. One can only dialogue with violent campaigners on the basis that once their real or perceived grievances are addressed, the violence will end. I am convinced that if the Nigerian state had sustained the military campaign against Boko Haram in the way it was started in mid-2013, we would have defeated these mindless terrorists by now.
It is obvious that the state helped give Boko Haram a psychological boost, while placing the lives of the Nigerian armed forces at risk. The country was not united against terrorism, yet officials were always ready to hit the media with news of losses, but went silent when gains were recorded gains, or they even doubted the veracity of the gains. A ‘knowledgeable’ individual once informed me that he had access to Nigerian secret intelligence and thus was sure it was Jonathan that was sending his Niger Delta brothers to kill Northerners. Another one said it was to diminish the Northern population for electoral reasons.
Besides the expectations of being tough on corruption so that we can free up funds for development and restore sanity in our public institutions and processes, many people supported the Muhammadu Buhari candidacy to succeed a failed Goodluck Jonathan because we believed it was possible to end insurgency, and that the retired General could bring such to reality. We didn’t just support Buhari because we hated Jonathan, but because it was clear the former president was just ill-suited for the high office, especially in the face of ever growing insurgency. President Buhari must therefore vindicate us. This is a sacred pact we have made by voting him into office.
I believe that President Buhari has two options. On the short term, he must step up the military campaign against Boko Haram, and balance this with effective intelligence and regional, as well as international collaboration. Negotiating with terrorists is merely postponing the battle. No reason justifies the killing of innocent people. And since the Boko Haram is never likely to change its position or roll back on its pogrom, it is possible for the armed forces to truly step in and exterminate the group. Jonathan’s latter day attack on the group during his dubious six-week postponement of the 2015 general elections informs that possibility. However, if all terrorists are killed today, another set would likely spring up tomorrow, unless a conscious attempt is made to address the issues that help organised violence to grow in the first place. And that would be the long term solution. We must initiate a comprehensive socio-economic reform, including improving education standards, re-activating industrialisation in the country, and the development of infrastructure for economic activities to thrive across Nigeria, and especially in the North-East region. We must create a society based on principles of justice and fairness to all where citizens are not sunk beneath the basic necessities of life.
Adebayo Taiwo Hassan is with Premium Times. He tweets @Hazzanjustice.