By Muhammad Ajah
A lot has happened as reactions from the bombings and killings of innocent citizens since the surfacing of Boko Haram, the most recent being end of year 2011 Madalla blast and Kano multiple blasts on 20th January, 2012, barely one month after the Madalla’s.
The most serious reaction, as Nigeria has often proved to be a reactionary nation, is the declaration of emergency in some local government areas across the nation and the eventual sacking of the Inspector General of Police Hafiz Ringim and some top officers in the police who are believed to have done not enough to forestall peace and safety of the citizenry. It is, then, hoped that the new IG Muhammad Abubakar will tow the path clearly different from his predecessor. Straight to point, he should not allow the sacked officers to go home completely without explaining their possible connections with the happenings they failed to curtail or curb. Can this new IG be different!?
Truly the security situation in Nigeria has been of serious concern to many patriots as it has created a false Muslim-Christian faceoff which has never existed in the country to such a disturbing level. Some disgruntled elements in the society have been found to be using the trigger-headed, vulnerable and gullible youth to pursue their heinous political cum social pursuits, exploiting religious and ethnic sentiments.
This false faceoff, though latently propounded by the bigots has reared its ugly head, resulting from the indiscriminate bombings and killings that have been orchestrated by Boko Haram. Government and people of Nigeria have attempted to resist this development by all legitimate means without causing more bloodshed or misunderstandings. So, those Nigerians who still think of Nigeria breaking-up should desist from being wishful thinkers. By God’s grace, the 2015 prophecy and any attempt of such kind will fail.
It is more worrisome that some miscreants have utilized the situation to cause more tension. So, it is important for Nigerians to note that national security is the responsibility of every citizen. Any attempt by any group of persons to cause disunity amongst the citizenry wherever each citizen chooses to live should be resisted.
But again, it is pertinent to make some clarifications on the present security situations in the country. Boko Haram must be clearly identified as a militant group. Recent events and revelations have proved that merely linking the group with Islam is a misnomer that should be avoided if the collective effort to subdue the group is to be meaninggful. The Niger Delta militants, the OPC, the MOSOP, the MASSOB and other regional groups fought for clear regional causes that were never interwoven with religious sentiments, despite they were threats to national existence. As it were, many Nigerians are still in the dark over the real motives of Boko Haram which is killing Christians and Muslims alike, including prominent political and religious leaders of northern extraction.
However, many Nigerians among the elite know that it was a creation of political manipulations which has turned out to be fighting an unacceptable cause. The activities of this group have been vehemently condemned by both the political and traditional leaders of the north in particular and Nigeria in general.
As the name denotes adversity to westernization (not Christianity), it is not hidden that a good percentage of the Muslims of the north have been heavily westernized. And apart from nationhood, there are many similarities between Muslims and Christians. Islam does not refer to the Christians and Jews as infidels. That is why it has been observed that the group has targeted every person who identifies with western ways of life including deceitful politics.
Nigeria is a home for all Nigerians and every Nigerian should be free to seek legitimate livelihood in any part of his or her fatherland. Therefore, the threats by Boko Haram against Christians in the north and such counter threats by militant groups against northerners in the South should carefully be handled by the nation’s security outfits. On the other hand, every Nigerian who sincerely believes in the cause of unity, peace and progress of the nation should not be cowed to leave his place of birth. There are many Southerners living in the north and many Northerners living in the South who ONLY KNOW their states of origin by names. That is the best way to seal the fallout of colonialism and our amalgamation.
Cases have been recorded that Boko Haram is a gang-up of people who profess different religions and ethnic backgrounds. A case was reported of a Christian woman in the north who attempted to bomb a church that was not her denomination under the instruction of her own church leader. A national daily also reported of a non-Muslim dressed in kaftan and turban who attempted to bomb a church in a Southern state.
Also, use of firearms during festive periods often cause harm and sometimes make it difficult to differentiate between genuine celebration and attacks by hoodlums. I recall an incident in a southern city when during festive periods, armed robbers raided homes and people could not differentiate between gunshots and such firearms commonly used by revellers.
Another dimension in this is that Boko Haram would claim responsibility of any bomb blast since it is seeking relevance just as it happened during the Niger Delta crisis when even armed robbery cases – which have become quotidian in Nigeria – and kidnappings were ascribed to the Niger Delta militants and specifically to the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND).
Howbeit, reactions and counter reactions from even highly placed religious and political leaders especially those of President of Christian association of Nigeria (CAN) Ayo Oritsejafor said Christians, the Sultan of Sokoto Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar 111, Muslim groups NSCIA and JNI, South East zone of CAN, Odua Peoples Congress (OPC), Northern Progressive Forum, Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), League of Imams in Abuja, leader of the Dariqa sect, Sheikh Dahiru Bauchi, amongst others have been recorded. Distinguished political calibres such as Senate President David Mark, National Security Adviser Andrew Azazi, Niger State Governor Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu, Chairman, Nigerian Governors Forum and Governor of Rivers State, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi and a host of them have made commendable comments that should douse tension and foster understanding amongst Nigerians in their diverse backgrounds.
I was all ears when Kaakaki programme of African Independent Television (AIT) of Thursday, 29th December 2011 specifically discussed matters arising from the Christmas Day Bombings. A clergy, Tennyson Amazama and Director of Niger Delta Non-Violence Movement, Onengiya Erekosima were featured. Amazama noted that if top ranking political officers die from the bombings ravaging parts of the country – as the ordinary citizens have bee – a bill would be immediately sponsored and all the carnages would stop.
According to him, the political leaders seem not to be too serious about the bombings since their children and wards and immediate family members are either outside the country or are protected by the security men who are supposed to work for the majority of Nigerians.
Erekosima particularly noted that many Nigerians have been pushed to the wall by the way affairs of the peoples are run by the governments. Said he, “I have never condemned the Boko Haram, but their acts. The President should listen to the people like his predecessor, late President Yar’Adua. He should understand and note the significance of the amnesty instituted by Yar’Adua.”
He opined that solutions to the security crisis in the country can be gotten from outside the circle of security chiefs, most of who have proved otherwise. “We know those security men who remove their uniforms and go to cause these troubles. When security votes receive huge money, it does not need explanation that the beneficiaries will not want the crisis to end. It has happened before. If just a percentage of such huge money is given to us, we can restore peace in the whole country.”
All in all, can it be ascertained that non-Northerners, non-Muslims and quite possibly non-Nigerians are also into this conundrum?
Muhammad Ajah is a writer, author, advocate of humanity and good governance based in Abuja. E-mail[email protected]