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Boko Haram: Dialogue as panacea for enduring peace
The Boko Haram sect, whose deadly activities soared in the face of discontentment by a section of the North with the result of the 2011 presidential election, has been wreaking havoc on Nigeria. Well-meaning Nigerians have been calling on the sect to embrace dialogue in the interest of national unity and progress. Idowu Samuel writes on the importance of such calls by Nigerians.
To keep Nigeria One… Is A Task That Must Be Done’’ was a catch phrase adopted by the Nigerian Army in its spirited commitment to winning the civil war which ravaged Nigeria from 1967 up till 1970.
Since the civil war ended in 1070, Nigeria had had to go into many forms of wars, especially in the military era, even on mere change of governments. These came in form of civil unrests, coup and counter coups. There was the June 12, 1993 war which raged for almost 7 years on account that the South-West zone of the federation, which was to produce the president, was maliciously and ignominiously denied the opportunity. There had been countless internecine wars fired by repeated ethnic and religious strives from the military era till date. Yet, a solution appears elusive on the problem.
The act of terrorism by members of the sect, of late, has been mind boggling. In succinct terms, the sect had killed more than 3,000 innocent Nigerians through gun and bomb attacks in less than four years, while destroying properties in the process. It had demonstrated some sense of invincibility by the manner it penetrated the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja while attacking strong institutions including the Police Headquarters, the United States Headquarters and newspaper houses.In addition, the sect had invaded most states in the north including Kogi, Platau, Kano, Kaduna, Yobe, Borno, Bauchi and Gombe, among others. It has been unrelenting in its war against Nigeria, while it continues to make impossible demands.
What is worrisome about the activities of the Islamic sect, from indications is the attention it places on attacking Christians. Since its operation got to a head, sect members had deployed suicide squads to hit churches and other places of worship by Christians. One of the spokesperson of the group said the attacks on Christians were meant to arrive at a point where Islam would be the ruling religion in Nigeria.
A spokesman of the sect was quoted as saying,” We launched these attacks to prove the Nigerian security wrong and to debunk their claim that we have been weakened by the military crackdown. The Nigerian state and Christians are our enemies and we will be launching attacks on the Nigerian state and its security apparatus as well as churches until we achieve our goal of establishing an Islamic state in place of the secular state”.
While majority of Nigerians believed that the Boko haram’s demands are thoughtless and hence, unachievable, watchers of the growing state of terrorism in Nigeria have been getting listless and agitated, contending that the state of Nigeria so endowed with great resources and an enviable future, deserves not to be brought down on the altar of religion. There have been calls on Boko Haram to see reason by embracing dialogue meant to address whatever reasonable demands they may want the government of the country to meet.
For instance, since it has been on the rave in Nigeria, there has been apparent mistrust, suspicion and malice among Nigerians along Christian, Muslim divides. The economies of states, local governments, towns and cities where activities of Boko Haram are prevalent have been lying prostrate. The national economy, too, is never spared from suffering the impact of unregulated acts of terrorism. The social values of Nigeria have been subverted and polluted, just as Nigeria is about slipping into the world of utter confusion, anomie and multiple crises meant to catalyse a process of disintegration. There are enough signs that Boko Haram might plunge Nigeria into another civil war, the end of which may not come as quickly as Nigerians would had envisaged.
Blames had been placed on the northern intelligentsia for allowing the menace of Boko Haram to linger. Northern leaders had been accused of being complacent while the Islamic sect started taking control, their action having been tagged political. There have been insinuations that boko haram has been a product of a huge discontentment by the northern political elite against the present balance of political power in Nigeria. The north is said to be very unhappy that a man from Bayelsa had supplanted it in power game by clinging the Presidential power in 2011 which was its exclusive preserve by means of zoning arrangement. Some unnamed northern leaders were said to be offering the logistics for terrorism to thrive in the country, against this background.
All the same, calls for Boko Haram members to embrace dialogue have been unceasing. For instance, the Senate President, David Mark has been consistent in advising members of the sect to embrace dialogue. In addition to making personal calls, Mark had directed the Senate to make the same suggestion to members of the sect in the interest of the unity and well being of Nigeria.The chairman of the Northern States Governors Forum, Dr. Mu'azu Babangida Aliyu has also made spirited attempts to ensure that the government of Nigeria sits on a round table with Boko haram leaders as a means of ending the growing state of terrorism in the country. Like Mark, Aliyu had deployed the forum which he chairs to lend a voice on the issue at stake, most especially on the necessity for Boko Haram and the government of Nigeria to dialogue.
The National Orientation Agency led by Mike Omeri has been forthcoming in decrying the acts of terrorism in the country which according to it, if not checked on time could spread to the neighbouring states in West Africa. Omeri in his advocacy on need for peace as a panacea for progress and development of Nigeria appealed to Nigerians to chant down any act of terrorism in Nigeria which he said may eclipse the good dreams of the founding fathers for the country.
The NOA boss said it was time Nigerians began to live by the maxim of his agency; Do The Right Thing; Transform Nigeria, noting that parents, community leaders, clerics and religious leaders, teachers and public office holders would do well in mitigating the current problems being faced by Nigerians in the area of security challenges by performing their natural roles of grooming individuals in their care, to emerge as responsible citizens of the country.Share