"We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering. You ask, what is our policy? I can say: It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: Victory – victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival." (Sir Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of Great Britain).
Nigeria is at the most sober moments of her socio-political history. Thousands of lives of our people are continuously wasted due to terrorism of different modes, kidnapping, armed robbery, militancy and other criminal activities. Security agents are killed at will. Innocent lives are lost regularly. Our children, the future leaders of our nation are not spared. Orphans, widows, disables are created at a terrifying rate. The family and community systems are broken at will. The heart and souls of our nation are being destroyed.
The socio-economical consequences are innumerable. Furthermore, we are faced with real poverty and infrastructural deficiencies across the land. With all commitments, we must win the war against terrorism, insurgency and other forms of insecurity. This is a war we must collectively work together and win. This is a war all of us: young and old, boys and girls, men and women, partisan and non-partisan, Christians and Muslims, Traditional worshippers, religious and irreligious must creatively come up with solutions against and win. We must bring peace back to our nation. As noted in the above quotation "for without victory, there is no survival".
During and after 9/11, all Americans irrespective of political, ideological and religious affiliations became more united. All Americans rose up as one and stood firmly behind President George Bush and later President Obama to defeat terrorism – Al-Qaeda and allies. No one engaged in any form of blame game. For us to achieve victory, the blame game must stop. We must stop castigating any region or faith over the challenges of terrorism we face as a nation. When we engage ourselves in the blame game; we help the terrorists and their sponsors to achieve their goals – the destruction of Nigeria across ethnic and religious lines. Neither Christianity nor Islam supports the killings of innocent citizens. No matter the claims of some devilish individuals, terrorists neither represent nor speak for any faith. Similarly, no socio-political region in Nigeria or any part of the world will plan the killings of its own people. No region will plan the direct destruction of its economic strengths.
Sir Winston Churchill (before he became the Prime Minister) with great intuitive hindsight had warned Great Britain and Europe in 1932 (six years before Hitler’s annexation of Austria) of the negative consequences of wrong interpretations of Hitler’s devilish activities as merely looking for an equal status for Germany in Europe. He noted that Hitler was busy acquiring weapons to unleash terror on Europe and the world. The whole world paid dearly for not taking seriously the noted warnings of Churchill. It took the great unparalleled leadership qualities of Sir Winston Churchill and President Franklin Roosevelt of the United States to defeat the forces of Adolf Hitler. Similarly, we now face grave challenges of insecurity of lives and properties, because we have failed up till now to really understand, interpret, contain, engage and destroy the very natures of the types of terrorism, insurgency and other criminal challenges we face as a nation. The results are too obvious for all of us to see.
Let us drink from the fountains of wisdom of three sayings of our elders. Our elders say that "when a scorpion is inside a hole, you do not allow your hand to rest inside the hole’’ You bring out your hand quickly and find a way to kill the scorpion. Secondly, "when a snake enters your room, you do not begin to blame fellow roommates for opening the door carelessly or your neighbours for not cutting the bush around the house’’. You act decisively to save all and kill the snake immediately. In addition, "When the roof of your house is gutted by fire, you do not rest or go to sleep’’. You do not engage in any blame game. You act fast to put out the fire and prevent it from bringing down the whole house. We are Nigerians and our abode can be likened to the hole where we all live. The scorpions are the criminals, devils, terrorists and their sponsors amidst us. The snakes are outsiders ‘foreigners’ and their sponsors from neighbouring countries who now invade and kill Nigerians definitely with local supports. The fire on our roof is the resultant consequence of our engagement in the blame game, resting when unity and decisive non-partisan actions were urgently needed, and our collective failures to find ways to kill the scorpions and invading snakes. The roof protects the inmates and properties of the house from rainfall and other calamities, if it is blown off by fire, our survival is threatened. If we allow the house to be brought down, there will be no Nigeria. We must destroy the scorpions! We must destroy the snakes! We must put out the fire on our roof and achieve victory! "For without victory, there is no survival’’
We failed to act and put a stop to aspiring public officers from establishing local militias such as the ECOMOG in Borno state (during the 2003 governorship elections) and other states across the country. Such local militias when abandoned after winning elections become hydra-headed monsters capable of igniting different forms of conflagrations in the polity. Boko Haram is clearly a creation of the political class. When the Boko Haram terrorism crisis started and upgraded to the killings of several security agents and innocent people in 2010/2011, we all failed to act decisively. We engaged ourselves in the blame game. We focused on conjectures: It was possibly due to covert actions of politicians from the North who did not want President Jonathan in power; No, it was possibly a war to Islamize Nigeria by Boko Haram. We ascribed any possible form of criminality especially in the North to ‘possible Boko Haram attack’.
Thus, when the area close to the Eagle Square was bombed by some terrorists in 2010, we initially blamed it on suspected Boko Haram terrorists or some regional political leaders. Unfortunately, President Jonathan initially absolved MEND of culpability in the attack. MEND later claimed responsibility. MEND claimed with braggadocio to have fore-warned the security agents before the bomb attacks. If true, what steps were taken to prevent the attacks? President Jonathan claimed to know those behind terrorist attacks in the country. He also claimed inter’alia that there are Boko Haram terrorists within his government. Mr President pledged severally to fish out the perpetrators and deal with them. Definitely, we believe Mr President as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces who knows all that we may never know. How well has the President acted with responsibility towards dealing with the terrorists and their sponsors? The security agents have arrested several terrorists. How well have we made use of the information obtained from these terrorists to upgrade our intelligence networks and achieve victory? Why have our intelligence networks and security agents been unable to identify and prevent these attacks from taking place? Why have we failed so far to achieve victory?
The Boko Haram terrorists gradually became emboldened, carved out territories within Nigeria, removed the Nigerian flag and hosted theirs. When President Jonathan drafted soldiers (albeit rather late) to some affected Northern states and declared the state of emergency, some respected Borno leaders appealed to President Jonathan to withdraw the soldiers from the state. The proposal of possibly granting amnesty to the terrorists was made. Borno and Yobe states elders have again restated appeals calling for an end to the state of emergency and withdrawal of soldiers despite the obvious killings still going on in both states and other parts of the North-East. More unfortunately, the insecurity challenges became politicized by the political elites especially our elected APC or PDP public officers (from the executives – the Presidency and the governors, to the legislatures – states and national assemblies). We failed to clearly identify and accordingly deal with the terrorists and their sponsors. We all failed to do the right thing: rise up as one to stamp out terrorism, insurgency and criminality in our nation!
The APC and PDP officials have made claims and counter-claims on who is responsible for these terrorist attacks. Some APC governors led by Governor Murtala Nyako of Adamawa state (in the North) and party officials have blamed President Jonathan for these terrorist attacks. The PDP National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh in his reactions to the recent terrorist bomb attacks at Nyanya Park, Abuja restated his beliefs that these attacks were politically motivated and due to the utterances of some unpatriotic individuals and governors of the APC. We need to know the real truth behind these terrorist attacks. Why can’t these individuals be interrogated by the security agencies to bring out the truth? Everybody (The President, some Northern APC governors, APC and PDP leaders) keeps claiming to know those behind these terrorist attacks in the country. Yet, no one has named these sponsors of terrorism. No one has been dealt with accordingly by the government. How long are we going to continue shedding the bloods of the innocents while the sponsors we claim to know walk free and continue to plan more terrorist attacks?
A supposed Boko Haram terrorist, Mustapha from Adamawa State confessed to have been arrested by supernatural forces while on a planned mission with four others to plant a bomb within the Synagogue Church of All Nations in Lagos State. He claimed that the Boko Haram terrorist group is a cult. He was shown on Emmanuel TV owned by the church being delivered of his occultic evil spirits. Has he been interrogated by the security agencies? Have his claims been verified? If his claims are true, to what use have we put his confessions? If his claims were untrue as posited by the Lagos State Police Commissioner, Umar Tanko, what steps were taken on his confessions according to the law? Nigerians deserve to know the truth behind the story. Why can’t we act appropriately now before new dimensions of criminality surface under whatever guise?
To win this war, we must first be able to really understand, interpret, contain, engage and destroy the very natures of the types of terrorism, insurgency and other criminal challenges we face as a nation. We need to ask and answer some pertinent questions: What is the real identity of the Boko Haramist or terrorist killing our people? Who are the local sponsors of these terrorists? Who are their supporting foreigners (and their sponsors) from neighbouring countries? Who are the ‘fulani’ herdsmen (and their sponsors) who attack different communities in the North generally and particularly in the North-Central? What is the real identity of the cattle rustlers? What is the real identity of the well armed gunmen who come regularly on motorbikes and convoys of vehicles to attack villages and go away with their loots sometimes unhindered? If the cattle rustlers and invading gunmen are ‘Fulanis’: why are Fulanis killing Fulanis? Are these gunmen Nigerians? Are these gunmen from neighbouring countries?
How were the terrorists able to drive convoys of vehicles for long distances carrying high grades of ammunitions without detection and attacked Giwa military barrack? What type of intelligence networks do these terrorists engage to confidently attack Giwa military barrack and video record the events? Why were the terrorists so sure of victory to the extent that they came with camera men to the war front- especially that of attacking a military barrack? How was it possible for these terrorists to keep killing our dearly loved security agents at will? Why are our security agents who have signed in to lay down their lives for our nation not sufficiently armed to fight against these terrorists? Was it true that the SHIA shell armoured tank failed to work when the terrorists attacked Giwa military barrack? If yes, why did it happen? Was it true that one of our brave troop commanders was killed along with other officers inside a not well-built Armoured Personnel Carrier? What efforts have been put in place to stop such failures from re-occurring? How well have we put to use the information gained from several arrested and detained terrorists? What exactly took place with regards to the jail-break story at the SSS detention facility at Abuja? How well have we reviewed the intelligence network involved in the anti-terrorism efforts? How well have we mapped out clear engagement strategies to defeat terrorism?
We must act now to place the safety of the lives of our security agents at the topmost priority level. We must provide our security agents with the best war weaponry possible anywhere in the world. We must not only provide highly motivating wages and welfare schemes for our security agents; we must have established life insurance schemes for our security agents as we ensure that their family members are adequately catered for.
We must accept the basic reality that access to qualitative education and socio-economic developments is most essential towards solving our social and insecurity challenges. We must focus on real developmental efforts rather than throwing money at any possible problem. We must put a stop to the establishments of local militias no matter how noble the objectives behind such actions may pretend to be. We must rise up above primordial attachment to ethnicity or religion. We must resolve the questions clearly before us. How do we ensure transparency in governance and the entrenchment of the rule of law? How do we eliminate systemic corruption in the polity? How do we ensure the conducts of free and fair elections? How do we ensure the protection of fundamental human rights of our citizens? How do we establish sustainable databases towards solving our civil and criminal challenges? How do we effectively tackle the problems of oil-spill and other environmental problems in the Niger-Delta? How do we engage the communities in the Niger-Delta to bring real wealth and development to the region beyond the status quo that ensures sustained corruption, abject poverty and infrastructural deficiencies in the region?
How do we stop the rampaging abject poverty in the North-East and the nation as a whole? How do we actively develop the rural areas to stop rural-urban drift and aid the victory over poverty, unemployment and insecurity? How do we effectively bridge the educational gap between the North and the South? How do we address the problems of infrastructural deficiencies across the polity? How do we constructively address the poor standard of our educational system to bring out real skills acquisition and not paper certificates? How do we ensure the poor and the rich have free access to qualitative education? How do we ensure the developments of resources in all regions to bring wealth across board? How do we ensure the survival of Nigeria beyond oil, diversify the economy and revamp the agricultural and other sectors to the best possible levels?
Furthermore, we must stop the blame game now and rise up as one to stamp out terrorism, insurgency and criminality in our nation. Our security agencies must be transparent and explain to us what is already known, what had or has been done, what is being done and what has to be done. We must be united with our security agencies and the Presidency to win the war against insecurity and bring the much needed peace to our nation. Our political elites and elected public officers (APC, PDP or otherwise) must put the nation first beyond 2015 and stop the politization of our insecurity challenges. Our dear President must act extraordinarily like Sir Winston Churchill to achieve victory over terrorism. The political will to deal squarely with terrorists, criminals and their sponsors must be activated with no regard whatsoever to whose ox is gored. Our dear President must act extraordinarily like President Franklin Roosevelt who not only worked with Churchill to defeat Adolf Hitler and allies but also brought the United States out of the Great Depression. President Jonathan must act decisively to stamp out systemic corruption and bring out Nigerians from poverty and infrastructural deficiencies.
The challenges of insecurity, poverty and infrastructural deficiencies we face now as a nation must bring out the best in all of us. We must never be divided. We must rise up as one against our challenges. We must never accept defeat. We must win the wars against poverty, terrorism and all forms of insecurity we face as a nation. Our collective creativity towards solving our problems must be brought to the fore. Our commitment must be unquestionable. Our passion for a greater, prosperous and united Nigeria must be unquenchable. Our goals to bring back Nigeria to peace, freedom, unity and prosperity must be absolute. Victory is inevitable.
May God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Amen. Akinlolu, Abdulazeez Adelaja writes from the University of Ilorin.
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