By Idang Alibi
As an analyst and concerned patriot, I have tried, almost in vain, to understand, from the socio-political angle, the phenomenon called Boko Haram. Its origin is fairly well known to warrant repetition here. What has however confounded me, and no doubt many others, is its goal and the methods it has adopted to achieve that stated goal and may be some other unstated ones.
According to what its ideologues have so far volunteered to the public, the group exists to pursue a pure form of Islam and seeks to overthrow the present ungodly Nigerian system, rid it of unhealthy Western influences and usher in its place a system that will guarantee fairness and justice. I have tried to reflect on the existence of this group, understand it and see whether it is a rebel with some cause or one without. From the purely rational, human angle, what does the BH group stand for? Is it a revolutionary movement?
The answer is an obvious ‘no’ for if it was indeed a revolutionary movement, a rebel with a good cause, or one with a well-defined but controversial political goal, it would have by now had a political wing with which it can engage in negotiation with government or with individuals with whom it has some bearing such as those whose siblings have been kidnapped or abducted for varied reasons. But BH has no such wing. Up till now, it is largely a faceless, ruthlessly militant group whose known mode of operation is senseless killings and destruction of property. I see those who say they know some BH leaders with whom one can talk as essentially insincere or opportunistic individuals. They are merely clever folks who see the helpless and confused situation the government is in and wants to cash in on that and milk the Nigerian state for their own pockets or to acquire some undeserved relevance.
Then there is also the mode of operation of this group. If it is a movement with noble, even godly motive, how come it just kills, maims and destroys without regard whatsoever for the sanctity of human life and respect for property? And if its goal is political and religious, do they hope that by killing people indiscriminately, they will be allowed to overthrow the federal government or the northern half of it and form a theocratic state? From what I can see, my conclusion is that the BH is an amorphous group of anarchists who are being used by higher forces, in spite of themselves, to bring the nation to its knees and compel it to cry unto God for forgiveness for all its sins and to repent of its wicked ways.
We have been taught that God is not the author of wickedness but that He sometimes allows evil in form of a plague, famine, pestilence or other seemingly ‘natural’ calamities to befall man, including even the saints, as a way to try, test or torment them to reflect more deeply on their lives or to atone for their misdeeds. My thinking, therefore, is that the BH insurgency is an affliction allowed by God to humble us to come to our senses and return to Him. There is too much evil in this land which we need to focus on but which we have ignored.
We have for long been shielded from several natural calamities that have become common fare for many nations and because of our many blessedness we have tended to become so complacent and godless. Now, God has decided to allow a pestilence to jar us awake from our complacency. I am convinced that the terrible evil we have on our hands today is a pestilence because it is in the very nature of pestilences to defeat a people so thoroughly that they are forced to become aware of their helplessness and of the need, therefore, to seek the help of higher forces. If we care to admit, the insurgency has left us sufficiently troubled, fearful, panic stricken, confused, confounded, helpless and bewildered. We were pushed to seek the help of those who cannot help us.
The government, the security agencies, security experts and pundits all appear to be confused. That is why some of the responses and suggestions to the crisis appear comical or farcical. When I watch TV and hear pundits proffer what they call solution to the problem, I do not hear any pieces of wisdom that I think will bring immediate solution to the problem at hand. They give what appears to me long term solution to an immediate and ever present affliction.
Take for instance the suggestion that all Nigerians need basic security consciousness training. There is basically nothing wrong with all of us being trained to recognize ‘suspicious looking persons’ and then when we see such, to report to law enforcement agents who will then act. But please tell me, what use is it in me or anyone else recognizing a suicide bomber who is furiously driving a car loaded with several pounds of explosives heading towards a target and from my ‘training’, I spot him, call a police station, only to be told they have no vehicle to move? Even if they have transport, what practical thing will they do to avert such an impending public danger? My conclusion is that by the time this type of solution they proffer begin to bear any fruits, if they ever will, we will all be dead.
Suicide bombers are not armed robbers who want to rob and live to enjoy their loot. No, these people are quite different. These are a people who want to sacrifice their lives in order to take as many lives and destroy as much property as possible. How, therefore, can any average person and even the experts restrain such a people except you also want to become suicidal as well?
A measure of government’s confusion and cluelessness is reflected in the several road blocks being mounted everywhere which have so far proved pathetically ineffective in checking the menace; the recent ban on power bikes in the FCT, the ban on the use of private cars as taxis and the farcical advice that people should avoid crowded places. If we continue with this type of ban, we may be told one day to stay indoors and avoid work and buying and selling in order to be saved from the horrendous attacks!
Am I beginning to sound defeatist? No. What is my drift? My thinking is that the insurgency is a pestilence, an instrument allowed by God to humble us and compel us to cry unto him for salvation. Some may say that this type of thinking is warped, outlandish, fanciful and even superstitious but that is what appears to make sense to me of this crisis. My position is that no amount of expert advice, no amount of security training, no amount of expert opinion, no amount of road blocks and bans can defeat a determined terrorist group especially one like the BH which acts without rhyme or reason. Only a plea for mercy from God can do the trick.
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