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Raymond Inkabi: Please Hold While We Get Used To This One

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Have you ever noticed how quickly Nigerians get used to things? Twenty years ago, private jets and laptops were just about germane and unheard of in Nigeria. In a decade we have gotten used to cell phones, tablets, sport utility vehicles, and the Internet. But it’s not only the good things that grow familiar with us. In the last three years we’ve also gotten so used to home-grown terrorism, power tussles in different forms, and the latest being the controversies surrounding the Chibok Girls abduction on the night of April 14th by insurgents. We hardly notice how much there is. How much impact has this indifference dealt on our lives, including that of our society? You have to ask yourself how we got to this stage and how many other willing brainwashed souls are out there waiting for some “divine” chance to wreck havoc on fellow countrymen. Yet somehow, lingers in the mind of our many citizens; the self-righteous assumption that we’re above all that’s befallen us. Yes, we are a chosen people. A nation carved by the very fingers of God Himself on Holy Mount Sinai, then handed down to us through His loving servant, the British Lord Frederick Lugard in 1914.

Yes, its a known fact; no misfortune can happen. If something does happen, it fits perfectly into God’s plan. Explanation is, many sister nations are going through same phase or have long advanced to be ruffled by terror so all we need to do is forge partnerships. To defeat terror is long-term: an over flogged quote. But then it’s becoming such a defining feature that we’ve now gotten so used to.

But obviously, we are no utopian society. But wishful thinking and wilful obliviousness could even render us more vulnerable. If we hope to make terror the exception instead of the rule in our lives – if we are not going to let it rule our lives completely – we need to change the way we think about it, report on it and react to it. What is required is cold realism, and constant awareness. Part of the problem, is the very Nigerian mind set at there is a solution to every problem, and then an end to it. We don’t like open – ended questions, and if there is one we ignore it blandly, choosing to live with it than deal with it. Are we to please hold while we get used to this new one called terrorism? Lets think twice. And like a toddler, we’ll take one step at a time dealing with it. Methinks we can’t afford the luxury, freedom and responsibility of growing up. At least, so it seems.

Such increasingly dangerously emboldened little groups and individuals do not exactly work alone in scheming out attacks on unarmed innocent civilians. They are more likely inspired than directed by their nominal leaders whom they deify or fellow fanatics and imps. Today’s terrorists are not the traditional, they are the modern. Them being the latest headliners we’re already getting used to. To build up anger against the government and then bolster courage to attack it, must be by listening to all sorts of hate mongering, from preachers in the worship places to dissidents on the Internet to disgruntled power brokers orbiting our political space.

If we are to face the threat of terrorism as it truly exists, we cannot go on pretending that each incident is unprecedented. Every choice we make pose a question of strategy. And we have to understand that when a lot of people preach hate, some fool might possibly act on it. To ease the hate and the discontent we could provide life enhancing conditions for our exploding population, improve access for individuals to seek a life of their own and forge for themselves a desirable future. Push ahead with reforms and measures to open markets, boost domestic consumption and imports. Provide some form of stability in polity, protect intellectual property and decentralize development. Nigeria’s government for years however, is not blameless in this affair.

But we as citizens are not blameless either. One thing we must know is that ignorance is no defense. We too have done little to boost the morale of our government. We also must learn to walk and understand the very narrow line between the government protecting us from terror or repressing us as citizens. Why would the police be seen as a threat? Are they agent provocateurs? Are they on our side? Do we even have aside? What are we doing? However, it is elating to find that we are no longer afraid or surprised when we see soldiers and other “law” enforcement’s personnel carrying machine guns and Kalashnikovs at airports, crowded places or the train stations. We can get used to more government precautions and personal caution than most people can imagine, knowing the threat can be reduced to an all low but never eliminated if we can trust our government to protect us. Security has become a reflex – a nation’s reflex. But we were not born with this reflex; yet we can and will learn it. Nigeria’s lessons, it appears, have just begun. There are people who want to make a great conspiratorial power responsible for their personal failures and misfortunes – and then exact revenge on whomsoever their intricate web of evil catches. It is time for us to listen, and our government should have the capacity to act as we all cast our eyes up towards hill whence cometh our help.

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Raymond Inkabi is a freelance writer. He tweets via @alykka

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