By James Ogunjimi
Bodies are lined up in the Nigerian village of Konduga after an attack by Boko Haram that left 39 dead earlier this month. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images
Another attack in Yobe claims lives. That’s the news I awoke to. Look, I don’t claim to be an authority in politics or in dealing with these blood-thirsty bastards, but I think if we are going to achieve any victory over them, we must stop playing politics with the lives of our people.
The first step to take is for the President to accept and say it that we are not winning the war on terrorism, not keep on repeating the garbage that “We are on top of the situation”. Nigerians stopped believing that crap a long time ago.
Then let him set up a committee headed by himself, Buhari, Atiku, Obasanjo, Babangida, the Emirs, leader of the Sharia court and other eminent personalities who can be trusted. After that, let the committee be charged with four (4) responsibilities:
1) To reach out and negotiate with the Boko Haram sect. Yes, negotiate with them. We can’t keep on insisting that we won’t negotiate with terrorists yet we don’t have the necessary intelligence body or force capable of flushing out the insurgents, we cannot keep on deceiving ourselves. We like to say, “America does not negotiate with terrorists”. Well, that’s what they’ll tell us. What happens behind closed doors is a story for another day. Also, if in fact America does not negotiate with terrorists, we cannot take that step too. Doing so will be ignorant of us. First, in the US, they have the necessary intelligence gathering systems, they have surveillance cameras which they can use to identify and track down criminals, their people are more likely to ‘squeal’ when it comes to giving information on criminals, unlike us, so we really cannot compare ourselves. We cannot continue to sacrifice the lives of our citizens on the altar of ignorance.
2) In the event that negotiation fails, to set up a Task Force of trusted military men who are veterans in the army (this is very important and its importance will be explained later on) and cannot be easily bought over and who also come from a different location, ie, not from the north; preferably from south, west and east. Also, they must not be Muslims. Now, their not being Muslims has nothing to do with efficiency, it goes into seeing that the Boko Haram sect claims to be fighting for the establishment of an Islamic nation and the eradication of western education. To get desired results and to avoid a situation where our Muslim brothers end up being bought over based on sentiments, non-Muslims should be allowed to be in the task force. Again, we are a nation of sentimental people, just like a Christian sent to curtail violence can be bought over by fellow ‘Christians’ by manipulating Bible verses to support their actions and the need for him to support ‘one of his own’, so also there is the danger of Muslim brothers getting manipulated using the Koran.
3) After this, let the task force commence operation, the governor should be told to step aside, we have played politics with innocent lives for long enough, let them continue giving him his salary and allowances, but let him step aside. Then let a 24-hour curfew be imposed! Let the Task force be given the mandate to shoot anything that moves outside. This is where the role of veterans in the army comes in, people who can use their discretion. Let the task force assign a special team that will guard the network providers’ mast day and night; anybody that attempts to damage the mast must be treated, not as a suspected member of the sect, but as a convicted member of the sect and have the same treatment meted out to him/her. Let each local government in the states be given about 50 emergency lines (MTN, GLO, Etisalat, Airtel, etc) to call or send text to toll-free. Let there be a 24-hour patrol in each local government. Let the Task force be authorised to deal with the CAPTURED sect members in a jungle justice manner. Again, the role of veterans must come to fore here. Those who are ‘suspected’ members and don’t have clear evidences pointing to them can still be allowed to get to court where if they end up being found guilty are sentenced to death by cremation to serve as deterrent to others. The killings would reduce and with that, the curfew can be relaxed, but must never be removed totally; the people must be able to feel relief at the sight of the military men.
4) Meanwhile, the committee must then make preparations to get kids off the streets even if they will be paid stipends and fed to go to school. The committee must look into the Islamic houses for children (Ile keu) and monitor what the Alfas teach them. Muslim scholars who understand the Koran well and understand the need to sometimes ‘leave out’ some teachings like ‘Killing the infidel in God’s name’, ‘Requirements for getting 70 virgins in Alujanah’, etc, must be brought in to change the orientation of the children. Specialists should also be brought in to speak to families on the need for family planning. Too many children are in the streets that are thrust out the moment they start walking, they leave home and survive in the streets where they are raw materials for the deadly sect.
We cannot continue to watch till our values are eroded and peace becomes an alien concept. The task of securing our nation is a collective responsibility. We must awake now. It’s the north today, it may be anywhere tomorrow.
God bless Nigerians!
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