Enough is Enough: Lets Work To­gether to Stop Them Killing Our Chil­dren

Daily Trust - - VIEWS - with Jib­rin Ibrahim jib­rin.ibrahim172@gmail.com

Vi­o­lence, mass mur­der, ab­duc­tions, hate, sex slav­ery and other crimes against hu­man­ity are killing Nigeria while the gov­ern­ing class watch with a sense of help­less­ness, fear, fore­bod­ing and paral­y­sis. The class in power from the lo­cal govern­ment level to the pres­i­dency re­mains fo­cused on steal­ing the na­tional wealth and self-ag­gran­dis­e­ment. The people look on in dis­gust won­der­ing why they have rulers they cer­tainly do not de­serve. Re­li­gious lead­ers con­tinue their pro­fes­sion of ex­tract­ing money from their poor fol­low­ers. Very few are en­gaged in the nec­es­sary strug­gle of stop­ping the vi­o­lence and sav­ing and re­build­ing Nigeria. As Yemi Adamolekun and her young com­rades in the Coali­tion say; “Enough is Enough”. For Nigeria to sur­vive, we must change our at­ti­tude and ap­proach and start work­ing to­gether to build the type of so­ci­ety we de­serve, a peace­ful so­ci­ety led by com­mit­ted lead­er­ship fo­cused on de­vel­op­ment and the pro­mo­tion of the wel­fare of the people. It’s pos­si­ble.

It has been a ter­ri­ble week for Nigeria. The Mon­day bomb blast in Abuja killed over a hun­dred people. This was quickly fol­lowed by the at­tack on the Govern­ment Girls’ Sec­ondary Chi­bok, in Borno State where over a hun­dred girls; stu­dents pre­par­ing for their ex­am­i­na­tions were kid­napped and taken away in a con­voy of ve­hi­cles. The same week, two tra­di­tional rulers in the same Borno State were as­sas­si­nated. All these were rep­e­ti­tions of ac­tion taken ear­lier aimed at in­dis­crim­i­nately killing the people, de­stroy­ing so­cial co­he­sion, dis­rupt­ing and even­tu­ally de­stroy­ing the ed­u­ca­tional sys­tem and cre­at­ing a regime of ar­bi­trari­ness and ter­ror where a few zealots will dic­tate to us how we wor­ship our God and live our lives. The bulk of these atroc­i­ties are di­rected at the poor­est fringes of our so­ci­ety but with­out doubt, we are all tar­gets and we must ask our­selves why we want to re­main sit­ting ducks.

Mean­while, our leading po­lit­i­cal fig­ures in the PDP and APC spent the week en­gaged in a silly quar­rel and blame game on whether in­vi­ta­tions to a to dis­cuss the de­te­ri­o­rat­ing se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion had been sent or re­ceived or sub­verted. It de­gen­er­ated into crude in­sults and name call­ing with govern­ment lead­ers at the federal level and in op­po­si­tion states ac­cused each other of be­ing ter­ror­ists and mass mur­der­ers.

Such ir­re­spon­si­ble and in­sen­si­tive ac­tion is very dis­re­spect­ful of Nige­ri­ans who are suf­fer­ing from the dis­ap­pear­ance of pub­lic safety in the land. As the ed­i­to­rial of Thisday yes­ter­day ar­gued pow­er­fully; “By play­ing pol­i­tics with the tragedy at a time they ought to have come to­gether to soothe a griev­ing and con­cerned na­tion, and find last­ing so­lu­tions to the knotty chal­lenges posed by the ter­ror­ists, our politi­cians may have in­ad­ver­tently played into the hands of the in­sur­gents. In most coun­tries of the world, both the rul­ing and op­po­si­tion par­ties rally in times of dis­as­ters such as ter­ror­ists at­tacks, for the greater good of cit­i­zens.”

Our lead­ers are clearly not suf­fi­ciently vi­sion­ary to see that what is at stake is the con­tin­ued sur­vival of all of us, and that when things fall apart com­pletely, they too and their re­la­tions and ac­qui­si­tions would not be safe. I have ar­gued pre­vi­ously in this col­umn that Nigeria has lacked in its re­cent his­tory is a lead­er­ship with a vi­sion and a sense of en­light­ened self-in­ter­est. The idea of en­light­ened self-in­ter­est is sim­ple, by serv­ing the com­mon good of so­ci­ety, the lead­er­ship serves their own in­ter­est of get­ting le­git­i­macy, re­spect and even the ma­te­rial gains they seek. The al­ter­na­tive ap­proach is ap­proach­ing lead­er­ship on the ba­sis of greed and my­opic self­ish­ness. This ap­proach has neg­a­tive con­se­quences as the whole com­mu­nity suf­fers loss as a re­sult of con­flict and its im­pact, as well as de­creased ef­fi­ciency and pro­duc­tiv­ity. The re­sult is costly for the com­mu­nity as a whole as each in­di­vid­ual seeks to pro­vide for their own pro­tec­tion with­out suc­cess. A few greedy lead­ers and their cronies make enor­mous per­sonal gain to sat­isfy per­sonal greed but the ma­jor­ity of the mem­bers of the com­mu­nity ex­pe­ri­ence net per­sonal loss.

On 18th March, the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ad­viser Mo­ham­mad Sambo Da­suki an­nounced Nigeria’s new soft ap­proach to coun­ter­ing ter­ror­ism, which in­cludes adopt­ing a means of de-rad­i­cal­is­ing ex­trem­ists and stop­ping oth­ers from be­ing rad­i­calised. It’s a well­con­ceived and com­pre­hen­sive strat­egy and my first thought was why did it take so long to emerge. We how­ever can­not af­ford the lux­ury of what could have been had this strat­egy been de­vel­oped and im­ple­mented over the past three years. What is im­por­tant is to get on with it.

The NSA ex­plained that the core of the strat­egy is a “Coun­ter­ing Vi­o­lent Ex­trem­ism (CVE)” pro­gramme. It’s soft be­cause it is fo­cused on work­ing closely with all tiers of govern­ment, tra­di­tional, re­li­gious, civil so­ci­ety and com­mu­nity lead­ers in stop­ping rad­i­cal­iza­tion. It plans to use ex­ist­ing struc­tures within and out­side govern­ment to deliver tar­geted pro­grammes and ac­tiv­i­ties that fur­ther the over­all goal of stem­ming the tide of rad­i­cal­iza­tion and through fam­i­lies, com­mu­ni­ties, faith based or­ga­ni­za­tions build re­silience to vi­o­lent ex­trem­ism.

The cen­tral idea is that if re­li­gious and com­mu­nity lead­ers prop­erly ed­u­cate their fol­low­ers that re­li­gion is to­tally against the in­dis­crim­i­nate killing of people, we will be on the path to more peace­ful re­la­tions. As we are how­ever al­ready in an in­sur­gency, they have the even more im­por­tant task of coun­ter­ing the rad­i­cal ide­ol­ogy of the in­sur­gents and ex­pos­ing those in their com­mu­ni­ties who are in­volved in atroc­i­ties. This would re­quire trust and a high sense of re­spon­si­bil­ity among all stake­hold­ers – gov­ern­ments, se­cu­rity agencies, com­mu­ni­ties and re­li­gious lead­ers. The badly scripted drama we saw last week was clearly an at­tempt to make this im­pos­si­ble. And yet, we must not give up. We must strive to con­tinue the ef­forts to re­cover our coun­try from ex­trem­ists. The is­sues be­fore us are big­ger than Pres­i­dent Jonathan, they are big­ger than APC gov­er­nors.

Our po­lit­i­cal lead­ers must change their ways and show a greater com­mit­ment to good gov­er­nance by tack­ling the un­der­ly­ing eco­nomic, so­cial and po­lit­i­cal driv­ers of rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion and the in­sur­gency. Even more im­por­tant, govern­ment and op­po­si­tion must show greater com­mit­ment to work­ing to­gether to ad­dress the in­sur­gency. It is the trust that em­anates from this col­lab­o­ra­tion that can pro­pel col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween se­cu­rity agencies and com­mu­nity and re­li­gious lead­ers pro­posed in the new strat­egy.

With trust and col­lab­o­ra­tion, civil so­ci­ety and com­mu­nity lead­ers can be more ac­tive and suc­cess­ful in con­struct­ing the nar­ra­tives and mes­sages that can counter those pro­duced by the process of rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion. It is gen­er­ally recog­nised by schol­ars of counter in­sur­gency that the best way to chal­lenge the nar­ra­tives of rad­i­calis­ers and ex­trem­ists is to put for­ward pos­i­tive al­ter­na­tive counter-mes­sages pro­duced by the com­mu­ni­ties them­selves rather than by govern­ment. Such work done by com­mu­ni­ties also strengthen ci­ti­zen­ship, in­te­gra­tion and a sense of be­long­ing. It is on the ba­sis of such work that con­di­tions can be cre­ated to pro­vide safe spa­ces for di­a­logue. The ob­jec­tive here is to build the ca­pac­ity of com­mu­ni­ties to cre­ate agency in com­bat­ting ex­trem­ism them­selves. It is also only com­mu­ni­ties that can work on im­proved par­ent­ing, the pro­vi­sion of ac­cu­rate and re­spon­si­ble re­li­gious ed­u­ca­tion and build neigh­bour­hood ca­pac­ity for peace build­ing.

By tak­ing lead­er­ship of the war against the in­sur­gency, com­mu­ni­ties and civil so­ci­ety can open doors to other front­line in­ter­locu­tors such as the po­lice, se­cu­rity agencies, govern­ment de­part­ments such as the ju­di­ciary, teach­ers, doc­tors, sport ad­min­is­tra­tors and so­cial work­ers who are in­volved on a daily ba­sis with in­di­vid­u­als that might be on the path to rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion. This is the way that the pro­posed coun­ter­rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion process can be­come ef­fec­tive.

At this del­i­cate point in our na­tional ex­is­tence, all gov­ern­ments at the three lev­els, federal, state and lo­cal govern­ment, need to keep pol­i­tics aside and work to­wards build­ing faith in the pos­si­bil­ity of re­build­ing the na­tion and restor­ing peace. The se­cu­rity agencies for their part need to weed out rogue el­e­ments within them that are en­gaged in cre­at­ing more mayhem rather that work­ing for peace. It is in this con­text that our com­mu­nity and civil so­ci­ety lead­ers can be­come ac­tive play­ers in the new ap­proach of a col­lec­tive strug­gle to­wards re­build­ing Nigeria. Enough is Enough; let’s stop the drift to­wards the abyss.

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