Nigeria is in a state of war but it looks as if we are taking things lightly. The Merriam Webster dictionary defines state of war as (1) a. state of actual armed hostilities regardless of a formal declaration of war and (1) b. legal state created and ended by official declaration regardless of actual armed hostilities and usually characterized by the operation of the rules of war.
We have been at war for quite a long time but it became all the more apparent with the return of the Dapchi girls. There was real ceasefire when the girls were returned, the type we see in areas that are in a state of war like Syria, Columbia with the FARC rebels and in parts of Congo and Uganda, where the Lord’s Resistance
it is real war when a militant organisation can ‘force’ the Nigerian government to sit with it and reach an agreement brokered by international bodies under the international Law of Armed Conflict.
But the president was quoted as ordering his service chiefs not to allow the abductions of girls again. A citizen, in the first place, would expect the president to tell his service chiefs not to allow the abduction of any citizen, not only schoolgirls. All citizens are citizens and want to feel equal before the law or before the eyes of
Farmers and voiceless Nigerians are being abducted by those who have declared war on Nigeria but we have allowed them to play the music while we dance to the tunes.
And it is this sort of thinking by governments that make the militants strong. The ordinary citizen sees them as strong and comes to see that his government cannot protect him. It makes the ordinary citizen lose confidence in the country. Little wonder some abducted Nigerians have switched allegiance or hailing the terrorists (as happened in Dapchi) as ‘saviours’ because the people of Dapchi and elsewhere saw the kind of power that should reside with their government being exercised by enemies of the state.
The terrorist is by nature a leach; give him an inch and he will take a mile. But the worst aspect of the whole thing is that it is as if the federal government is not aware that it is dealing with ruthless, very intelligent terrorist organisations that see whatever they are doing as games.
These terrorists know our fault lines and they know that religion can threaten to burn down this country if anything will.
That they left Leah Sharibu Nata behind, purportedly on the premise that she ‘refused’ to convert to Islam, is a ruse and a deliberate ploy to cream off more money from government. They know that the pressure that will be exerted on the government may be greater than when all the girls were in captivity. They are just being adept at exploiting our fault lines.
Nigeria is unfortunately peopled by mischievous rabble rousers like Fani Kayode, who are neither Christian in thought nor in action, who use Christianity as a cover to further divide the country. Such people would seize such ‘opportunity’ as this to weave their web of mischief.
Other Christian organisations, NGOs and even some countries that will now begin to insinuate that ‘Nigeria is the most dangerous country on earth for a Christian to live in’ will now join in heaping pressure on the ‘Muslim government of Buhari’. The saddest aspect is that they all know the truth but mischief is more profitable for their kind of game.
This awareness about the mindset of the Nigerian is why the Boko Haram abductors refused to release Leah, and conveniently revealed their ‘reason.’ Recall that Chibok girls, police officers’ wives and many other girls and women had been released with their faiths intact; why is Leah’s different? After all to them, even a Muslim is not a Muslim except one that accepts their way of thought.
(While writing this, there is a trending story that the girl ‘is on her way back’. It could be true, hopefully, but if not, then they are playing a dangerous game that would shoot up our adrenalin, teasing our minds and hearts and we will be jumping at each other’s throat, engaging in accusations and counter-accusations while they sit back and laugh at us as they smile their way to more hard currency and the release of more of their commanders).
The Boko Haram, be it the Shekau or Al Barnawi faction, does not see even Muslims as Muslims except those who share the same ideology as it. Therefore, Leah’s case has less to do with faith than with hard currency. And because of the peculiar nature of Nigeria and our exterior religiosity, they may end up collecting at least twice what they collected on the returned Dapchi girls. And just by the way, the girl’s father’s level would soon change for ‘breeding a girl (who will soon be ferried abroad on her release for further education) full of the Holy Spirit’.
But the earlier we relise and accept that we are at war with an enemy that draws its strength from Nigerians who believe the system has turned them into second class citizens, and get their strategies and tactics from the veterans among the rank and file of ISIS, the safer for us.
As a matter of urgency, government must brace up to fight this war and do all it must to cut off the terrorists’ recruitment base as well as stop giving them the opportunity to prove how strong they are.
Henceforth, citizens everywhere should be made to feel they have governments at all levels that are responsible and sincere and ready to serve the people, and not the other way round. Justice should no longer be hinged on accidents of birth, geography, and or religious beliefs just as they should not be barriers to the prospects of upward social and economic mobility.
The government must also realise that this war is now being fought on another more sophisticated turf than the brute approach of Shekau, so it needs a fresh kind of thinking and strategy, otherwise it will continue to negotiate with this ragtag group from a position of weakness, like it is doing now.