Boko Haram: Are you planning to destroy Nigeria?

I am absolutely sad and disheartened to observe what is going on at the moment as regards the turbulence and destructive activities of the so called Boko Haram in our country. Since independence in 1960, we have faced so much disorderliness and confusion within our nation. I dare say that before independence, ours was a land flowing with milk and honey.

 Then, we largely depended on agriculture; cocoa in the South West; groundnut, millet and sorghum in the North; palm oil in the East with yam, cassava and cotton all over the place. Then we were never in the red and there was nothing like national debt. The first problem we encountered after independence was the coup and counter coup.

 That was the beginning of our national calamity because the military took absolute control of the country, dealing death and destruction with anyone who dared question their authority. They reigned and ruled exclusively and absolutely.

 Our next misfortune was that of the civil war and the Military leader that led it against the rest of Nigeria was Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, who died recently and likely to be buried in February. The Military ruled for many years with all its ups and downs and turbulence. The view of the public at large was that the coup d’etat that resulted in the civil war was ethnically motivated. Nigeria, therefore, embarked upon damage control policies. One of which is the establishment of the National Youth Service Corps as well as the policy of Federal Character which culminated in the creation of the Federal Character Commission.

 On the political scene, there has always been allegation and counter allegation of marginalization and accusation of winner takes all. Nevertheless, the option A4 system was also put in practice. Then came the claim and agitation of resource control, particularly the oil revenue that we were exploring and exploiting in leaps and bounds in the South Southern part of Nigeria. With all the attempts by the government to please the people of the Niger Delta and its environs, the agitation kept escalating because of their demand for larger share of the oil revenue.

 Attempts to placate the situation were made by the government which led to the creation of the Niger Delta Development Commission. Nevertheless, the militants of the Niger Delta waged their own war against Nigeria and even planned to secede. Happily, it was to the credit of late Alhaji Musa Yar’Adua who settled the ensuing economic chaos. With all these antecedents of ethnic, political and economic turbulence, many Nigerians felt that our problems were over and we have taken good care of them all and we should now settle down after fifty years of independence to good governance in our polity.

 Suddenly, we are now faced with a disturbance of a very serious religious dimension, the type that we have never experienced in this country before, either during the colonial era or since our independence. One horrendous aspect of it is even the international dimension that it has created for our dear country, thus alarmingly destroying the image of our nation as a peaceful giant of Africa.

 We now suffer being viewed as a pariah State and the name of Nigeria now stinks. But it is equally capable of destroying our whole country which people like us have laboured with well meaning others to build. Religion is an emotive issue and our constitution, although not perfect, tries to make it a secular issue. However, ours is a multi religious nation and we have lived harmoniously thus for over fifty years and before. In the South West, we have pursued a civilized approach to this matter in the belief that we are all serving the same one God as perceived by the two received faiths.

 We should not allow the Boko Haram people to throw us back into the dark ages in the name of religion. Enough is enough! Our Head of State and all the people in government should stand up immediately to effect damage control. Security is lacking and ineffective to control the situation. It should be beefed up so that the matter will not degenerate into religious warfare. That will amount to a primitive situation and action. This world has passed that stage. We should move forward and not backward. The president should not rule out the possibility of having a dialogue on this matter. It is not impossible that the purpose of this destructive act may have some political undertone capable of disintegrating the whole nation.

 There is a very strong suspicion that these people waging war in the name of Boko Haram, are doing so at the instigation of certain people possibly political figures who are bent on the destruction of the nation. Indeed, there is nothing like “haram” in western education which was in fact, inherited from the Muslims in the days of Islamic civilization in Anderlus, Spain. Besides, knowledge is not considered as “haram” in the Holy Qur’an and Hadith that emphasized so much about education.

 There is another disturbing aspect of the situation in our country at the moment whereby people are currently indulging in unnecessary acts of merrymaking all in the name of festivals and carnivals while Nigerians are being killed mercilessly by this so called Boko Haram, even in Churches and on Christmas day. Is this the time for merrymaking and irresponsible pantomime while innocent people are victims of nothing other than their faith? Nigeria ought to move away from senselessness and find solution to serious problems in our country. Indeed, people like us spent the prime of our time and life serving this nation diligently, selflessly and gratuitously. Such contributions should not be wasted.

 The Government must therefore take care of and enforce the safety, security and daily protection of the citizens of this country in order to ensure peace and stability. The rule of law and adherence to human rights are equally important. They are primus and in governance they are sine qua non. We need peace and stability in Nigeria to ensure progressive development. Anything else is not civilization, progress, or peace.

Ajibola, former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, writes via

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