Opinion: Islamic terrorists and presidential committee on security challenges

by Rotimi Fasan


It must be realised that patience is wearing thin among those most affected by the activities of these terrorists and their bottled anger might boil over in a manner that might be fateful for Nigeria’s existence. The era of using religion to foment trouble or excuse abominable acts against innocents should no longer be tolerated.

There are yet no accurately verifiable figures on the number of casualties from last week’s terror attack by Islamic terrorists in Sabon Gari area of Kano.

This has become the pattern in the last four years since the terrorists masquerading as God’s warriors in different parts of the North embarked on their campaign of infamy. Usually after such attacks the Police and other security agencies provide grossly conservative figures of casualties while playing down the severity of the entire event.

The one undeniable thing is the gruesomeness of the attacks and the general belief that the figure of the maimed and dead is high. This can always be deduced from the extent and severity of the attack and independent reports from eye witnesses and medical personnel who invariably have to care for the casualties.

In the latest incidence, the Police and Army put the number of dead at 12 while independent reports put it at nearly 50- between 40 and 47. It may be more. The fact that the attack happened in Sabon Gari, a settler-dominated area, makes clear the intention of the attackers- to foment ethnic strife.  So far they’ve not been very successful.

But where does this leave the committee set up by Abuja to address the matter of insurgency in the North? The Presidential Committee on Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution of Security Challenges in the North imagined it had successfully discharged its remit when it announced a breakthrough in its talk with the terrorists. Not a few Nigerians thought peace at last! But as the Bible warns, when many thought it’s peace and safety then comes sudden destruction.

For the decibels of praises for the Minister of Special Duties, Kabiru Tanimu Turaki-led Committee had scarcely risen when mouths were left agape with the report of yet another attack by the terrorists. Soon the so-called leader of the marauding bandits would issue a disclaimer that his group reached an agreement with Abuja’s committee.

Thus did the terrorists, like the proverbial abiku child of Yoruba lore, make liars of the Ifa priest that are members of President Jonathan’s committee. Yes, some Nigerians urged caution, warned against hasty acceptance of the so-called ceasefire. Was the Committee too hasty in announcing a ceasefire?

Was it too eager to work within the three-month duration allotted it to execute its brief? Could this be the reason Abuja has extended the Committee’s mandate by two months? Only Abuja and the Committee know. But did the Committee jump the gun?

The point we must all remember is that with the terrorists divided into many cells and factions, as is now commonly believed, it would be near-impossible and indeed very lucky to make all the factions speak with one voice on the question of ceasefire. Not now that many of the terror leaders and their followers have known the pleasure of undeserved wealth and riches from their anarchist enterprise. We saw this with the Niger-Delta militias.

Until Abuja under Obasanjo and Yar’Adua ‘settled’ him and he took a back seat from the frontline, Asari Dokubo was the face of Niger-Delta militancy. Now when the expired warlord speaks hardly anybody pays attention. He is too rich to risk death. The creeks of the Delta can no longer be familiar terrain.

Abuja now is the place to be. But ‘settling’ Dokubo only opened the door for other militia leaders to step forward and before Dokubo’s signature was dry on whatever he signed his agreement on with Abuja, Nigerians had been inundated with the Henry Okahs, Ateke Toms, and the exotically-named Boy Loaf.

Even at that the Niger-Delta militias were more coordinated than the marauding groups that the Northern terrorists appear to have broken into.

And the group(s) President Jonathan’s committee had a pact with apparently did not include that which is led by the bandit-in-chief who mostly spoke in the name of the terrorists and who, press reports recently said, was cornered but escaped in the hills of Borno.

If as Jonathan seems bent, his committee must talk with faceless terrorists, they should do so expeditiously with those willing to and thereafter unleash every force at their command on any other bandits making life unbearable for other Nigerians. Then no argument about attack on people of particular faith or religion should be entertained.

It must be realised that patience is wearing thin among those most affected by the activities of these terrorists and their bottled anger might boil over in a manner that might be fateful for Nigeria’s existence. The era of using religion to foment trouble or excuse abominable acts against innocents should no longer be tolerated.

Nigerians must begin to ask searching questions about the place and role of religion in national existence, especially in its regulation of inter-ethnic and inter-faith relations. Although it’s clear to all that the deployment of religion in such instances of execrable conduct is merely political and self-serving but it’s high time we realised such excuses can and should no longer be tolerated.

Only recently Senate President, David Mark, asked for the understanding of Nigerians after his conclave of timeservers came under justifiable attack from Nigerians for capitulating to people bent on taking under-aged girls as wife.

Although the issue that prompted that debate on the appropriate age for Nigerian women to get married was merely incidental to the actual matter before the Senate, yet the manner the Senate buckled leaves one wondering when we’ll begin to address our ethnic and religious differences as Nigerians in the manner of people desirous of honest solutions.

The Senate President’s explanation was that they were blackmailed into supporting the untenable stand they took on the issue because some people inserted religious sentiments into the debate and since religion is a sensitive issue in Nigeria, his explanation goes on, the Senate had no option but to capitulate.

If even those entrusted with the task of effecting changes in the law of the country find it so easy to kick the can down the road in this manner, what is the purpose of having law makers? We have had too many wasted opportunities to speak truth to one another. We always want to maintain this façade of cheerfulness that is a big lie.

But when two brothers come out smiling after a heated argument, there’s no better sign to show they’ve not told each other the truth. In many aspects of out national existence, Nigerians need to tell one another the ugly truth. If we must live in peace, the time to talk is now. Not later.

Read this article in the Vanguard Newspapers
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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