Terrorism in Nigeria, Permanent Solutions
Browsing through human history, it has become indisputably evident that for every civilization, there exist antagonists. A civilization is responsible for its survival as there has, and will always be agents of regression aimed at transporting it back to the ‘Stone-Age’. No consensus has been reached to describe the word ‘Terrorism’, but from the etymological concept, the word originated from French and Latin words “Terrorisme” and “Terrere” meaning “to frighten” and “state rule by Terror” respectively. The United States government defines it as a premeditated, politically motivated violence, perpetrated against non-combatant targets by clandestine agents usually intended to influence an audience. It is disheartening that Nigeria’s security is being challenged at an alarming rate, by acts of terrorism. Interestingly, issues arise within and outside the country’s confines. The Nigerian passport now entitles its holder to extra scrutiny and harassment all over the world, due to fear of terrorism and it is not surprising to see Nigeria blacklisted by the United States as one of the 14 nations whose nationals will be singled out for special checks at their ports of entry.
There was an era of persistent Niger-Delta issues which involved rampant kidnappings, destruction of public property and excessive violent eruptions. The situation, though not completely, has being contained up to some extent. Matters arising still present facts that Nigerians are caught involved in terrorist acts across the globe, with a notable December 25 suicide bombing case of Abdul Mutallab in the U.S.A. The Boko-Haram Sect cannot be ignored, as they apparently are the front wave of terror in the country. It is a shame that Nigeria makes huge sacrifices in countries like Liberia and Sierra Leone, spending billions of dollars and lives of its citizens, while innocent lives are on the security list in the country.
With the current tide, it can be undoubtedly stated that the country is headed for anarchy. To ensure that the peace that holds Nigeria together does not disintegrate, terrorism must be defeated. No more resting on oars, security agents must remain very active and efficient so that the few people who may decide to veer into acts of terrorism are nabbed quickly. Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka was quoted while commenting on the Boko Haram sect on the world-peace day saying, “this is a violent organization, what do you do with them? I am sorry, but you have to fight them”. Urgent measures are to be taken to subdue the mayhem.
The Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) has made continuous attempts to bring the situation under control, with great emphasis laid on dialogues. Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, the Nigerian President, at the 67th United Nations general assembly described his steps to tackle terrorism. He condemned deliberate denigration of the religious beliefs of others, and counseled that freedom of expression should not be taken as a license for violent-leading actions. Of the listed steps include exploration opportunities for dialogues, international cooperation with neighboring nations (Cameroon, Niger and Chad) and more importantly that a global consensus be reached to curb the illicit flow of arms and weapons.
As regards international cooperation, Hillary Clinton’s recent visit to Nigeria indicated the United State government’s evasive stance about the terrorism issue, noting that she only mentioned ‘security’ once in her terse speech. “We will be by your side as you make the reforms and take tough necessary decisions” were her words. Of the truth, the destiny of Nigeria lies with Nigerians, not with foreign sympathizers. Nigerians need to confront this challenge, if the bad days are to be put behind.
Ethnic intolerance has being a significant catalyst to the continuous eruption of terrorist acts in the country. A Big hand, for the colonial masters. There was never cohesion between the amalgamated protectorates. Nigeria, a land of different views and different people ranging from the desert on the Sahara edge, through the cattle grazing pastures, to the mineral hills of the central plateau, down to the coast of swamps of Niger-Delta. A tour through history reflects that Nigeria’s politics has being clearly divided along ethnic lines. Remember the civil war? The Nation almost Self-destruct by ethnic intolerance. Intolerance is explainable in cases involving whites and blacks (racism) but how is intolerance explained amidst fellow countrymen? When people are threatened to evacuate regions of their own country?
The National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) inaugurated after the civil war was specifically engineered to enhance ethnic interaction. It is just not surprising that many parents and students now condemn the program following the continuous nefarious activities arising at the moment. In pursuit of permanent solution to terrorism in Nigeria, peaceful ethnic interaction should be promoted. Continuous public awareness of a one-Nigeria, ignoring ethnic divisions will help. The ethnic gap has to be bridged.
The need for efficient intelligent agencies cannot be over emphasized, not only for the period of this crises but also to avoid “re-births” after it has passed. Much more positive results will be achieved if policies and methods such as information gathering, diplomacy, military force, and protective security are employed.
Perpetrators have to be fished out, and apprehended, though not by literarily ‘Handpicking’ them off the streets. Terrorists operate secretly and sometimes hide in remote locations. Government must rely in part, on secret intelligence, to locate, identify and penetrate their groups. Intelligence can be gathered by technical means such as electronic eavesdropping and satellite photography or through the use of spies and informers. The primary lead to Osama Bin Laden (a globally wanted terrorist)’s capture was just a simple eavesdropped telephone conversation by the National Security Agency (NSA) of an adversary. If the United States government had not devoted much into intelligent recourses, Bin Laden might still be at large.
To this end, the federal government should make adequate resources available for the upkeep and establishment of standard intelligent agencies in pursuit of permanent solutions to terrorism n the country.
The installation of physical barriers, Bomb-proof buildings, armor and weapons detectors are also security-tightening measures that can ensure a safer Nigeria. Although, this might have cost implications for a developing Nigeria, it should be noted that eventually, there would be no “economy” when the nation has being reduced to rubbles by these feared acts. National security is an utmost priority.
Terrorism is a global stigma and it will be a joke if Nigeria ignores the importance of international cooperation. No single power, not even the United States can successfully contain terrorism without close cooperation from other nations. It is therefore important that Nigeria establishes relationships with the international community so as to enhance intelligence sharing, law enforcement cooperation, economic sanctions, and in turn disrupt the flow of terrorist funding.
A significant addition is public support. It is disturbing to learn how many Nigerians (especially youths) have being brainwashed by so called “freedom Fighters” or religious leaders. The expression “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter’ illustrates this dilemma. Freedom of expression should not be taken as a license for incitement. Adequate public awareness should be established to this effect. It should be made abundantly clear that killing of civilians by terrorists is absolutely unacceptable whatever the political motive and is a crime that violates basic legal and religious principles. The motive is to trust the Nigerian populace to report suspected terrorist acts. Now will be a good time to establish an emergency phone line through which the people can communicate with security forces to report suspicious activities. Talk of the ‘Nigerian 911’.
In summation, although the FGN’s continuous efforts to combat terrorism is creditable, the pedaling has to be more energetic. The obvious rupture in the Nation’s administrative main has to be mended. I mean, how on earth did a priority-one detainee escape federal police detention? Explain how terrorists gain access to classified intelligence, itineraries and schematics, the backbone of their strategic strikes, except they had help. Degree-one infiltration of administrative offices bought by corrupt practices facilitates terrorism in the country, and if not halted will only make the pursuit of permanent solutions tougher.
When security-sensitive bills are to be passed, it should not be accompanied by personal agenda, because it obviously kills the motion without delay. The Obasanjo administration for example, passed a bill; “Prevention of Terrorism Act 2006” but a third term agenda quickly swept it under the carpet.
In pursuit of permanent solutions to terrorism in Nigeria the government is not solely responsible. Everyone, military or civilian, has roles to play in uncovering these evil plots. Arms should not be folded, eyes should not be shut and facts should not be ignored. Terrorism cannot be allowed to transport this beautiful, rich and prosperous nation back to the ‘stone Age’. Together, Nigerians can send terrorism packing.