Boko Haram: Winning The Peace
They are death merchants. The boom of bombs is music to their ears. Spilling the blood of innocents vaults them to ecstasy. They have orphaned, windowed and displaced thousands of our compatriots, yet, enough doesn’t seem to be enough. Bombs still make mincemeat of fellow Nigerians. Not even God’s houses are spared by those who claim to fight His cause. The question on the lips of many is: when the war of attrition against our nation finally end?
Before the birth of the current administration, many anti-Buhari elements had fingered General Muhammadu Buhari as the commander-in-chief of Boko Haram forces- forgetting that a certain President looked away and slept when He should have acted while the satanic birds multiplied like birds in the sky. They were cocksure that the senseless killings by Boko Haram would stop immediately Buhari assumes office ,even without lifting a finger.
Not that they believe the Daura-born retired general is a messiah. No. They don’t even believe in his ability to crush the deadly sect. In their thinking, Boko Haram is a creation of Buhari and Northern leaders to make the country ungovernable for a southern president. Five months into the Buhari administration ,bombs still go off and senseless killings have not been stopped, will it be out of place to ask: Who is making the country “ungovernable” for Buhari?
No doubt, one of the major tasks before the Buhari government is bringing back peace to the Northeast. In fairness to the Buhari administration, the fight against insurgency has recorded some level of success. Now, we have an army that is better motivated and equipped to fight the murderers of peace. Little wonder President Muhammad Buhari and his service chiefs are optimistic, and in fact, certain that Boko Haram will be history by December 2015.
While we await the December deadline, it will not be impolitic to ask: Are we winning the War? Yes, I think so.Lost territories are being recovered. Insurgents are dislodged from their hideouts, and are turning in their weapons in Hundreds. Though there are still cases of attacks on soft targets here and there, they are testaments to the fact that the dying days of a deadly sect are here. However, intelligence gathering must be stepped up to forestall unnecessary loss of lives and property.
As December - the deadline for making Boko Haram history – inches closer, all hands must be on deck to win the peace in the beleaguered Northeast region. But can we also say we are winning the peace? Far from it! The socio-economic factors that fueled the scourge of Boko Haram from the outset are still very much with us. If nothing concrete is done quickly to address the issue of Poverty, ignorance and poor education, we may just discover that in the next twenty years that Boko Harm insurgency may just be dwarfed in terms of the scale of the havoc another group of monsters will cause.
In a report recently released by the United Nations, about 10.5m children are out of school in Nigeria, and 60% of them are concentrated in the Northern part of Nigeria. Prior to the United Nations report, a Nigerian Newspaper (Daily Trust) had reported that 72% of the children within the age bracket 6 to 16 had never been to school at all. This grim statistics only point to one fact: we are sitting on a keg of gunpowder.We must do everything to prevent an entire generation of children from missing out on education. It is one of the reasons young people’s mind are easily manipulated for and won by the agents of death and destruction.
However, one Northern governor that has started on a good note as per showing seriousness about making the school more attractive is Gov. Masari of Katsina state. The former speaker of the House of Representatives has, as a matter of Principle, chosen to educate his children in Public schools in His Katsina state. This is a heart-warming development every Northern governor and by extension all governors I Nigeria should replicate in their respective states. Perhaps our education sector will get a lift if the sons and daughter of the mighty among us school here. We may just save a lot from unnecessary expenses on education Tourism.
In addition, governors of Northern extraction must make concerted efforts to make education free and compulsory, and it will not be a bad idea if a parent’s refusal to keep their child in school becomes an offence punishable under the law with the assistance of the legislature in the region in question.It is a good thing that Gov.Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna state is also thinking in this direction. Of course, we are half way to winning the peace if we get education right.”A miseducated child is a child lost,”quipped John F. kennedy. Education liberates the mind and shields it against the manipulations of Boko Haram sympathizers.
The task of restoring peace in the troubled Northeast cannot be left in the hands of the Government alone. The earlier we realize we are in it together, the better for all of us. We all have a role to play – Christians, Muslims, Northerners, and Southerners. For instance, a lot can be achieved if our religious leaders work closely with state governments to bring succour to IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons). In a country where religious leaders invest heavily in building higher institutions that hardly benefit the common man, a thought can also be spared for the people Northeast by investing heavily in Agriculture with a view to getting the army of vibrant and unemployed youths busy in the beleaguered region.
Firearms and ammunition may win the war against insurgency, but it won’t win the war against poverty injustice, Poor education and youth unemployment. We must do the needful to revive the murdered peace in the Northeast, and doing the needful means addressing the socio-economic factors that make Boko Haram thrive. Together we can win the peace. LADESOPE LADELOKUN WRITES FROM OGUN STATE.