By Frank Nwosu
At about the time reports about Chad executing another batch of Boko Haram members, sentenced to death their roles in a series of bombings in the country, were making the round, in the social media, a few weeks ago, a not-too-unrelated report was also emerging from Nigeria.
However, the news from Nigeria was that the Nigerian government was concluding plans to send our own Boko Haram members abroad to study, on govt scholarship. We were also talking about a commission to be set up to cater to every need of ‘repentant’ Boko Haram members.
It is coming at a time cybersphere has been awash with all manner of fake and real news about some of the ‘deradicalized’ insurgents being absorbed into our military – a claim that has persisted, despite several denials by the military high command. It is also coming on the heels of another ‘fake news’ of some soldiers protesting the decision of the government to pardon (and release, from detention) hundreds of arrested Boko Haram members.
According to the ‘fake report’, the soldiers are angry that while Amnesty International (and even our local authorities) discourage the Nigerian troops against extra-judicial execution of the insurgents – even in the face of merciless and video-taped slaughter of our soldiers, civilian JTF and innocent Nigerians, by the jihadists, the government still ‘betrays’ the soldiers by going behind their back to free arrested insurgents, without as much as a proper trial.
It is coming at a time when everyone is complaining that government treats captured terrorists a lot better than we treat their hapless victims at largely abandoned and epidemic-prone IDP camps.
And now, to rub insult into the injury of Boko Haram victims, some politician (a senator, who claims to understand Boko Haram, and yet was unable to curtail them in all his eight years as governor of Yobe) is sponsoring a bill to set up a commission to throw more goodies the terrorists’ way. Beginning with government scholarship.
Yes. Scholarship for the same people whose primary reason for existence is the belief that western education is abominable. We are not even satisfied with giving them basic education locally. Or is this another avenue to siphon more money from the National till? Whatever happened to the Presidential Initiative for the North East (PINE)? Is this about someone trying to create ‘Amnesty’ through the back door? I guess, what is sauce for the Niger Delta militants is also sauce to Boko Haram insurgents.
But before we go ahead with this latest ploy to plunder our vanishing national cake, which I can wager my last Kobo, will never get to the insurgents, let’s spare a moment to ask a few pertinent questions. What was the educational backgrounds of the insurgents before now? What class are they going to start from? Nursery? Primary? High school? Or College? What basic education did they have before now? What sane country would give them Visa to come and studdy, considering their background? America? Britain? Only rogue states would probably grant such visas. And when they go to study in those rogue states, what’s the guarantee that they would not get more radicalised (and more sophisticated) at the expense of Nigerian taxpayers, and then, come back to terrorize us even more?
Is this not the main reason that US is listing Nigeria among countries on travel ban?
With our porous borders (now borderless, with Buhari’s new Visa policy), we’re now officially open to all manner of jihadists and undesirable elements from all over West Africa – and the Mahgreb (the melting point of contemporary terrorism). They come here, effortlessly secure our passport and then, approach foreign embassies as Nigerians. In our senseless desire to alter the local demographics in Nigeria, we forget that we are only deceiving ourselves; not America, not EU. And when they slam travel ban on us (or rank us with Afghanistan, Yemen, Iran etc.), we begin to throw punches on imaginary detractors. When we are our own enemies.
…And the root of the proble
I am presently driving around in a car with a broken door handle. I had brought the damage upon myself.stuck inside one of the usual Lagos traffic jams, I had made the mistake of giving the loose change I had on me to the horde of infants that beg along the road. Rather than meet their colleagues for a share of the handout, the kids on the other side of the road swarmed on my car, begging for theirs. In their push and pull, they broke the door handle and ran away. Now, fixxing that would require a complete change of the locks. That would cost an arm and a leg.
Usually, whenever I get into such beggar-infested traffic snarl, I try to ensteel myself and either angrily wave the pesky lot away or pretend that I can’t hear their rapping on my car window. But then, how could anybody, who has blood flowing in his veins, continue to look away at the sight of hungry little things (some of them as young as three years old) peering at you with teary eyes? In fact, I’m still haunted by the image of one of them whom I gave a N200 note a few weeks back. He could not have been more than four years old. I had actually hooted for him to come to me, having watched as a much bigger boy had roughly shoved him away from the car in front of me, from where he was trying to solicit for alms. He stumbled, and looked dejected. But his face lit up as soon as I handed him the little note. And with all the excitement you could imagine in the heart of a three-year-old, he said: “thank you mush (much)”. It instantly brought back fond memories of my own son, Sean-Michael, who is now in the university. When he was a baby, ‘tankiu mush’ was his characteristic way of appreciating whatever you gave him. It always dripped withheartfelt gratitude and happiness. At that moment in the traffic, I felt like picking up this little beggar boy and taking him home. But the traffic light turned green almost immediately, and I had to move on. Unfortunately, I never got the chance to take a good look at the little boy. So, even when I deliberately take that route eversince, in the thin hope that I’d get to see him again, I have never been lucky.
But, every time I manage to push back my heart, and allow my head to take charge, I get angry again. Why would men and women, who have no sustainable means of livelihood, so irresponsibly unrein their libido and fercundity on the rest of us? I get even angrier when I see the able-bodied parents of these little tots sitting idly at one corner of the road, waiting for ‘returns’ for their hapless and abused infants.
That is why I support the move by the Lagos State government to ban street begging. Thankfully, before some partisans (organising suspicious protests against the policy) could mischievously misinterpret the ban as a clampdown on people from a particular part of the country, Kano State government announced a similar measure.
I watched on national TV a few days ago as one state official tried to explain the situation.
He spoke at length about Almajiri schools, about people coming from other states and countries, but cleverly avoided the real question: irresponsible childbearing and more irresponsible parenting. How one man, who is not one of those monarchs of pre-colonial Africa, can hatch 27 children (and still shamelessly be counting). How another, who was not given a personal mandate by the Almighty to ‘go ye and multiply’ sire 34 children.
Although we love to deceive ourselves that these men have the means to take care of their brood and harem, the truth remains that no civil servant, irrespective of the size of farming he does on the side, can honestly and reasonably provide for 10 children, without falling back on the state. This is more so when we factor in the choice schools they send these kids to and the comfort in which their families live. That is what is really at the root of the corruption, insecurity, insurgency and lack of development in Nigeria.
We are blindly focused on population and the next election. Just anything that would give us the advantage of numbers. Ironically, when the elections come, we are still not confident enough to let the votes count. We still rig the vote. We rig the census. All we use the numbers for is bragging rights. To ensure Kano has higher figures than Lagos (and vice versa), and to get a larger chunk of the national cake, which the elite them share among themselves and leave out that same masses, on whose strength of population the allocation came.
We then feed the masses on an overdose of religion and ethnicity to keep them busy and looking elsewhere for the cause of their problems, instead of lynching their local politician and renteering elite.
The North, for instance, has more land than the rest of the country, yet, the Fulani are encouraged to look for land outside of the North, fed on the falsehood that other ethnic groups want to chase them out of Nigeria. In a world that is modernising rapidly, the Fulani are encouraged not to change from their old ways, so they can keep prosecuting a nonexistent survival war. But it’s all a distraction designed by the elite to divert their attention from their patrimony. The elite take over everything, keeping whatever is left for their own children.
But the result is daily closing in on us all. Violence, kidnapping, insurgency, armed robbery etc.
We can’t evenput up a credible fight against Boko Haram But we are harassing and blackmailing those who tell us so
Weaponizing insurgency, incentivising terrorism, in the delusional hope of using it to negotiate for an even larger chunk of the national cake. The north must enjoy the amnesty that South/Niger Delta enjoyed.
While everyone else is reining population explosion, we are irresponsibly boosting ours, because we are still trapped in the primitive mindset of exploiting natural resources, selling them with no added value, bringing the proceeds to the national platter and sharing according to population, local government, quota system and 13% Derivation. That is why it is almost criminal in this clime to think outside this box. That is why Senator Ben Murray Bruce looked so stupid, and alone, when he raised the not-too-novel idea of electric cars in the last Senate. That is partly why the likes of Emir Muhammed Sanusi II of Kano are in trouble today to calling a spade by its name..