(By Samuel Stephen Wakdok)
“The #Bring back our girls alive campaign is a reminder that we face a problem which threatens the peace and stability of our country. Peace is a necessary condition for development and even development is what we need to turn around the sorry state of our economy which has increased the income disparity between the rich and the poor, denied the poor of opportunities, and restricted a larger percentage of our populace to the poverty cycle“.
Continued from yesterday (1-7-2014).
I STILL recall a Presidential candidate during the 2011 presidential debates who argued that Boko Haram was not religious but political. He backed his argument with the fact that Boko Haram which forbade Western education had not attacked a single school. Fast forward to 2014 and after the boys’ massacre at Boni Yadi, the girls massive abductions at Chibok among others and we know that we have gone full circle. From Afghanistan to Yemen we have seen bloody destruction caused by religious extremists. While the handling of Boko Haram in Nigeria may have been politicised by the government and opposition, it is purely motivated by their view of Islam and pursued with zeal by those who feel they have a religious obligation of killing those who do not believe in their religion, faith, creed or ideology.
The socio economic conditions of the North Eastern states especially the villages and villagers have been badly affected. Lives have been lost, property destroyed, banks and businesses looted, police stations and infrastructure destroyed, churches, mosques and schools burnt. Livelihoods have been disrupted, families shattered, education halted, farms deserted, investments scared and chased away. Agriculture the main stay of the rural dwellers has been distorted. The state of emergency declared last year in these three states seemed to be containing the situation until recently when the attacks again became daring and expansionist. The recent Nyanya 1 and 2 bombings, the Kano bombings and the Jos bombings which killed scores among them 15 students of the University of Jos, of whom eight were final-year medical students have again shifted the theatre of Boko Haram’s bloody campaign outside their traditional strong hold. Schools, motor parks and markets have become the latest targets with heavy causalities.
At a time when other countries are seeking to attract foreign investments, tourists and grow their economies to increase the quality of lives, we are faced with the rising cost of terror. Businesses and investments are fleeing the North thereby aggravating the already bad unemployment levels. Labour and capital have been killed, maimed and destroyed or migrated away from the North in particular. Opportunities are shrinking, educational lag is created, traditional settlements are wiped out, social cohesion is breaking and religious suspicion is at its highest.
On the whole the costs of Boko Haram in human, economic, social and national terms are devastating. Nigeria’s pride before the international community has been badly bruised, our government has been ridiculed, our polity endangered and our economy hurt. Our people have been disgraced.
There should be no compulsion in religion and religious terrorism cannot be justified by anyone or any reason. The challenge posed by Boko Haram has crossed the national frontiers and is threatening regional and global security. With the general election coming in early 2015, unless the security situation is brought under control and the terrorists contained, voters’ turnout may be threatened by the activities of the violence. Boko Haram has clearly shown their disdain for democracy and the incumbent President creating havoc to create an Islamic state. They have made going to churches, schools, parks and markets dangerous. They have made playing on the streets, sleeping at home or pursuing means of earning a living precarious. In fact, these are dangerous times to be a Nigerian or live in Nigeria especially in some parts of Northern Nigeria.
The #Bring back our girls alive campaign is a reminder that we face a problem which threatens the peace and stability of our country. Peace is a necessary condition for development and even development is what we need to turn around the sorry state of our economy which has increased the income disparity between the rich and the poor, denied the poor of opportunities, and restricted a larger percentage of our populace to the poverty cycle.
The threats from terrorism combined with multiple economic challenges in a politically sensitive nation where politics of religion and ethnicity are elevated above national interest make the Nigerian model a very threatening one. Everything must be done and should be done to rescue Nigeria from the jaws of Boko Haram, for the country to become sane again. The political class must halt playing politics with the terror activities of Boko Haram and close ranks to support the fight against terror no matter their differences. The government must show will, sincerity and shift tactics away from the traditional Nigerian factor approach. The government must embrace modern means of fighting terror with sophisticated equipment. The military and other security agents involved in the fight against terror must be motivated and supported by giving them superior capabilities in both operational and tactical aspects of the war. The men and women at the battle front must have their lives insured to cater for their families and dependents when death or disability crystallise.
The elasticity of life is perfectly inelastic because there is no alternative to life on earth hence life is a monopoly. Sadly, Boko Haram’s onslaughts have taken the economics of life in Nigeria today to its lowest ebb with a near zero or negative value placed on human lives. Unfortunately, it is on the politics of fighting and defeating this violent ideology that the balance of millions of Nigerians hangs. As such no efforts should be spared in dismantling this disequilibrium of life. The politicians especially in the North must not exploit this state of insecurity to go into politics of violence as we head for the 2015 general elections. The 2011 post-election violence which rocked the north must not be allowed to repeat itself. Development and terror are not compatible in any form; they are neither substitutes nor compliments. While development can minimise or contain terror, terror can stagnate growth and development.
As I was concluding this piece, another bomb is said to have exploded again this night in Jos, just four days after the previous one. While these terror acts are Boko Haram’s culpability, it remains the government’s responsibility to rise up to the challenge of crushing this insurgency which threatens our being as a people, our economy and our existence as a nation state.
Wakdok, an economist, a blogger @ “CredoWriters,” wrote this from Abuja
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