By: Ayo Oyoze Baje
From the moral, political, social and economic perspectives, an objective and critical analysis of the ever-worsening insecurity situation in the country points to the failing factoron the part of the current leadership, to live up to its constitutional mandate and public expectation to protect the lives of the citizens.
In fact, the very idea of granting amnesty to supposedly ‘repentant’ criminal elements, masquerading as terrorists, bandits and kidnappers, by embracing them with free feeding, clothing, accommodation, all from the public purse is reprehensible, obnoxious, immoral, highly unpatriotic and totally condemnable!On a curious note some of these beneficiaries are offered western education on a platter of gold; the same policythey have been fighting against, going by the interpretation of “Boko Haram”. How hypocritical can some of us get in this country?
In saner climes such heartless vampires, whose stock in trade is unmitigated blood-letting are arrested, given speedy trial and publicly executed, if found guilty. Suchwould send a note of stern warning to upcoming criminals that those who kill would pay for it with their own life. But over the years, the kid-glove treatment or outright impunity these mindless murderers have enjoyed here in Nigeria gives the nauseating notion that their lives are more precious than that of their helpless victims. This is most unfortunate. And that explains why some concerned Nigerians are raising their voices by several decibels to say a vehement “no” to the amnesty for the killers.
It would be recalled that in March, 2013 when the revered Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar openly canvassed the amnesty policy for Boko Haram it did not go down well with patriotic Nigerians. Indeed, I wasted no time in writingan opinion essay titled: “No Amnesty for Boko Haram” as a response to his call, part of which is reflected here:
“This must be one of the signs of the Biblical End Time. For the Sultan of Sokoto, the acclaimed spiritual head of the Muslims in the country to openly call and canvass for amnesty for the blood-sucking, life-wasting Boko Haram fundamentalists, whose members have sent over 1,500 innocent citizens’ souls to the early grave, is simply unfathomable. Words are inadequate to express the inner rage and revulsion I felt at the very thought of it. Did the Northern elite not tell us, that the sect members were neither Muslims, nor known to them? How could they now be described as “victims of injustice meted out to the people?” What form of injustice and which people is the Sultan talking about?
“Certainly not the Northerners whose political class has ruled the country for close to four decades, yet could not solve the Almajeri syndrome. And certainly not those who have immensely benefitted from 83 per cent of the South-South-based oil wells, by the recent revelation from Senator Ita Enang yet, could not stem the ever-swelling tides of poverty and illiteracy in their geo-political zones.”
But here we are againeight years after, with another renowned Islamic scholar, the Kaduna-based Sheikh Ahmed Gumi making a similar callto the Federal Government requesting amnesty for bandits in exchange for peace in Zamfara State! Sheikh Gumi believes that dialogue with the bandits or even BokoHaram is an important strategy. The aim is to douse tension occasioned by the current insecurity in the country. He is also canvassing compensation for the victims. Yes, you read that right!
But the all-important question this administration has to answer is, if indeed there is any morality in granting amnesty to the terrorists and bandits then whyfight against them in the first instance?Why has it not stopped the killings and kidnappings across the country? Is the government not supposed to be a father-figure, to inculcate in his children high moral standards and punish the wayward ones, to serve as a deterrence to others?
Similarly, is the government not expected to put in place practical, pro-active measures and mechanisms to forestall bloodshed or when and where it erupts to nip it in the bud? Should a father not treat all his children as equals and castigate the wrong doer immediately he steps out of line and crosses the boundary of decency, so as to correct others watching?
So, the critical question is this: Why did the prominent northerners( Gumi, el-Rufai,Tofa, Nnongo) now crying foul not say a word of public condemnation when the criminal elements amongst the Fulani herders were busy maiming, raping and killing innocent citizens in the states of Benue, Adamawa, Taraba, Enugu, and down to the west until one Sunday Adeyemi, (aka Igboho) took up the gauntlet to say that enough was indeed enough of the open maltreatment of his people? For some Northern elites to have brazenly attacked Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, for protecting his people from the fully armed killer Fulani herdsmen is telling Nigerians that the killers are superior to their victims! That cannot and will never work in the 21st century Nigeria.
Let us be reminded that open cattle grazing is an outdated form of pastoral farming and thank God that the northern governors have recently admitted such, even if it took them eons to come to terms with the harsh reality.Animal husbandry is strictly a private business. It is the branch of agriculture concerned with animals that are raised for meat, milk and hides. It is therefore, painful that it has become a dominant factor in Nigeria’s insecurity challenge, all of because of some self-serving agenda. Painfully, it is gradually snowballing into a storm of disunity, unless urgent and decisive steps are taken to reverse the drift to anarchy and a state of anomie.
Though Vice President Yemi Osinbajo recently stated that Nigeria must remain a united country because “we are stronger together than apart” one would have appreciated it more if he had spoken up against clear acts of injustice, the killing spree and nepotism much earlier than this! Though he has lent his voice to the cries for justice, fairness and equity by communities, which he said must be attended to within the same union, one would have expected him to have visited Ibarapa in Oyo state to do the needful when it mattered most.
Though he also stated that:“We must resist any attempt to destroy the unity of this country, as our people have lived and worked together for decades, even centuries”, I wish to state unequivocally that marriage is not by force or fiat. Any marriage that lasts thrives on the unfailing principles of love as sacrifice, mutual understanding and respect for our individual differences. It is also based on the pursuit of equity and above all for the leaders across board to sacrificetheir whims, caprices and personal ambitions in the search for the overall good of the majority, all in the national interest.
Anything else, such as amnesty for terrorists and bandits, silence when acts of criminality are committed by members of the same ethnic group of top politicians but speedy in condemning even less crimes by others is all self-deception which we have had enough of!