“The greatest discovery of any generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitude.” -William James.
Over nine years ago, a violent group that is known as Boko Haram emerged in the North Eastern part of Nigeria. ln the presence of parents, politicians, students, clerics and knowledgeable Muslim scholars, living in the North East, especially Maiduguri in Borno State, they embarked on a secret recruitment of sons, brothers and daughters, as members of the violent group, led by a son of the soil, named Mallam Muhammed Yusuf, a wealthy businessman. As his group enlarged, more sons of the land joined and some of the natives kept mute and never disclosed the intentions of their wayward sons.
As the years rolled by, parents started hearing about the activities of the Boko Haram sect whose main motive is to prevent their children from imbibing western education. They heard of how they were killing people, especially their own kinsmen and women, how they were raping their daughters, how they were maiming fathers and mothers and even extended the wickedness to the security agents, who were posted to protect the lives of the people and their properties.
These mothers and fathers saw all these atrocities, yet they were not perturbed. They heard from the radio and viewed the atrocities of their sons who had gone astray on television yet they never raised a hand. They even heard of how their young daughters were forcefully wrapped up with explosives and led to market, mosques, schools and playgrounds to detonate explosives and die a pitiful death where their flesh could not even be picked nor recognised, yet they were not bothered. These were pathetic and shameful deaths.
Then the government started moving security personnel, military hardware and heavy duty armoured vehicles to the areas turned into war zones. In no time, villages and local government areas were destroyed and left in ruin. Thousands fled their homeland to other places. The people could no longer go to farm, they could no longer go to the market, their children could no longer go to school and many mosques and churches were closed down. These were the effects of the war that could have been checkmated, had the indigenes done the needful by partnering with the security agencies, especially the military and the police. Instead they looked the other way and watched in disbelief, as their sons drove around, boasting of their membership of Boko Haram. They saw something, but never said anything. That is the worst form of societal mentality; life of aloofness.
As the insurgency raged on, the people were still not sure of the part they should follow, whether to join the military and break the cord of affiliation with the Boko Haram, or stand with the evil group that had brought pains and devastation to them. In this type of situation, the only assured decision should have been for them to stand with the government and the military so that they could regain their lives and freedom back intact and root out the evil people. Succour came when some youths, who disagreed with the sect, joined hands to fight their wayward brothers. This new group is known as the Civilian Joint Task Force. Their resolve was encouraging, as both the military and the state government quickly extended their hands of fellowship to these brave youths. My trip to Maiduguri and Sambisa Forest helped to further educate me on the local intrigues that are helping to fester the nest of the insurgents in Maiduguri.
While a larger percentage of the people have completely severed relationship with the sect, others are still shielding the few miscreants of the sect that are hiding among members of the society. A former police commissioner narrated how a son of the land received bombs for the sect and kept them, even when he knew that the product had been killing his brothers and sisters. It is pathetic that such devils are still shielded without any effort to alert the security agents by exposing them. What type of society habours criminals with terror mindset? What type of society would shield terrorist elements, knowing their evil intentions and consequences and still fraternises with them. No wonder the security agencies, especially the police and the military, are blaring a clarion call for the people of Maiduguri to fish out these criminals in their midst and hand them over so that better life can fully return to these war-torn area. Maybe, they should be reminded of the catastrophic consequences. Maybe, there should be a replay of the destructions, many of which are daily staring them in their faces. Many non indigenes have died for no fault of theirs; many non indigenes have died just because they are enlisted into the Nigerian Army while over 300 policemen and women have died because they obeyed the government’s clarion call to go and protect the people of Maiduguri.
It would be a disservice, should the people of this once great state continue to play the ostrich and allow the remnant of the Boko Haram sect to continue to perpetrate mayhem, as if they are from the space. A well known Police jingle that says, “armed robber no be spirit, they live among us” needs to be rephrased, as “ Boko Haram no be spirit, they live among the people.” Such change of attitude amongst residents of Borno State is what the American writer, Williams James, quoted above was referring to, as the best option in life.
IGP Idris and his attack dogs
Many years ago, the publisher of defunct Concord Newspaper, Bashorun M.K.O Abiola, had described some personnel of the Nigerian Airforce at the lkeja Cantonment as “mad dogs”. The airmen had, had a brush with one of his sons. Truly, there are still “mad dogs” with military mentality, remaining in our democratic setting. This set of dogs is not ready to embrace the change mantra of the present government. They live in their utopian world, where they believe no one can criticise any of their actions and policies, even when they are anti-institutions.
At the time the great Bashorun was talking, the country Nigeria was under the military dictatorship. Unfortunate the blood of dictatorship and the belief then was that once a man was in uniform and occupied a high office, he had become a tin god and cannot be touched, criticised or corrected of his ways. Have we not seen many of such characters in the light of the recent scrutinises carried out by this government?
Ibrahim Idris is gradually turning himself into a tin god in uniform. He wants to be feared; he believes he is the epitome of knowledge, which runs contrary to the biblical adage, “pride goes before a fall”. He hardly picks his calls unlike past IGPs; no wonder security information from the public eludes him. He hardly associates with his colleague service chiefs nor with past police leaders, who had seen it all. When the baton was mercifully handed over to him after 21 of his colleagues were sacrificed on the altar of godfatherism, one would have thought ldris would have been sober; instead ego has blinded him, as he has left the real police work to chase shadows.