The increasing spate of bombing in the nation’s capital and other parts of the North requires societal reorientation and unity of purpose among Nigeria’s political elite, writesJOHN ALECHENU
Barely 17 days after a bomb blast killed over 86 people in Nyanya, a suburb of Abuja, Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory, another blast occurred less than 100 metres away from the scene of the first, killing over 20 and injuring scores of others.
When the first bomb went off precisely on April 14, 2014, President Goodluck Jonathan paid a visit to the scene in company with top government functionaries.
While expressing his condolence to families of those affected by the mayhem, Jonathan described the Boko Haram menace, which before now had largely been confined to the North East, as a temporary challenge.
He said, “Government is doing everything to make sure that we move our country forward in spite of all the distractions that want to take us backward. We promise that we will get over it.”
According to him, nations that have succeeded in taming monster of terrorism were those whose citizens assisted the security services with relevant information to act.
“So, we believe that if people will become observant and all of us become security conscious by the movement of people, we will be able to reduce some of these incidences. We will do our best, the security services will continue to work very hard, God willing, we will get over it. The issue of Boko Haram is temporary surely, we will get over it,” he observed.
Government, he explained, would continue to work very hard to deal with the nation’s security challenges.
Perhaps, as a demonstration of his commitment, he convened a Security Council Meeting involving the military high command as well as the political and religious elite.
He reiterated his commitment to the fight against terror while addressing members of organised labour during the Workers Day celebrations earlier in the day, just a few hours before the second bombing.
However, none of the measures so far taken appears to have shaken the resolve of extremist Islamic Sect, Boko Haram, which claimed responsibility for the April 14 blast and is also likely, responsible for the latest one.
An attempt to dialogue with members has been mired in controversy. Many Nigerians have come to the conclusion that a change of strategy is required to tackle the menace.
The President of the Senate, David Mark, captured the mood of many Nigerians when he noted that because the insurgents are fired by zealotry and extremism, they are not likely to be swayed by overtures of any kind.
As a way forward, Mark suggested an increase in military action. He told his colleagues during plenary earlier in the week, “We must henceforth shift from fighting terrorism to fighting insurgency.
“The full might and strength of our security services must now be deployed to confront this scourge and we expect our security services to rapidly reorient their assets and capabilities so as to overcome this difficult challenge. And this must be done within the shortest possible time frame with minimal casualties.
“The government must do all it can to immediately identify the sponsors and the source of funds to the terrorists and the insurgents. In this connection, nobody who is implicated, no matter how highly placed, should be treated as a sacred cow.”
Well said. Questions however remain: Are those saddled with the responsibility of following through with all these measures prepared to set aside their political and religious sentiments to perform their duties?
Only a few years ago, a move to strengthen terrorism laws was resisted by a section of the political elite who claimed that the amendments being sort were targeted at adherents of a particular faith.
The world’s most populous black nation is sadly gliding towards joining terror ravaged nations like Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq. Nigeria has never had it so bad in terms of loss of lives in peace time.
While condemnation for the sect’s deadly campaign has not been short in coming, an attitudinal change among Nigerians would go a long way in setting the nation on the path of victory.
The political elite must begin to view the war on our home grown terror as a collective one and not an opportunity to score political points. Only then can this situation be brought under control.