Amnesty for Boko Haram: Why What is Sauce for the Goose is Actually not Sauce for the Goose by Wale Babatunde
I read the articulate, well-written and straight to the point article written by Abu Usman on the insurgent Boko Haram and the call for Amnesty for the terror group. While I consider writing a rejoinder to the article, at the same time it will be ill-conceived to do that for a writer, whom like most of us is sick and tired of the pain, agony and unfathomable tears that this group have brought upon us and our nation.
So this is not a rejoinder but rather another angle to the amnesty request to be granted to the terror group. Let me make my stand clear on this issue, I disagreed with amnesty in 2007 and I still do so this 2013. In the same way, I will not be in support of amnesty in 20years time if it is to be given to a terror group or individual. It is ethically, morally and societally wrong. Yes, it could be right politically when it is the politics without principles type. (One of Mahatma Gandhi’s 7 Sins of the World).
Chinua Achebe wrote in the book “The Trouble with Nigeria” in 1983 that “the only thing we learn from history is nothing” and it a major reason history always repeat itself (emphasis is mine).
Just a few years ago during what some called Niger-Delta Militant agitation but I reserve the right to refer to them as a terrorist group terrorizing the people and the nation; some people called for amnesty for the terror group due to “our decline of oil production”. The nation was losing huge chunks of money and the pressure on government from leaders of the Niger-Delta people was at its highest.
Let us assume that the demands of the Niger-Delta Militant groups was for a genuine cause for their people just as Ken Saro-Wiwa (of blessed memory) did. Then their demands and reasons for initial agitation should have been duly addressed after 5 years of amnesty program. But no, the problems are still there. The roads are still in a terrible state. Environmental desecration is still high within the region. Kidnapping is still high just as it was pre-amnesty even though their strategy has changed. The problems that led to militancy in Niger-Delta are still as visible as daylight. Yes, our oil production has increased but pipeline vandalism has stayed with us like second skin.
So, why amnesty for another terror group?
Has Nigeria become the sole distributor of amnesty for terrorist groups? Permit me to say, may be we should have extended the same courtesy to Osama Bin-laden for 9/11 world trade center bombing and the perpetrators of July 7th London underground train bombing since we seem to have a large capacity for this.
Will granting Boko Haram and their other “brothers” amnesty bring an end to terror in Nigeria (I don’t mean the North alone)? While it might give a short term reprive, will it not ignite another terror group in another region?
As I mentioned earlier, I disagreed with amnesty in 2007 and I still do today. But to disagree is not enough, I must equally suggest what we can do in place of this cosmetic solution called amnesty.
So, the following are the things I believe a responsible government and a committed people need to do to tackle the general security issues, both now and also for the future.
*Crimes are not committed spontaneously; they are calculated, well planned, thought through and sometimes clinically executed. Just like ‘everyday’ crimes; so is terrorism. If terrorism is well planned and clinically executed like a flawless doctor with her patient, then we have no excuse for the shallow security misfits aka Nigerian police that can’t deal with road-sides criminals let alone well-organized terror groups. This is what I think: we don’t need to reform our National security apparels; We must dismantle this existing one and build afresh. Many will agree with me that these present security officers cannot deal with the security challenges we presently face as a nation.
*We need to build a security agency with intelligence gathering at the center of its core and operations. For instance, policing is not force and force is not policing. Policing is more about intelligence gathering and prevention rather than attack or counter-attack. Rarely do Nigerians pick their phones to report suspect of a crime or crime still in planning stage to the security agencies because of the fear of being mistaken as the actual suspect rather than as an informant. And this is a major problem because the people are the eyes and hears of security agencies. The phrase Police is your friendin reality is Police is your enemy. There is therefore an urgent need to sort our security agencies out. Employ graduates and even undergraduate into the security agencies. Facilitate world class training and equip them with gadgets to aid their services to humanity and the nation.
*In the same way, get our security agencies into neighboring nations. There is need to gather intelligence from outside the country too. There are lots of crimes executed in Nigeria that are planned outside the nation. At least we know 9/11 was not planned in the US but Germany and Yemen. We’ve had incidencies of Boko Haram activities being planned in countries like Mali, Mauritania, Niger and some other nations. I say it is time to step up our intelligence gathering and infiltrate the various cells of terror groups within and outside Nigeria.
*A lot have been written about our Military, so I won’t debate this aspect too much than for us to strength the military. The world is flat; our military needs to apply this knowledge into her operations. It is no longer the 20th century. We need a military that can not only do battle on ground but also within the cyber space; a military with the capacity not only to protect our borders, waters and air but also our space. The battle field of the future will not only be physical but cyber. We need a military of the future in the present.
*Our borders! Have you seen our borders recently? Take a trip to any of our border points and you will cry for this nation. Writing about this will mean a different article entirely, so I will split it out simple and short. Our borders are best described as harvesters of terror and every inhumane thing that can happen to any nation or people. Aside terror groups easily finding that space as an haven, human trafficking is also a crime within that space, as well as the menace of contraband goods that have so much negative effect on our economy and health as a nation. We need to build the communities that serve our borders. We need to “put more foot”on our borders. A secured border is essential for a safer nation.
*Education! Education!! Education!!! Res ipsa loquitur. It is a waste of time to write about why we need to provide quality education for every individual that lacks one in this nation. And I don’t mean just for young children but for adults also. We need a policy that says “NO ONE MUST BE LEFT BEHIND”. We need to education our illiterate adults as much as the young ones. We cannot continue to close our eyes to the danger we face in a society full of ill-educated adults and children. How this will help solve the insurgence problem depend largely on how and what we educate them with or for.
*Reconciliation. People need to heal. There are lots of people living in pains as a result of the violence that has occurred in this nation. We need to help each other heal from this pain and agony. Each time I bring this up, people ask what happened after Oputa Panel – The Human Rights Violations Investigation; but they all fail to realize that the sole aim of that panel was not to reconcile differences but to investigate the various human right abuses prior to that period. What we need from community to community, local governments ward to another, ethnic group to another, and region to region is a reconciliation mission. We need to heal together. We all have pains that we carry against each other. We need to come to a point where we share these pains and agony and then reconcile. Find a common point where we forgive and let go in order to start afresh. Healing takes courage, and we all have courage, even if we have to dig a little to find it ~ Tori Amos. I believe we need to heal.
As much as what I have written here might be good or bad depending on who is reading, I also affirm to the fact that these things are not a single day solution. They take time, energy and resource (which is abundantly available) but we need to start the process. There are nations that have been fighting insurgence for over 10 years. Tunisia, Afghanistan, Mali, Israel and even the US are examples of these nations. We must put everything in place in order to combat and conquer this common enemy. Amnesty will only give rise to another terror group in the future if some of these problems are not squarely tackled.
On an endnote, by my assertions I am not advocating for a temporary or short term solution to the insurgent in the nation and any crisis is a terrible thing to waste as I have come to understand. So I will expect a responsible government to deal with the root cause of this repeated problem in the nation rather than look for a quick way out of this serious dilemma. Like I said a responsible government but I have great doubt that this government is familiar with the term “responsible”.
My name is ‘Wale Babatunde; I’m a liberal, tea lover, a work in progress and a young Entrepreneur enthusiast. I also write about Entrepreneurs on under40preneur.com