FEATURE ARTICLE

E O EkeSaturday, March 8, 2014
eoeke@aol.com


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ANOTHER FAILURE, ANOTHER PREVENTABLE TRAGEDY
...TIME TO RETHINK ANTI-TERROR STRATEGY AND POLICIES AND PAY COMPENSATION TO VICTIMS

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nce again, innocent students sleeping in their school have paid the ultimate price in this madness. Even though the government is aware that government institutions like schools hospitals, prisons, police stations, courts and government offices are high on the list of target attacked by terrorists groups like Boko Haram, no attempt has been in its strategy to provide twenty-four hours security for them. This exposes very serious and unjustifiable lack of imagination and strategic thinking in the way and manner the government is prosecuting this war against terror. If there was forward thinking, these innocent students and others might not have died. These victims died because the government failed them and the government must take responsibility and accept that its anti-terror policies and strategy are working. We cannot afford to repeat the typical Nigeria fauxpax of giving the impression that the right things being done, when in reality there is a calculated attempt to deceive. The government anti-terror strategy has proved not fit for purpose and now must be re-thought. The attempt by government spokespersons to defend it is regrettable and a demonstration of the persistence of the persistence of a culture of dishonesty and governance by deception, which has plagued Nigeria since independence and one of the main reasons for our present woes.

It was heart wrenching imaging how the students and other victims must have felt when they woke to see armed men ready to the fire at them and set their dormitories and houses on fire. I wonder what was their last thought about their country, which failed to protect them? It must be one of the worst and most frightening experiences anybody can behave. There is no doubt that the government bears huge responsibility for their death and must now do better to ensure that Boko Haram does not continue to succeed or succeed in another school in a similar way and manner. This is the least the government can do, if these innocent students and people would not have died in vain. This is not the first time innocent Nigerians would be slaughtered in cold blood by Boko Haram and unless the government changes its tactics and approach to this conflict, it would not be the last. My heart bleeds for Nigeria and goes out to the families of all the students and other victims in this senseless, conflict fuelled by hate, ignorance and psychopathy.

This incessant attacks on defenceless Nigerians exposes the ineffectiveness of the current government strategy. There should not be more excuses why these tragedies happen. It's clear that Boko Haram has been very successful in its attacks because so far, the government’s strategy has been ineffective and the leadership unable to articulate an effective strategy. How can a terrorist group said to be hiding in Cameroon be a reason for the government’s inability to flush them out? For a country losing so many innocent citizens and soldiers to terrorists, how many times has President Jonathan visited Cameroon to discus with her president possible joint strategy or how to gain access to the part of his country, where the terrorists are hiding? The government excuse for its inability to address the scourge of Boko Haram is to say the least Banal. It is not acceptable. A captain of a ship, who always finds good reason why his ship never gets to the destination, does not know how to navigate a turbulent sea.

The problem of Nigeria in inept, corrupt, and ignorant leadership, which lacks the honesty of purpose, strategic thinking and patriotism required to address such serious problems, which threaten common existence. The Nigerian problems are not insurmountable. The Nigerian leadership is not up to the job and do not loves their country more than they love themselves. For the past few years, I have taken it upon myself to comment on Nigerian affairs. Not because I know everything, but because I believe I have perspective to bring to the Nigeria discourse. Nowhere has my views rattled some people more than in the matters of religion and ethnicity, the two poisons which play no small part in this conflict, destroying Nigeria. I have condemned the exploitation of Nigerians by religious leaders by the misuse of the Bible and Quran to exploit the gullible and perpetrate ignorance and bigotry and the continued role ethnic nationalism plays in the gradual disintegration of Nigeria. I am perplexed that Nigerians do not seem to understand how the continued implementation of sharia law in the north is worsening this conflict and that it will eventually lead to the demise of Nigeria, unless those who are pursuing an Islamic agenda for Nigeria have a change of heart. Boko Haram members see themselves as better than those who only advocate sharia laws in the north. They see themselves as soldiers of Allah who wants to conquer Nigeria for the rule of Allah. Nigerian government has so far done nothing to dispel this delusion at the heart of the ideology of the Islamic extremists behind this conflict. As we know, extremist do not change. It is therefore very surprising that the Nigerian government anti-terror policy and strategy do not include sensitising the people to rise up against extremism and intolerance.

The menace of Boko Haram has gotten out of hand. Children, helpless women and innocent students, who are the future of the country, are now paying the blood price. It has created a climate of fear and the fear and the Nigerians feel intimidated. This is not right. This is the wrong response. A country led by honest and right leaders would be sending a message of defiance and not that of perplexity, fear and despondent. The government should be reiterating the determination of the government and people not to give in to terror and resist until terror is defeated. This is the leadership the present Nigerian government has failed to demonstrate. It seems oblivious of the fact that Nigeria is in a state of war, a war it cannot afford to lose.

President Jonathan has demonstrated how out of touch he is with the mood of the average Nigeria and what governance should be all about in a situation like this, by his recent statement that the government would not pay compensation to victims of Boko Haram terror. He has told Boko Haram his government do not value the people they are killing and feels no responsibility to them. They are of no consequences. A government compensates its people for loses because it recognises that what the people lost is valuable. It sends a message to those who cause the damage that they would be held accountable in the end because what they destroyed in very valuable. Therefore, the position of the Nigerian government is as unacceptable as it is unjust. The latest victims, innocent students sleeping in their school dome tries and law abiding citizens going about their daily businesses, who the government has responsibility to protect, but did not, add to the case for compensation to be paid to all the victims of Terror and organised crimes in Nigeria.

It is the height of insensitivity and arrogance for the Nigerian government to continue to deny compensation to those who pay the material, emotional and blood price of this conflict. In a corrupt and unequal country like Nigeria, the government refusal to pay compensation is a worrying evidence of how out of touch it is. It shows that that the government do not really understand that governments are elected to ensure justice and make the life of the people better and not for the politicians to steal and become millionaires, who own, schools, universities, multimillion farms, hotels, mansions, hospitals, private jets, build churches and mosques, and bought over the utilities, all with stolen money.

Just few months ago, a British man whose tyre was damaged by a pot hole in a road the council was supposed to repair said that he was going to sue the local authority. Immediately, the local authority has taken responsibility and would compensate him. Good and enlightened Government, take responsibility, when they fail in their duties and recognise that they are elected to serve the people. The evidence would seem to suggest that the Nigeria government under the watch of Goodluck Jonathan has failed the victims of Boko Haram and their families. Therefore, it should reconsider its decision to deny victims of terror and crimes appropriate compensation. The government’s refusal to pay compensation would seem to be the last insult to the memory of many innocent people who were going about their lawful businesses, when they became victims of Boko Haram random terrorist attacks and crimes. It would be inhuman for the government to deny them and or their families, the assistance they need to rebuild their life. A government that fails to see this as one of its sacred responsibilities has no moral authority to govern.

Nigerians of every tribe and religion has been affected by the scourge of Boko Haram terror and crimes and, denying compensation to them or their families; while politicians continue to steal from the treasury without restrain, would be a kick in the teeth. It is surprising that northern leaders, whose region are bearing the brunt of this madness and Igbo leaders, whose people have been substantially affected, have kept quiet about justice and necessity for the victims of crimes and the wicked atrocities of Boko Haram group to be compensated adequately. What the families of the victims of Boko Haram atrocities and crimes should do is form an association and sue the federal government of Nigeria. If they do not get justice in Nigeria, they should take their case against the government beyond Nigeria. There is no justification whatsoever, for the decision of the Nigerian government to deny the victims or their families compensation. The politicians who made this decision are busy stealing the country dry, and driving armoured plated cars and flying in private jets, while the people who need compensation to survive are left to rot. This is not democracy but tyranny and wickedness.

This decision is, unjust and insensitive. The government must reverse it. It sends the wrong message and gives the wrong impression of how a democratic government should treat the people that elected it. The families of victims of crimes and terror deserve better. It is bad enough to watch your son, daughter, brother, sister, husband or wife slaughtered like a goat. But to watch the government treat the terror and injustice they suffered as nothing, must be unbearable. Such treatment by the government can destroy ones faith in the country. The victims or families of victims of Terrorism in Nigeria deserve to be paid adequate compensation and a befitting memorial erected in Abuja in their memory, if Nigeria will endure. This is the least any sensitive and responsive government which is alive to its responsibilities to the people would do under the circumstance and Nigerian victims of crimes and terror do not deserve less.

What I find morally repugnant and unacceptable is the tendency of many Nigerian leaders to orchestrated their religiosity by open worship and pilgrimages to holy lands, while at the same time being entrenched in corruption and pursing dubious, insensitive and unjust polices, which impoverish the most dispossessed and deprived members of the society. The government has failed to put forward a coherent argument why it is right and just not to compensate families of those who have been failed by the government. This makes me angry. It makes me angry that Nigeria has evolved into a country, where the leaders do not know how to use power to do good and ensure justice.

I think Nigeria should start focusing on justice as fairness and ensuring that the leaders conduct themselves according to law and exercise their powers within the constitutional provisions if the constitutions.

Therefore, the government should change its strategy against Boko haram immediately

First, the government must arm responsible Nigeria in the ‘at risk region’ to defend themselves and provide the first line of defence against Boko Haram. Without this the government must provide 24 hours military security to ‘the at risk population or regions’ to stem threat of Boko Haram. It cannot have it any other way. If the government is afraid of arming responsible citizens in an organised manner that would enable them take the weapons back after the conflict, the people will arm themselves and keep their weapons after the conflict.

Second, it must begin to talk directly to the Cameroonians about a possible joint force to operate in northern Cameroon and Nigeria.

Third, the Nigerian army should stop using conventional military tactics which makes its soldier’s sitting ducks in an unconventional war, where the enemy is using unconventional tactics. Why should the army be in a particular place waiting for Boko Haram to emerge. This is very silly, to say the least. If Boko haram has made itself invisible, then the Nigerian army must make itself unpredictable and able to respond swiftly to any attack. This is the only strategy that would work. As Achebe said, Aneke the bird said, that since men has learnt to shoot without missing that it will have to learn to fly without perching.

What Nigerians do not often discuss are the lessons learnt in the west about confronting groups like Boko Haram. The west failed because it applied conventional military tactics to an unconventional war. Now the west has changed how it fights groups like Boko haram. They no longer use the conventional tactics Nigeria is using. They have developed unconventional military tactics that does not make their soldiers sitting docks. Check points are manned by robots which are observed by human at safe distance. Night vision cameras are installed at strategic locations to monitor the terrorists at nights. In this way, check point would no longer be grave yards of soldiers as they are in countries like Afghanistan Pakistan and Nigeria that still conventional military tactics. For more tactics of how to defeat Islamic insurgency, I am afraid; the government has to contact me personally if it is interested. I hope Nigeria survive and pray that no more innocent Nigeria child should lose his or life in this madness. May the souls of all the victims of Boko haram terrorism, and crimes in Nigeria rest in peace.

E O Eke is qualified in medicine. At various times he has been a General medical practitioner, Medical missionary, Medical Director and senior medical officer of health in Nigeria. He specializes in child, Adolescent and adult psychiatry and lives in England with his family. His interest is in health, religion philosophy and politics. He cares for body and mind.

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