Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Heart of Man

Woke up this morning to news of a bomb blast in Abuja. The first thought that popped into my head was "Boko Haram and their madness are definitely crossing the line this time. But then it occurred to me that no one had claimed responsibility for the blasts yet, so I held back from jumping to conclusions. As the hours went by, it was interesting to see the different debates and arguments on Facebook. Some blamed the Northerners, Muslims, the Nigerian Police Force, GEJ, even the Devil got some portion of the blame. I blame whomever my girlfriend blames, gotta stand by your woman (Yes boss!)

But on a more serious note, we never heard of Boko Haram till recently. My major argument is that our Government screwed up the day they began negotiating with terrorists. It all started with MEND, and we all turned a blind eye to it. Some labelled it as people fighting for freedom, I disagreed completely. We allowed our country to be held to ransom by a group of criminals and rather than nip it in the bud, our leaders granted them "amnesty". Even an illiterate man who watches TV knows that you don't negotiate with terrorists. Once you give in to their demands, there is no boundary. What I find amusing is that when MEND and the numerous "freedom fighting groups" were busy kidnapping oil workers and threatening to blow up oil installations, no one remembered their ethnicity or religious views. Were they muslims or christians? Don't get me wrong, but it is hard to criticize your religion, many would say that religion had nothing to do with the actions of MEND. I agree, but we never referred to them as the criminals that they are, instead we argued that they had been ignored and maltreated so they were fighting for a cause, we basically tried to justify their actions. We were not bothered because they weren't blowing up people, they just kidnapped people and got a huge ransome as a reward. That was where the problem started, we all turned a blind eye and allowed sentiment to overrule rationality.

Now we have the problem of Boko Haram, how did it start? Knowledge is power, ignorance is a tool of dominion. In the land of blind men, a one-eyed man is king. If you keep people ignorant, they are at your mercy. Some politicians have discovered this weapon of warfare and they put it to use. The extent of poverty and ignorance in the northern part of Nigeria is mindblowing. You wouldn't understand till you've gone there to visit. Let's apply the same sentiment we used in the time of MEND to Boko Haram. They say "Western Education is bad", in this era of freedom of speech, they are entitled to their opinion. Killing people in justification of their opinion is a criminal activity punishable by law, synonymous with what MEND did in kidnapping people for ransom. Should we also grant them amnesty if they agree to dialogue? After all, the Federal Government gave MEND soldiers scholarships and high paying jobs as a reward for surrender. If Boko Haram fanatics surrender, would the Govt also grant them islamic scholarships and high paying jobs?

I refuse to agree that Boko Haram is simply a religious movement. Where did they spring out of? From Mars. There is a strong political undercurrent to their actions. Maybe some elements are trying to undermine GEJ's tenure by showing his inadequacies as a leader, dunno. The bottom line still remains that some criminal elements have hijacked a benign religious movement and turned it into a malignant terrorist group. How to solve it? Fix the root, eradicate poverty in the grassroots and the ringleaders will not have any leverage over the masses. Any student of history can attest to the stranglehold of the Church over its subjects in the early years, history is repeating itself. Boko Haram or whichever splinter group that has hijacked them is exploiting the inadequacies and gaping loopholes in our system of governance. They are killing christians and muslims, we need to look beyond the religion and address the key issues. To label Islam as an aggressive religion is a debate that I refuse to engage in, simply because it does nothing to build relationships, it only causes division. Religion is the opium of the masses, us christian folk have skeletons in our closet too.

To cut the sermon short, I personally believe that GEJ needs to speak out, he cannot prevent all terrorists acts but he needs to act like he is the leader of a nation. If he has a plan or an opinion, he should voice it. Not only GEJ, all our leaders should step to the plate and act like leaders. In the days of old, kings rode into battle with their subjects, today the structure has been altered such that the rulers direct the actions of foot soldiers, but a LEADER has to dictate the pace. The President, governors, senators, reputable statesmen have to come together and act. The time for pointing fingers and trading blame is over, if we don't corral this issue now, then we are heading for the abyss. We'll simply become a target for any terrorist activity.

By the way, how do we know that the terrorist activity was not the handiwork of an international terrorist group considering that the UN office was targeted. On a final note, I have come to the conclusion that acts of terrorism (mob actions inclusive, for example the rioting in Jos and London) maybe induced by religion, ignorance or other socio-cultural or political factors, but the catalyst for unimaginable acts of destruction and violence cannot be modeled by any tangible parameter... an apt explanation? "who can understand the heart of man?" Reference the Spanish Inquisitions, the Jewish Holocaust, the insanity of the Cambodian Khmer Rouge, the Rwandan genocide...the list is endless...some acts are just inexplicable, how do you explain Hitler?

NB: Excerpts from the thoughts that flew through my head while waiting for Irene...


  1. Spot on!!! Someone has to tell those plugs Nigeria has as politicians that deniability is never the solution to an oblivious crisis