NIGERIA; THE WAY FORWARD (…. A minority report) with DANN JACOBS

I am to tell our country at this point in time without equivocation to LET BOKO HARAM GO. Let the people go rather than all the bloodshed, waste, suffering and insecurity everywhere. To have peace, we have to do this. Now Ebola has been added to it. With boko haram on the prowl, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to face Ebola or any other thing, including our current dismal performance in football.

Nigeria should consider boko haram a wounded leg that has gone rotten, which must be amputated to save the man’s life, or he dies. It will be rewarding riddance, and an unbundling of a part that is incompatible and no longer amenable. It is not our fault that this is so. As peace is the inevitable goal now, let it come by all means, at all costs. This will do wonders to the psychology of boko haram. It will save them from a fool-hardy war that is unwinnable. It will be in the interest of the general self-preservation of Nigeria and Nigerians.

Let’s say it is their foolish exploits that have gotten them a separate state. So be it. They still need resources to run the state, which won’t be easy to come by. Someone within them may still do to them what they did to Nigeria. It is then we can say to them, serves you right. What goes around comes around. What you sow is what you reap. There will certainly be a day like this.

The federal government will shock boko haram with un-deserved, un-solicited forgiveness and they won’t have any choice but to lay down their arms. They would be heartbroken to think about it and all the havoc they have caused. You call it amnesty. That is long grammar. What it is is yielding to their demand for a separate boko haram Islamic state. And this is to Nigeria’s advantage any day. The condition for that is that they will remain peaceful for ever. The new country will still need assistance from Nigeria, which Nigeria must give, to rebuild its destroyed economy and infrastructure. That will be much cheaper to do than what is wasted in warfare and the bitterness that goes with it. Am I communicating?

This may have to do with my Christian principles and nature. I can be pardoned on that. But it is as well based on what is realistic and practical. Call me a realist for that. That’s fine. I don’t see how boko haram elements will be wiped out to the last person, for there to be peace. Such a line of action will be immoral as well as impracticable. Nigerians will view this as a cowardly capitulation to a small force that should be crushed. I don’t think so. Even if it is so, to capitulate and have peace is better than wasting so many lives on both sides before probably boko haram will capitulate. And the time when this can happen is in the unforeseeable future. Yes, I believe in their ability to drag this war on for a very long time. I do not doubt that at the long last boko haram will be defeated and capitulate under a superior federal fire power. But at what cost?

Nigeria is a family at war. It has admittedly been for a long time. And a family that is repeatedly at war with its members will soon be consumed by such wars. We have to do away with wars before wars do away with us. This is what I think makes sense in the present unfortunate circumstances.

May I ask: what does it cost to wage the war in Bornu state? What does it cost boko haram? What does it cost Nigeria? I mean in terms of cash. The cost in human lives is huge and of course inestimable. We simply don’t have the capacity to know the number of the dead, the wounded and the displaced. Who has the guts to go near there to check? This sort of statistics is of no interest to the Nigerian, government or individual. Journalists stay far to report, so that we will live and train our children. Our wives will warn us not to try going near the war theatre in the name of any so-called national service or professional work. We won’t, believe me. Neither do our social scientists see any relevance of what is happening to their work. In other countries these people will inundate the society with the supply of facts and figures on the Northeast war, for the government to be advised on whether to go on fighting or to stop. Development is not only a matter of cash and physical installations. It is about scientists doing their work of fact-finding and research, and journalists showing human suffering and humanitarian conditions such as wars can throw up. This must be balanced with the obscene display of grandiose projects, over-fed officials and what empty and false claims and promises they feed the public with.

I blame the Nigerian mass media who have never seen the human angle to the war. Of course in any situation, they never see the human angle. Once they fill the air waves with speeches by officials and show their parties and spending sprees, they are done. But thousands, if not millions of people in their country are on the run, being beaten by the rains and snakes; with no protection whatsoever against food shortage, water shortage, and cold. This does not matter at all.

It is possible that as I write, there is desperate food crisis in the war zone; there must be an outbreak of one dangerous disease or the other in the refugee camps there. But we have not seen any on our television channels or newspapers. It makes me ashamed of my membership of the media profession. That practitioner can afford to overlook the human tragedies in the current war in Bornu, Adamawa and Yobe states that should necessitate the cessation of the hostilities.

And what if the dreaded Ebola get in there? It will be like a conflagration in its spread and consequences. We would have had it. That will wall off Nigeria from the rest of the world and isolate it from all international activities. Nobody will be able to travel and people will not come here again. For this reason the war with boko haram has got to stop, so that any ebola outbreak there can be handled, or prevented.

The clarion call is for the federal government to have a change of heart in its all out war there. It must use peaceful means to win the war. Where boko haram believes in mayhem, massacres and senseless blood-letting, killing innocent people, the federal government can show better understanding by voluntarily initiating a unilateral ceasefire and calling upon boko haram to do the same. This can pave the way for a dialogue, leading to lasting peace.

There is already a general state of disarray with the arrival of ebola, the existence of HIV/AIDS, cancer and all sorts of strange sicknesses that our health sector can never cope with in the next fifty years, to say the least. If we have to choose between peace and letting the Northeast or part of it have its independent or autonomous Islamic state, we have to choose peace. If they want all non-indigenes to leave, that will be acceptable too. If they get the hell out of Nigeria and please themselves, what is left of Nigeria will still be considerable population and territory.

The present approach of Mr. President won’t work. He can’t kill off all the mad people of boko haram in Nigeria and get his country to be 100% devoid of such crazy murderers with their weird and crazy life-style. They cannot be part of a healthy normal society again, even when they are defeated. Anybody re-integrating with them is also crazy himself and doesn’t want to live. Mr. President is having, as a result, people with divided loyalty in his military high command and in the rank and file. That is why the war takes so long to prosecute and end.

People feel endangered now in this country, all over. They don’t know how ebola will play out. They don’t know when the terrorist will strike. They fear the kind of thing that happened to Mr. Dimgba Igwe of the SUN newspapers who went out for exercise to live and was picked up dead because a reckless driver hit him and ran away. Sounds like something that happens in the jungle. But it happened in a metropolis like Lagos of all places. They fear kidnappers. They fear armed robbery, HIV/AIDS, the unreliable healthcare system, where people have died by visiting a hospital for minor ailments.

People are finding their way out of the country in droves, perhaps not yet to the knowledge of the federal government. They are fleeing to secure and peaceful countries. To this extent, boko haram has inflicted a blow that is deadly, apart from killing people. I don’t know what Nigeria will achieve by prolonging this war, killing boko haram and re-integrating it into Nigeria. Do people in such a grave mental and psychiatric condition stay in the community of normal people?