3rd September, 2012
By Isaac Asabor
There is an African proverb that says “God created every child with the ability to cry but when a spoilt child cries he is bound to forget to stop crying and close his or her mouth”. This aphorism, no doubt, holds true in the case of Boko Haram uprising in the northern part of the country. Recall that militants sprang up in the south-south, south-east and south-west zones of the country but like the child that knows how to close his or mouth after crying, they have all closed their mouths while the contextually spoilt Boko Haram has refused to close its mouth.
A closely related African proverb also says “When the eyes of a weeping child are filled with tears it would be difficult for such child to recognize the gift that would placate him or her. Little wonder members of the Boko Haram sect failed to recognize the fact that dialogue with the federal government would go a long way in addressing their grouse just like that of the Niger Delta militants was addressed and some of them were sent overseas to acquire technical skills in various areas of human undertakings. I believe that the case of members of the Boko Haram sect would not have been different. Rather than seizing the opportunities that would have been inherent in the dialogue option, members of the Boko Haram sect, like the child that could not see clearly as a result of the tears in his or her eyes, failed to take the advantage of the olive branch, in the form of dialogue, extended to them by the government.
Recently, the Boko Haram sect was widely reported in the media to have issued a threat to the president of our nation. In view of the unpatriotic and undeniably irascible threat issued to the president, members of the ignominious sect can be said to be ignorant of an African proverb that says “The chief is a fist; whether closed or open, the nearest get the most.” Members of the Boko Haram sect would obtain victory by stooping low to conquer only if they begin to recognise the president as the number one citizen of our country and his office as the highest office, and also by adopting a non-confrontational approach to addressing their grouse.
Given the unpatriotic and distasteful threat they issued to the president and his office, it is very obvious that members of the Boko Haram sect do not have any scintilla of respect for democracy. First and foremost, it is anti-democratic to be threatening the president to denounce his faith when it is crystal clear that we are not operating a theocratic system of government. On the other hand, like the presidency has already replied, it is both the Christians and Moslems that voted the president into political office. Then why are members of the Boko Haram sect asking the president to denounce his faith for that of the members of the Boko Haram sect? I deliberately chose to use the foregoing phrase “…for that of the members of the Boko Haram sect” because members of the sect may not even be Moslems. The reason for this view can be seen from the fact that true Moslems would not attack a mosque as members of the sect reportedly did the other day and adopt an adamant stance to the calls from various Moslem clerics to sheathe their swords.
The most critical issue that can be deduced from the threat is that it has brought to fore the mindset of an average Boko Haram member. There is no denying the fact that members of the ignominious sect are erroneously seeing Nigeria as a theocratic state. This, to me, is a contradiction of the democratic system of government which Nigeria has adopted. Theocracy, as defined is “a system of a government in which the laws of the State are believed to be the laws of God; hence government by priests (or clergymen).
Given the definition of theocracy, it is very obvious that the proponents of the Boko Haram sect are ignorant of the pluralistic nature of our country. Since members of the sect have anti-democratic demands it would be difficult for them to be on the negotiation table with the government and the people of Nigeria as Nigerians cannot afford to compromise the virtues of democracy at this stage of its evolvement. An African proverb says “A fly that has no one to advice it, follows the corpse into the grave”. Another version of the same proverb says, “A fly that has no one to advice it, always gets drowned in a keg of palm-wine.” A similar proverb in the Bible in the book of Proverb chapter 29 verse 1 says that “A man who remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed without remedy.” Sometime in October, 1986, one of the most dreaded armed robbers in the country, Lawrence Anini and Monday Osunbor and DSP Iyamu wept profusely like babies when they were about to be executed by firing squad despite the mythical stories that were spun around them when they robbing with impunity. In my view, I believe the story of Boko Haram would one day end on a similar note. An African proverb says “It is pointless for a child to begin to grow big teeth when there would be no big lips large enough to cover the teeth.” It would be germane to ask proponents of the Boko Haram sect that are literarily developing big teeth whether they have lips large enough to cover the teeth whenever the chips are down?
An African proverb also says “If a blind man says let’s throw stones, be assured that he has stepped on one.” In my view before the Boko Haram members arrived at the point of issuing a threat to no less an office than that of the president, it is suspicious to say that they may have concluded a sinister plan. Do not forget that not quite long after they issued the threat, a Deeper Life Church in Okene, Kogi state, not too far from the southern part of the country was attacked, and 20 lives were reportedly lost in the attack. The point this is that our security agents should re-strategise in order to effectively deal with this Boko Haram phenomenon.
Still in the same nexus, the office of the president ought to have left the business of replying the Boko Haram sect to the security men as it appears that the presidential reply may have dignified members of the sect who have chosen to remain faceless. There is an aphorism that says, “When the village chief himself goes around inviting people to a meeting, know there is something wrong with the system.” Another proverb also says, “If a donkey kicks you and you kick back, you are both donkeys”. In my view, any key national Security Officer would have been in a better position to reply the threat which the Boko Haram members issued to the president.
I must confess that I deliberately chose the proverbial format in expressing my views on the issue of Boko Haram as the issue has been addressed from almost all imaginable perspectives. But alas, the members of the sect have remained adamant to the detriment of our national peace and security.
Key decision makers of the Boko Haram sect should realise that “The tortoise decided to be moving about with his roof (his shell) for it not to be destroyed by the enemies. In the same spirit, it would have been better if members of the Boko Haram sect, who I believe are Nigerians, are thinking of how to protect our country from any external aggression. But ironically, rather than protecting the country from external aggression, they are even the ones that are destroying it with their own hands. On this note, I am using this piece to urge members of the Boko Haram sect to accept any Olive branch that would be extended to them.
Furthermore, members of the sect should accord the president his due respect even if he is not tribally and religiously affiliated to them. Also, they should realize that the existing democratic system of government in the country was achieved at the expense of the lives of many patriotic Nigerians.
•Asabor wrote in from Lagos. E-mail: [email protected]