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IN spite of all efforts, the northern part of Nigeria remains killing fields for the sadistic Islamic religious sect, Boko Haram. The more the efforts of the government, the bloodier have been the attacks of the fanatics. Even the arrest of individuals believed to be key figures in the Boko Haram network has not provided the expected clue. The frequency and ferociousness of attacks constitute a great source of worry not only to the government but also to innocent citizens on whom the sect has been unleashing terror.

IN its quest for a solution to the serious security problem, the government has expectedly been exploring both local and foreign possibilities. Officials of the Federal Government recently held a collaborative meeting with intelligence officers of the United States of America. The meeting which took place under the aegis of the Nigeria-United States Bi-National Commission was held, among other purposes, to generate ideas on how to find a solution to the Boko Haram menace. The European Union has also offered to discuss with the Federal Government on concrete actions that need to be taken in pursuit of peace, security and development in Nigeria.

THERE have been reactions to offers of assistance coming from other parts of the world. Speaking on behalf of the Democratic Action Coalition, Dr Tunji Braithwaite rejected the idea of what he perceived as America’s intervention in the fight against the violent islamic sect. According to him, Boko Haram is not a religious but a political issue that is resulted from corruption and bad governance. He sees the involvement of America as a “Greek Gift” that will eventually exacerbate the situation. As far as Braithwaite is concerned, the solution to the problem lies in a surgical dissection and not just a reform of the 1999 constitution which he believes has been put in place for looters. He wants President Goodluck Jonathan to call a national conference before the situation gets worse.

ALONG the same line, but for different reasons, the Borno Elders and Leaders of Thought led by a minister in the first Republic, Alhaji Shettima Ali Monguno, expressed opposition to the involvement of the United States in the efforts to tackle the Boko Haram fundamentalists. The argument of the group is that since Nigeria does not have a defence pact with the United States, it will not be proper to obtain any form of assistance from it in finding a solution to the Boko Haram problem.

DR Braithwaite and others of his age who still muster the energy to fight for the interests of the ordinary people deserve commendation. Their commitment to the progress of a country in which they no longer hope to hold any political office is a good example for the younger generation. Braithwaite, however, needs to reexamine his position on foreign involvement in the Boko Haram issue.  It is apparent that Nigeria is already at its wits’ end on the vexed question of Boko Haram insurgency.

IT is also evident that America has the necessary expertise and cognate experience from which Nigeria can draw in its war against terror. The world is now a global village in which knowledge and ideas flow from one part to the other in finding solutions to human problems. It will be suicidal for a country that has serious problems to contend with to resort to isolationism. The consequence may be a terrible implosion. It is incontestable that Nigeria has the problem of corruption and bad governance which have led to massive unemployment. Without religious bigotry, massive unemployment on its own cannot produce Boko Haram. If it can, every part of Nigeria should be in turmoil. In its search for external assistance, Nigeria should simply make a clear distinction between what it wants and what it does not want. Dr Braithwaite is not alone in the demand for a conference to redefine the terms of the country’s union. The point to note is that the pressing problem now is Boko Haram and the search for a solution to it cannot wait for that conference and its eventual outcome.

WHEN it became apparent that the fanatics had overwhelmed the police in Borno State, the Federal Government constituted a Joint Task Force – which included soldiers – to confront the murderous bigots. This was followed by strident and persistent calls by the Borno Elders and Leaders of Thought for the withdrawal of the soldiers. Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima promptly responded to the call. He described the demand as unrealistic and sought to know the “tangible alternative” the agitators for the soldiers’ withdrawal had to proffer. The principal argument of the elders and leaders of thought now is that Nigeria has no defence pact with the United States. Must there be a defence pact before one country can learn from another in matters of security? If the elders and leaders have given the much-desired assistance to the government in its efforts to uncover Boko Haram, the need for external assistance would not have arisen. Do they want the government to continue groping in the dark while the slaughter continues ad infinitum?

WE said it in our previous comments and President Goodluck Jonathan said it recently that members of the sect live among the people because they are no spirits. The people’s interest can only be served by assisting the security agencies to identify the cells from which the murderous fanatics operate and offering suggestions on how not to mortgage the nation’s interest on the platform of seeking help. The ordinary people have been the victims of bomb blasts. The privileged ones are secure in their fortresses.

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Wednesday 23 April 2014


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