Despite the multitude of differences that distinguish us, Nigerians on the whole pride themselves on their unwavering faith: a shared commitment to the ingrained values which we as a society have adhered to well before the days of our Republic’s inception. Despite a war that nearly splintered the country in half, natural resource abundance that neither could nor has been shared properly by those entrusted to govern our public offices and that has long divided us socioeconomically, and bureaucratic corruption that has disillusioned us in its unique ability to persist and flourish, we remain committed to the cause that is Nigeria.
And then there are weeks such as this past one.
Another wave of Boko Haram-driven attacks have taken place unrelentingly across northern Nigeria, including two this Monday. These recent assaults took place in Maiduguri and Damaturu, once state capitals in our northeast, now better known as hotbeds and would-be headquarters of the militant cabal. They followed a bombing on Friday in a central mosque in Kano, where one hundred and twenty innocents were tactically slaughtered.
Today, our faith has justifiably been shaken. We have waited for years with baited breath for common ground and the brokering of a ceasefire between this terrorist sect and our government for the betterment of our country and, as Africa’s economic leader, its potential as a beacon for international investment. Such patience and the determination to live our daily lives unafraid and in confidence of our country’s inevitable path to prosperity has been met with roadblock after roadblock, suicide bomber or improvised explosive device (IED) alike. There is no short-term answer as to what can be done on the issue of checking Boko Haram outright. What is needed most now is for our country and its leadership to never stop asking the question.
In response to these persistent attacks, vigilantism, once condemned as an uncontrolled, illegal act of violence in any modern society, is being touted as a last resort. Squads ill-equipped for what appears to be modern guerrilla combat are regularly hailed for their conviction by elder statesmen, such as the Emir of Kano, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi. Conversely, Nigeria’s military forces are far more frequently and en masse being shunned by our citizens for indecisiveness or worse, negligence with regard to the attainment of weaponry being utilized by Boko Haram forces.
International partnerships are undoubtedly necessary to tackle this malleable, budding threat and are not to be squandered. And yet, Nigeria has this week halted US training of its soldiers to combat insurgency, according to Washington’s mission, in what has been described as a sign of continued tensions between the two countries.
This is indisputably a mistake, aimed at sending a message to President Obama that Nigeria needs lethal ammunition and not enhanced military acumen in order to properly equip itself in the fight against Boko Haram, and will hurt more than help. And again, those hurt will be our children, our families, and the diverse communities that shape our country, similar only in our disdain for the inability of the jewel of the ECOWAS to protect its borders and its people.
As the Presidential elections of February and their aftermath loom large on our populous nation, it is harrowing to witness mudslinging and infighting from within our political parties overtake the more pertinent conversations that will decide the shape of the country today. General Ibrahim Babangida once stated that every Nigerian, and indeed, all those who aspire to national leadership, “…must bring their own visions, views and styles to the business of reforming the country, and the search for solutions.”
Let it be clear–there is no greater detriment to our great country than that which has plagued Nigeria for seemingly decades: beyond the search for solutions, finger pointing, and beyond words, inaction.