No Peace Without Dialogue/ By Dr. (Barr.) Mike Ozulumba



There seems now to be no cessation to the multitude of violence in Africa. A special attention now turns to Nigeria, where the Boko Haram sect had unleashed endless violence in the Northern part of the country that has assumed a frightening dimension in both their target and in scope. Just recently a seven kidnapped  foreigners who worked for a construction company in Bauchi State were alleged to have been murdered in a senseless act of desperation by a Boko Haram splinter group. It is now a daily dose of bloodletting by the Boko Haram sect and its similar splinter groups in trying to outshine each other by the number of helpless citizens that they can murder. From law enforcement agents to school children to traditional rulers and women. The height of carnage thus far was achieved a few days back when in Kano, Nigeria, a group of Boko Haram terrorists was alleged to have masterminded the bombing of several loaded buses filled with passengers at a predominantly Igbo operated motor park. Over 60 lives was lost and several more hanging on thin edge with various degrees of injuries.

By the desperate and callous dimension the new terror has taken, it readily appears that a worse situation will soon emerge. When and if the Igbos retaliate against moslems and Northerners in her Eastern territory, the scope of the Boko Haram terror would certainly take an ethnic colouration capable of plunging the country into further chaos. The Boko Haram captured  leader Kabiru Sokoto is now undergoing prosecution while attendant terror acts escalated.

I believe that the time is now right to engage in a serious national dialogue to stem the tide of the terror escalation in Nigeria. Just as I believe that dialogue is the best solution, the present efforts by Presesident Goodluck Jonathan in setting up a committee to consider the viability of amnesty in stemming the BH menace is commendable. The spate at which innocent lives are wasted by the insurgency is highly dizzying. The few days of madness in my former city of Boston in USA where two crude brother bombers caused the death of three Americans during the April Boston marathon showcased the resilience, the commitment and the technological advancement of America’s  law enforcement agencies to fighting terrorism. While we prepare to talk amnesty, we should invest in our agencies to procure basic investigative technology that would help our agents become more proactive in the fight against domestic  terror. No amount of bombs by Boko Haram would make a significant dent on the Government’s resolve to provide leadership to the country, so long as they are in office. No amount of killings by the JTF or arrests would stem the wave of increasing violence that has thus far been exhibited by the Boko Haram sect. One thing is certain. The parties must find a comfortable forum to dialogue. While the political comments of power shift haunts many analysts as the true cause of Boko Haram insurgency, a deeper social problem of economic and education inequality and lack of access to basic things that would make life better fuels the insurgency as well. It is this stark economic inequality that enables a young untrained, illiterate youth succumb to the offers of money by the sponsors of terror to take up a bomb to waste his life and kill harmless neighbours and friends who most likely pose little or no danger to his life nor contributed in anyway to his miserable life.

It is the lack of access to good and quality education that would subject a young man to be fed with religious rubbish to the extent that he then elects to waste his life by taking the life of others along with him. It is this lack of access to better living conditions that makes a young man take notice as to whether or not, the country’s leadership is now vested in the wrong hands. And as such, he must load up a car filled with bombs to kill as many of his country men as possible.

On the flip side, the political and ruling elite should not take succor in the fact that victims of this carnage are mainly poor Nigerians trying to make a daily run to sustain life in a country where hardship is the norm. Such escapists’ thoughts would only infuriate the already indoctrinated youths and thereby force them to resolve to achieve more spectacular scenes of carnage. In 2001, the USA felt the bitter pang of determined terrorists who in one morning changed the face of America forever. Such elements of youths that planned the September horror in America are capable to utilize less energy and security aversion intellect to humble and rumble our country.

By the seeming trend of desperation, callousness and brazen methods, a multiple bombing run by use of aircrafts as projectiles at our government houses and institutions can no longer sound remote or implausible.

The task now is for us to forge stronger in the resolve to use necessary means starting with dialogue to solve this festering problem. The presumed sponsors and actors in this terror game are not ghosts. The cries of the Boko Haram leaders and members must be carefully handled. The larger political solution can be discussed and if necessary, a Northern Protectorate of Islamic Region can be discussed and why not.

Nigeria leaders must take the bull by the horn to organize effective governance referendum and symposia. If the result would give us peace by asserting the permanency of the six geopolitical zones as regional political entities, why not. If parliamentary system of governance shall save our resources to bring out visible growth in the country, why not try it. If six Prime Ministers of different regions will bring good governance closer to the zones, what the heck is wrong with that? Unless and until we engage in an honest dialogue both within ourselves, and with the agitated citizens, we will continue with our present method of listless containment. The impending volcano will sure not be put out with mere fire extinguishers.



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