By Ishaka Mohammed
From temporarily closing schools and markets to imposing curfews and postponing elections, from paying ransom to shutting down telecommunications, name it — Nigerian authorities have been governing based on the dictates of terrorists.
Observing their supposed protectors dance to the tune of their tormentors, many innocent Nigerians live in fear and hunger. It’s unfortunate that despite submitting their powers to the state, poor Nigerians can’t boast of adequate security. Undeniably, our leaders have failed us.
Nonetheless, can we continue to blame only the authorities? No. In fact, sometimes, I feel it’s more suitable to refer to our plights as self-harm. There are times I can’t help but agree with those who call us potential criminals. Lack of opportunities is the reason why some of us can claim to be innocent of some vices. We clamour for the rule of law, but we allow petty sentiments to set our society ablaze daily.
Most of those who are terrorising our country have family members and friends who are law-abiding. A good citizen is expected to stand by the truth, regardless of who benefits or gets hurt. This is scarcely the case with our “law-abiding fellows”, who help their criminal children or relatives escape justice. When two men protect their respective criminal children today, each of the fathers might become a victim of the other’s child tomorrow. What goes around comes around.
Imagine what the residents of Zamfara State are going through today! In 2013, habitants of Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa had the same bitter taste. We’re social beings; we must communicate to survive. However, we choose whom to communicate with. Since some (or most) of our target audience are physically far from us, we have developed various means to communicate with them, and one of these is telecommunications.
Our ways of life are influenced by the technologies of the moment or those at our disposal. Mobile phones have changed the way we communicate. Even if our livelihoods are entirely outside the telecoms industry, it is almost impossible for a chain of distribution to be successful without telecoms services. From the manufacturer to the middlemen to the consumer, one way or another, a phone call or text message or the Internet will be utilised. Our lives are intertwined with the telecoms sector, especially the mobile network. Despite the necessity of telecoms, residents of Zamfara will be deprived of their services for two weeks.
The above picture is just one of the countless ramifications of insecurity, yet we’re keen on maintaining these ugly consequences because of our selfishness and narrow-minded emotions. We stand with criminals based on religious affinities, regional linkages, ethnic identities or family ties. This is why Governor Simon Lalong recently ordered the arrest of those who rush to police stations to bail murder suspects. Let’s allow family members and friends to answer police questions before we discuss bail. Aside from bail, let’s refrain from blindly defending or accusing people. For instance, in the case of DCP Abba Kyari, a staggering number of northern Muslims keep praying that he be vindicated (without adding “if he’s innocent”). As for many people from the South, the suspended officer is already guilty. Aw, bigotry is undoubtedly our arch enemy.
Our craving for peace should be backed up with sincere actions, no matter how painful such could be. Our sense of optimism should never make us dwell in unrealistic expectations. Nor can we solve our problems without our involvement. Faith doesn’t mean leaving one’s door open and expecting God to close it; one has to initiate the process by using the body parts granted by God.
Sooner or later, the fire we refuse to quench in a neighbour’s compound will gut our houses, and others will look the other way. This isn’t pessimism; it’s reality. Our tribulations can only begin to ease the day we (at least the majority of us) become ready to treat everyone based on the contents of their character. Let’s report close criminals to the authorities if indeed we’re lovers of peace.
By the way, concerning the shutdown of telecoms sites in Zamfara, I think it’s better to narrow the geographic scope. Although the terrorists (euphemistically called bandits) might be everywhere, limiting the shutdown to selected areas like forests might produce the desired effects while minimising the suffering of the innocent residents at the same time.
Ishaka Mohammed writes from Kaduna. He can be contacted via email@example.com.