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And by then it will be too late. War is upon us and yet we continue to sleep. In civilised countries where men of honour reside, by now young men would have signed up, gone to the war front and offered themselves in battle and old men would have been coordinating their noble and gallant efforts. But not here. Here, we are still involving ourselves in a stale debate about who and what Boko Haram is and what to do about them. Meanwhile they laugh at us, bomb our cities, kill our people, spoil our glory, dim our star and drink the blood of our children.
What is it about the Nigerian that he always runs away from a fight and from battle? Where did this accursed cowardice and obsession with “peace at ANY price’’ come from? I hold that even if they slaughtered one million of our sad and beleaguered citizens in one day our people would still call for peace, good neighbourliness and understanding with Boko Haram and they would still say that we should forgive them and make friends with them. This is the sad and bitter truth and, unlike most, I have the courage to say it. That is the pitiful condition to which most of the Nigerian people have degenerated.
The fact that building a nation requires courage and sacrifice is completely lost on them. As Thomas Jefferson once said “the tree of liberty is watered by the blood of tyrants and patriots”. Yet how many Nigerians are prepared to sacrifice and put their lives and reputation on the line? How many of them are prepared to call a spade a spade? How many of them are prepared to fight and to kill the enemy? Defending a nation requires strength and a firm resolve. Yet how many Nigerians have that strength and that firm resolve?
Boko Haram has shown the world that we are a nation of cowards where honour does not reside and where righteous anger, when faced with pure evil, has no place.
If this were not the case the narrative today would not be anything other than a passionate plea for us to bury our differences, come together as one nation and one people and to fight Boko Haram to the last man. Three years ago I called on the Federal Government to level any city or community that hosted, provided refuge or supported Boko Haram and many not only insulted me but also said that I was far too extreme. At that time, whilst the doves continued to call for dialogue and understanding with and for Boko Haram I saw them exactly for what they were – evil forces that had foreign-backing and a frightful agenda for our country which was not hidden. I also said that they would never stop until that agenda was effected or until they were utterly crushed and every single one of them was wiped out together with all traces of their evil philosophy. As usual, most Nigerians did not understand at the time and they subjected me to all manner of insults. Yet I continued and I warned that if all these things were not done the situation would get far worse. Sadly, three years down the line, I have been proved right.
How did I know? Because I am a student of history and because what Boko Haram is attempting to do is nothing new. It has happened in many other countries over the ages and in those countries the people themselves were forced to make a hard choice – to either fight the evil or to succumb to it and allow it to overwhelm them. Sadly, the people of Nigeria have not yet made that hard choice and instead they are still busying themselves with mundane and irrelevant questions like whether they are in APC or PDP or whether they like or support President Goodluck Jonathan or not.
They fail to appreciate the fact that matters have gone far beyond that. They fail to see that at this rate we may not even get to 2015 as one nation and least of all be in a position to conduct an election at that time. They fail to see that if things don’t change quickly and Boko Haram is not stopped this democracy may not even last much longer. They fail to see that Boko Haram seeks to destroy us ALL and not just Jonathan, the PDP, the APC or anyone else. Those that encouraged the Boko Haram monster at the outset and that silently supported and encouraged them in an attempt to destabilise the government and the nation have now become a victim of that hideous monster themselves.
The same forces encouraged political sharia in order to destabilise President Olusegun Obasanjo’s government and undermine his leadership between the years 2000 and 2003. This battle should have been fought and won then but Obasanjo failed to fight it and he handled it with kid gloves, claiming that it would “fizzle out”. Well “fizzle out” it did not and, like a cancerous sore, ten years later it has come back to haunt us. Ten years later it has come back in the form of Boko Haram with all its attendant violence, horror and bloodshed.
In the last three years, no less than 10,000 of our people have been killed in this conflict and hundreds abducted. The white islamist flag and logo of Boko Haram has been flown in various parts of our nation and yet most of our people don’t seem to care and they honestly believe that this conflict will never spread to the south. How naive and how wrong they are.
Let us make no mistake about it: the agenda of Boko Haram and those that are behind it, both locally and their international backers, is not limited to northern Nigeria and neither has it ever been. Simply put, they wish to conquer the whole country and establish their own caliphate. They wish to impose their strange values and barbaric beliefs on the rest of us by force.
There are some leaders in Nigeria, backed by Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Al Shabab and emboldened by Arab money and salifist philosophies, that honestly believe that if Nigeria is not ruled by a northern Muslim then there must be no peace or there must be no Nigeria at all.
Whether we like to admit it or not this is the bitter truth. As far as they are concerned it would be better to establish a pre-historic fundamentalist state, like the old Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, where full sharia law is practised and where Boko Haram leads and holds sway, than to have a modern-day secularist Nigerian state where a southern or northern Christian or a moderate Muslim rules. The underlying philosophy is that some were “born to rule” and if “they” cannot rule then they will use “their” religion and “their” considerable financial and political arsenal to “make Nigeria ungovernable”. This is evil and we must resist it. I can never support such an agenda, such a philosophy or such people.
Those that think like that and that espouse such views are worse than the white supremacist Boers of South Africa during the days of Apartheid and they are worse than the fascists of Nazi Germany under Hitler. I believe, and I have always believed, that if Nigeria is to remain one then ALL her ethnic nationalities must be treated as equals, no matter how big or how small, and that the secularity of the state must be preserved. I have always believed that we must keep religion out of politics and that faith, being essentially a personal matter, must never be used as a political tool or as a weapon of destabilisation. Evidently not all share my view.
Some believe that religion and ethnicity can and must be used as a means to achieve and preserve political power. It is time for Nigerians to wake up from their deep and satanic slumber and make the right choices. They must either fight this evil called Boko Haram or submit and capitulate to it. They must either insist on a modern-day secular state where all are equal before the law and are protected by the constitution or they accept the violent imposition of the most cruel and barbaric form of a fundamentalist state.
They must either stand up and identify the real enemy or they continue to bicker and argue about the most irrelevant, inconsequential and childish things. They must either open their eyes wide and understand the implications of what is unfolding for their nation and for their children and grandchildren or they continue to wallow in denial, ignorance, cowardice and timidity until all is lost and we are completely overwhelmed.
They must either demand that the Sambisa forest, where the filthy and cowardly cockroaches and vermin called Boko Haram are said to reside, should be bombed with napalm and burnt to the ground along with everyone and everything in it or they continue to whimper and cry from under their beds like little children and beg for mercy. At the end of the day, the choice is theirs. Prayer has its place but it is not God’s job to fight this battle – it is ours. God bless Nigeria.
–– Fani-Kayode is a former Aviation Minister.