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Thursday, 1 March 2012


By popular acclamation, the raging violent insurgency by the armed Islamic fundamentalist group –the boko Haram is the single biggest security nightmare to confront Nigeria since after amalgamation in 1914.
President Good luck Jonathan who took office in full executive capacity with overwhelming democratic mandate after the April 2011 Presidential polls even drummed up this sentiment when he told reporters recently that the violence tearing apart parts of North East, North West and North central Nigeria is the single largest and most disturbing challenge to confront Nigeria since five decades that Nigeria gained political independence from the British Imperial Colonialists.    
The modest history of the ongoing insurgency in Northern Nigeria could be traced to 2009 when the police operatives reportedly killed Yusuf Mohammed, the founder of the banned Islamic fundamentalist group-Boko Haram in Maiduguri, Borno State.
The remnants of what was left of the Islamic religious insurgents launched series of targeted attacks of government institutions and Banks even as police and military institutions are some of their best targets that have received tumultuous organized violent attacks by these religious rebels who are using series of improvised explosive devices to carry out bomb explosions.
The Nigerian government on its side has used series of military measures to seek to contain this growing unprecedented violence but to no avail. The high profile successful attacks last year of the United Nations building in Abuja and the Nigeria Police Force Headquarters in Abuja gave Nigeria battered image in the international community as one of the few countries around the World that are about to slip into the precipice of doom and disintegration. Somalia; Afghanistan, Iraq and Algeria are the other countries whereby the threats of terrorism have questioned the stability of those political entities just like Nigeria.
President Jonathan recently attended an International Conference in the United Kingdom whereby some members of the International Community debated measures and steps to be effectively adopted to check the unprecedented growth of terrorism and violence in some African nations like Somalia and Nigeria.
At sub-regional level, the Federal government has presented the public image of a government that has gradually galvanized the solidarity and support of member states of the Economic Community of West African States on waging relentless war against terrorists who migrate from neighboring nations to launch attacks on Nigerian soil and melt away.
On Tuesday, February 28th, 2012, the Nigerian government and Cameroun, our South Eastern neighbor, entered into a bilateral accord on border security. Members of the dreaded insurgents are known to have infiltrated some communities in the North East through the porous borders of Cameroun and Niger.
Ambassador Olugbenga Ashiru, Nigeria’s foreign Affairs’ minister who endorsed the Nigeria-Cameroun border security accord on Nigerian side, stated thus; “Nigeria is committed to its (the pact) full implementation and realization of its objectives in the interest of progress, peace, and security of the people of our two countries believing Cameroun will also demonstrate same commitment”.
On his part, the veteran top flight Cameroonian politician and vice prime minister of Cameroon Alhaji Amadou Ali, said the agreement shows that confidence has been restored through permanent dialogue, consultation and reinforcement of cooperation between both countries.
But majority of Nigerians are still living in fear of the unknown following relentless bomb attacks by members of boko haram who recently unleashed a regime of bloody violence in Kano and Jos resulting in the killing of scores of innocent Nigerians mostly made up of the aged, women and vulnerable children.
Several banking premises and Churches in the North East and North West have come under attacks and their monetary contents emptied even as scores of worshippers are killed.
Nigerians largely believe that President Jonathan should show the attributes of a superman by implementing far-reaching security measures to check the rising trends of violent attacks by these religious insurgents who have vowed to bring the current Federal administration to its knees.
Apart from the general quest by Nigerians for a superman politician to enforce a regime of rule of law that will rapidly quell the ongoing bloody unrests, some thinkers are of the opinion that measures that are not necessarily military should be experimented to see if peace could be restored so that the devastated economic life of the largest percentage of Northern Nigeria could pick up once more. The central Bank Governor Mr. Sanusi Lamido Sanusi lamented recently that the spate of bomb attacks by armed Islamic insurgents were harmful to the economic health of the nation and endangering Nigeria’s drive to attract foreign direct investments to resuscitate the near-collapsed economy of Nigeria.
What then is the possibility of achieving peace in a society torn apart by conflicts as is the case with most parts of Northern Nigeria?
This writer is of the fundamental belief that social justice and equity were imperative if peace must be achieved in a society torn apart by tumultuous civil/religious conflicts like in Northern Nigeria.

From research, experts believe that the greatest challenge that the human race has ever faced still remains how to live in a world free of the threat of violence. Violence is not restricted to times of war, it exists everywhere, in homes, schools and communities, and where there is injustice conflict remains inevitable.

Other experts argue that much of the conflict in the world can be attributed to the existence of an oppressive social system of power that reinforces differences between groups and allows one group to have power or privilege over another group. Besides, conflict at the local and international level, in the assessment of security experts, can stem from exploitation, poverty, corrupt governance, resources scarcity, and dehumanizing belief among other salient causative factors 

A popular theory states that as long as the global system relies on exploitive, oppressive and hierarchical relationships, there will likely exist conflict and peace may become impossible to achieve. Another prevailing conflict theory says that conflict is inherent and constant, but when positively managed it can be a productive force.

Interestingly, one way people have been addressing atrocities of the past is through the use of apologies and reparations.

Experts believe that an apology in this case, is a statement of regret that publicly acknowledges the occurrence and severity of the act of injustice committed and reparations refers to a practical action that has been taken, such as paying money to the victims, to remedy the wrong that has been done.

Those learned in security issues say apologies however, can only symbolically address wrongs that have been committed, while reparations are more tangible representations of the offenders’ willingness to begin repairing the relationship between offenders and offended.

A number of conflict theorist and practitioners, including Paul Lederach advocates the pursuit of “conflict transformation” as opposed to conflict management.

According to this expert, “Conflict resolution” implies that conflict is bad-hence something that should be ended. It also assumes that conflict is a short term phenomenon that can be ‘resolved’ permanently through mediation or other intervention processes. “Conflict management” correctly assumes that conflict are long term processes that often cannot be quickly resolved, but the notion of “management” suggests that people can be directed or controlled as though they were physical objects.

Conflict transformation, as described by Lededrach, does not suggest that we simply eliminate or control conflict, but recognize and work with its dialectic nature; by this he means that conflict is naturally created by humans who are involved in relationships yet once it occurs it changes (i.e. transforms) those event, people, and relationships that created the initial conflict, thus it describes a natural occurrence.

President Jonathan should implement ways and means of bringing the raging conflicts to a transformative end rapidly.

*          Emmanuel Onwubiko heads HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS' ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA AND WRITES FROM                         


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