Sunday, February 19, 2012

Kano attack and our definition of evil

December 25, 2011 was a sad day in the trend of Boko Haram attacks. But in less than one month, precisely on January 20, what befell Kano vitiated the Madalla mayhem to mere child’s play.
Terrorists visited Kano with over 20 bomb detonations at various spots in the city. At the time the bombing had died down, over 200 lay dead and roasted. Madalla was terrorism assault, but Kano was full blown war. It spared nobody; it was not selective in the pattern of victimization and killing.
It could be the worst ammunition disaster at any place in the nation after the civil war. That there was pandemonium is an understatement. The best word is that Kano was besieged, ravaged, pummeled, devastated and ruined.
After the blood fair by the agents of death, what was left of that large city of commerce evaporated with the migration of those who survived the onslaught out of the city. That way, the songs of joy the city had known turned to dirge.
I know of a particular instance of a young friend of mine whose family lived in Kano that left hurriedly immediately the bombs stopped.  That turn of events signaled the nailing of Kano – the populace and the economy. That was the Boko Haram attack that hit the north at the heart, and the economy of that city means the economy of the north.
Before the Kano attack, the blight called Boko Haram had been the evil others suffered which the core north watched from a very safe distance until that dreadful day. 
Frankly, the brutish and condemnable attack is what no society would wish for. But after that major crisis, the mayhem seems to be working out some good. If my thinking is right, I can say for certain that the security agencies that had pleaded helplessness in the past about the intractable Boko Haram calamity started finding the leeway to the height.
It was in the week Kano was hit and later left comatose that Kabiru Sokoto, the key suspect in the Madalla bombing, escaped from the grip of Hassan Zakari Biu.
But eight days ago, the prime suspect was found in Taraba as we were told and back in the custody of the State Security Service (SSS). And after the same attack, the issue against Biu and his trial before the police internal system intensified.
When you remember that a blundering former Inspector General of Police who had defied every call to leave for incompetence was kicked out five days after that attack, you appreciate what I am saying. Even the lobbyists who had worked on the president to spare him grew cold because the Kano attack had hit them straight in the face.
And just four days after Ringim was fired, on January 1, the same day victims of Boko Haram attack in Madalla were buried, the ubiquitous spokesman of Boko Haram, Abu Qaqa, was arrested. These are things hitherto thought impossible about the dreaded sect all the years they have been on rampage.
Many fingers had always pointed at the northern elite as being responsible for the menace spearheaded by the sect. Yes, even some political leaders from the region also admitted that some of them sponsor Boko Haram. One of such is General Jeremiah Useni, an Arewa Consultative Forum leader who indicted the former governor of Borno State, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff for helping one way or the other to give birth to the terror group. Some days after, Sheriff visited the presidential villa and denied having any hands in the creation of the monster.
And that was not the last in the series of rumoured links of these powerful people with Boko Haram as Tishau, a certain self confessed former leader of the group told a TV station in a live broadcast of how the elite in the north sponsor the group. After the capture of Qaqa, the same tale still prevails even from his confessions. Although we have not seen any of them arrested, we have high hopes that it will soon happen.
I dare say that the attack on Kano gave birth to all the progress so far made in the Boko Haram fight. After Osama Bin Ladin was killed in May last year, President Barack Obama declared that they made more progress in 10 days than they did in 10 years in tracking and unraveling the Al Qaeda problem. So has it been since January 20.
That brings me to the attitude of man in defining evil. ‘Evil means evil when I am affected. It is no evil, or at worst a distant delict or minor but normal social malady when others are the target.’ Who would prove me wrong if I conclude that the northern political force and leadership who many had accused of unhealthy silence in the face of the crisis had felt earlier that Boko Haram is a threat to people of distant lands? They possibly also would have seen it as a political tool that could be of good and potent use in 2015. Some might even have conceived it as even a religious platform to undo others who deserve no mercy. Who knows if they had reasoned that the consequence of Boko Haram assault is like the river that must flow in one direction, thereby leaving them unscathed after all? But on January 20, they saw that Boko Haram is just the opposite of all they ever imagined. The group became a scientific experiment which experts would tell you
that the man handling it only knows and has the powers to start and not to stop or control its reach.
When a group that claims to be of Islam declares that it plans to hit Sokoto or the revered Sultan, what else could it be other than evil that observes no limits? 
Yes, Boko Haram had made such declaration, and its grouse according to the statement was that the Sultan preaches peace and does not align with it to flush out outsiders and ensure that Nigeria or possibly the entire north becomes a one-religion-bloc.
So, on the day the bombs dropped in Kano, so much action was agitated against the bombers; real move was unleashed against them; their kingpins picked up and even if the bombs have not ceased from going off, feelers from the security forces give some hope that the problem may not be without solution as earlier imagined.
What we learn from this is that to solve all the problems threatening Nigeria is simple. It is as simple as telling ourselves the truth that what affects one affects all; That we are tied into a common bundle that whatever impact one feels, reverberates to others and none is left out when calamity strikes.
If we start to live with this understanding, we will feel each other’s pains and also reckon that we should never live to be harbingers of terror to others because it must always boomerang.
The way we feel the pangs of the attack on Kano by terrorists should be the proper way to feel all attacks on the nation, no matter where. Attack on Kano has served as wake up call to all of us to work as a team and chase evil out of town.
 All of a sudden we realized that something so bad is threatening the nation and as it comes, the nightmare will touch all and spare none. The vaunting voices of threat have calmed down to tones of confession and contrition. The non-performing security chiefs got fired, solutions start to emerge, networks of cohesive efforts to fight a common enemy are created and the terror is hedged in from all flank. These are the benefits of the Kano attack.
Even a rabble rousing Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi woke up from his slumber as if Kano was the first place BH ever attacked and doled out N100m to victims of the war. Do you blame him? They say he is line to vie for the seat of the emir of Kano on the day it would be vacant. 
So the attack made CBN or Sanusi understand that victims of war deserve some succour. That was another good outcome, especially if Sanusi who acts like one who hates outsiders would extend the same kindness to others.
But I ask again – should we keep folding our hands, pretend nothing goes wrong because we are not involved until it gets bad like in the Kano case before we find solutions to problems in our society?

Author:  Ikenna Emewu
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