By: Winstanley. R. Bankole Johnson
Just last week next door neighboruing Guinea, a predominantly Muslim country prioritized national security and without equivocation, discarded one of the greatest weight of political parochialism, to wit: “religion”. The government threatened to close down Islamic Madrasas (Schools) where teachers and students wear full burquas, niqabs or veils, and refused to open new ones requiring the recruitment of Koranic Teachers from abroad. As far as they are concerned, the number of Koranic Teachers already in-country are in fact surplus to requirement.
As we all very well know religion and tribalism have always been the “opium” governments use to mesmerize supposedly highly educated citizens into zombies, to obfuscate their reasoning in order to cause irreparable impairments to previously harmonious and tranquil relationships – mainly for political gains – and by so doing, manipulate their intellects into believing that all their calamities – including deaths by preventable diseases – are of divine influences.
That Guinean decision was informed by overwhelming evidences of global threats to peace and security posed by Islamist extremism and an imperative need to safeguard the lives and properties of their citizens by pro-actively nipping any perceived sub-regional threats in the bud. And in doing so, naïve considerations such as-: “Na we pipul dem” and “Na dem dae vote”- were sacrificed on the altar of nationalism. Country first!!
In the weeks preceding that landmark Guinean government decision, Cameroon, Chad,, Senegal and Mali – all the latter four being predominantly Muslim countries – had also touted that same idea, especially in Mali where a recent terrorist attack at their Radisson Blu Hotel left nineteen (19) dead and scores severely injured. So it is now a matter of either we face the menace of terrorism together or we perish together, having regard for our own vulnerabilities. Most regretfully, as a perennially under-capacitated continent that invariably turns to its external allies for support in times of distress and calamities, the appetite of the latter to lend their usual helping hand is receding fast, and the situation we now face is a true practicalization of 1.Kings 12:16 and 2 Chron. 10:16 – “To thine own house oh Israel….Each man unto his own tent”. That means each nation state must now face the realities and begin to take full ownerships for their respective robust counter-terrorism measures – just in case.
To me, and in appreciation of our own vulnerabilities, the best way to counter potential terrorist threats in our country will be to replicate the same evidently rustic but effective strategies government applied in our “war” against the dreaded Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) to wit-: effective community mobilization and engagements using our traditional Chiefs, elders, educational and religious institutions (Churches and Mosques), Trade Unions and Civil and Secret Societies platforms both to heighten awareness about the dangers of terrorism and to create the necessary structures for meaningful responses country wide. Where it is necessary to establish a National Anti-terrorism Response Center (NARC) within the Office of National Security (ONS) and to have such structures de-centralized as we did with NERC and DERCs (and it’s looking like a suitable option to me) then so be it. The fact is that terrorism can be as deadly as the EVD, and requires to be countered with equal resoluteness.
But one must admit that to restrict terrorist threats to Islamic fundamentalism alone will be a fallacy. Recruits can be drawn for every religion, hence the need for the collective involvement of all and sundry in the interest of our national security. And in assisting the government draw up the appropriate guidelines especially during this Yule tide, I’m sure I will not be asking for too much in making the following suggestions-:
Remember, it is better to deal with potential risks or threats by acting right now, than to wait until things get worse and by which time it will cost much more in time and money to manage. That is to say-: “A stitch in time…….saves nine!!