By Philip Agbese
As Africans, we often say, only someone who has tested the venom of hunger knows the power of its force. Those who still support terrorism in any guise and for whatever pecuniary benefits, do so because they are insulated from its blazing swords and gores.
But anyone who has tested the horrors and bloodbath of terrorisms or have any dose of empathy for humanity would never support terrorism, even if he is promised the reward of the entire earth as his personal fiefdom. Currently, the world is stunned, even America is shocked with what is happening in Afghanistan. It never anticipated the overthrow of the Afghan Government by the Taliban forces this soon. But the worst has happened, the Talibans have violently gripped power.
It could have also happened in Nigeria, if not for the determination and commitment of President Muhammadu Buhari and the Nigerian Military. They have refused to blink in the counter-terrorism combats in order to birth peace and security in Nigeria.
In the past couple of years, I have stood firmly against acts of terrorism in Nigeria. Boko Haram insurgents and armed bandits can never be my friends. I cannot support their vicious actions for any reason.
I have also devoted time, energy and resources to fight the battle against terrorists with the pen, by confronting cyberspace and foreign backed terrorism head-on. Cyberspace terrorism is activated and promoted by veiled agents and sympathizers of terrorists. I did this for the love of my country, Nigeria, that of beloved compatriots and the future generation. It explains my unwavering support to the Buhari administration and the Nigerian Military. I am optimistic and convinced that together, we can trounce terrorism and its attendant security problems. Our country has all it takes to crush them.
There is something significant we have to learn now about terrorism. After 20 years of unsuccessful military campaigns in Afghanistan, the White House has decided to withdraw its troops and pulled out from the embattled country. The action was precipitated by the sudden overthrow and collapse of the Government of President Ashraf Ghani by Taliban forces.
The erstwhile President fled the country after the Talibans captured Kabul, after months of intensified offensives. The Taliban forces gained control of more territories and eventually captured Kabul, the last biggest city still standing in Afghanistan.
America’s President Joe Biden had returned to the White House from Camp David, where he was on presidential retreat to make his first public statement on the developments in Afghanistan. What President Biden adduced as reason for suspending US Military involvement in Afghanistan was remarkable in every sense. It echoed like a bomb blast to discerning minds.
Biden blurted, “If anything, the developments of the past week reinforce that ending US military involvement in Afghanistan now was the right decision. American troops cannot and should not be fighting in a war and dying in a war that Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves.”
This is a hard lesson for Nigerians and those masked agents and sympathizers of Boko Haram insurgents and armed bandits tormenting the peace of the country. Foreign military assistance or sacrifice for another country has a limit. Biden has indirectly told Nigeria and other countries that we must all join the fight against terrorism.
Biden was straightforward and blunt that America cannot continue to sacrifice its troops in Afghanistan in a war the Afghan forces themselves are unwilling to fight. Afghans must lead the battle of liberation to embolden others.
It is resoundingly instructive. It brings to the fore, the spirit of patriotism and loyalty to one’s country. America’s present actions and message to the world, in the troubled Afghanistan (which have ostensibly placed the country at greater risk and mercy of the Talibans) is that before an outsider renders assistance to you, the recipient must also demonstrate their willingness to help themselves.
I can conveniently say, Americans have faulted Afghans whether as military men/ women or civilians over their reluctance to liberate their country from the grip of the Talibans. We often jovially say, even heaven help those who help themselves. Afghanistan needed to do more to convince America that they hate terrorism and the Talibans fighting to take over control of the country.
Today, their country has fallen into the hands of the enemy forces. I felt very sympathetic to the plight of the panicked and distraught people, some of who are desperately fleeing to other countries for safety. They will become refugees in strange lands and denied all luxuries. This is one thing we have worked hard to avoid for our fellow citizens in Nigeria.
Without a doubt, among the clans of stranded people in Afghanistan today includes conspirators, mercenaries, fake mullahs and sympathizers of the Talibans who performed the odious betrayal of their country and sacrificed peace for peanuts. The Talibans could not have succeeded without active internal support to their militant campaigns.
None of us is ignorant of the central ideology of Boko Haram/ ISWAP terrorists tormenting and terrorizing Nigerians. They are out and sponsored by some forces to take over Nigeria; they are working assiduously to reconquer us and impose their odd version of Islamic caliphate through bloody jihadi campaigns.
Have Nigerians forgotten that before the administration of President Buhari , Boko Haram insurgents came close to fulfilling their mission? Thrice, they almost overran the Government Houses of Borno and Yobe states in the Northeast to seize power. Insurgents captured and occupied at least 21 local government areas in the Northeast, and declared Gwoza in Borno state their Caliphate headquarters. Tales of escapees from Boko Haram gulags draped with draconian rule, bloodbath, extrajudicial killings, sexual violence, forced labour and human rights violations.
We have experienced agonies and the resultant humanitarian crises created by tens of thousands of displaced persons because of years of insurgency. The social and economic dislocations together with other distortions of normal life are quite scary. The relics are everywhere. No sane person will support terrorism in anyway. Boko Haram insurgents have threatened many times to capture Aso Rock, Nigeria’s seat of power. That’s how close Nigeria came to the danger faced by Afghanistan today.
But we have an unfortunate situation in Nigeria, where some veiled forces and black sheep cocooned in all strata of the Nigerian community, clandestinely work for the success of Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorists. Even as the Buhari Presidency is determined to rout out insurgency, the efforts are either frustrated or sabotaged. We are the people supplying food, medication and weapons to terrorists to devour us. It is shameful that some of us have commercialized terrorism.
We shield terrorists from the eagle eyes of security and treat them of gunshot injuries when they encounter state forces in combat duels. We are mindless and freely conspiring with foreign nations plotting to snatch away our country from us. Those who indulge in such aberrations against their country, hardly think about the severe repercussions should the situation gets out of control like the experience of Afghans now. Let our conscience prick us.
But together with some other patriots, I have decided to be different. All of us have a role to play in the final defeat of terrorism in Nigeria. So, I decided to support Mr. President and the Nigerian Military in the counter-insurgency campaigns. We must be told plainly, that if we allow insurgents conquer any part Nigeria, it means all of us have been defeated and conquered.
Therefore, those who think my support for the Nigerian military against the tormentors of our country is an insidious approach to personal glorification and financial gains are very wrong. I go the whole hog because I dread the danger of terrorists succeeding in Nigeria. Let’s open our eyes to the stark reality staring us in the face.
The civil society movement which publicized the messages of Nigerian people against terrorists were only actively fighting cyberspace terrorism, another dangerous brand of terrorism. I am involved in it because I love my country; I want history to remember me as a loyal patriot who identified with my country and it’s leaders in the most disconcerting moments.
Those who backed out against truth, harshly scolded and lambasted me should be ashamed, with the ugly events in Afghanistan now, they should have cause for reflection and a rethink. My actions have been clearly justified and the detractors or enemies of Nigeria have been proven wrong by the sad events in Afghanistan. Let us resolve today never to support terrorism on our shores or anywhere; it pays more to show our patriotic face and loyalty to country. We are the people responsible for our peace and security; we can choose to destroy ourselves with our own hands or avoid it collectively.
Its my conviction that together, we can liberate Nigeria from the jaws of Boko Haram and ISWAP and other terrorist groups . Else, we are only working to fret away the dignity and pride of our beloved country. But there is no any other country which belongs to us, except Nigeria. To be forewarned is to be forearmed. Let us be circumspect in our actions and utterances on national security.
Agbese LLB(UK), MBA(UK), LLM(UK) is a scholar based in the United Kingdom.