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Reno Omokri: The futility of terror in the face of courage

by Reno Omokri

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Now how did we get to the point where we are today that the opposition are asking for the President to resign? Is that not victory for Boko Haram? Is that not what the sect has been wanting?

Many times, in a game, what the spectators think they see is often not what is played out on the pitch. This is the main reason why many people watch a game and they have multiple analysis of what went on. The reason for this variance is because of that thing called a perspective or a point of view.

Onlookers may see a point of view, but it is only those engaged in the game itself that see the whole picture and having this insight, they can understand why a ball is played in a way it was played even while the spectators disagree because they see from a point of view.

This is the situation with many people who criticize the president for his actions in the face of terror attacks. Many people do not see the larger picture and it is the object of this piece to help them see it and put things in perspective.

The opposition has been making a big to do about the suspension of the Federal Executive Council meeting in the after math of the death of Captain Yusuf Sabo Sambo, the younger brother of the Vice President, Alhaji Namadi Sambo. Their argument is that if the Federal Executive Council was not put off after recent terror attacks in which many lost their lives, why should it be put off in this case.

The nation is in an emotionally tense state especially with the recent kidnap of our young girls at the Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok in Borno state and the opposition knows that. Everything is being done to rescue the kidnapped girls and to talk about some of those things may affect rescue operations, but the thing to know is that the military is doing their utmost best.

However, one of the elementary principles of statecraft is that you do not react to terrorists, you respond to them.

If terrorists observe that you are reactive to them rather than being responsive then they will keep manipulating you by terrorizing you anytime they do not want you to take a course of action. If on the other hand they notice that your will is not broken by their action and you continue on your determined course irrespective of their actions then they will eventually accept the futility of their actions.

If the government allows the activities of Boko Haram insurgents stop the normal processes of government, then the high command of that sect can claim a victory and raise the morale of their devotees.

The government cannot stop holding meetings on account of terrorists. That is not empathy. That is weakness! What the families of victims of terror want to see is action in the part of government in bringing terrorists to book and rescuing those victims who are still alive and as the President said on April 26 2014 during the Presidential Prayer Breakfast “all those who took part in that act (Chibok Kidnap and Nyanya bombing) will surely pay for it”.

In the case of Captain Yusuf Sabo Sambo, suspending the Federal Executive Council meeting would not have given any advantage to the terrorists thus it was an appropriate display of empathy.

I know our people are saddened by these events, but please, let us have confidence in our security operatives who have lost thousands of lives combating terror and let us also learn from history.

On the morning when terrorist struck America on September 11 2001, President George Bush was reading a children’s book to kids at the Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Florida when White House Chief of Staff, Andrew Card, informed him of the terrorist attacks.

President Bush did not panic. He did not stop reading to the children. He continued the reading for a full seven minutes, and spent a further 13 minutes with the children before leaving them to give a press conference about the attack 20 minutes after he was informed.

The cameras were on Mr. Bush, and if the American public had seen him panic the contagious effect of that would have spread throughout the nation and the terrorist of 9/11 would have achieved their aim.

Three days after the attack, Mr. Bush visited ground zero and told one of the grieving relatives “I hear you, the rest of the world hears you and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon”.

This is precisely what President Jonathan told the nation during the Presidential Prayer Breakfast.

Leaders dare not panic. They must keep their heads when everyone around them is losing theirs.

Experts in statecraft have cited the example of Margaret Thatcher and the Conservative Party as an example of how to defeat the objective of terrorists.

It would be recalled that the government of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher went ahead with the Conservative Party’s convention despite the IRA’s fatal bombing of the venue of the convention at the Brighton Hotel on the 12th of October, 1984 killing 33 people including two senior members.

Prime Minister Thatcher, despite suffering injuries with her husband, Dennis, simply went to the hospital for treatment and returned to the Convention and on the next morning she addressed the British people and said;

“The fact that we are gathered here now—shocked, but composed and determined—is a sign not only that this attack has failed, but that all attempts to destroy democracy by terrorism will fail”.

You can imagine the boost that the IRA would have had if the government had reacted by shutting down their scheduled meetings because of the deadly attacks!

No one called for the resignation of Mrs. Thatcher and her government because of the terrorism of the IRA and there had been over 50 terror attacks by the IRA before the terror bombing.

It would have been unimaginable for the British opposition to ask for Thatcher’s resignation because that was what the IRA wanted.

In Nigeria, Boko Haram has repeatedly said they want to get rid of President Jonathan and do not recognize his authority. They have even asked him to convert!

Now how did we get to the point where we are today that the opposition are asking for the President to resign? Is that not victory for Boko Haram? Is that not what the sect has been wanting?

Does that even make sense? Shouldn’t the opposition cleave into the government on the issue of terror and show a common front to the terrorists as Muhammadu Buhari wisely advised in his treatise of two  weeks ago?

Let us learn from the history of terrorism in Britain. Today, the IRA is no more but the British Government and the Conservative Party are with us and are stronger than they were in 1984.

Also, in the United States, the previous year, both the Republicans and the Democrats continued with their preparations for the 1984 elections despite the Beirut Bombing of October 23, 1983 which killed 299 American and French marines.

The thing to note is that since recorded history began, terrorists have always used violence to try to manipulate political affairs and those whom God entrusts with power over the years, perhaps under divine guidance, have consistently displayed the wisdom of not reacting to terrorists.

Take the historical account of the Israelites.

After the prophesied 400 years of slavery in Egypt, God’s appointed time came for the deliverance of the Jewish nation. But just about the time that the Israelites were to be set free from bondage what did the established order come up with?

A Pharaoh that did not know of Joseph’s phenomenal contribution to the greatness of Egypt came up with a policy which mandated that all male Hebrew children must die!

This was an act of terror meant to keep the Jewish nation in political servitude to the ancient Egyptians.

But as is commonly said ‘man proposes but God disposes’. Moses, The child of destiny that was to see to the deliverance of the nation of Israel was not only born but was adopted into royalty by Pharaoh’s own daughter and eventually saw to the emancipation of the Hebrew nation.

Also, when the Magi from the East came to seek the Child Yeshu’a (whom the West calls Jesus) they unwittingly set off Herod’s paranoid insecurities about losing his throne by informing him that Yeshu’a was born to be King of kings.

King Herod in response to the perceived political threat from Yeshu’a’s (Jesus) coming Kingdom went the route of Pharaoh by ordering the killing of all male children in Bethlehem two years and under.

But as with Moses, so it was with Yeshu’a who was delivered from Herod’s terror when Joseph relocated to Egypt until that tyrants death.

Also, when Mohammed (SAW) began preaching against the idolatry and polytheism that was widely practiced in Mecca, he was forced out of town by the Meccan tribal leaders of the Quraysh clan who would hear none of it! This led to the Hijra of Mohammed and his followers

But as it would turn out, they had not seen the last of Mohammed (SAW) who grew in strength and finally prevailed over the ruling oligarchs of Mecca and overcame the terror they unleashed on him.

Again, when Abraham Lincoln purposed to set Black slaves free the establishment resisted him bitterly but their terror was defeated and the The Emancipation Proclamation became a reality because it is a truism and a self evident fact that God made all men equal and there are no people more endued to rule over others on the basis of racial, religious or cultural superiority.

The moral of these stories is that evil cannot conquer good. It might be a cliche, but I will still use it-tough times never last but tough people do and Nigerians are tough people!

These are lessons we have to learn in Nigeria and it is not necessary to learn them the hard way.

Nigerians should realize that this administration under the leadership of President Goodluck Jonathan, is an empathic administration that cares about the welfare of Nigerians.

Only recently, Nigerian lives were at stake during the crisis in the Central African Republic. This administration sent air crafts to rescue them at no cost. They were repatriated back to Nigeria and rehabilitated.

This is not the first time this happened. Nigerians may remember that we were the First Nation (not one of the first, but the first) to evacuate her citizens from Egypt during the Arab Spring uprising in 2011.

Nigerians must not stop being Nigerians because of the fear of terrorism, neither should we treat terrorism with kid gloves and go on as if nothing happened because something did happen!

The thing to do is to carry on with our lives without disruption while making sure that the terrorists are not able to carry on with their terror because of the disruption and dismantling of their infrastructure and support based by the gallant men and women of our armed forces and security services.

Finally, as a nation, we must come together against terror irrespective of our political or religious persuasion. We cannot afford to blink in the face of terror. We must be resolute as that is the only way to stare down and defeat terror.

Reno Omokri is Special Assistant to President Goodluck Jonathan on New Media.

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Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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