ENDING TERRORISM: ALL WE NEED IS PARADIGM SHIFT IN MINDSET AND LOVE
FOURTH-YEAR STUDENT IN HUMAN PHYSIOLOGY (UNDERGRADUATE)
COLLEGE OF HEALTH SCIENCES, UNIVERSITY OF ILORIN.
Growing up in Nigeria, West of Africa in the late '90s, I must admit the only times I heard about terrorism, were through the radio or when my dad and his friends discuss the menace of it, and there were few times. Oftentimes, there were far from my country. I can still recall the 9/11 attack on the world trade center in 2001, I was barely ten then, but it was a news that shook the world and introduced terrorism differently, to the world. Ever since that period, the world has been terrorized by different groups with different goals. For me, this is the world's biggest ethical challenge and there is an urgent need for a paradigm shift in mindset, and love among humans to put an end to it before it consumes all of us.
The twenty-first century has witnessed different forms of radicalism, when compared with the nineteen and twentieth century. This is very much clear in the number of terrorist groups we have in this century. Between 2001 and 2011, not less than ten terrorist group were formed in Africa. Despite the increase in both government and NGO's that have been set up to curb this, many of us, still live in fear due to their increasing number. I barely walk my street with confidence in the day, and at night, I don't walk at all. These are measures, I've taken over the years not to fall victim.
Today, one can hardly stay a day without news of terrorism. It has become so common we now accept it as a normal occurrence in my society. One of this news that still break my heart is the over 200 girls abducted from Chibok secondary school in Borno State of Nigeria. They were girls with a future, They were beautiful daughters and potential mothers. It is sad that till today, we are yet to see some of them and we do not know if we will ever see them again. They are now victims of a battle, they knew nothing about and this is painful. Even till this point of typing this paragraph, there have been a series of suicide bombing, one of such is the Mubi bomb blast, with a death toll of about 50, as published by the PUNCH newspaper, November 21, 2017. I find it difficult to understand why people are agents for such crimes against humanity. Nothing is as painful as their targets; the innocent civilians going about their normal businesses. And as I wake every morning, the news of suicide bombers and their attacks on people keep rising.
The effect of terrorism is always negative both to the economy and the reputation of a nation. Since security has become one of our major priority as a country, more funds are pumped into the sector, leaving other important sectors like education. And when education is not thriving well, there is underdevelopment, and where there is underdevelopment, there is an economic crisis. Countries with economic crisis have a negative reputation and there tend not to attract foreign investors. I was in my first year in the university, when my dad lost his job, because of the economic crisis in the country. And his company owned by Italians, had to cut down their number of staff. He was the bread-winner of the family and up till today, my life has not been the same. And I'm sure, it is the same for the mothers of those Chibok girls, who are yet to see their daughters. All these have given our country a bad image in the international scene.
In the past, we may have been tempted to think, that killing those responsible for this would bring an end to terrorism. It is now clear that the use of ammunitions for this battle of mindset cannot win. Every day, the number of terrorist increases, despite some die, either through suicide attack or being killed while carrying out their attacks. Perhaps if the use of ammunition were a better option, then terrorism should have ended. The battle of terrorism is a battle against mindset, dominated by selfishness and negative values. This is beyond what guns and bombs can destroy. All we need is a paradigm shift in mindset; a paradigm shift from selfishness. Over the years, values that do not respect life and humanity have grown inside of so many hearts, this was due to selfishness not religion as many may have thought. This was even emphasized by the former president of United States of America at the White house Summit on Countering violent Extremism, when he said, "No religion is responsible for terrorism people are responsible for violence and terrorism." And for us to win them over, we must plant good values into the society, that will bring changes to the heart of those responsible for this crime against humanity.
At this point, I will like to mention and appreciate Zannah Mustapha, a former barrister and a lead mediator in talks that freed 103 schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko haram, for his unconditional love towards the children of the fallen Boko haram commanders, which is exemplary. In 2007, he built a school and orphanage, Future prowess Islamic Foundation school, for children between the ages of 3 and 8. Where he accepted the children of the Boko Haram commanders. He bought them books, and employed teachers to teach them science, mathematics and English. Mustapha, also catered for their welfare. This was not because he supported their activities, rather he knew the only thing that can win, in this situation was love. No wonder, they ( Boko Haram leaders), were ready to listen to him, when he acted as a mediator, between the Nigerian government and them. And according to Wall street Journal, December 24, 2017 publication, it was written that during the first exchange, which was for about 20 hostages in October 13, 2016, Boko Haram brought 21, the extra hostage they told Mustapha, was a gift to him, because he cared for their children, when no one would. I believe if they were more people like Zannah Mustapha, trying to do what he is doing, my country, even the world, would have been a better place. This is true because we need to access as a country the cost of going to war and the cost of loving. How much will it cost, to build a school or an orphanage, provide basic amenities, provide jobs and quality health care to the poverty-stricken region compared to the billions of naira, we have wasted going to war?
Therefore, I would like to state clearly as I conclude, that paradigm shift in mindset and love are the only means by which we can get terrorist to drop their guns and bombs to embrace peace again. There are also the only means by which we can stop people, from becoming terrorist in the society. And this can only be achieved, if we sow love into the hearts of the society by building schools, hospitals, creating jobs, providing for the less privileged including the orphanage and doing many more things to help the society develope. It is a collective effort, and we all have a role to play to make our world, a better place.