Whether it is clothed in the garb of justice, peace and mercy, the fact remains that priests, monks, men and women of God, peasant and aristocrats, scholars and illiterates have all in unison expressed joy and gratitude to God and to the military for the death that has been brought to the camp of the Boko-Haram insurgents. While it is far from my intention to rival anyone of this joy or advocate for a more lenient measure towards the Boko-Haram terrorists, I still have a case to make.
The first point to admit is that living under the yoke of Boko-Haram insurgents for over half a decade is such a trying experience for us Nigerians. Apart from the tears that furrow our chicks and the pains ripping and tearing through our hearts as we count our losses, there is also a desire for revenge, a deep-seated passion to pay back the perpetrators in their own coin. Consequently, it feels so normal for one with so terrible an experience to gloss over empathy, compassion, forgiveness, mercy and other virtues that constitute the core of humanity in order to secure a vendetta. This is exactly my feeling and possibly the feeling of most Nigerians towards the Boko-Haram terrorists. I doubt if any living Nigerian has anything less than hatred, curse, loathing, animosity and all that is evil for them.
The second point is just one hard truth I still loathe to admit. It may sound funny or even cynical to one with a better judgement, but it does appear that the Boko-Haram insurgents are still winning the war. The hatred, rancour, animosity and resentment we have developed for the Boko-Haram terrorists are in a curious way a sort of victory for them. You see, even though such feelings of hatred and the sorts can garner some points in the scale of justice and retribution, they can hardly promote our nature as humans. This is not to say that justice does not promote our nature as humans. However, I believe Shakespeare has a reason for maintaining that in the course of justice, none of us shall see salvation. While psychologists and most scholars contend that humans are naturally disposed for feelings of anger and hatred, they have never failed to dare man to triumph over such petty feelings and rise to the challenge of improving his humanity.
The fact that most Nigerians can’t help being mean and unforgiving towards the one people that have brought so much sorrow to this nation reveals another area of no less subtle victory for the Boko-Haram insurgents. These terrorists are not only claiming the lives of our people but they are also making claims on our humanity. This baying sound on everyone’s lips for the blood of the Boko-Haram terrorists is symptomatic of the fact that our humanity as humans is seriously under trial. I think history has a word for us on this. Way back in history, precisely during the Second World War, Pope Pius XII made a very perceptive remark that appears to be resonant with Nigeria’s situation at present.
After weighing the exigencies of the war and the impact on man, nature and Europe as a whole, the pontiff predicted that the postwar man would be more changed than the postwar map of Europe. What the pope was saying was that the physical damages – human carnage, bombed and broken houses and other sundry destruction that war will bring to nature and the entire land mass of Europe – would be nothing compared to the damage that would be done to the nature and psyche of any man that passed through the experience of war. In the case of Nigeria, what this means is that when the chips are down, the brunt of the Boko-Haram saga may well be on the living than on the dead.
This is because no living person who has been resident in Nigeria for the whole long night of Boko-Haram’s reign of terror is without an emotional scar. If you doubt it, all you need do is to ask the next few people around you and you will discover how far our humanity has been tried as a people. Like the Boko-Haram terrorists, every Nigerian now thirsts for blood. We now lust for blood not because Nigeria as a nation loves killing but because Boko-Haram Terrorists have challenged our character and conviction as a nation. They are practically converting all Nigerians to the belief that killing of human being is good and pleasurable. However, this is one last victory we will never have them claim over us, the victory of allowing them to destroy and claim our humanity. We must win the present war on terror but not at the terrible cost of our humanity.
Therefore, the greatest challenge facing Nigeria in is the challenge of guarding the humanity of its people while at the same time destroying the terror elements in the land. This can be achieved by the way we go about the killing of the Boko-Haram terrorists. Boko-Haram terrorists have no method in their madness since they kill all their victims in a most gruesome manner,but Nigeria must bring method to its own madness towards them. Certainly there must be a strong urge to liter our environs with the corpses of slain Boko-Haram terrorists and subject them to constant media gaze, as a way of disgracing and paying them back in their own coin. Even the frenzy of the moment will also allow for such macabre specter. But what end will it serve since dead men tell no tales? Such deathly sights can only confront the living, ravage our sensitivity and in the end make Nigeria come off as a nation that makes killing of human being something of a spectacle to behold. Nigeria must therefore not allow the Boko-Haram terrorists paint us in that light.
Onyeagolu Tochukwu is on email@example.com