By John Egbeazien Oshodi
For far too long, Nigeria has faced and continues to face direct and indirect forms of terrorist psychology resulting in an environment of imminent danger to our lives and properties.
General insecurity and threats of violence have implanted fear into the minds of Nigerians, and travel warnings and alerts by foreign countries to their citizens are continuously issued about safety issues in Nigeria.
Given the unfolding events surrounding the matter of insecurity in Nigeria, it is not premature or inappropriate to ask for the establishment of a research and realistic center(s) to help study backgrounds, motivations, behaviors and other factors responsible for terror and related behaviors.
To this day, the most basic fact is that in Nigeria we have yet to build a recognized interdisciplinary center for the study of the ongoing emerging and pressing questions of global insurgency, continental terrorism and radical violence—from the perspective of Nigeria.
With the multiple numbers of academics which include lecturers and professors in Nigerian universities and other higher institutions, there is a great need to access research grants internationally and nationally for the purpose of studying the fundamental problem of insecurity.
Nigeria, as part of sub-Saharan Africa, now finds itself at the center of terrorism discussions among terrorism experts, and very often, those who would-be interested, including “real” terrorism researchers in Nigeria, are not involved in these discussions.
Given the overwhelming complexity of insecurity problems in Nigeria, which include terrorist, ethnic and religious violent acts, let us spend time to seriously study these problems, especially now that we have the Buhari presidency who has told the world of its desire to engage matters of insecurity and violence in the nation.
We need a serious center of interdisciplinary minds and hearts where pettiness, infighting and power struggles do not prevail, but are instead replaced by joining and depending on each other to rise up as one to meet the insecurity challenges for the development of our country.
The focus of such a center could include bringing classrooms discussions to the center, utilizing field investigations, and generating outcomes of meetings between academics and the government on these issues.
The Nigerian government which includes Federal/State executive and legislative arms should be educated that it need not be calling on a Euro/American or “Oyibo” expert to come to Nigeria to help them address the problem of recurring terrorist attacks, ethnic and religious violence in our villages, towns and cities, as we have our own indigene academics to work out these issues.
Again, we as Nigerian- born academics must show our seriousness and up-to-date knowledge in order to gain the trust of the Nigerian community.
Any future center for the study of insecurity, uprising, terrorist behaviors and rebellious acts should cultivate the understanding that there is no overall profile characteristic that somehow binds all terrorists or extremists from all groups; as such factors like upbringing, circumstances, characteristics, experiences and grievances flowing from various ethnic and religious sectors in the society should be studied.
Finally, the center should look at and study government responses—military and law enforcement-wise, judicial/prison approaches, criminal convictions in the past, histories of mental illness of terrorists, and any other social or economic isolative behaviors.
The center should help society better understand terrorists, fanatics, kidnappers, and extremists-based motivations, and the social and behavioral qualities associated with different kinds of terrorists, and offer straight forward explanations and answers to these problems for the Nigerian government and the larger global community.
We realize that the nation is always in search of the best weaponry to fight against extremist behaviors, whether coming from the Niger Delta militants, Southwest Vigilantes, Eastern based secessionist movements or Northern insurgents. But if we are to get a little closer to finding a modest formula to drastically lessen or stem the increase in the activities of foreign, ethnic or regional militia, vigilantes, and other extremist groups, then it is an absolute necessity that our academics and researchers (with the aid of local and intercontinental grants) erect a center that will improve our economic, political and security environments in Nigeria.
Dr. John Egbeazien Oshodi is a Florida-based Forensic/Clinical Psychologist and can be reached at Jos5930458@aol.com, drjohneoshodi.com