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Parable of Afghanistan Taliban

The Yoruba say the death of an age mate is sending a proverb; that the time of going to heaven, or hell, is nigh. English poet, John Donne, puts it this way, “Any man’s death diminishes me/ because I am involved in mankind/ and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls/ it tolls for thee.”

The takeover of Kabul, capital city of Afghanistan, a sign of effective takeover of the government, after the exit of the American GIs, reminds one of the alarm raised by Niger State Governor, Abubakar Sani-Bello, recently.

The governor had said, “I am confirming that there are Boko Haram elements here in Niger State… I just heard that they have placed their flags at Kaure, meaning they have taken over the territory. This is what I have been engaging the Federal Government on; unfortunately, it has now got to this level. If care is not taken, even Abuja is not safe.”

Of course, if Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, is taken over by Boko Haram insurgents, it means that, at least, the Federal Government of Nigeria has been taken over by extremists, and that portends ominous danger for everyone. Boko Haram insurgents have been known to attack Muslims, Christians and animists without discrimination.

Those who think America or any other Western power will come to their rescue if insurgents overwhelm Nigeria’s security forces had better think again. Prof Ishaq Akintola of Muslim Rights Concern has this to say:

“(This) is a big lesson for Nigeria, a developing democracy. Those who are in the habit of harassing their fellow Nigerians, intimidating the government and even reporting to Britain, to France, relying on foreign powers to get what they do not deserve, to learn a good lesson from this.

“No foreign power will give your country what will benefit your country. Foreign powers, colonial masters, will always seek their own interest. They will never make you benefit from democratic dividends from which your country and the citizens will gain.”

 In the matter of insurgency or internal insecurity of other nations, America is sounding like it would return to its pre-Second World War Isolationist Policy, though some scholars argued the Isolationist Policy didn’t necessarily take its cue from the concept of non-interference from domestic matters of other countries as enunciated by the Treaty of Westphalia of 1648.

It was caused by America’s unwillingness to accept migrant labour from Old World Europe, especially after it had established extensive and relatively cheap railway network. So, Uncle Sam looks out for himself in all things.

The US President, Joe Biden, washed America’s hands off Afghanistan with the arguments that Afghans should begin to communicate with one another and run an inclusive government, a euphemism for government of national unity that accommodates all shades of political opinions, in order to overcome their domestic problems.

He explained that the purpose of the US intervention in Afghanistan had “always been preventing a terrorist attack on American homeland” and “never supposed to be creating a unified centralised democracy.”

In case anyone was in doubt, he added: “Our mission in Afghanistan was never supposed to have been nation building.” From now on, everyone will have to carry their own can. Uncle Sam is no more in the mood to play Átlas, the Titan condemned to hold up the heavens or sky for eternity– even at the risk of losing out to the Chinese, it seems.

President Biden deftly classified insurgency as domestic headache of a country and terrorism as international or cross-border crimes against humanity, which he and the people of America will not condone.

You may recall how American GIs swiftly landed in a sleepy Northern Nigerian community to rescue an American citizen abducted by Nigerien scoundrels. America leaves no one in any doubt that other peoples of the world must treat American citizen the same way the Christian God admonishes that men must neither touch His anointed nor do His prophet any harm.

Officials of America’s Department of Defence and Department of State who briefed the press at the Pentagon after the fall of Kabul insinuated that Afghan army personnel, many of whom were trained with American resources, may have joined the Taliban.

When you consider that the Afghanistan military simply wilted or formed cahoots with the Taliban who overran Kabul, the capital city, you will wonder what could happen if men of Nigeria’s armed forces (and public officers) connived with Boko Haram insurgents or their Islamic State of West Africa Province rivals to take over the Nigerian state.

If you doubt this, just consider the way the Nigerian state succumbed to coup d’etats effected by Nigerian military personnel of old who merely seized a radio station, played some martial music and accused the previous government of a few breaches.

This scary thinking is looking very likely, with the rumoured government policy of, not only integrating scores of “repentant” Boko Haram insurgents back into society, but also enlisting some of their commanders into Nigeria’s armed services. This shouldn’t be true.

That these renegades could become enemies within or fifth columnists that can compromise the nation’s counterinsurgency efforts is in the impassioned expressions of reservations by the duo of Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State and Shehu of Borno, Alhaji Abubakar El Kanemi.

Both men, major stakeholders in beleaguered Borno State, must know what they are talking about. Who feels it knows it. If it occurred to you that the repentant Taliban that the Americans grafted into the Afghan army may have eased the overrunning of the country, you will understand the fears of these two men.

William Shakespeare says, “Security gives way to conspiracy.” The Nigerian authorities had better take a cue from the events in Afghanistan and heed the warnings of a governor and a monarch who have experienced the trauma and pains of insurgency firsthand.

To get an idea of the way things may look like if the renegades took over Nigeria, just remember the dystopic state that English political thinker, Thomas Hobbes, graphically described as “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”

And if that is too abstract to understand, then read the accounts of the mayhem, genocide and corruption in Rwanda and extreme starvation, and what amounts to pogrom, in Biafra, and graphically documented in the images of the movies, “Hotel Rwanda,” and “Half of a Yellow Sun,” respectively.

You should also consider the failed state that Libya has become after the Arab Spring phenomenon consumed strongman Muammar Gaddafi, though Nigeria’s Minister for Information and Culture swears, “Nigeria is not and will not be a failed state.”

You shouldn’t wish on your enemy, the calamity that befell Somalia that perennially remains in the clutches of wilful warlords of varied temperaments, those who define otherness as evidence of enmity, animosity and danger.

If Taliban fundamentalists could ban family planning even if a pregnancy will jeopardise the life of foetus and mother, or reject science, Western education, separation of the state and religion, and vaccines, and insist that Islam will be taught to Muslims and Christians alike, the same could happen if Nigerian insurgents seized the Nigerian state.

The irreducible minimum is that Nigerians of all persuasions, ethnic nationalities and classes, must organise so that one group cannot dominate or impose its will on the others.

– Twitter @lekansote1

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