Let us first establish that there is a difference between insurgency and terrorism, even as related as both are in some cases. I have written about this before. While insurgency can be tackled by a good military strategy, terrorism is more difficult to combat through physical means. Terrorism is characterized by instilling fear from mass killings, especially through “random” bombings and targeted assassinations. This is mostly executed by small cells of individuals who are well trained in the art of disguise and melting into a crowd. A chief tool of terrorism is suicide bombings or martyrdom through gun attacks in the open populated centers. It is very difficult to combat this element of terrorism. The battle is one of hearts and minds.

The real question is “what is it that makes an individual kill themselves in the quest to kill several other strangers who have done nothing wrong to this individual?” What is the motivation? What allows for the lack of remorse? What removes humane considerations?

Guys, it is false doctrines. Whether we agree or not, there is more than sufficient information out there that shows how people are brainwashed into justifying mass killings, wanting to go to heaven even at the nearest opportunity and especially in a manner that guarantees certain rewards. It is a well-established fact, so, let’s get real.

While one might read this and assume this is an attack or indictment on any religion, I would caution that what I propose are just pragmatic steps towards reorientation and mindset correction. Whilst religion is not the root cause, it does certainly act as a catalyst. There are those who will be used to achieve political ends using violence when they’re brainwashed to believe they’re doing it for God. Where the real failure lies is in the system that allows some preachers and authorities of religion to preach doctrines which provide shelter and comfort for those who will be coerced into performing inhumane acts against others because the “doctrine” directs or permits it and that it comes with with some reward in the hereafter.

So in response to a commentator on my previous post who asked for an outline of the plan that I called a 25 year plan, here are a few steps in what would be a deliberate program of state instituted and supported activities with appropriate collaboration from relevant civil society groups or stakeholders.

  1. Review the UBE act to do the following:
    • Extend the tenure to 12 years – full primary and secondary education
    • Uniform “basic” curriculum across the country – it should be relevant to national integration, current direction of the economy and promote self-sustenance after school.
    • The sections which deal with punitive actions for parents that refuse to send their children to “proper” schools should be reinforced with stronger sanctions and well communicated. Kaduna and Sokoto states are already leading in this direction.
  1. Religious teachings must be regulated and monitored by government, working with the different religious councils. Extreme doctrines that preach hate, disdain for the structures of state and our laws, dangerous isolationism, and false martyrdom based on carrying out heinous acts with a promise of a hereafter of comfort, should be criminalized. It must be made sufficiently clear that when a religious injunction says it is a sin to kill the innocent, that this includes all human beings. Not just believers. No one has a right to take life under any guise and there is no reward in heaven for killing for God.
  1. The real religious leaders should come up with a program for preaching the counter narrative (Javed Ahmad Ghamidi: 2015). There must be a deliberate, disciplined and sustained effort to tell the truth about what true religion is and discredit the false doctrine that is so prevalent and easy to believe. This needs to have leadership support right up to the recognized heads of religion in Nigeria.
  2. Ensure the rule of law is sacrosanct. Treat everyone the same way under the law. Avoid extra judicial killings or actions that may be deemed to be antagonistic of one group in favourof another. Do not engage in actions that would create the urge for revenge or encourage the deification of any individual or idea.

The reason this is a 25 year plan is that we have already lost one generation and the demographic that is most affected is in the age gap of 15 – 27.

So even if you solve the politics, poverty and non-inclusion in society and leave out the aspects mentioned above, it will continue to be a tool to be used whenever the need arises. Remember that so far as humans and nations exist, there will be conflicts, disagreements and political manipulations.

The real achievement will be that they are able to employ other means of resolving these conflicts that do not use humans as willing tools for committing mindless terror through mass murders, especially from suicide bombings. Life here on earth needs to be seen as having value. Expectations of the hereafter and what will merit one getting there, need to be in line with the “real message” in the religious books and not one sold by devious puppeteers.