Will the President’s prayer be answered?

While in Saudi Arabia for lesser hajj last week, President Muhammadu Buhari, according to a statement by Mallam Garba Shehu, his Senior Special Assistant (Media and Publicity), had an intense prayer session, in Madinah, together with his entourage for peace and security in Nigeria.

This is a demonstration of the President’s concerns about the nation’s worsening state of insecurity. While there is no debating the fact that the current administration has recorded some achievements in the area of infrastructure, especially the rail system, the glaring fact is that unless reversed, when the story of the Buhari presidency is told, insurgency and insecurity may blur other accomplishments. So, for a President, who is in the seventh year of his maximum eight-year tenure, he should be concerned about what could be the albatross of his legacy and taking the matter to the Almighty in the Holy Land is not out of order.

But while it is good to pray because of the effect of divine intervention on the lives of humans can never be underestimated, what the holy books teach is that prayer will lose its efficacy if not backed by the appropriate work. Many of us who pray often overlook one immutable fact; God will not do for man what man can do for himself. God’s input is required in situations that are beyond man’s capacity. But to ask God to do what He has put within the capacity of man to accomplish is to waste both God’s time and ours. Instead of calling on God to ensure that peace reigns in Nigeria, the President should have started with an introspection by asking what put peace to flight in the country? Peace has been on vacation in Nigeria because injustice reigns in the land. To bring back peace, justice must be restored. Peace will remain elusive anywhere until justice is emplaced there.

Before embarking on the spiritual exercise in the Holy Land, President Buhari ought to have taken another look at the system that encourages the perpetuation of injustice and forces criminality and violence on the people with a view to tinkering with it. He should have sought to ensure the emplacement of a system that would enforce justice and weaken criminality. Until this is done, though I believe that prayers can move mountain, I don’t see the prayers of the President achieving any worthwhile result.

One pointer to the fact that the prayers of the President may not get answered is the decision of the Federal Government to pardon ‘repentant’ insurgents and release them and the proposal by the Senate to establish an agency for the rehabilitation, deradicalisation and integration for repentant insurgents. Another pointer to the futility of the spiritual exercise is the refusal of the government to classify bandits who collect taxes from citizens, kidnap citizens for ransom and bring down military fighter jets as terrorists. While the government is releasing insurgents who reportedly have repented, Boko Haram insurgents have not relented in killing men and officers of the Nigerian military captured by them. Is that justice?

While insurgents are depopulating the military, Nigerian government keeps returning captured insurgents to their fold. Is that what the Nigerian law says? Why is it difficult for the government to live up to the dictate of its own laws? Why can’t the Nigerian government obey its own laws? What does the law say about captured insurgents? What is the punishment for insurgency in Nigeria? Has the government ever subjected any arrested insurgent to the full wrath of Nigerian law?

While innocent men and women captured by insurgents are subjected to agony and torture, the Federal Government treats captured insurgents with kid gloves. Is that justice? Is that not a fillip to do more of what they have been doing? While bandits kill mercilessly and foist untold hardship upon their victims, state governments have been negotiating with them to buy peace. Is that justice? Is that fair to the people? Is that the way to run a just society? Is that not an invitation for further attacks?

When governments pay insurgents and bandits, where is the motivation to stop their misdeeds? Is that not an encouragement to do more of what they are doing? What is encouraged increases while what is discouraged decreases. So, by releasing ‘repentant’ insurgents and not allowing them to pay for their crime against the society as well as pampering and paying bandits, the government is technically supporting insurgency and banditry. That is the injustice that fuels criminality. To change this, the government has to change its strategy.

Is it fair for the Senate to even contemplate the establishment of an agency for the rehabilitation of insurgents when internally displaced persons (IDPs) are more or less abandoned to their fate? Is that how to build a just and fair society? How does that make the IDPs feel? Is the government saying insurgents are more important than their victims?

So, while the perplexity that informed the President’s decision to seek divine intervention to the country’s security challenge is understandable, the incontrovertible fact is that until the government emplaces a system that guarantees justice, it would be difficult to defeat insecurity in the country. Insecurity does not necessarily answer to prayers even if said in the Holy Land, insecurity answers to well thought-out strategies backed by decisive and determined actions.

Travelling the wrong path no matter how fast and no matter how long will take no one to the right destination. Unless the strategy is right the result will continue to be wrong.



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