Friday, 4 January 2013

Who Is The North? Concluding Part

If you missed the first part, please read it  here.

Here are my suggestions, if you have any yourself, go ahead and post it:

Prosecution and Punishment: It’s been said that ignorance is no excuse for breaking the law. I agree. In a society where there is no punishment for crimes committed, impunity reigns supreme. The main reason why the crisis in the North has gone on for this long is because, despite prosecution of suspects, there’s been no conviction for the killings that has been going on for decades. Those who take the law into their hands must be made answerable to the law as a deterrent to others, and to ensure justice is served to those who have been so brutally wronged.
Compulsory Rehab: Logic and rationality are not part of the make-up of these killers. As such just sending them to school in and by itself may not make the striking difference we hope to achieve. In addition to structured and regular schooling, they need to ‘unlearn’ their hate and intolerance for others. Social and cultural integration is the key. Rehab curriculum should be developed by psychologists, sociologists and seasoned educators and integrated into their current schools curriculum.

Skills Acquisition: In the meantime, these young men will continue to fall prey to the wiles of the political class if their immediate needs are not attended to. I know the government and a few NGOs have made efforts in the past but I strongly recommend a tailored youth oriented skills acquisition programme that will take into cognisance the geographical location, business opportunities and available market for the skills they teach these young men. Make skill acquisition attractive by paying them an allowance at the end of every month and bringing local celebrities to interact with and inspire them; provide a framework of support for their new businesses to thrive. Beyond teaching them how to fish, it will keep them away from the numerous ‘majalis’ scattered across town and inadvertently, crime and negative peer influence.

Influencers mass reorientation campaign: Influencers are those who by virtue of their wealth, pedigree, social status or political position can affect the actions and perceptions of others. Don’t get it twisted, these boys are educated alright, it is the content of that education that is questionable. Leveraging on the goodwill and equity of these influencers, the campaign should have as its focus peace, unity and religious tolerance. The lifestyle of the target audience should determine the media employed to reach them. Drama (electronic or experiential) portraying scenarios they can connect with, can be a very viable tool to correct, enhance, change or influence perception and behaviour; remember the Indian movie era?

Regulation of Koranic schools: Let’s be frank; some of the hate messages and hatching spots for the killings that have gone on have taken place in these places of learning and worship. Random or systemic checks should be conducted by independent firms to monitor what these children are being taught.

Skills transfer: I know a lot of aggrieved Northerners who are learned, articulate and totally detest the recurrent restiveness in the North. Now put your skills and resources where your mouth is. Enlighten those around you and make them see the folly of their ways. Produce simple leaflets that reflect your ideology using language these young men can understand and distribute where there is a concentration of your target audience. Look for an NGO that’s into youth empowerment and other related matters within your location of interest and donate your time, skills or money to further their cause. It they have a list of participants in their programmes, volunteer to mentor as many as you can and be committed to it.

Stakeholder involvement: The change we seek cannot be addressed by the government alone. It has to be a partnership between individuals who believe this is possible. Although as much as we want this change to happen, there are those who benefit from the status quo and will seek ways to thwart efforts made, the voice of civil society should not be underemphasised.  Our greatest achievement will be to enlighten the populace and let them know that a leader is answerable to his people.

And for you reading this: Let’s not propagate the tribal sentiments, finger pointing and victim mentality of the previous generation. Stop the stereotyping. Be open-minded. Be involved. Speak with tact and sensitivity, I know it’s your FB, Twitter or whatever social media you use page, so no one should tell you what to say or how to say it but please, Nigeria is a country with over 250 ethnic groups. Bear this in mind when you post those comments and updates. At every point in time ask yourself if you build or destroy by what you say. We’ve already hit rock bottom;  let’s not go any further.

Finally, for those of you with a passion for change, a detribalised mind and the love of humanity who still believe despite the odds; all you may do is post on your blog and write notes (like me, lol) but I’ll end with a quote from a friend of mine: 

It starts with us. Talk is NOT cheap. We are talking, that's progress, our common consciousness is influenced. We must talk about these things and bring them out to the open. "I am afraid of you, this is why". . . "sorry i can't take your word for it, how can my safety be guaranteed? so i can guarantee yours". . . Tell ourselves. . . "look, this is not Islam/Christianity". . . "this is not our culture, these are not our values". . . we must TALK. To ourselves, with ourselves, to our friends, family, neighbours, to the fruit vendor, water vendor, taxi driver etc. . . and when a cleric spouts rhetoric and spits innuendos. . . "Kai, Fear God". Let us start by dropping the names we have for each other. . . "ARNE". . . "them", "they". . . come out and SAY your mind. Drop those names that are not in jest, and cease the jesting that is offensive. But we must TALK. It starts with ONE PERSON. Let the establishment catch up, be it govt, civil society, mainstream media, whatever. It is a very simple thing. . . the human experience, it is not grandiose projects or coalitions, it is person first. It has started, it must not stop. This is the first step. As per "One Nigeria". . . ask yourself this. . . if we break up; along what lines? on what terms? is breaking up a solution or reaction? See Pakistan and India. . . and See Malaysia. . . see the Middle East. . . the "homogenous" mid east, See Europe, "white" europe. See South Africa, and see Bostwana or Lesotho, see Sudan. Better still. . . see how multi-religious families function; in the south, and the mixed north. NO rush, just TALK. 

God Bless Nigeria!

©Naomi Lucas


TheCalabarboy said...

I lived in a village in Zamfara State for one full year, and came to appreciate the profound identity of that region of the country. I opine that most Nigerians have no idea what their country really is and this is where, in my opinion, there has been a huge failure of leadership in creatively integrating the country through an education initiative right after independence.

One of the challenges of leadership is the ability to see the future and act appropriately today. The disparate nature of our polity has always been a case study right from the pre-independence era, and those who fought for our statehood were fully aware of the challenge of integrating the country. They failed woefully (however it might be cautious to understand the existential issues at the time that my have hindered leadership).

I like to look forward and ask the question on what I can do to help unite the country. Most people see the unity of the country as a lost cause; and we shouldn't be afraid of talking about the hard issues. But I reckon it wrong to assume something is beyond redemption if we haven't even rightly attempted to put forward new ideas on how to crank-up this old engine.

So what ideas do we have at this individual level on how to correct the deep seated acrimony that exist in this country, particularly in the region of concern? No doubt, some matters are best handled from the leadership of the country. But I believe some solutions do not lie with the intricately woven policy process, nor with the mechanisms of political processes. Somethings are simple and might be lurking in the heart of a simpleton slapping the streets of Damaturu seeking for daily bread.

My approach will be to capture the minds of a growing generation and speak to them through languages and pictures they readily comprehend. I would rather look to the future because the nature of violence then might be difficult for the regular security system to deal with.

So while we are working at containing the current threats, we should look to winning the war for the minds of the coming generation. That's my take and I am thinking...

Naomi Lucas said...

At TheCalabarboy, I agree with you totally. I think we should talk more... Have you heard of Salam-shabaab? Please checj=k out this link:

Anonymous said...

See, Naomi, forget this talk ooo. Dont even waste your energy. Muslims are 92 pecent resistant to change, even in Middle East countries where they speak similar languages.

The divide between Muslims and Christians in Nigeria is the worst in the world because of different ethnicities and the resultant tribalism (dont ask me for statistics).

Unless Nigeria is divided peacefully into Northern Nigeria and Southern Nigeria, religious violence will remain rife. Nothern Nigeria should become an "Islamic Republic", that's my suggestion, while Southern Nigeria can become a westernized secular state.

Anything other than this is a "long thing"... till then any Southerner or Christian going to the Norht is "On His Own". I will not mince words to say this anywhere. You know me, but for my safety, I will post this comment as "Anonymous" and I think you should approve it.

Naomi Lucas said...

I won't draw you into an argument here er, anonymous-that-I-know, lol.

But my question remains, what happens to Christians of Northern origin who If I might add are in the majority?

Kasim S. said...

Hello Miss Lucas, Happy New year, I recommend you read; Religon and Politics in Nothern Nigeri"by Father Mathew Kukkah, you may find it Helpful.


Naomi Lucas said...

Hello Kasim. Compliments to you too.

I've heard about that book o. I really should find it! Thanks though...