The bill on sending ‘repentant’ Boko Haram insurgents on foreign education has raised a lot of eyebrows, dust and questions. Nigerians are not taking it lightly. They felt betrayed, used and abused. In fact, Nigerians felt cheated by the Nigerian Senate for contemplating setting up an agency that will see to this; and then funding both the agency and the foreign education with taxpayers’ money.
Nigerians and organisations within the country have asked several questions no one in authority seemed ready to answer. Some asked questions on the fate of those whose loved ones were killed and maimed, and their properties destroyed, by these insurgents if they (the insurgents) were to be ‘forgiven’ and sent on foreign ‘trip’. There are those who wondered if those in IDP camps will also be sent abroad as compensation for what the insurgents caused them, and of course, for not joining them. We have complaints raised by some organisations and individuals, who kicked against the plan of the government to take from the meagre resources in TETFUND and UBEC in funding this expedition. All in all, no one has come out to say that the bill is good, except for the senator who sponsored it in the first place.
According to this senator, Sen. Ibrahim Gaidam, the immediate past governor of Yobe State and incumbent senator representing Yobe East Senatorial Zone, the bill was proposed in order to entice these insurgents to lay down their weapons. This bill might look enticing but it may end up bringing disaster for the country.
Maybe, before this bill passes another reading, those in authority may truly want to answer some of the questions raised by Nigerians. Hopefully as they do so, they may truly find a way to modify this bill to avoid causing more problems in the future.
In addition to the questions asked by Nigerians, I have the following to add:
- How can one tell who’s a repentant insurgent?
We all know that some criminals (yes, these people are actually criminals) are die hard. They are the ones that have crime embedded deep in their system. No matter what you do for and to them, they still go back to crime. So what’s the plan should any of these people pretend to repent because they want to enjoy the “enticement” and then go back to insurgency after receiving the education?
- What are the Boko Haram insurgents agitating for?
The story behind western education doesn’t make sense because they wouldn’t have been killing Muslims if their only problem is with Christianity. So what are these people actually agitating for? What do they want? Did they say they were being marginalised (like the Niger-Delta militants claimed)? Until this is made clear, sending them abroad is a waste of resources. Besides, if they don’t want western education, why send them there?
- What about other insurgents, criminals and terrorists?
We know that Boko Haram operates in the North-East, ‘Bandits” operate in the North-West and Fulani Herdsmen ‘manage’ the North-Central. So, if those in the North-East enjoy foreign trips and education, what is the fate of the others? Are more foreign education loading? Let our senators not start what we can’t finish.
- What about those on death penalty?
We know that the punishment for committing murder in Nigeria is death. These insurgents have committed great murder but they are being pardoned for them. Wouldn’t it be double standards if they are pardoned after deliberately killing thousands, destroying properties and displacing people, while someone that killed a person in a fight faces death by hanging?
- What if they are not Nigerians?
Claims have been made that most of these insurgents are not Nigerians. So how do our senators plan to have the nationality of these insurgents ascertained? Or are we going to use our scarce resources to ‘rehabilitate’ people from other countries?
- What if there are many repentant insurgents?
If the combination of forces from the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Airforce and the Civilian Joint Task Force could not subdue these people, it means there are millions of them (isn’t it?). So, how does this bill plan to sponsor foreign education if, let’s say, a hundred thousand insurgents repent?
- What is the plan for them when they return?
Yes, what is the FG planning to do with them when they return from their foreign ‘trip’? We know the Federal Character system will not allow all of them to be dumped into the Federal Civil Service, or the military as is claimed. And we also know that unemployment is one of the monsters Nigerians battle today. So, after these people have succeeded in going abroad to study (maybe from primary school since most of them likely haven’t been to any school before), what is the chances that they won’t go back to insurgency, where they will get ready jobs with heavy pay (after all these insurgents somehow buy sophisticated weapons with funds no one knows how they get).
- What is wrong with them studying in Nigeria?
Let me rephrase this, what is wrong with Nigerian education? So our politicians knew that our education system is a mess that’s why they proposed foreign ones for the insurgents? If these people must be trained and educated with taxpayers’ money, it should be done in Nigeria. We mustn’t send away the little we have.
No one is saying these insurgents should be captured and sentenced to death (at least most people don’t support death penalty), but bringing up bills that will lead to waste of scarce resources isn’t the solution. These insurgents should be rehabilitated, agreed, but it doesn’t have to be abroad. Nigerian government should stop encouraging militancy in whichever way they do so.