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The Good Guys with the Gun Can Stop Boko Haram Insurgency

Prof. R. A. Ipinyomi

By Prof. R.A. Ipinyomi, University of Ilorin, Nigeria

Primarily I am an advocacy of zero tolerance to gun in every society. I also believe that even the police should carry arms only as a last result. This has been my position for a decent society run and powered by our faith and our conscience. There is however another philosophy that is saying, “The only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” To back up their claim some real data had been collected to statistically test whether this rationale for arming civilians can be supported as really true. Interestingly findings either in America or in Nigeria seem to be supporting allowing more guns to be in circulation. Of course many societies have carried the need for guns to protect the society to the very extreme. I am not about to back up on the “zero-tolerance” because it is the most ideal for a growing and pluralist State like Nigeria or even the United States of America where owning guns is part of their daily living and a sense of security. We are aware of the growing dangers in our neighbourhoods and where nothing is safe any more. The time I was growing up was more peaceful than the time we are now and there is no hope that we will ever go back to the good old days.

130929203511-boko-haram-screengrab-abubakar-shekau-horizontal-galleryOf course we also have some claims, based on live data, which suggest that arming the good guys don’t stop bad guys with guns. This claims and counter claims are not out of context or even contradicting only that we need to understand where they are coming from. Here in Nigeria mass shootings either by Boko Haram, kidnappers, armed robbers or even students on campuses is on the rise. It is not just a function of population increasing, its dynamics or growing religious intolerance only but more of a degenerating society and less government presence. Our annual budget is on the increase but government’s useful presence in the life of its people is fading. Therefore there may be some good results if civilians are armed to repel criminals as part of our advocating for greater community policing.

This subject is coming up again following some recent welcoming developments in a number of northern states in Nigeria where their Emirs and community leaders are calling their people to take up arms against insurgencies, especially Boko Haram. The Federal government of Nigeria or the Nigeria armed forces should not dismiss this idea or wave it off. After all if there had been no lack of security in the neighbourhood no one would have been calling for more guns. There should also be no confusion between this call to arm and prevailing local politicking. The rider that we should be working on is “identifying the good guys who should have the arms”. The second good thing, if government will allow this suggestion at whatever level, is the ability of Nigeria to run a collective leadership and accountability governance. You don’t appoint Emirs and deny them functionalities or just keep them in solitary confinements in the palaces; many of them are very intelligent, shroud politicians, community builders and top class administrators.

There is a naivety of the good guy. What is it that the good guy has to teach? The good guy naively believes that everything should be fair, and everyone should be honest, that only good should prevail, that everybody should have what they want and there should be no pain or sadness. The good guy also believes that the world should be perfect and is outraged to discover it is not. We think that the good guy is right. But how do we identify and work with a good guy in a selfish and sodomized society like Nigeria where everyone is only concerned about taking every opportunity for self profiting? It still makes me want to cry knowing that anyone could be pursuing his private political or even religious ideas by killing others or stealing other people’s children. The good guy is also aware that there is a pay day for every act under the earth, good or bad.

Recently I have been greatly encouraged by some pronouncements credited to the New Emir of Kano that the Kano society should be courageous and be prepared to defend self against insurgents. It has a great weight on the minds of people already confused and considering living in the bush with reptiles rather than risk been Boko Haram victims in their homes. In our society now there is no safe haven any more, journalists are at risk, military members are at risk, the president’s life is at risk, our children sent to school are at risk, everyone’s life is at risk. I visited my old school in Sokoto around April 2011 and I was disturbed by the sight of the school, Federal Government College Sokoto. I lived in Osun Hostel and we had then three other hostels, Benue, Niger and Ethiope. Our dormitories have been converted to staff quarters. Many children are playing around in Sokoto instead of attending school. When I questioned some of the school aged children roaming the streets some said that their parents could not afford to send them to school, but they would like to attend. No child claimed they had not heard about school or that they were unwilling to attend. If we cannot protect out society because the politicians are evil we must protect it because the children can still be modeled to be great and good. These politicians we see today are passing waves because they refuse to listen to correction and believing more in their charms than in building their good characters. Similarly the street roaming children today are potential Boko Haram members tomorrow unless we fight the entire war comprehensively.

Suppose we dismiss the idea of allowing the good guys in various communities to be gun grabbers; grabbing Boko Haram’s guns or from whomever. Then what should be a better alternative for stopping a madman on a killing rampage, or a madman on a mission of self righteousness because he is a holier than thou? Of course it is still some academic exercise whether a gun would help anyone against a deadly situation but we believe it could help a community at an organized level and some training given to the so called vigilantes. The Nigerian police force is never to be at the background; rather the good guys are to play only supportive roles.

Prof. R. A. Ipinyomi

ipinyomira@yahoo.co.uk or/and raipinyomi@unilorin.edu.ng


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