Thursday, 04 July 2024 04:48

Editorial: The devastating cost of desperation: Nigeria's N20 suicide bombers

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In a country where the average citizen struggles to afford basic necessities, the revelation that suicide bombers in Nigeria's Northeast were paid as little as N20 ($0.013) for their deadly missions is a stark reminder of the depths of poverty and desperation plaguing our nation. This shocking disclosure not only underscores the vulnerability of our most impoverished citizens but also highlights the complex web of social, economic, and security challenges facing Nigeria today.

The fact that human life can be valued at such an insignificant sum – both for the bomber and their victims – is a damning indictment of Nigerian society's failure to protect and provide for its most vulnerable members. It raises troubling questions about the extreme poverty that would drive individuals to accept such a paltry sum for an act that will inevitably end their own lives and potentially those of countless innocent citizens.

Moreover, this situation exposes the potent and dangerous nature of the indoctrination employed by terrorist groups like Boko Haram. To convince someone that their life is worth no more than N20, and that sacrificing it in such a violent manner is somehow justified, requires a level of psychological manipulation that is both horrifying and deeply concerning.

The recent attacks in Gwoza, Borno State, which claimed approximately 30 lives, demonstrate the ongoing threat posed by these tactics. As noted by security expert Sadiq Shehu, suicide bombings offer numerous advantages to terrorist groups – they are low-cost, difficult to detect, and exploit cultural sensitivities that may hinder thorough security checks.

To address this complex and multifaceted issue, a comprehensive approach involving both the Nigerian state and society is necessary:

1. Poverty Alleviation: The government must intensify efforts to reduce extreme poverty through targeted economic programmes, job creation initiatives, and improved access to education and healthcare.

2. Enhanced Security Measures: Security forces should implement more rigorous and culturally sensitive screening procedures, including the deployment of female personnel to conduct thorough checks on women without violating cultural norms.

3. Community Engagement: Foster stronger relationships between security forces and local communities to improve intelligence gathering and early warning systems.

4. Deradicalization Programmes: Invest in comprehensive deradicalization and rehabilitation programmes for former extremists, focusing on education, psychological support, and economic reintegration.

5. Counter-Narrative Campaigns: Develop and disseminate effective counter-narratives to combat extremist ideologies, particularly targeting vulnerable youth populations.

6. Regional Cooperation: Strengthen collaboration with neighboring countries to address cross-border security challenges and share intelligence.

7. Improved Governance: Address issues of corruption, inequality, and lack of basic services that contribute to the sense of marginalization and vulnerability exploited by extremist groups.

8. Mental Health Support: Establish accessible mental health services to address trauma and psychological vulnerabilities that may make individuals susceptible to radicalization.

The N20 suicide bomber is a tragic symbol of Nigeria's complex challenges. It is a call to action for our government, security forces, and society as a whole. We must work together to create a future where no Nigerian feels so desperate and devalued that they would sacrifice their life for such a meager sum. Only through a united and multifaceted approach can we hope to overcome this crisis and build a safer, more prosperous Nigeria for all.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

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