Monday, 6 May 2013

Lucas Togan says BEGGARS, BAGGERS & BAGA

I write this piece with a deep sense of grief as I ponder how many
civilians will die and continue to die in this American-styled
worldwide war on terror.

I would like to start with the events of April 16, 2013 in Baga town
of the West African state of Nigeria where it is alleged that hundreds
of civilians were massacred in the hunt for Boko Haram suspects. As of
today according to the government, all the terrorists have either fled
or have been killed. Good job you say? They even showed us some graves
where the terrorists had been purportedly buried. On the flip side the
entire nation and the international community believe that the
civilian casualties exceed the 200 mark. This back and forth between
our government and the people serves only one purpose - the birth of
conspiracy theories. Ditto the drone war America continues to unleash
on the Middle East. I therefore ask the question - what is the
acceptable number of civilian deaths that qualifies for collateral
damage? What is the true cost of this war on terror?

In Nigeria, the opportunity cost of this war is every other sector
suffering a dearth of proper funding. The money cost at this point
must be in the trillions of naira. But the real cost is the loss of
human capital - the civilian death toll, which can neither be
quantified (with the accusation, counter accusation, denial and
counter denial going on) nor qualified let alone replaced.

The ODI massacre might have faded from our over populated minds but
has anyone taken stock of the "collateral damage" incurred during the
retaliatory attack on the militants in that Niger-Delta community? Can
we sincerely realize that after the ODI massacre, the militancy got so
high the government had to succumb, albeit in the form of an amnesty
grant? If any lessons had been learnt from Nigeria or America in their
approach to these nuisances, we will realize that force should be a
last resort and not a first option. Fine, I agree that dialogue might
be equally ineffective but we cannot continue to turn a blind eye to
the rising deaths of equally innocent people who happen to have the
misfortune of sharing a geographical space with “enemies of state”. I
strongly believe that there is a better way. Don’t get me wrong, I am
all for the annihilation of terrorists but there’s got to be more
subtle ways of achieving these targets.

American troops have left Iraq “officially” but have there and will
there ever be a true account of the "collateral damage"? Afghanistan
is still suffering collateral damage and there is no end in sight. The
Nigerian government continues to employ force in the same manner but I
think the time has come for us to stop throwing the baby out with the
bath water. It is time to acknowledge the unacceptable numbers
filtering in as civilian deaths. It is time to restrategise.

SPARK! Let’s change it.

1 comment:

  1. Nice write up. Just that any conflict brings collateral damage, the extent and intensity of the fight determines the collateral damage thereof. The truth is the government does not care about civilians they just want their self interest accomplish.
    " i sorry, i sorry o" "i sorry for nigeria" - Femi kuti