We must be aware of the presence of this astute enemy, who seeks our eternal condemnation, our failure, and prepare to defend ourselves against him and to combat him” (Pope Francis).

On February 21st, 2021, the Holy Father, Pope Francis while explaining the fall of man caused by our first parents, Adam and Eve, and how Jesus triumphed over Satan the devil, made it explicit that we should not dialogue with the devil. He further remarked that Eve’s dialogue with Satan led to the fall of humanity.

When we dialogue with the devil, we strengthen him more. When we dialogue with the devil, he becomes the dictator of how the dialogue should go, and we find ourselves at his mercy. This can lead to a state of total helplessness.

Sadly, this is currently ongoing in our geographical space as a nation. It is so disappointing and shameful to hear leaders in government, call for dialogue with bandits, and terrorists. The call by the leaders in our government clearly shows the failure of our government to carry out their primary and constitutional responsibility of ensuring the safety of lives and property.

This weakness and failure demonstrated by leaders in the government have shown that indeed, we are in a deep mess. This dialogue with the devil, if allowed to continue, may consume us as a nation. And just as Adam and Eve lost paradise, so too may Nigeria lose her collective identity.

The call by some leaders in our government to dialogue with criminal elements who are holding the nation hostage, further shows that sooner than later, we may find ourselves being ruled by those who we did not vote for, but who have taken advantage of the lukewarmness of those who we elected to rule us. If it gets to this stage, we would automatically have lost our common identity and collective national unity.

On February 22nd, 2021, on “People Politics and Power,” a popular AIT show, on politics and governance, John Cardinal Onaiyekan while responding to the issue of “Peace Building In A Fractured Society,” gave an analogy that I find quite touching. In the words of the Cardinal: (I’ve paraphrased) you cannot rightly describe the plea you make to armed men who break into your home to rub you of your belongings as a dialogue. And absolutely so!

The question therefore is, when they have gone, what next do you do? Do you fold your hands and allow them to break in another day? Or you fortify your walls of defense to prevent such from reoccurring? Or do you go in search of them to dialogue with them?

In the case of Nigeria, from time to time the Nigerian government pleads with terrorists and bandits to release abducted Nigerians. They have even been accused of paying huge ransoms in some cases. From Chibok school in Borno State in 2014, to Dapchi school in Yobe State in 2018. And from Kankara school in Katsina State in 2020, to Kagara school in Niger State in 2021. And many more (cf. Public Domain).

It is indeed very tragic, what the Nigerian space has degenerated into. And instead of rising to the occasion to arrest the situation, our leaders are calling for dialogue with criminals. The Nigerian government is not ashamed to dialogue with terrorists and bandits that have claimed the lives of thousands of Nigerians, and rendered homes and means of livelihood useless.

They are however more concerned with sending the military to flush out agitators in Orlu forests who have never kidnapped anyone for ransom. Those who have taken their own security into their hands as a result of the failure of government at all levels.

The Nigerian government cannot send troops to Niger and Borno forests to flush out bandits and terrorists, but they can send troops to Lekki tollgate to kill our young people, the future of tomorrow. The Nigerian government does not know where bandits and terrorists are located in a geographical space that they claim to govern, but certain Nigerians in the name of Religious leaders seem to have no problems knowing how to find them.

Fellow Nigerians, how come the agitators in other parts of the country are the scapegoats for Nigerian military might? What happened to the Bandits and terrorists in the Northern parts of the country? Is it not obvious that criminality is being encouraged because of certain ethnic affinities, to the detriment of the nation?

Our leaders are weak before terrorists and bandits, but strong before agitators for better governance. A man does not stay in the river and allow bathing soap enter into his eyes. Nigerians, wake up from your slumber and hold the federal government accountable for cherry picking in security matters.

If the menace of insecurity is not addressed with the utmost force needed as a sovereign nation right now, tomorrow may be too late. We better make hay while the sun shines.

© Israel GodsPower ANAWEOKHAI, 2021.

Israel GodsPower ANAWEOKHAI is a Catholic Priest of the Missionary Society of St Paul. He is currently on mission in the Archdiocese of Douala, Cameroon.