Terrorism and Insecurity in Nigeria: Moral, Values and Religious Education as Panaceas – Dr. Jacob Omede and Andrew Abdul Omede.

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The act of terrorism and general insecurity situations in Nigeria require that solution be sought to safe-guard the nation against balkanization and the educational system from collapse. Every nation’s educational system is to help it overcome her peculiar problems. If this is a truism, then Nigeria’s educational system is supposed to help her overcome the problem of terrorism that is shaking it to its foundation. It is in the light of this that this paper examines terrorism and insecurity in Nigeria and proffered moral, values and religious education as panaceas. In doing this, the paper discusses the central role that security plays in the development of nations for which Nigeria cannot be an exception. The paper further explains the concepts of terrorism and insecurity with instances of terrorist acts in Nigeria. The possible causes of insecurity in Nigeria such as bad governance, corruption, graduate unemployment, among others pointed out by other writers were highlighted. These factors were according to this paper symptomatic rather than causative. The paper therefore, queries false values, bad morality and misleading or inadequate religious education as cardinal causative factors and recommendations were given in this regard.

1. Introduction

National security is a premise for national economic growth and development of nations. This is because peaceful nations attract foreign investors while the domestic investors freely operate the economy with little or no tensions and apprehensions. According to Nwanegbo and Odigbo (2013), security is the pillar upon which every meaningful development could be achieved and sustained. Nigeria as a nation state has witnessed unprecedented series of agitations in the forms of kidnapping and abduction, armed robberies, bombing, and carnages of all forms and magnitude in the past decade and a half. The most dastard so far is the activities of a group of some Islamic militants that called themselves the ‘Boko Haram’, interpreted to mean ‘western education is evil’. With the coming to the scene by Boko Haram in 2002, the insecurity situation in Nigeria seemed to have assumed higher and more complex dimensions. A part from the frequency and intensity of deadly attacks and carnages, insecurity situation in Nigeria cuts across cities, towns and villages that there is hardly anywhere to run to for cover. Lives and properties are not safe for urban dwellers as well as for the rural dwellers. People live in apprehension almost every day.

In fairness, insecurity is not a problem that is unique to Nigeria. It has geographical spread across the globe. The United States, United Kingdom and many countries face the challenges of insecurity within their borders on a daily basis (Adejumo, 2011).The difference between these nations and Nigeria according to Adejumo is how they manage the threats.

The speed with which evil is growing in Nigeria and the merciless ways that lives of innocent ones are being wasted are worrisome. People are burdened on a daily basis with psychological and emotional trauma resulting from gory sights of lifeless and mutilated bodies of loved family members, close associates and colleagues littered on the streets, public squares and everywhere. Apart, a stable economy cannot be guaranteed in the face of insecurity.

Many nations have looked to their education to help them overcome growth and developmental challenges at one time or the other. One of the beliefs of Nigeria’s philosophy of education is that “education is an instrument for national development and social change” (Federal Republic of Nigeria; 2009:5). National development is impeded by restiveness of youths in the forms of bombing, killing, maiming and wanton destruction of public and private properties. How can Nigeria’s education be positioned to withstand the forces of terrorism and guarantee security of the nation? The objective of this paper therefore is to suggest values, moral and religious education as solutions to terrorism and insecurity in Nigeria.

2. Terrorism and insecurity: Conceptual explanations

The word terrorism comes from the reign of terror instigated by Maxmilien Robespierre in 1793 following the French revolution (About.com, 2014). This implies that terrorism is not a child of modernity; it is as old as the existence of man. The history is as old as human’s willingness to use violence to effect politics (About.com,2014).

Terrorism does not lend itself to one single acceptable definition. The term according to Terrorism. Research (Undated) is better understood from the point of view of the person that is being represented. This is because to the victims of terrorism the perpetrators are terrorists while to the perpetrators, terrorism is an act targeted at reforming or enforcing change. Against this background, Terrorism Research (Undated) describes terrorism as a tactic and strategy, a crime and a holy duty, a justified reaction to oppression and an inexcusable abomination. For Hornby (2000), terrorism is the use of violent action in order to achieve political aims or force a government to act. The United States Department of Defense cited by Terrorism Research (Undated), defines terrorism as “the calculated use of unlawful violence or threat of unlawful violence to inculcate fear; intended to coerce or to intimidate governments or societies in the pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious or ideological.” The people or individuals that carry out acts of terrorisms are known as terrorists.

Characteristically, terrorism involves the following:

  • Use of unlawful violence believing that violence will usher in a better system
  • Use of unlawful and assorted dangerous weapons
  • Motivated by goals that might be political, religious or ideological
  • Secretive in membership recruitment and locations of residence
  • Fewer in number comparable to the larger society they attack
  • Have strong will and could die for the course they uphold
  • Most times, operate as syndicates
  • Derive financial and military supports from national and international loyalists
  • They are militant, they use coercion, intimidation and instill fears in people .Their tactics involve:
  • Suicide bombing, car bombing, rocket propelled grenades, assassinations, abductions and kidnapping, disguising and hijacking.

Their targets are extermination of human lives and destruction of properties. These are achieved by attacking:

  • Public squares, government buildings and installations, churches and mosques, schools, bridges, police stations, military barracks and installations as well as market squares and prisons to free inmates particularly their members incarcerated.

Terrorism is of both national and international concern. This is because their activities most times are not concentrated in a particular place. Its waves span across geographical boundaries both local and international. Terrorist activities had led to displacement of people, loss of lives and properties, feelings of suspicion, anger and hatred as well as psychological and emotional trauma and general state of insecurity.

The history of terrorism in Nigeria is traceable to the emergence of a group of Islamic militants called “Boko Haram” in 2002. “Boko Haram” is translated to mean “western education is evil”. The progressive destructive activities of “Boko Haram” made the US department of states to designate them as terrorist organization in November, 2013 (Wikipedia).

Since the emergence of this sect in 2002, human lives had been lost to their attacks in thousands. The Vanguard newspaper put the death toll at more than 12,000 with more than 8000 injured or maimed and thousands of other innocent Nigerians displaced (Vanguard, 18th May, 2014). The killings have continued unabated until recently that they are being gradually overcome. Their escalated activities created widespread insecurity among Nigerians, increase tensions between various ethnic communities, interrupt development activities, frighten off investors and generate concern among Nigeria’s northern neighbors (Eme and Ibietam, 2012). According to Okpaga, Chijioke and Innocent (2012), between July 27th 2009 and February 17th 2012, “Boko Haram” had carried out 53 deadly attacks. Wikipedia reported 57 attacks between September 2010 and 11th August, 2014.

These crises have heightened tensions and insecurity in Nigeria and they have assumed a frightening dimension until recently that they are being overpowered by combined military efforts of Nigeria and surrounding nations. “Boko Haram” aside, insecurity in Nigeria is heightened by the activities of other ethnic militias such as the Niger Delta militants’ etcetera, whose activities manifest in kidnapping, abduction, pipeline vandalism, armed robberies, and hostage taking. Other activities that have heightened insecurity in Nigeria also include human and drug trafficking, porous borders that allow infiltration of illegal aliens, arms and ammunitions, ethno-religious conflicts, political based violence, economic based violence and periodic outbreak of some deadly diseases with the most recent being “Ebola”. “Ebola virus” was dreaded because of how it could easily be contacted. It was a major health challenge that Nigeria had to fight and overcame soon after it was discovered in the country.

These life threatening activities frustrate economic and technological transformation keeping Nigeria in a perpetual state of economic dependence, loss of productive human resources and general apathy and discontentment. Unless this situation is checked and reversed, Nigeria will remain dependent and underdeveloped perpetually. How can the Nigerian educational system help in these matters? To answer this question, this paper will have to first take a cursory look on general causes of insecurity in Nigeria.

3. Causes of insecurity in Nigeria

Many factors have been postulated as causing unrest in Nigeria. Some writers put their blames on the government while some others pass the bulk on parents. Other writers hold the youths as being responsible while others settle on the combination of these factors. Putting all these factors together will provide some of the following as responsible factors for the general state of insecurity in Nigeria. Namely:

Unemployment, bad governance, lack of quality education or training, lack or inadequate basic infrastructures, corruption and corrupt practices of government officials, perceived victimization, arrant poverty in the midst of affluence, ethnic superiority, religious superiority, domination and exploitation, materialism and the display of it with impunity, etcetera

These factors according to Omede (2012) may not actually be the causes of unrest in Nigeria. Omede sees these factors as symptoms, shadows and not the substance. For instance, as Omede noted:

Why unemployment if we may ask? Who is to provide the jobs? And why are they not providing the jobs? The answers may be found in corruption, misappropriation of public funds and lack of quality education, bad governance, and etcetera. Corruption, lack of good or bad governance, ethnic superiority and domination of one community or person by the other as well as the rest others mentioned above are all moral and values problems (Omede; 2012:315).

One cannot expect anything good to come from an individual that does not fear God, an individual that is morally bankrupt and has wrong or negative values. An orange tree cannot produce guava fruits, it is practically impossible. The behavioral offspring of such morally deficient individuals are domination, exploitations, pride, and all that have been mentioned before. Such individuals are simply “educated sinners”. It may interest us to note that the heart of the problem of man is the problem of the heart. The writer is therefore, of the opinion that moral and values deficiencies as well as insufficient and wrong religious education are they causes of unrest and general poor state of security of Nigeria as a nation state. How then can good moral, values and religious education help Nigeria overcome the current security challenges?

4. What are moral, values and religious education?

Education is a premise to any form of development. Education refers to the process of teaching, training and learning, especially in schools and colleges to improve knowledge and develop skills (Hornby, 2010). The relevance of education to national development is such that Williams in Omede and Omede (2004) noted that when some nations achieved self government, they turned their attentions to nations building by looking up to education as the tool to this end hoping that what it had done to the “great power” it can also do for them. Education is a builder of nation. This is not doubtful. But since there are “two sides to a coin” in almost all spheres of life, improper education can equally be a factor for the underdevelopment of a nation.

Any form of education that is devoid of right or correct values, right morals and sound religion is sure to produce “educated sinners” that are suitably recruited as political thugs, miscreants in garages and public squares, ethnic militias, armed robbers, human traffickers, drug addicts and barons, hijackers and bombers to mention these few.

4.1   Moral education

The word moral come from a Latin root (mos, moris) and it means the code or customs of a people, the social glue that defines how individuals should live together (Education Encyclopedia, 2014). Hornby (2010) sees moral to be concerned with principles of right and wrong behavior. Children need to learn to live and act right in the community. Historically, the mission of schools according to Education Encyclopedia (2014) has been to develop in the young both the intellectual and the moral virtues. Holistic education or training ought to cater for the development of cognitive, affective and psychomotor skills of the individual learner. But what really obtains in practice is an imbalance of training between these three domains of education.

Consciously or unconsciously, the curricular or trainers put greater emphasis on cognitive and psychomotor development and abjectly neglect the affective domain that should be responsible for character development. This is the domain that is responsible for the development of societal acceptable moral values. And any community that its people are not taught consciously to consider the needs and rights of others will be a society with little social cohesiveness and much conflict (Xaxx, undated). During the last quarter of the twentieth century, Education Encyclopedia (2014) noted that three things happened to many schools that attempted to ignore the moral dimension of schooling: achievement scores began to decline, discipline and behavior problems increased, and voices were raised accusing the schools of teaching secular humanism. These outcomes were noticed in United States of America. Nigeria is not exempted from these consequences of advertently neglecting moral education. In Nigeria, there are public cries about decline in the performance of children in schools at all the levels of the educational system and cases of indiscipline are rampart. Examination malpractice, certificate racketeering and “god- fatherism” that are the character exhibits of students, parents and many leaders of this country attest to lack of good moral, values and religious education.

Moral virtues such as honesty, responsibility and respect for others that are the domains of moral education are neglected. Many people, including priests and imams, and other leaders of organizations and institutions (public and private) live lives of dishonesty. Teachers cheat on their students, students on their parents and parents on the government, and so the “merry goes round and round”.

Moral education is consequential to harmonious living. Without morality grave problems face man, especially in the social dimension and he will be deprived of a happy life (The Nigerian Voice, 2011). People who find job in suicide bombing, as baby manufacturers and ethnic and religious militias lack sufficient moral education. People with solid internal sense of right and wrong are less easily coerced by others (Xaxx, undated). The argument is not that these people who recruits and are being recruited for evils are not educated, they are, but not in moral, values and proper religious education. Sufficient education in these three areas is capable of taming the animal that is in man.

4.2   Values education

Hornby (2010) defines values as beliefs about what is right and wrong and what is important in life. Values are those important and lasting beliefs or ideas shared by the members of a culture about what is good or bad and desirable or undesirable (Business Dictionary.com, undated). The term values are relative. But no matter what, there are some cherished societal beliefs or ideals that are stable or enduring. These enduring beliefs are to be included in the curricular of schools to be taught to learners to humanize them for mutual co-existence and effective socialization. Values are so important that its development should not be left to chances.

Values education refers to the process by which people give values to others (Wikipedia). In the context of this paper values education is used to mean the formal and conscious training of school children on the correct and acceptable societal beliefs or ideals. This is with the intention to create harmonious living and mutual interdependence.

This form of education is necessary particularly now that most Nigerian youths have become animals than human beings. What characterize most Nigerians; particularly the youths today are wrong/false or negative values. Values such as hard work, discipline, respect, honesty, truthfulness, integrity, love for one another and respect for laws and orders have given ways to excessive quest for materialism, apparent worship of money, taking side with the powerful even when they are wrong, lack of patriotism, tribalism and ethnicity (Omede & Omede, 2004; and Omede, 2012).

“Boko Haram” insurgency is not and cannot be unconnected with wrong moral, values and religious education. In as much as the Nigerian leaders are not justified due to bad governance, the Islamic militants  (Boko Haram) are also not justified. Using wrong approach to correct the wrong done is double tragedies that can be catastrophic.

Values such as honesty, obedience, discipline, hard work, love for one another, and truthfulness are not consciously taught in Nigerian schools. They are only implied and are not distinctively included in the curricular as contents to be taught and learned under defined subjects of studies and disciplines. These beliefs are cardinal. They are capable of humanizing the learners who, having been exposed to these contents will be sufficiently equipped to mount the rostrum of leadership in both public and private establishments and lead effectively and efficiently tomorrow. Exposure to these core beliefs can as well make a good followership where the individual is not the one leading.

4.3   Religious education

Religion refers to the belief in the existence of a god or gods; and the activities that are connected with the worship of them (Hornby, 2010). It is a belief according to Kaluge (undated), that is peculiar to any person or group and may involve rituals, ceremonies and other activities as a means of communication, appreciation, devotion and subjection to spirit being or forces.

Nigeria by constitutional provision is a secular state. By this it is meant that there is no one nationally accepted religion or way of worship. Everybody is free to practice any religion of choice provided the rights of others are not infringed. However, in Nigeria, three religions are dominance-Christianity, Islam and Idolatry. Out of these three, two are popular with memberships that are almost of equal sizes, and they are Christianity and Islam. The adherents of these religions intermix and co-exist and by the constitutional provision, none is to be a threat to the other. Members of the same family can belong to either the said religions and this is why attempts to either Christianize or Islamize all Nigerians using physical efforts and weapons will simply be futile.

Religious crises in Nigeria that had been budding since attainment of political independence is now assuming a crescendo that must put all hands on deck to get it strangulated. And the best way to do this is conscious and correct religious education. The loss of lives due to ethno-religious crises since political independence is estimated to be over three million including psychological and material damages that cannot be quantified (Salawu, 2010). Religion is supposed to be a source of unity between man and God, and between man and his fellow man, but regrettably, it is not. There are so many instances of religious crises that span through the period of independence to date.

Instances of such crises listed by Salawu (2010) and Uka (2012) included among others, Maitatsine riot in Kano in 1980, Maitatsine riot in Maiduguri in 1982, the same in Gombe in 1982 and Jimeta-Yola in 1984. Others were the interreligious violence of 1987 in Kafanchan, Bauchi riot of 1991, Reinhard Bonnke riot in Kano in 1991, opposition of institution of sharia courts by some state governors that resulted to protest during Obasanjo’s regime between 1999 and 2004, and the frequent burning of churches and killings that go on since the activities of “Boko Haram” in 2002.

Several factors have been identified to be the reasons for religious wars. Notable among them according to Kaluge (undated) Omotosho (2003) and Salawu (2010) are lack of respect for sacred things of other religion, religious intolerance, the weakness of government to provide effective security as well as her inability to follow due process in identifying and punishing culprits as well as wrong concept of martyrdom and jihadist, high level of corruption and youth unemployment among others.

These factors are symptoms. The real causative agent is wrong religious teaching added to bad moral and possession of negative values. All religions preach love. Love for God and for one’s neighbors. Adherents  of any form of religion are to respect the sanctity of human lives. No one is permitted to take another person’s life except when in battle or in self defense. In addition, God is the ultimate and has the ultimate power. He can fight battles for Himself without any human assistance. Killing one another is not of God it is wickedness, arrant wickedness and must stop.

5         Roles of moral, values and religious education in curbing terrorism and insecurity in Nigeria

People with sufficient moral, values and religious education are supposedly equipped with the following virtues for effective socialization and mutual co-existence. They can make good leaders or be good followers because.

  1. They are disciplined and organized
  2. They have their characters educated and reformed
  3. They have respect for human lives, protect and defend one another
  4. They will deal with people honestly and truthfully
  5. They will not be selfish as they place the interest of others above self
  6. If in position to distribute material and financial resources they will do it equitably for the common good
  7. They will tolerate people as they will make allowances for the faults of others
  8. They will be good managers of both human and material resources
  9. They will respect elders as well as constituted authorities
  10. They will be responsible to their families, communities and officers in offices
  11. They will practice their own religions without hurting others of different religions

Where these virtues are in display, corruption, oppression, armed and pen robberies, drug and human trafficking, killing, maiming and destructions of properties and other forms of vices will disappear. A new Nigeria would have been birthed where love for one another, brotherliness and oneness will reign. This is possible!

6         How can moral, values and religious education be taught?

In three distinct ways namely:

  1. By direct instructions
  2. By selective reinforcement and punishment
  3. By modeling

6.1   Direct Instruction

Direct instruction as is intended hear means that the contents of values, moral and religious education be put into a subject and taught like any other subject is taught in school. These three areas of learning for instance can be put together and called character education. Topics such as honesty, obedience, hard work, discipline, respect for laws and orders, love, tolerance, conflict management and resolution, fear of God, communalism, peace, integrity, patriotism and life after death can form the curriculum content to be taught in increasing level of difficulty from the primary schools through the secondary and as general studies in higher institutions of learning. Emphasis will be placed on the evils of negative moral values, and their consequences in time and eternity.

6.2   Selective Reinforcement and punishment

This is used here to mean the deliberate rewarding of children and learners who exhibit certain good moral values particular uncommon display of acceptable moral values and punishment in antithesis for the violators. Teachers and school administrators should make bold to make escape goats of offenders and generously reward

good moral behaviors. This is with the intention to encourage the sustenance of such and to discourage those with the intention to do the opposite.

6.3   Modeling

This requires that the educators of these learners be moral exemplars. Their lives should bear good testimonies of the virtues they teach their pupils or students.

7         Conclusion

Terrorism and insecurity in Nigeria are retarding the economic and technological advancement of the nation. Many Nigerians live everyday in tensions and suspicion. Many productive lives have been lost, available ones are displaced and live in constant fears and pain of the lost of loved ones. Foreign investors are scared away from Nigeria. The nation’s educational institutions are not spared either as institutions of learning are equally points of targets and attacks of terrorists and other hoodlums. Terrorism and insecurity are symptoms of poor moral, values and religious education. Therefore, this paper recommends:

  1. That moral, values and religious education be put together as a single subject to be named Character education and taught to the students at all the levels of the educational system in Nigeria in their increasing levels of difficulties.
  2. That school curriculum planners identify relevant contents that could make up for healthy character education and arrange them appropriately to be taught by teachers.
  3. The demand is on the teachers to reward acts of good moral display by students and not waiting until end of session examinations when they generally reward performance. Punctuality, honesty and truthfulness for, example should be rewarded openly and instantly when students exhibit them.
  4. Teachers expectedly are to be models of good moral values. Their lifestyles should support the virtues they teach for the lesson to go down well.

Our Take: Terrorist attacks and other security issues in Nigeria call for a search for solutions to protect the country from these security threats. Given that religious orientation plays an important role in value and moral formation. This research examines the role of religion, values, and morals can play in addressing the security problems facing the country.

There is a need to explore the impacts of religious, value and moral education in addressing issues of security in Nigeria.

About the Author:

Dr. Jacob Omede – Department of Educational Psychology, Kogi State College of Education, P.M.B. 1033, Ankpa, Kogi State, Nigeria

Andrew Abdul Omede – Department of Educational Psychology, Kogi State College of Education, P.M.B. 1033, Ankpa, Kogi State, Nigeria

Source: Journal of Education and Practice

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