Posted by News Express | 8 May 2019 | 630 times
Stephen Hawking’s epochal book - Brief Answers To The Big Questions - which was published sometimes last year posthumously, remains one of the finest works of scholarship in the 21st century. The Daily Telegraph described the book as: “A beautiful little book by a brilliant mind.” The Guardian of Great Britain called the book’s author “A rare genius.” Pope Francis, Pontiff of the Catholic Church with well over 2 billion members has very beautiful words for Stephen Hawking, who reportedly died an atheist.
Against the foregoing backdrop of adorable things said about the man and his book, anyone who desires cogent and verifiable answers to the twists and turns of the cosmology and the times spent on Earth by humanity, should invariably turn to all of his books to quench the thirst because his works represent a veritable fountain of knowledge. What also marks him out from others is the simplicity of his style. For example, he presents science to appear so simple to scientifically unlearned minds.
This was precisely the motivating factor that compelled me to go looking for it last month when I went to the United Kingdom on vacation. Actually, my search for this book took off from Abuja in the early part of the year, when I learned of its publication through a piece published in one of the British tabloids.
In this book, the foremost British physicist and academic, a reputable cosmologist, answered some fundamental questions around the issues of the existence of humanity vis-à-vis the cosmology.
A fascinating aspect of the question remains his interrogatory: “Will we survive on Earth?”
This question posed by Prof Stephen Hawking is the foundation on which I have set out to provide a brief answer to a big question about the geo-political entity known as Nigeria and, particularly, to attempt to briefly answer whether we can survive in Nigeria in the midst of the terrible security challenges.
Peeping briefly into the chapter of this book by the renowned British physicist - in which he answered the question whether we can survive on the planet Earth - tells me that his question arose from the potency of the advances in the sciences of weapon development, with specific reference to the nuclear weapons.
He was of the view that with the sophisticated nature of nuclear weapons in the armaments built by certain nations, if such nations by accident of politics elects a president who is careless, the end of the world would be near. He specifically expressed anxiety over the election of US President, Donald Trump. He affirmed his scepticism that should Trump not moderate his unpredictability and rule like a statesman with a global outlook, then the end of the world may be near.
His words: “It is without doubt the case that our world is more politically unstable than at any time in my memory. Large numbers of people feel left behind both economically and socially. As a result, they are turning to populist - or at least popular–- politicians who have limited experience of government and whose ability to take calm decisions in a crisis has yet to be tested. So, that would imply that a Doomsday Clock should be moved closer to a critical point, as the prospect of careless or malicious forces precipitating Armageddon grows.”
He noted: “The Earth is under threat from so many areas that it is difficult for me to be positive. The threats are too big and numerous.
“First, the Earth is becoming too small for us. Our physical resources are being drained at an alarming rate. We have presented our planet with the disastrous gift of climate change. Rising temperatures, reduction of the polar ice caps, deforestation, over-population, disease, war, famine, lack of water and decimation of animal species: These are all solvable but so far have not been solved.”
As Hawking may have finished writing and just before he moved to the world beyond, President Trump did two things, perhaps to remind us that Hawking may be like Nostradamus, who saw tomorrow.
First, Trump took the United States out of some nuclear weapons development treaties signed many years back with Russia and, secondly, he repudiated the Paris Climate change treaty.
The chapter also reflects perfectly on some politically unwise decisions in Nigeria, which threatens our corporate existence.
John Jacque Rousseau stated that society could be shaped by its political institutions. He said that in theory, there is no limit to the ability of political action to reshape society for the better.
So, with this awareness of the correlations between politics and good governance, as affirmed by Rousseau, I spent about three hours last night processing the import of Hawking’s book. Reflection on the monumental security challenges tearing Nigeria apart and the apparent inability of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to check the widening spectre of violence spiraling out of control, it reinforces the question of whether we can survive in Nigeria.
The present day security issues in Nigeria started from some forms of confrontations between armed security forces with the Islamic fundamentalists known as Boko Haram, sometimes in Maiduguri, in North-eastern Nigeria. The fight in the area catapulted to a full-fledge war on terror, just as the dimensions of the attacks by members of the terrorist network which, speedily expanded all across the West African sub-region, means that the war assumed not just a regional dimension but it has attracted the attention of super-powers. For example, France, United Kingdom and United States of America, as it were, are said to be providing technical and funding assistance to an amalgam of armed security forces drawn up from Cameroon, Chad and Niger Republic, alongside Nigeria, to confront the Boko Haram terrorists.
Also by some global estimates, Boko Haram is rated as the third most deadly terror networks in the world.
Besides the ugly development of the merger of Boko Haram with Islamic state of Iraq and Syria, the security threats facing Nigeria have become multifaceted. Nigeria is currently waging war on three fronts, namely: Against Boko Haram terrorists; kidnapers and bandits, and the armed Fulani (herdsmen) insurgency.
However, the most disturbing aspect is that the government has consistently pampered one of the three major security traitors threatening the corporate existence of Nigeria: This group is the armed Fulani insurgents, who are treated with kid gloves for the suspected reason that they share same ethno-religious affiliation with the President Buhari and over 95 per cent of members of his lopsided national security team.
The big question to ask again is: Can Nigeria survive these security threats when the government tolerates the activities of the armed Fulani insurgents and has entered into negotiations to buy them off?
This question has become critical because of the fact that in a bizarre twist, the Federal Government has thrown a huge carrot at the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), by offering it N100 billion over two years to stop kidnapping in the country.
The Federal Government delegation reportedly was led by the Minister of Interior, Abdul-Rahman Dambazau. They met with MACBAN leaders last Friday.
Media reports showed that it was a closed-door meeting, which lasted for over five hours as monetary negotiations, according to a source, dragged on until N100 billion was accepted.
It was discovered that MACBAN had said it would take nothing less than N160 billion.
But briefing news men after the meeting, the minister said:
“The gathering is part of steps we have taken to tackle insecurity and clashes between herdsmen and farmers.
“You should not forget the fact that we have extended the meeting as a regional one when the Economic Community of West African Countries hosted a conference on this.
“These issues were discussed, and part of the dialogue was to provide a national action plan on security challenges and solutions by all members of the ECOWAS commission, and to present it to the commission for consideration.
“That is the main reason we have come to Kebbi State, to dialogue with leaders of herdsmen as part of the process.”
Herdsmen have been on rampage since 2015 at the ascension of Muhammadu Buhari as Nigerian president, pillaging, sacking, rapping and kidnapping for ransom, which always lead to deaths.
Recall that the ugly record of kidnapping has made major national roads, especially in the North-west, impassable. Specifically, it is notorious knowledge that the Abuja-Kaduna road is one major road that has been affected.
Daily, reports emerge that Armed Fulani Herdsmen attack and kill many people in villages and farms in Benue State.
Zamfara, Plateau, Nasarawa, Kogi, Kaduna, Enugu, Imo, Cross River, Edo, Delta, Abia, Kwara, Taraba, Osun, Ondo, Sokoto, among other states, are major flashpoints.
In truth, the violence and killings associated with Fulani Herdsmen led to the group being designated as the fourth most dangerous and deadly terrorist group in the world, by the World Terrorism Index.
To make matters worse, at the meeting was also the Acting Inspector-General of Police, Alhaji Muhammad Adamu who, few days ago, gave a grim picture of the havoc being wrecked on Nigerians by the herdsmen.
While noting that over one thousand people had been killed and a lot more kidnapped in Kaduna, the overwhelmed IGP, in Birnin Kebbi, noted: “The criminals have infiltrated the crisis, and we should cooperate and deal decisively with the culprits, hence we called for this interaction. Those criminals that are beyond redemption will be dealt with and brought to book.”
On his position, the Kebbi State Governor, Atiku Bagudu, reportedly said hosting the meeting in his state “shows the seriousness of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration in tackling the security challenges in the country.”
Responding, the president of MACBAN, Alhaji Muhammad Kiruwa, said:
“This is the first of its kind in the history of this country, for the president to direct his security aides to interact with an aggrieved party to air its views. This meeting will serve as a foundation for peace between the Fulani herdsmen and farmers; and among the Fulani themselves.”
The News Agency of Nigeria noted that other members of the Federal Government delegation at the meeting included Alhaji Yusuf Bichi, Director-General (DG) Department of State Security Services; Alhaji Ahmed Rufa’I, DG, National Intelligence Agency, among others.
The big question begging for a brief answer is: Why negotiate with mass murderers in flagrant violation of the Constitution and all the relevant laws against terrorism, banditry and crimes against humanity?
Is Nigeria a failed state? Why is the national security team dominated by persons of same ethnicity and religion, as against the Federal Character principle enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution, which is supreme and binding on all authorities and persons?
•RIGHTSVIEW appears on Wednesdays and Saturdays, in addition to special appearances. The Columnist, a popular activist (www.huriwanigeria.com, www.emmanuelonwubiko.com), is a former Federal Commissioner of Nigeria’s National Human Rights Commission and presently National Coordinator of Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria (HURIWA).
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