Okechukwu Ofili – The Immunization Of Nigeria: Why Boko Haram Can Actually Make Us Better

When I attended the National Economic Forum on Education in March I was tasked along witnaija captcfh a group of others to develop a mock educational curriculum of what we should be teaching our children in 20 years time…in the future.

But before we could go into the actual syllabus we had to first of all imagine what the future would be like. While moderating that discussion a youngish older man (go figure) on my right got up and said that the world would be a much dangerous place and to counter that danger Nigeria would have to have a strong and able defensive system.

This was an educational forum … why would Nigeria need a strong military I thought to myself. But he made sense and he was right. With the advent and growth of bokoharam it is clear to understand his concerns and fears. But contrary to the norm, I do believe that bokoharam would actually help improve our defensive system? But let’s hold that thought…

  Several decades ago … actually several centuries ago, the 18th century to be precise, smallpox a disease distinguished with ugly rashes all around the body was responsible for 8% to 20% of all deaths in Europe. The very best scientists from all over Europe gathered around trying to figure out a cure for the disease, but to no avail. Nobody could figure anything out.

But then word spread about a successful method called inoculation/vaccination being carried out in the Turkish Ottoman Empire. By extracting the puss from the smallpox rashes on an infected individual and injecting it back into the body of a healthy person, they (the healthy person) were able to build immunity to the disease and permanently.

This did not make much scientific sense. How could the injection of a disease end up causing the body to build immunity against that same disease? It was confusing.

Well it turns out that the puss contained a less severe strain of smallpox. And due to the weaker nature of the smallpox in the puss, the human body had enough time to fight and simultaneously develop a natural defensive mechanism against the disease. In other words the human body could build immunity naturally without suffering any great damage.

What was even more interesting (back then) about this technique was that the newly acquired immunity could protect the body from future attacks from even stronger small pox strains.

Now back to that thought you were holding…

The injection of a disease into a human body to make the human body more resistant to the disease was a strange thing years ago. The same thing would be said about boko haram being a good thing for Nigeria and our National defence. But if you look at boko haram as a disease (and they are a disease), you will realize that they are testing the Nigerian defensive mecahnisms daily and the natural projection is for us to improve and grow.

So that’s why anytime a terror attack happens in Nigeria, the sense of hightened security is palpable. Police officers actually stop and search vehicles and are not even interested in collecting bribes. Security counters at airports are more diligent and stricter, the country is on a higher security watch.

Like smallpox injected into a human body, bokoharam injected (albeit tragically) in the Nigeria system causes the nations defensive mechanism to improve. Over night but subtly we become better police officers, more alert soldiers, better defensively and soon if we survive we could like Israel build a strong immunity to terror attacks. By doing so we would be prepared for even more dangerous future attacks more advanced than boko haram just like the gentleman predicted at the economic forum.

But we can only get there if we are able to survive the boko haram disease. And we have shown temporal signs of improvements, but can we make them permanent? That is the key. If we can make our defensive improvements permanent, then our airport security will bebetter, our army will be better, our border control better and Nigeria overall will be defensively better.

But that is only if … emphasis on “IF” we survive the bokonization of Nigeria with minimal casualties, without a civil war and together as one Nigeria. But can we survive? #bringbackourgirls!

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