The late 1990s in Eastern Nigeria brought with it a fresh wave of subtle relief from incessant attacks on traders by hoodlums and armed robbers. (Journal of Democracy and Development 2002, 4). The ‘Bakassi boys,’ as they were popularly called, was formed by a group of traders in the Nigerian city of Aba, which as at then was the booming trade center in the eastern region of Nigeria. Out of a necessity to give themselves a stronger and more reliable security system, young able-bodied volunteers were recruited from various wings of the commercial markets in the city.
This particular group recorded tremendous success in reducing the high crime rate in Aba and by popular demand, their activities widely spread to many other cities in the Eastern states of Nigeria. However, their wide acclaimed achievements, which seemed to have indirectly mocked the capacities of the Nigerian Police Force, were in no doubt linked to a very popular mystical backing, otherwise known as “odeshi” (Traditional Bulletproof).
The ‘Bakassi Boys’ had a ‘modus operandi’ which largely consisted of fishing out robbers and evil perpetrators using magic powers and charms. Confrontations with the men of the underworld were not a bother to the group as the traditional bulletproof made them impenetrable, regardless of the weapon used.
For some reason, no one could figure out where they had acquired this rare power from; nonetheless, it made them a ‘no-match’ to armed robbers and crime perpetrators in the community.
These powers, thankfully, were wielded responsibly by the group in their various communities of operation until the latter months of 2002 when the sole purpose of the group got hijacked by politicians who bought them over and used them to launch attacks on their political rivals. The group started unjust massacres across the states, and eventually, by the orders of the federal government, ceased activities sometime in 2005.
This case study gradually brings us to the scope of our focus: Traditional Bulletproof as Mainstream Technology. Mainstream technology is defined as technology that everyone has access to, usually not restricted or intended for a particular set of persons. It can be found mostly on technological devices as common as the mobile phone (Journal of technology and Persons with Disabilities, 2015).
The digital world has been able to incorporate a lot of complex technologies into mainstream technologies, with the major aim of making life easier for the general public. The millennial age has seen the surge in stellar technologies in these times, such as car trackers, location detectors, accelerometers, and so many others.
These technologies have made digital communication and the security of properties and commercial activities across the globe to become even more efficient. More so, translators have broken more language barriers and subsequently turned the world into a global village, where everyone understands everyone.
The weather forecast technology has also gone a long way in averting loads of calamities, resulting from natural disasters such as floods, hurricanes, etc. However, one could only wonder if the traditional bulletproof system could be applied justifiably in combating terrorism and insecurity issues in Nigeria, particularly the Boko Haram insurgency.
Some technologies such as bomb detectors, bulletproof vests and a host of other security-intended technologies have already been employed in a bid to reduce and combat terrorist attacks in the country. However, these technologies are inaccessible to laymen who are prone to these attacks at any stipulated time. The Government alone wields such special technologies and hence there still is a need to make such technologies accessible to the general public.
The possibility of having everyone immune to nuclear detonations or firearms wielded by terrorists is a very promising and exciting one. However, the other side of it makes this possibility a rather herculean task.
First and foremost, the entire idea of a traditional bulletproof system cannot be replicated. In other words, there is no scientific basis for its manipulation and hence is irreproducible. This would cause a challenge to the implementation of the bulletproof system as a mainstream technology as this has to be incorporated into every technological device accessible to Nigerians in the local market. For example, it means that every phone shipped into the country has to be fortified by a spiritualist before it is sold to any individual. This eventually will become too much to handle.
Secondly, Nigeria is a country with people of diverse cultural and religious practices. The traditional bulletproof system stems originally from a traditional religious way of acquiring protection. Introducing and incorporating this particular ‘jazz’ into mobile devices made accessible to the general public will in no way be taken lightly by the Nigerian populace at large.
A perfect example of this can be seen in the case of the introduction of Jaiz Islamic Bank into the country sometime in 2003 for commercial transactions. Their practices were perceived by the general public as religiously backed and hence got little or no support from other religious sects and regions (The Christian Science Monitor Magazine, June 2011).
Turning the traditional bulletproof system into a mainstream technology would come with a lot of opposition from other religious practitioners, including Christians and Muslims alike, who share contrary views on issues of acquiring spiritual protection.
In another angle of reasoning, handing such express powers to the public would mean backfiring the initial purpose of establishing a security arm in the Government.
Imagine a scenario where every citizen is immune to firearms and tasers or nuclear detonations, it would become another uphill task for security personnel to come up with new technologies, which could overpower unruly citizens wielding such technological devices. It means that police guns will become redundant, sirens will no longer be of any use and hoodlums, of course, can get away with their actions as they will become impenetrable and resistant to security arms.
Moreover, it is said that evildoers never run out of evil ideas. We all know that the acquisition of firearms unlawfully in Nigeria is a crime, hence the reason people are terrorized daily by them. If Nigerians subscribe to the use of traditional bulletproofs as a way of beefing up security, these terrorists and evil perpetrators would likely resort to the last available option of mass destruction, which is, in particular, the use of biological weapons. These weapons are of natural origin and are not bullets, but scientifically grown diseases that could clear a populace even before its detection.
Terrorism and cases of insecurity can only really be combated by taking hold of the human resource capital of this nation and revamping the greatest tool which these terrorist groups wield against us: the mind of the Nigerian youth. Until we can condition the mind of the Nigerian youth to become devoted to the cause of the country, we will remain unable to entirely achieve the elimination of terrorism and insecurity from amongst us.
Value for human life, passion for societal good and a pure patriotic heart can only be built when the citizen is convinced that his country has done more for him and deserves to be protected. A good turn deserves another. Let our government do more for her people.