The Jama’atul Alhul Sunnah Lidda’watiwul more popularly as boko haram started as a peaceful organization in 2002 with the late Mohammed Yusuf as its founding father. Many never thought that this innocuous organization would end up being more deadly than the dreaded Maitatsine which shook the north to its very roots in the 1980’s. In 2009, it took a more militant stand when it clashed with government forces in Bauchi state leading to the death of seven hundred people. Yusuf was later killed when he was taken into government custody alongside his father-in-law. One wonders why this extra-judicial killing happened! Many theories abound. Some quarters speculate that the late founder could have implicated many top government functionaries hence the need to give him the omerta treatment. A top security official was quoted to have said that his death was the ultimate demise of boko haram.
Like the Phoenix, Abubakar Shekau who made the Time Magazine list of the most influential hundred in the world emerged as the successor to the slain leader. The violent activities resumed with the killing of four people in Borno state in January 2010 and the bloody orgies have since escalated to gargantuan proportions. The violence has spread to Yobe, Adamawa and Abuja with the bombing of the United Nations Headquarters in 2011 killing twenty-three people. Niger state has also not been spared as the Madalla bombing on New Year’s Eve in 2012 in a Catholic Church took the state unawares and ushered in the New Year in blood. They now have links to Al-Qaeda, Al-Shabaab, Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa and has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State this year which is the deadliest terrorist organization operating in Iraq and Syria. There is Ansaru which has emerged as a splinter group of the terrorist organization. Boko Haram was officially designated a terrorist organization by the United States in 2013 and they finance their activities through raiding of banks, ransom kidnappings, stealing weapons from the Nigerian armoury and illicit trafficking of arms across West Africa.
Children have not been spared as the abduction of the 276 girls from Chibok is still fresh in our memories after over a year after. 219 of these promising young girls are still missing. They also targeted a school in 2013 where a dozen of school boys were killed.
One wonders what their cause is as its still largely vague. The Niger Delta Militants agitated for a better deal in the sharing of their oil wealth as they got nothing from the black gold. This made them take to the creeks until the amnesty deal came. What really is the boko haram cause? They want to set up an Islamic State and they preach that western education is sin. The Nigeria state even before the emergence of the constitution has always been a secular one. They have not been denied their rights as Muslims so why this needless agitation? Sharia law which propped up in the north under the Christian Presidency of Olusegun Obasanjo was granted despite the fact that there are sizeable numbers of Christians not only from the south residing there but from the north as well. The call for dialogue with them which was shockingly reiterated by President Muhammadu Buhari doesn’t just make sense at all. Do you negotiate with faceless people? Do you bargain with people whose objectives are still largely obscure? The blood-soaked group is pressing for the release of their prisoners. Should alleged murder now be done away with in the name of negotiations?
Many Nigerians thought that Buhari will have the magic wand in dealing ruthlessly with these harbingers of death. His admirers recounted his efforts as a soldier when he curbed the Maitatsine crisis in Zaria and drove them to as far as Chad. He also repeated the same feat as Military Head of State at a time when his deputy, Tunde Idiagbon was not even in the country. Sadly about five hundred people have lost their lives under his watch and the bombs tick off almost every passing day leaving more dead, befuddled and agonized. They were so daring that they even struck on the day of the inauguration in a Maiduguri mosque killing 16 people who went there to pray to Allah. This debunks the widely held claim that boko haram was a creation of the north to frustrate former President Jonathan out of office. There is more to it that meets the eye.
Buhari’s parley with the west is comical. Do they really care? The United States with a so called African brother in the White House only released a paltry $5 million to fight this scourge. This miserly amount could have been raised in a day in a tax round in Lagos. Is that the best Uncle Sam could do for us? Nothing has been pledged or given by the other members of the G-7. Ironically, it was the coalition of troops from Niger, Cameroon and Chad alongside our army that ensured that the group lost the towns they captured and hoisted their flag in March this year. Amnesty International then had the nerves to say that our army had grave human rights questions to answer. They hypocrisy of the west is worse than sickening. Buhari should know that foreign policy is anchored strictly on the basis of interests and that sentiments don’t play a part at all. Does the West have substantial investments in the North-East – the most backward of all the zones in the country to warrant any strong military action to protect their investments?
The poverty rate there has greatly worsened as about eighty thousand jobs have been lost in Borno state alone. The crisis has even spread to the North-West and Central. Kano, the economic hub of the north has also been badly affected with many Southerners fleeing back to their states. Kaduna, the former political capital of the north is also badly affected thereby increasing the hardship that the hoi polloi there go through.
We need to develop homegrown solutions to this insurgency crisis and stop running to Washington and London as if they don’t have problems of their own. For starters, there should be a total crackdown on corruption. Let us adopt the Chinese model of capital punishment for corrupt activities. The economically deprived youths are irked by the obscene display of ill-gotten wealth in the midst of the artificially created poverty. The poverty is so biting that any buffoon that gives them a stipend with the promissory note of seventy-two virgins in Paradise is a ‘god’ that must be worshipped to their violent deaths.
We should collaborate more with our West African brothers who are also feeling the boko haram heat. A past coalition has worked and it’s certain that future ones will also follow suit. When the insurgency must have been effectively contained, there should be massive investments in the north. These empowerment programmes must be endorsed by them so that it doesn’t backfire. The concept of the Almajiris who are willing tools for terrorism should give way to self-reliance for the greater interest of not only the north but the whole country.
Nigeria can win this war without the treacherous west!