For An End Game for Boko Haram, Spend Those Trillions on Education By Pat Utomi

As Albert Einsten once said “We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them”. The challenge of terrorism and ostensibly faith and cult based intolerance, partly manifested in the Boko Haram insurgency, that we face in Nigeria was created at the level of ignorance. I have heard truly scholarly discussions and even in the last month at the CVL Faith and tolerance conference, the Chaplain of the University of Lagos House of Assembly spoke passionately about Islam as a religion of peace and one not opposed to Western education. That being the case the only solution is to fight ignorance with knowledge.

The top commanders of Boko Haram are not doing anything new. They do not believe that Boko or Book is Haram. If they really did would they be using Western weapons to fight? Would they be using Western media such as YouTube and other social media to communicate with journalists? Of course not. Malam Shekau was almost caught last year when he visited his wife in Kano and he escaped with the aid of a fast car, another fruit of Western Education. Thus it is safe to say that he and his top commanders are not against Western Education. Besides some of the leaders of the group are known to be University graduates. It would seem that they are revolutionaries in Boko Haram, whose goal is to overthrow the current establishment in Northern Nigeria just like their compatriots did in Somalia and their strategy in doing that is to take advantage of the massive illiteracy that is the bane of the Northern population.

This is no new strategy. Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge did the same thing in Cambodia. They killed the educated and targeted centers of learning for the same reason that totalitarians have been doing for millennia-the educated are more likely to rebel against tyranny!

So rather than spend trillions on security, the Federal Government has to look beyond the immediate and have a long term strategy to starve organized terrorist groups of the oxygen that feeds their fire. We must begin to educate the masses of the North so that they value their lives. Education increases their level of consciousness and when a man has a heightened level of consciousness he is no longer easily susceptible to manipulation using primordial sentiments. Education also expands the scope of how they can earn income and get to a level of self fulfilment that cannot make them available for ideologues fighting different agenda. But it should not be in the North alone. Similar levels of low literacy in parts of the south are also sources of the state of insecurity in the South East and South South. This is why I have offered a liberal perspective on Paulo Friers’s Pedagogy of the oppressed. The pedagogy of the Determined, which I have proposed, takes a community based entrepreneurial approach to activist learning that can transform and empower in a short period of time.

Last year, the government used the same argument that previous administration used which is that the funds meant to subsidize fuel is not getting to its intended target which is the poor. So instead of subsidizing fuel, Nigeria has been subsidizing corruption.

Sound logic on the face of it. So now let us flip this. Rather than subsidizing fuel (or corruption) I am not too sure that the government will face too much resistance if it says that it will henceforth subsidize education. With half of the money that we are currently spending subsidizing fuel Nigeria can offer free and qualitative education up to secondary school level, using social enterprises, faith based agencies to complement and compete with direct government funding of educational institutions.

This is the type of long term strategy that will defeat the menace of terrorism as well as increase our Gross Domestic Product because an educated people produce more, have less children and are more healthy.

There is no easy fix to fighting terrorism. Ask the Middle East, ask Somalia, ask Afghanistan. To defeat terrorism, you must look much farther ahead than the terrorists. You must target the intending terrorist in a policy of catch them young. Rather than fighting terrorism with trillions of Naira spent on security we are feeding it by causing deep hatred in the hearts of the people of certain parts of Northern Nigeria for the military. Right now many of these people cannot decide who they hate most between Boko Haram and the Joint Military Task Force (JTF). Instead we must spend trillions on education and education will do what guns and bombs cannot do-make people value their life too much to be fodder for terrorism.

It is fitting to conclude with a word on values over faith. Years ago a much respected moslem friend told me a true story of a great moslem cleric who visited the United States. Struck by the values of the people he met, he lamented the paradox of leaving a moslem country where the people do not behave like moslems and coming to this non-moslem country where they behave like moslems. What has gone awry in Nigeria is not a faith dispute but a crisis of values. And the insurgency can be curbed with education laced with the right values.

JD:Dr Pat Utomi is a one time presidential candidate.Will he run again?Nigeria does need deep thinking ,cerebral leaders(he has a PHD,but as we know there are PHDs and there are phds)(hm) ;to run the country, but the question in his case has always been,when trouble comes calling,can he pull the trigger?



  1. Eziokwu! Making education as affordable as possible is the solution to terrorism in the North. I have always told people that illiterates are easy to manipulate. The painful thing is that the government knows what to do but won’t do it because of some greedy and selfish interest.

  2. Pat Utomi is a doctorate (erudite reformist). What he wrote here is core solution to problem facing Nigeria. He wrote expressly, and it might seem too long for the liking of many busy people. It is not everybody that has time to read long stories. So, you can check it out here in few lines of a holy sonnet written by me, an erudite preacher. I mean, this sonnet below is a poetic summary of everything Dr Pat Utomi wrote here. Check it out. I am a holy Sage, an erudite man of God:

    (Sonnet by me, Onyeji Dominic)

    Repentance is not same to sets of people
    Peter and Paul did not repent the same way
    Positive u-turn is seen as repentance in jungle
    It is a process that stops one from wasting away.

    One common thing about repentance is turning
    Souls in downhill are heading towards hell
    The process of repentance prevents them from perishing
    It is seen as positive u-turn from downhill to uphill.

    There is nothing like instant repentance in Bible
    Insightful Christians see it as process of learning
    It is a system that improves souls in jungle
    This is stated clearly in many Biblical teachings.

    Acts 26:20 described repentance as turning to God
    It implies that repentance is a journey upward.

  3. Uncle Jimi, I see you as a very honest figure. If you’re asked to use all the comments here as population sample to judge Nigerians, will you not conclude that Nigeria has rejected or forsaken God? How many of us here believe that only God has answers to problems facing Nigeria? Truth is that uphill is one way that leads to God, an sound education is one genuine thing that helps both man and nation to climb high in life.

    What Nigeria truly lack is divine presence. She turned her back at God by forsaking or neglecting education. If you go round, you will see that our schools are in shamble. Academic structures (buildings) everywhere are dilapidated, and nothing is being done to rennovate them. Teachers are not well paid and people are not serious with education.

    Everybody suppose to know that Holy Spirit is our guide. Man and society at large cannot do without divine presence. We do ourselves great harm when we forget that Holy Spirit abhors human flaws (faults) because another word for “holy” is “faultless”. This means that man and nations are meant to identify and remove as many flaws as possible in order to attract Holy Spirit (divine presence and guidience) in this life. Two major things that leads to mistake (human flaws) are ignorance and mediocre-living, and Holy Spirit cannot be attracted when our lives are full of flaws, blemishes, spots, rinkles, mistakes and what have you. A nation forgets God when things like education, knowledge and wisdom are neglected. Insight reveals that such a nation is going downhill, straying away from God.

  4. The battle isn’t over yet, its until when averae Nigerians can boost of shelter, job employment & security that’s when we can jubilate.
    Politricks & poverty play a major role concerning this unrest in the Northern areas.

  5. Great piece from Patito but our problem is not lack of ideas but lack of political will to implement these noble ideas. These people in govt said more than these before they get to power but now they throw everything into the dustbin.
    A God fearing leader who is ready to take the bull by the horn; not minding whose horse is gored is what we need; we hope we’ll get there in 2015; all hands must be on the deck to salvage this country from imminent colapse; JD is doing his bit; we his fans too should do our bit in our various domains; LET IT BEGINS WITH YOU!

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