Boko Haram: Liberating The North | Independent Newspapers Limited
Newsletter subscribe

Comment, Opinion

Boko Haram: Liberating The North

Posted: Nov 13, 2015 at 12:40 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Erasmus Ikhide

The solution to the Boko Haram insurgence and other sectarian crises in the country rests squarely on politicians who have been manipulating religion; offering poor education to the masses, exploiting ethnocentric cleavages, pulverising national institutions and poverty to retail currency in government.

Boko Haram militants

Boko Haram militants

Annoyingly, most parts of northern states still refuse to send their children to government-run “Western schools”; teaching pupils Hadith under the trees, a problem compounded by the ruling elite which does not see education as a priority up till date! Now, the backlash is unabated.

The history of the militant Islamist group signposted leadership failure of otherwise great nation that has been striving and administering the wrong prescription to extinguish the self-inflicted terminal cancerous ailment called Boko Haram. The militia group which promotes a version of Islam which makes it “haram”, or forbidden, for Muslims to take part in any political or social activity associated with Western society was initially accommodated by the manipulating ruling elite until it turned on them savagely at the mosque, and other places of note.

The list of their “Harams” includes voting in elections, wearing shirts and trousers or receiving a secular education. Boko Haram regards the Nigerian state as being run by non-believers, even when the country

had a Muslim president – and it has extended its military campaign by targeting neighbouring states and countries. The covert weaknesses or hidden flaws in the Nigeria make up as a greatly admired or respected nation outside the shore of the country fizzled out since Boko Haram’s violent campaign disillusioned the Africa giant, a giant with clay feet!

As it’s well known, Boko Haram revolt erupted around 2009 and has since gone global. The Sect can be traced to one of the Islamic fundamentalists in the North Eastern part of Nigeria who viewed western education as a ploy for Christian evangelism. It was headed by one Mohammed Marwa also known as Maitasine who was at the height of his notoriety in the 1970s and 80s. He refused to believe that

Mohammed was a prophet and he instigated riots in the country which resulted to the death of thousands of people. In fact, the question of what is considered as ‘minimum force’ was raised during the board of inquiry that followed that operation because, support weapons like mortar bomb had to be used as a result of the heavy weaponry used by Maitasine. Many analysts see BH as an extension of the Maitasine sect of the 70s and 80s.

At the early stage, Boko Haram was said to have operated under the names Shabaah and Muslim Youth Organization under different leadership until one Mohammed Yusuf took over. He opened the group to political influence and popularity. Yusuf established a religious complex that included a school and mosque in Maiduguri in 2002 where many poor families enrolled their children. His main objective was said to be the establishment of sharia government in Borno State that was then under Senator Ali Modu Sheriff. The religious center recruited members from neighbouring Chad and Niger and spoke only Arabic.

The complex was later relocated to the neighbouring Yobe State.

The group conducted its affairs more or less peacefully until the Federal Government launched an investigation into the group’s activities following reports that its members were arming themselves

with weapons. Several members of the group were arrested in Bauchi and Mohammed Yusuf died while in Police custody. Many, especially members of the Sect believe that he was killed. After the death of Yusuf, a new leader with obscure identity at the time emerged.

Thereafter the group became more vicious in its attacks on public institutions, markets, churches, mosques, schools etc. However, most of their operations were mainly in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States with occasional attacks in the other parts of the Northern States.

The Sect was said to initially rely on donations from members for its funding. However, many believe it has link with Al-Qeada in Islamic Magreb (AQIM) region which is an affiliate of the Al-Qeada – a global

militant organization once formed and headed by the late Osama Bin Laden. Boko Haram’s link with AQIM is said to have opened it to more funding from groups in Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom (UK).

It is also speculated that other sources of funding include the Al Muntada Trust Fund and Islamic World Society. Judging from the manner it has been able to sustain its operations, Boko Haram may have other sources of funding which is yet to be identified or disclosed.

To tame the hydra-headed monster, long and short term multi-pronged strategies must be pursued vigorously to bring an end to a scorched earth campaign that has brought the nation down to its knees.

First, federal government should engage and invest in greater and better acquisition and dissemination of intelligence as a basis for the counter terrorism operations. Also, there must be greater involvement

and commitment of the civil community by liaising with security agencies to swiftly report clandestine movement of strangers in their areas.

Second, there must be improved cooperation and collaboration between the security services, instead of the present unhealthy rivalry, disjointed and uncoordinated effort. More importantly, there must be

greater attention to funding and purchasing of modern equipment for the security forces, improved welfare for the fighting troops and adequate care for their families. Third, there must be elimination of

corruption and undue enrichment of the leadership of the forces involved in the fight.

As global trend in combating terrorism has indicated, total eradication of this odious phenomenon is no easy task. The nation’s real aim must be targeted at the reduction of the incidences of bloodbaths to a tolerable level. The need to urgently fight corruption, improve efficiency, improved synergy, better co-operation especially among the security organisations is necessary.

The need to internationalise the battle to secure greater support of the developed countries in terms of acquisition of equipment and expertise can not be overemphasised.

It will, by the same token, open the vista of strategies to deal effectively with internal and external supporters of the militia, instead of the present tepid global attitude to the crisis.

The other immediate solution to the Boko Haram’s scourge has to do with reorientation that will shake the populace off their docility and marked inefficiency noticeable in all segments of public sectors of

the country, indiscipline and lack of security consciousness amongst Nigerians.

On a long term basis, the federal government and other states of the federation, especially the entire Northern states must take a critical look at the crises plaguing education, followed by religious distortion

and manipulation. Some of the Northern elders backing the group must withdraw their support for Boko Haram and make concerted effort to bridge the gap between the leaders and the led.

The neglect of agriculture in the North and the closure of production industries have to be revisited if there are genuine efforts to put an end to the dreaded Islamic militia group. It will be self-deprecating

to think that there have been no human right abuses; social and economic injustice, joblessness, poverty, electoral violence that leaves arms and ammunition in the hands of unemployed youths. So also porous and unguarded boarders, absence of conscious deliverable governance in Northern Nigeria.

The adoption and implementation of these measures may not come too easily unless Nigerians at large quickly accept the needed change of attitude in several aspects of our national lives: avoidance of greed

and ostentatious living, accountability and adoption of justifiable lifestyle. The ongoing effort would yield substantial results within a short and long time frame if we are really serious as a people.

The only way to checkmate Boko Haram and decimate their rank incrementally in its savage state is for the government to pursue these realistic measures: military, economic and sociopolitical for the achievement of these desired goals.

Erasmus Ikhide wrote in from Lagos,  Nigeria