Boko Haram: Liberating The North – By Erasmus Ikhide

Boko Haram in Mubi
boko haram flag
boko haram flag

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. 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.

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The history of the militant Islamist group signposted leadership
failure of otherwise great nation that have 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” include 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

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
inquiring 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 done 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

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
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

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, follow by religious distortion
and manipulation. Some of the Northern elders backing the group must
withdraw their support from 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 has to be revisited if there is 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

Follow me on Twitter @EraamusIkhide



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