Facing the Boko Haram menace
Posted on August 2, 2014
That Arewa (Northern Nigeria) is under siege is not in doubt. The key question is who is behind this siege?
Since the advent of democracy, Arewa has endured numerous attacks. It's citizens have been hunted across the country by numerous groups from the OPC in the South West to the various mobs in the South East. These external attacks are however child's play when compared to the various internal ethnic conflicts. The hitherto beautiful city of Jos for example, is now a shell of its former self. Riven by ethnic conflict over so many years, commercial activity has dwindled to a fraction of its former volume and killings on all sides are almost a daily occurrence. Following from a series of religious clashes, the cosmopolitan city of Kaduna is now split into a Muslim North and a Christian South. Gradually, the violence has progressed further inwards. Whereas Arewa initially had to contend with North vs. South clashes, followed by Muslim North vs. Christian North clashes, they are now faced with intra-regional, intra-religious crises. The dreaded Boko Haram has inflicted far more damage on their own in the form of killings and decimation of commercial activity. Recently, they have been joined by roaming bands of Fulani bandits who have suddenly acquired very sophisticated weapons which they use to pillage communities including their own.
There has been intense speculation as to whom or what is behind this. Some blame poverty, frustration and joblessness particularly in the case of Boko Haram. While poverty certainly has a role to play in providing a willing army of youth ready to perpetrate atrocities in the name of God, someone else must provide the financing and the organisation. A group of poor, ill-educated young men could not have suddenly developed the sophistication to organise a series of coordinated attacks like the simultaneous, hitch free explosion of 20 bombs in Kano, or the brazen attack on Giwa barracks.
Throughout history, cunning, ambitious individuals have found ways to exploit the desires and passions of young men. One of the earliest such cases was that of Hassan-i Sabbah (a.k.a. Old man of the mountain.) He lived in the mountains of present day Iraq in the 11th century and was the founder of 'The Assassins Cult.' He recruited young men by promising them heaven should they die as 'martyrs' on his instruction. To convince them, he induced them to sleep and upon waking up found themselves in a beautiful garden with gorgeous ladies ready to attend to their needs. They were then drugged again and next they wake up in a dark pit surrounded by decomposing corpses. They are put to sleep one more time and brought to the old man who tells them “I have just given you a glimpse of heaven and hell. I have the power to send you permanently to heaven if you get killed in my service.” The brain washed young men where then trained in the arts of assassination through the use of daggers, poisons, etc. and inserted into the courts of various noble men. Should the command come to assassinate that noble man, they will do so without regard for their lives.
The question is who is the Hassan-i Sabbah equivalent for an organisation like Boko Haram? Some have blamed an amorphous Northern establishment for being behind this as a way of sabotaging the current government after the North lost power to the south. This can easily be dismissed for a number of reasons. One, it will be difficult for a group of individuals to out-fund, out-gun, and out-organise a ruling government for so many years even if the government is monumentally incompetent. Two, the Northern elite have been victims of this problem. A number of them, for example Governor Nyako, General Buhari, Emir of Gwoza, Late Emir of Kano; have been attacked or even killed. It is hard to imagine that a people will inflict so much pain on themselves to sabotage another. Three, the problem started during the time of Yar'adua - a president from the North and he tried his best to nip it in the bud during his time. Finally, there will be no Civilian JTF fighting Boko Haram if they were sponsored by the same north. No part of this country has ever had the equivalent of the Civilian JTF fighting to protect its citizens against a militant group.
Another theory points the accusing finger at the current government. They point at the fact that soldiers often do nothing to prevent an attack. For example, General Shuwa - a civil war hero, was killed within meters of a military checkpoint. Two serving senators have relayed reports from their constituencies about helicopters ferrying in people or dropping supplies in the jungle. People also point at a series of attacks which come after actions threatening the current government. For example, the attack in Kano immediately after the APC recorded a landslide victory in Local Government elections and an attack on General Buhari a day after he criticised the president in the press. More importantly, the motive is there – the crisis offers an opportunity to siphon off money (the opaque security vote has massively increased over the years), oppress the opposition (the government recently claimed discovering ID cards of prominent opposition politicians when they raided a terrorist’s camp), and manipulate elections (INEC has spoken about inability to conduct elections in states under emergency rule.) However, a number of events cast doubt on the government’s purported influence on terrorist activities. The first is the Nyanya bomb blast in Abuja, the second is the kidnap of the Chibok school girls. Both events occurred three weeks to the kick-off of the World Economic Forum in Abuja. No government will want such negative media attention at the eve of an international event, even if monumentally incompetent.
A final theory points the accusing finger outside of Nigeria. People point to the sophisticated nature of the terrorist groups and the fact that they tend to be following a blueprint which has been tried and tested in many other places. This is also seen as the only feasible explanation for the current government to be out-funded, out-gunned, and out-organised. The accusing finger is pointed to one of many countries / organisations depending on which conspiracy theory one tends to believe.
The reality is that there is no way of conclusively uncovering the people behind this menace and the attacks are going to continue nevertheless. So what we should be asking ourselves is - what can we do if we know that an unknown enemy will continue to launch random attacks on us? The aim of terrorists is to intimidate, and through this, discourage a populace from doing a particular thing. So our first defence is to declare to ourselves that our spirit will not be broken. When the American’s bombed Vietnam during their war, the Vietnamese mindset was - “America cannot stay in Vietnam forever, but the Vietname will stay in Vietnam for ever.” In the end, the American’s left. Even though the Vietnamese suffered more than 10 times the casualty of the Americans, they were victorious in refusing to break. So every time you hear the news of yet another random attack, say to yourself “we will not be broken!”
Pills Once we have established our resolve, next step is to do something, anything. Rather than moan about their situation and wait for “our elders” to do something, some of the youth in the North East have come together to form the “Civilian JTF” which fights Boko Haram with whatever they can. The least we can do is to support this group as well as any persons affected by the violence. We should constantly raise funds in our churches and mosques and send to people affected by the violence as well as to members of the Civilian JTF. We should support the families of deceased members of the Civilian JTF. These valiant group of people who moved towards Damboa to fight the approaching Boko Haram just as the army was retreating.
Next, we should step up advocacy to the youth whenever we get the chance as the reality is that they are mostly the ones recruited to carry out the violence. We should make them see the long term implication based on situations in countries like Egypt, Libya, Somalia, and Iraq. We should encourage them to talk to their friends and discourage them from becoming pawns in this crisis.
Finally, we should resolve to confront our politicians on this issue. Whenever we get a chance, in-person, via phone, SMS, email, we should ask them one simple question – “what are you doing in your capacity to protect your people from this menace?” i want to buy eal viagra Purchase
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