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Taming the menace of Boko Haram

06 March 2014, 11:12 Adebayo

It is not an understatement that one of the greatest challenges confronting the nation and, which the governments have been battling without any iota of achievement, is the insurgency of an Islamist sect called Boko Haram.

While some people believe that the insurgency is a result of social, religious, economic, and political imbroglio, the main cause of the insurgency in Nigeria still remains a closed book to the majority. This sect started as anti-government policy campaigners, vandalising government properties and killing innocent people under the pretext of being anti-western education. It claimed to be an anti-western culture, working against the modern ways of governance and trying to establish Islamic Sharia rule.

Nigerians, especially majority of Christians and even some of the Muslims who were of the view that Boko Haram represented Islamic doctrine had challenged devout Muslims to find means of curbing the nefarious activities of the sect that is painting Islam a bad colour. Its injurious acts could even ignite another religious war in the country if not quickly nipped in the bud. However, with time, it is increasingly becoming clearer to Nigerians and the international community that Boko Haram was just a criminal gang using the name of Islam to perpetuate evil.

The menace of the sect is rooted in the Northern part of the country especially in Borno, Bauchi and Yobe States. When the cause of the insurgency was first believed to be political, the federal government of Nigeria set up a panel to engage the sect members in a dialogue as a tactic to bring down the intensity of the insurgency. The strategy has proved to be unworkable since the sect refused to be engaged in any discussion with the government. Maybe this is because the arrangement was not well planned from the beginning by government. We are all aware that the insurgency was formed in the Northern part of the country by some unscrupulous Northerners. We do know what the sect claimed to represent at its formation – being an anti-western education, and we also know that the level of education among the people of the North is nothing to write home about. Some of the youths in the region are less or not at all exposed to western education but Arabic teachings. And they are highly submissive to their leaders. They are easily influenced by their leaders. These youths are the ones that are mostly influenced to join the sect and wreak havoc on the country. If there could be liberation of their minds from ignorance, these youths will be useful for development rather than being deployed as Boko Haram members.

While I do not condemn the dialogue strategy by the government, I still hold the view that one best way of taming the Boko Haram insurgency in the Northern part of Nigeria, is for the government to find a way of educating the Northern youths by funding their education properly and making them be at par with their Southern counterparts. This could be achieved by opening more schools in the area. He who opens schools closes the gate of war. Give them new orientations and open their eyes to the modern world: modern governance, modern education, modern war ammunition of pen rather than sword and bombs which they are currently exposed to.

It is glaring that military attack solution launched by the government has not achieved much since the Joint Task Force(JTF) went to the troubled states of the federation. This is because the Nigerian military is under equipped. The Boko Haram’s sophisticated weapons are more efficient than those of our military. This is why the military are often overpowered by the insurgents. And the other reason is the hypocrisy of the government and the federal government’s insincerity about the root cause of the matter.

The JTF itself has not been helping matters; it is a bundle of deceit. How many times have they claimed to have killed the leader of the insurgents? Only for Shekau to most times reappear on you-tube through which he has been dishing out fresh threat of deadly attacks either on the JTF itself or on innocent citizens. JTF too has been killing innocent people in the guise of killing Boko Haram members. If JTF has been truly killing larger number of Boko Haram members, then why do we still have them more in the battle field? Let the JTF declare its inability to subdue the insurgents and pave way for a new workable strategy.

The April deadline to end the Boko Haram insurgency promised by the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Marshal Alex Badeh remains just only a month without any sign of victory in sight. Well, we shall all wait and see what Badeh will do, maybe he will eat his words or probably extend the deadline for crushing the insurgents.

That some northern politicians who were aggrieved by President Goodluck Jonathan’s disregard for zoning arrangement, which was the vehicle that brought him to the seat of Vice President in 2007, when he contested for the presidential post in 2011 are the brain behind the Boko Haram insurgency to make the nation ungovernable for Jonathan may not be the real reason since there has not been any solid evidence to prove the authenticity of the claim. If this is the cause as claimed by some political observers, then Jonathan should in the interest of national peace apologize to those people so that the menace of the sect can be curtailed. Since Jonathan was also the product of zoning, I would suggest he tenders his apology at least to appease those he has wronged about zoning and let the country enjoy her deserved peace once again.

It is interesting to note that because of the monstrosity of the sect’s perfidious acts, the University of Ibadan Vice Chancellor, Professor Isaac Adewole, has publicly said that the school was ready to initiate a study of the Boko Haram. I would implore the institution to embark on this quickly alongside another on new beneficial technological areas that could more benefit the nation .

Since everybody seems to be expecting the President to make his intention known about 2015 presidential election-the major reason why the polity is seriously being over heated- the president should not think twice about dropping this ambition if this is the only condition that would allow enduring peace to return to the north and Nigeria in general.

•Adebayo, a journalist lives in Lagos.

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