They are officially called “Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati Wal-Jihad” meaning People dedicated to Propagating the Prophet’s message and Jihad but to the common man in the street they are called Boko Haram which is Hausa for Western Education is forbidden. They are a radical Islamic sect that have waged war on the people of Nigeria. Whether or not they are indeed “Islamic” is anyone’s guess. Islam as a word in Arabic means ‘Submission to God’s will” Are these people submitting to God’s will? Is it God’s will to kill innocent people? I am guessing to them the answer to both questions would be yes. That would explain the killing spree they have undertaken. Left in their wake are the dead bodies of security forces, church goers, even people at mosques, beer parlor (bar) frequenters and innocent citizens.
Originating from the North East in Borno State, they have of recent expanded their base of operations and have struck in every state in the North Eastern Part of Nigeria and the sad thing is they are moving. They have also struck states in the North West and North Central. Apparently they want Sharia to be implemented all over the country. It is my opinion that this is not indeed their actual goal. Their aim is to destabilize and throw Nigeria into a conflict for the benefit of their pay masters who are sure to benefit from a protracted conflict in the country. This is speculation of course. The group has attacked and killed both civilians and security personnel in several gun fights and bomb blasts. Many of which have occurred in the daytime. Why I mention that is that it speaks to the boldness of these individuals that they have effrontery to attack in the daytime without fear of the security forces.
The recent work of this group was the attack on Kano. The attack included bombs and gunfire. They attacked the police head quarters in the state as well as that of the State Intelligence Body (SSS). It left more than a hundred dead and the numbers seem to be rising. They also detonated two bombs in Bauchi. It is alarming the relative impunity with which these miscreants seem to operate. What is the government doing about this group? To be fair to the government I doubt our security forces have had a challenge this big since the civil war. Troops have been deployed to many states in the northern part of the country and road blocks litter the roads that link several states. States of emergency have been declared in several states and curfews imposed.
The problem with the group aside from the obvious killing of people is the group’s lack of well defined aim. No one knows what they really want, what their game plan is. Much of what is known is guess work. Some have seen it as a religious and ethnic cleansing. Some see it as some sort of politically motivated group. To both I say to-may-to, to-mah-to. When has politics in Nigeria not had an ethnic or religious slant to it? Another problem is that the group seems to have wealthy sponsors. The weaponry this group possesses is alarming. It is fair to say they can go toe to toe with our army going by recent events. It has even been claimed by our commander in chief of the armed forces that the group has infiltrated his government and security agencies. This is a terrible shame. It is very sad that our government whose job it is to secure life and property cannot for the life of me stop over a 150 people dying in the second largest city in the country. Imagine if it were the US for a second and such a large amount of people lost their lives to a terrorist attack in its 2nd largest city, Los-Angeles? Do you think that there wont be calls for the head of the president not to talk of his security and intelligence chiefs? Speaking of security chiefs, our police let a suspect who allegedly masterminded the bombing of a church on Christmas day go. But Alas our police chief and IG is still in charge of the police and will stay on till he retires.
Why cant our security agencies take care of the threat? I ll tell you why? The intelligence gathering is very poor for starters. The security agencies do not have moles/undercover agents in the group who will feed them information. Over years the security agencies have not been friends of the Nigerian people. They helped in oppressing people during military regimes and for the most part extort people on the road. They have failed time and again to stop simple armed robbery talk less of a well funded and insidious group like Boko Haram. They have not cultivated friendships with the Nigerian people who could provide valuable information based on individual vigilance. In a nutshell, Our security agencies and government are reactive to the threat of Boko Haram they are not pro active.
What are potential ways to stop Boko Haram? We need to ensure our borders are not porous. We need to know who and what is coming in and out of the country. We need to monitor movements from one state to another. State border patrols will be necessary. There needs to be an extensive investigation and forensic audit to find out where the group is getting their money from. Kill the money source and the venom of their attack reduces. Offer large monetary incentive for credible information on Boko Haram. An increased vigilance by all citizens nationwide. If possible increased security within neighborhoods. Infiltration of the groups hideouts and meeting points. The value of good intelligence cannot be stressed enough. Nigeria is engaged in guerilla warfare with these criminals. The only way to win guerilla warfare is good intelligence.
The threat of Boko Haram is not just to lives and property. It is a threat to the unity of Nigeria. In addition to killing the group has helped to further stoke the embers of religious and ethnic mistrust amongst Nigerians. There are people who believe it is a northern ruse to kill southerners living in the north and Christians. To such people I say hogwash. There were rumors of “reprisal” attacks by people in southern Nigeria on northern Muslims living there and even threats by Niger Delta Groups of resuming vandalization of oil resources and kidnappings as well as attacks on northerners. Yes Boko Haram have attacked churches and bars and what not and even businesses but if we allow such terrorists to play on existing differences we have we will risk becoming yet another African country engaged in a civil war and fighting amongst ethnic group. Would anyone be able to recruit for such evil purposes if we saw ourselves not as Hausa, Efik, Tiv, Yoruba, Igbo, Kanuri. Fulani, Nupe, Ijaw, ikwerre or even as christian or muslim but as Nigerians? We as Nigerians and indeed as Africans are better than this. It is not a time for us to engage in divisive rhetoric but it is time for us to unite as a country to get rid of this cancer called Boko Haram. They are nothing but deviants trying to instill fear and divisions among the polity. I implore the government to swiftly crush these people. They have no cause worth negotiating with. Let’s move Nigeria forward and focus on developing our nation.
Those folks are my two kobo on the Boko Haram Situation. Rest in peace to all those who have lost their lives to this horrid group. May God grant you eternal rest.