The project of killing Nigeria slowly

The governor of Nigeria’s Niger State, Dr.
Babangida Aliyu, who is also known as ‘The
Chief Servant’, has been in the news of late. He
has been busy educating us on the relationship
between terror in some states in Nigeria’s
North-east and poverty, and how the unholy
connection has helped to turn that part of our
country upside down. This relationship, he
said, is the fundamental reason why we have
the Boko Haram insurgency.
If employment can be created and poverty is
given a good fight, the Chief servant of Niger
State insists, insurgency in the north of the
republic would disappear. That was his thesis.
But, quite honestly, can this be a true analysis
of the Boko Haram menace all these years? I
am aware that unemployment and poverty are
not exactly the monopoly of the north. The
twin scourges are also there in the south of the
republic. And we are aware that both the
public and private sector authorities are
tackling these twin problems as best they can.
The Chief Servant, I suspect, is probably being
economical with the truth or his social
research did not dig deep enough. The result
was that The Chief Servant may not have been
properly briefed. The factual situation is that
poverty in the north may, statistically
speaking, be more pronounced, but the figures
on employable young people with skills and
good education without jobs would certainly
be more in the south. And I am tempted to ask
why the teeming well-educated but
unemployed young people in the South or any
part of it thereof, have not formed their own
variety of Boko Haram, and begin to bomb
places of worship, destroy United Nations
buildings and facilities, place explosives at
school play grounds to kill and maim the
innocent? The truth of the matter is that
certain identifiable elements in the north have
not quite reconciled themselves to the fact
that a non-northerner is Nigeria’s number one
citizen. Simple! And this explains the north’s
present behaviour and bad temper. The north
wants political power all the time. Yet in our
post-colonial existence as a country, they have
enjoyed almost a near monopoly of power,
sharing it only with Olusegun Obasanjo when it
suited its temperament and grand strategy. And
there are examples of this insatiable northern
greed for political power and its nebulous
streak of treating the south as a conquered
people, sometimes behaving like a second
coloniser – after colonial Britain. So, my
position differs from that of His Excellency,
Babangida Aliyu.
The basic truth which The Chief Servant prefers
to hide or is shying away from is that the
terror group called Boko Haram is bent on
conquering substantial areas in the North,
dominate it, rule and impose Sharia laws on
the portion, if they fail in their primary and
major mission of Islamising Nigeria. That is the
correct situation on ground. And the
extremists survived all these years because
they found comfortable sanctuary in Borno
and Yobe states, even Kano State. They felt
welcome and tolerated in those areas and
environment, while their funding from both
local and foreign sources provided the
necessary oxygen that helped keep the
senseless insurgency active and vibrant.
Nigerians have not forgotten the names and
faces of the northern leaders who dropped
hints, at the heat of the 2011 election
campaigns, that Nigeria would be made
ungovernable if power does not return to the
I then ask: What manner and calibre of young
men, perhaps educated, would accept to be
laced with explosives and sent off to go to a
church, office complex or Emir’s palace and
detonate them at the right spot and at the
right time – knowing fully that their entire
existence as human beings would also be
blown into shreds as much as those of their
targets? Has that fatal or suicidal project
provided the needed job opportunities or
solved the poverty which The Chief Servant of
Niger State claims are the  causes of the Boko
Haram insurgency? Which sane man would
encourage his child or ward to go on a suicide
mission or blow up a United Nations building
just because he couldn’t find a job or to end
persisting poverty. The known ways by which
governments and their development partners
solve unemployment and attack poverty are, it
appears, being tackled by governments at all
levels and in partnership with the private
sector and international development partners.
So, what reasons can ever be tabled to justify
the killings that we have witnessed in the north
all these years. And the Chief Servant is
attributing it to poverty and unemployment.
But for some time, there have been a lot of
distractions that I find quite unnecessary, if
not outrightly senseless coming from
‘eminently qualified’ sources – like the one
attributed to Prof. Ango Abdullahi, a former
Vice Chancellor of one of our leading
universities, who was quoted recently as saying
that the state of emergency in three northern
states amounted to a declaration of war. And I
ask: when last did the eminent scholar visit his
village? The extremists made it difficult for
prominent sons and daughters of the north to
operate openly in their places. I have a friend
from Borno State who swore that “ I will only
go home to see my ageing mum when the
military has flushed out those very confused
boys.” Otherwise, my friend feels good living
and working with a bank in Lagos. For him,
Maiduguri in Borno State is a no-go area, for
now. Yet, Prof. Abdullahi sees the effort of
Nigeria’s military to dislodge the extremists as
‘a declaration of war.’ His co-traveller, and
both have always belonged to the same school,
General Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria’s former
Head of State, is angry and wants to know why
Niger Delta militants were rehabilitated and
offered opportunities for vocational training
and employment, while Boko Haram insurgents
are to be fought and defeated.
The militancy that we witnessed in the Niger
Delta could be traced to justifiable anger of
the youth in the area over a number of issues:
oil and gas exploration pollutes their entire
environment, making farming and fishing, their
principal means of livelihood, impossible.
There is no development in the area that
compensates for what has been taken away
from the area since 1957, and yet it is the hen
that lays Nigeria’s golden egg. The young men
in the area were angry with their elders for
allowing the looting of their natural resources
for so long, by a succession of uncaring federal
governments that were not only mindless but
devoid of any conscience. When it became
clear to the boys that the political
establishment in (distant) Abuja was not ready
to listen, they fought back the best way they
knew. Now, I ask again: What cause is Boko
Haram pursuing and what specific injustices
have been done their area or people to justify
what they inflict on their fellow citizens and
how do they compensate us for the bad
international image the notorious sect brought
on Nigeria? How much of their land has been
devastated and its environment thoroughly
polluted resulting in acid rain? How much of
their land has been rendered useless for
farming and fishing? I still see truck-loads of
their tomatoes and onions arriving Lagos, Port
Harcourt, etc. What cause or causes pushed
Boko Haram to such level of destruction of
human lives and institutions? They attack
churches, schools, police barracks, markets,
United Nations offices and facilities, etc? What
cause are they pursuing? The one most of us
know about is their notorious mission to
Islamise Nigeria and impose Sharia laws. We
are waiting!
If Boko Haram and its sponsors want us to re-
draw the map of Nigeria, we should welcome
them to it. To my mind, there is nothing
particularly sacrosanct about this creation of
Lord Lugard and his mistress in 1914. Nothing!
And I am always amused and feel entertained
when some incurable optimists keep saying
that ‘nothing can make Nigeria to break up’. If
Soviet Union, Tito’s Yugoslavia and huge Sudan
can split, making way for self-determination,
peace and harmony, I don’t see the point they
are making, giving the way things are going.
But for goodness sake, let the senseless
killings, carnage and national disgrace stop. Or
should we not start considering the option of
getting Nigeria back to the more acceptable
1963 constitution?

Next Post »