NIGERIA: Chibok’s Unending Blame Game

0 0
Read Time:8 Minute, 17 Second
That no one is willing to admit responsibility for the abduction of the Chibok schoolgirls by the Boko Haram sect is a failure of leadership. Ojo M. Maduekwe writes
When the blame as to the cause of increasing terrorist attacks is apportioned, one would find the Northern political elite, successive state governments, the Nigerian military and presidency to be culpable. While the root cause would be squarely laid at the feet of the political elite and state governments in the region, the inability to tame the menace would be that of the Northern rulers, the entire Nigerian security agency and the presidency.
Before 2009, the founder of the group, Mohammed Yusuf, was reported to have preached against the state government, narrowing down the cause of the predicament of an average Northerner at the feet of Northern political elite. According to an article in the New York Times, the origin of Boko Haram’s name which in English means ‘Western education is forbidden’ resulted from the failure of the Northern political elite to educate the people.
“Western education was available only to a very small elite, who typically travelled to British universities and then returned to rule from the capital over the impoverished North, and ending the tyranny of that elite was the main objective of Mr. Yusuf’s movement.”
Yusuf’s grouse was with the elite from the region whom he allegedly accused in his messages of impoverishing the North by applying federal allocations to states for their personal use.
A retired army officer and former Emir of Gwandu, Major Mustapha Jokolo, in a 2012 interview with a national daily said those Northerners jostling for the 2015 presidency, years after being part of the country’s ruling elite, created the environment for terrorism to thrive in the North. “They created Boko Haram and other security challenges we have in the North. Yet the same people will now say they want to find solution to the problem.”
Yusuf’s only grouse against the federal government was with the Nigerian police. According to a professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, Paul Lubeck, in the New York Times article, Yusuf and Boko Haram capitalised on the growing anger among the average northerner at their poverty and lack of opportunity, “as well as the humiliating abuses of the government’s security forces.”
Initially, when Boko Haram began using violence to oppose the government, the group refused to attack civilians, and for this, “they attracted a lot of support because they didn’t kill many innocent people,” said Lubeck.
Coming after Yusuf, Shekau who was his second in command before the former was murdered by the Nigerian police, blamesd the woes of the North on the federal government, which makes some people support the conspiracy theory that Boko Haram is merely a tool by Northern elite to discredit the presidency of President Goodluck Jonathan, a Southerner, thereby glossing over their own failure in both creating and taming the group.
The South West Policy Study Group, in a recent advertorial signed by Dr. Tunde Kolawole said: “The truth of Boko Haram has only one true narrative; and it is the desperate attempt by core northern political elites and their possible international backer to use religion and ethnicity to gloss over their leadership failings and blood-stained ambitions.”
In a recent interview with CNN’s Christian Amanpour, Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima, while speaking on the Chibok girls, said three years ago, he had drawn the attention of the federal government to Boko Haram’s insurgency being a problem that if it not handled with care, was capable of “metamorphosing into a conflagration” that might consume the whole North. For this revelation, Shettima told Amanpour that “the federal government has been deaf, dumb and blind to the realities.”
Surprisingly, a West African Examination Council official had accused Shettima of assuring the examination body “in writing” that adequate security would be provided for the school girls. A governor who knows how serious the threat of Boko Haram is in his state, after WAEC requested a change in the examination venue, shouldn’t have refused to relocate the school girls to the state capital Maiduguri, a safer place, to finish their exams.
Head of WAEC national office in Nigeria, Charles Eguridu, made the claim while answering questions from several women including First Lady Patience Jonathan, wives of state governors, female legislators at federal and state levels, and leaders of various women organisations, during a fact finding forum in Abuja to ascertain what led to the abduction of the Chibok school girls.
“Following the previous experience, we were afraid to go to the North-east this year, yet we risked it and asked for extra security through the Minister of Education, Nyesom Wike. We also asked the various state governments to relocate all the centres to the state capitals where there would be adequate security.
“The three governors did not respond to our request but instead said they had made adequate security arrangements. The Borno State Government also refused to relocate the students from Chibok to safer places like Maiduguri,” Eguridu told the women at the First Lady’s conference room wing of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
There are accusations that the governor was careless in handling the issue of securing the school girls, which is first his duty, being the chief security officer of the state. The governor was in position to have known that Maiduguri was a safer place than Chibok.
Surprisingly, this is the same governor who told news men that members of Boko Haram are better equipped than Nigeria’s military. For him to have taken the security of the girls lightly, leaves many people wondering when he developed confidence in the military.
In an essay titled ‘Boko Haram, the Government and Peace Negotiation’ and written by Professor James B. Kantiok, the author wrote: “In the case of Boko Haram, a ruling government promised to change their fortunes by providing basic amenities such as electricity, water, roads and schools in the area during its electioneering, but reneged on such promises after receiving their unalloyed support leading to its victory at the polls.”
Contrary to claims and allegations by some Northern political elite, including the governors of Adamawa and Borno States, Murtala Nyako and Shettima, the author wrote that, “Boko Haram came about as a result of poor governance, deceit and arrant display of ill-gotten wealth by politicians in the area rather than the outright rejection of western education.”
Shettima was right when he told Amanpour that Boko Haram is able to recruit members due to the endemic poverty in the North, “because Boko Haram is a phenomenon borne out of social exclusivity, poverty, hunger, joblessness and illiteracy.”
The question many are asking is if these problems were created by the federal government or, was it the state government whose constitutional responsibility it is to provide these basic amenities, but has failed the people.
Where the federal government under President Jonathan has failed Nigerians and continue to do is by handling Boko Haram with “kid’s gloves”. The government shares in the blame by allowing the menace to linger.
A Lagos-based public affairs analyst, Tony Oweazim, said “Nigeria is at war with terrorism and we should never make the mistake of handling them with kid’s gloves.” The contrary is what the government has been doing.
Oweazim advised that “all efforts should be made to expose, apprehend and bring to justice all their financial, material and ideological sponsors no matter how highly placed.”
For several months, the country was told by the presidency that sponsors of Boko Haram were in the government. Publicly, there has been nothing done to pursue the course of justice and punish the sponsors.
On its part the Nigerian military has failed in equipping its soldiers who come face to face with the insurgents.
“Boko Haram members are better equipped than our military” has become a catchphrase. From the comments of Governor Shettima and some members of the National Assembly down to soldiers who are summoning the courage to mutiny over poor treatment from their superiors, it appears that funds allocated to fight terrorism and cater for the soldiers welfare in the course of the war are not being properly utilised.
Leader of the Borno caucus in the House of Representatives, Hon. Mohammed Monguno, while debating the extension of the emergency rule in the North-east, said: “We were all witnesses to the fact that the state of emergency rule has not yielded the desired result simply because the military lacks the equipment to fight the insurgents.”
Reason for this lack was summed up by the United States Pentagon’s Principal Director for African Affairs, Alice Friend: “The Nigerian military has the same challenges with corruption that every other institution in Nigeria does. Much of the funding that goes to the Nigerian military is skimmed off the top, if you will.” Friend recently told the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Putting an end to terrorism in the country goes beyond Shettima passing the blame to the federal government. First, the Northern political elite must fight corruption and ensure that funds allocated to the states by the central government are used to provide employment and education for the people.
Also, while the federal government must resolve to fight the insurgents, the military must ensure that funds given to it are deployed to proper use.
0 0 %
0 0 %
0 0 %
0 0 %
0 0 %
0 0 %

Average Rating

5 Star
4 Star
3 Star
2 Star
1 Star

Leave a Reply Cancel reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.