Boko Haram: A Nation Under the Grip of Deception

by Shola Adebowale


There is no doubt that since the 1953 riot in Kano over the ‘Independence motion’, an average Nigerian has been conditioned in a similar way and fold that a sleeper team could ever been prepared, inserted and installed amidst a teeming population and then activated when the time for such is ripe. And this could be seen in the way and manner in which at every given opportunity, a snap of the fingers, such inherent but subdued demeanor always rears its ugly head into a bigger cataclysm at every spur of the moment and when least expected.

And the major catalyst for such violent attribute is always by adopting a social, economic and religion engineering that would allude to the fact that ‘so and so’ are the causes of the poverty and setbacks that the populace is presently experiencing. Often time and in almost all the cases of religion, social and political disorders in Nigeria, any of the aforementioned, is the major tool that disgruntled elements, disenchanted politicians or anyone who felt cheated among the ruling elites have been using time without number, to wreck great havoc against the very fabric upon which the nation is built. Ethnicity, region and religion all join together in an unholy alliance have always played terrible role in political interaction, social contact and contract, and economic engagement in Nigeria. In Nigeria, politics is for instance, entirely a matter of ethnic, religion and regional solidarity and conflicts.

In other words, psychologically, the country’s perennial domestic disorder is due largely to destructive instinct which has continue to be synonymous with the abject and seething cauldrons of poverty of the largest population of the people of Nigeria .And this has translated into a chronic crippling of the social, political and economic development of the nation and its people. It would not be an over statement to state that this endemic condition is unfavorably destroying the nation without any easy way out of such cul-de-sac, in spite of the nation’s abundant natural and human resources.


Since, independence, Nigeria as a nation has spent more time, energy and resources to address protracted bloody and violent internal wrangling than any known nation in the world. There have been many serious reported cases of violent communal conflicts in Nigeria, like the: Maitatsine uprising in Kano (1980), Numan in Adamawa State (1986-88), Kafanchan in Kaduna State (1987), Wukari, Takum in Taraba State (since 1990), Tafawa Balewa in Bauchi State (1991), Kano City(1991,2000,2001), Zango Kataf in Kaduna State (1992), Ogoni and Andoni in Rivers State (1993),Toto in Nassarawa State (1994), Okitipupa in Ondo State(1998), Warri in Delta State(1998), Lagos, Ibadan, Ijebu-Ode, Ife (1993-1998), Kaduna city in Kaduna State (2002,2011), citing few of such well documented ethnic and religious induced conflicts.

Till date any of the aforementioned is still on going, it is always a matter of time lag or lull, long enough ,just for hibernation to reevaluate, regroup, rearm and attack again. This has always been like a vicious cycle and well known pattern to every Nigerian. ‘Vengeance’, ‘avenge’ or ‘revenge’ are common buzzword or words as the case may be, always used interchangeably with every subject matter that has to do with internal engagement and relationship between Nigerians in Nigeria. The picture of Nigeria is a picture of a nation that is not at war by international political dictum, but not at peace either.

How could a 21st century man explain how a seemingly harmless newspaper article which suggests that Prophet Mohammad would probably have married one of the Miss World beauty queens (being hosted in Nigeria and beamed all over the world, as of the time) if he were to be alive, triggered a sudden city wide violence, as it happened in November 2002, leaving in its wake the death of at least 216 people in rioting in Kaduna. Or how a seemingly or un-seemingly cartoon in faraway Denmark, portraying Prophet Mohammad in a derogatory way could lead to bloody violence in Nigeria and not in Saudi Arabia or in any of the Middle Eastern nations that are the traditionally known custodian of the ‘Hadiths’ of the Prophet: A case of being more Mohammed than the Prophet ?


In other words, most of these developments continue to confirm the historical fact that “inter-ethnic rivalry for domination” is a “fatal affliction” of the Nigerian political process as once pointed out by Afigbo in ,“Federal character: its meaning and history.” As always everything in Nigeria is always with an outcome or subject of intense political controversy. Since independence, the very basis of corporate existence of Nigeria has always been subjected to such vociferous and persistent attacks and blood-lust. It is quite a nasty issue to discover that an average Nigerian cannot live in peace on a consistence and sustained level outside his region of birth or paternity, nor with other ethnic nationalities around his neighborhood.

As it stands today, continuous and persistent violence among the various ethnic nationalities in Nigeria ,through which there is now monumental loss of lives and property continue to affirm and confirm, a comment credited to Tafawa Balewa ,in TIME Magazine of Oct 10 1960,that -“There is no basis for Nigerian unity. It is only a British intention for our country.” And also those of Ahmadu Bello, Sardauna of Sokoto ,who pointed out during a second session in the House of Representatives Debates, on March 3-April 1,1953, referring to the amalgamation of Nigeria as “The mistake of 1914 (that)has come to light” ,emphasis is mine.

However, itis instructive to note like Major Abubakar A. Atofarati once pointed out in ‘The Nigerian Civil War, Causes, Strategies, And Lessons Learnt’-that “Under normal circumstances the amalgamation ought to have brought the various peoples together and provided a firm basis for the arduous task of establishing closer cultural, social, religious, and linguistic ties vital for true unity among the people. There was division, hatred, unhealthy rivalry, and pronounced disparity in development”. But quite unfortunate, with all sincerity and pity this has never been the case, unless probably or perhaps, when Nigeria plays in any international football match.

We can call to mind the effervescent petty bickering that greeted appointment of Sunday Dare, (a Yoruba) as the Chief of the Voice of America’s (VOA) Hausa-language service by Voice of America. The media frenzy that greeted his appointment was unprecedented and only just a few distance and moment short of declaring ‘Fatwa’ on Sunday Dare and VOA. And also, let call to mind the Machiavellian moves that developed against the then Vice president of Nigeria, Jonathan Goodluck, when the President Umaru Yar’ Adua, ‘suddenly died after a protracted illness. In a free and fair, just, sincere and faithful society, the Vice President could have just taken over as stipulated by the constitution.

However, in Nigeria it was a different ball game, as calls were made from different quarters for the Vice President to resign, instead of assuming the post of the President. Such nauseating cacophony of unjustified and primitive moves, is even short of the way and manner an incapacitated president, then on his sick bed in a Saudi Arabia hospital was made to continue to administer an entire nation with such historic diversity, through his wife (who had even succeeded ,we were told, in forging the President’s signature on a supplementary Appropriation Bill and also in pushing through oil-lifting contracts in December 2009),instead of the Vice President, just because the Vice President is from a different region.

But for the patriotic valour of the Save Nigeria Group (SNG) an

d the efforts of civil societies for nullifying the resurgence of Argentina-like succession in Nigeria (calling to mind Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner who succeeded her husband when he passed on in 2010 as the President of Argentina).

Needless to open another chapter on the infamy that is called ‘June 12’,a water shed in Nigeria history, that would go down in history as the last straw that broke the camel back, precipitating obviously that Nigeria was never intended to be a ‘one’ nation but rather nations inside a nation.

However, just few words of note: On June 12, 1993, Nigerians exercised their civic responsibility and right. At the end of which Chief M.K.O.Abiola, a Southerner was overwhelmingly voted as the next President of the nation. However, the then sitting President annulled the election, citing among others that “…Chief M.K.O.Abiola though popularly elected to be president of Nigeria by the electorate, is unacceptable to some of the military”.

Since the Nigeria Army, since July 15th, 1967 crisis, in which a massacre of soldiers belonging to the Eastern region had been massacred with no single one remaining on his feet in the Nigeria Army (no pun intended, please), has come to be associated with a ‘regional army’ for the benefit and protection of Northern region interest: it was therefore, unquestionably inferred that what Babangida meant was that the North was against Abiola being sworn in as the President. Events that ensued after the annulment proved that such assertion is far from being just a mere subjective view. However, it could be inferred that such infamy, could only stems from a complex, cleavage ridden socio-political system or society.

All of these persistence imbroglios, put together prompted the interference of other nations in internal affair of Nigeria. For instance, through an unsolicited advice, former Libyan leader, Muammar Al Qathafi, became the first Head of State to formerly and publicly declare on March 17, 2010(Daily Sun, March 17, 2010) that Nigeria should be carved of into two along religious lines as a permanent solution to the recurring sectarian crises in the country. Gaddafi cited the example of India and Pakistan where a split had saved the loss of lives due to the religious strife between Hindus and Muslims. While, the American intelligence had unquestionably, pronounced a ‘failed state’ status on Nigeria by 2015.


From history, extremists in Nigeria, unlike elsewhere in the world, are mostly motivated by a paranoid fear of being left out and once such can be removed and a regime of patronage is assured, such paranoid quickly give way as it came. For instance, at the height of the June 12th debacle ,the Yoruba of Western Nigeria felt annihilated from the national scheme and hence a militant group ,the Odua People Congress ,otherwise known as OPC came into being .And for several years, the group gave the Nigerian Military a big run.

However, when, Obasanjo, a Yoruba man was given the saddle to administer the nation, such heat as generated by the OPC went down .And it worked.

A few year ago, Militant groups such as Joint Revolutionary Council (JRC), Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), the Reformed Niger Delta People’s Volunteer Force and the Martyrs Brigade and other militant groups were giving the Government a lot of headache by blowing up oil pipelines, oil platforms, destroying strategic manifold and kidnapping oil expatriates, the Government hurryingly organized an amnesty by which the militant groups and certain politicians were adequately paid off with great fortune. It worked relatively as well, notwithstanding that the underlining reasons for taking up arms against the Government like biting poverty, lack of infrastructures in the Niger Delta, remain as it were several eons away and one percent of such have not even been addressed.

Surgically, the Jamaatu Alhlissunnah Lidda’awatiwal Jihad ‘Boko Haram’ sect was said to have started as Sahaba group in 1995. The main leader of the group then was one Abubakar Lawan who later left for the University of Medina to study, when he left, conceded the leadership to Yusuf, who was young and noted to be a brilliant and versatile man. Account of the early days of the sect has it that, immediately Yusuf took over, the doctrine of the sect changed when he abandoned the sect’s old doctrine to be replaced with Boko Haram. At the initial stage of their growth, the sect was entrenched in Borno, Yobe, Katsina, Kaduna, Bauchi, Gombe and Kano states, but suddenly like a wide fire covered virtually all Northern states .Hence, by 2002,cited by many commentators, when analyzing the sect, it has grown into a mature and invincible Islamic sect.

Though as of that time, Yusuf was said to have severally described his groups as non-militants, but simply a group of youths who are bent on upholding the words of Allah. And with a stern warning, declared that they would rather die than succumb to the present corrupt system in the country. WHILE VOWING TO CONTINUE TO FIGHT THE AUTHORITIES AND THEIR ACCOMPLICES UNTIL THEY SUCCEED OR DIE IN THE PROCESS.

According to Shehu Sani (The Guardian, Wednesday, 06 July 2011”BOKO HARAM: History, ideas and revolt”) Yusuf together with Abubakar Shekau, alias ‘Darul Tauhid’ began to build an imaginary state within a state. By setting up Laginas (department), a cabinet, the shura, the Hisbah, the brigades of guilds, a military wing, a large farm, an effective microfinance scheme, and playing the role of a judge in settling of disputes. Each ‘state’ had an Amir (leader) including Amirs in Chad and Niger that gave account of their stewardship to Yusuf directly.

According to the author, the sect was said to have taken, took advantage of the biting unemployment, poverty, corruption, insecurity and poor quality of our educational system, the incessant strike, cult activities, widespread malpractices and prostitution that is made worse with no offer of job after graduation to lure many youths to abandoned their education and embrace Yusuf’s new and emerging ‘state’ with a better promise, here and in the hereafter.

And by vigorous laying emphasis on such failures that are stated earlier and well known to be common with Nigeria and with a brilliant back by citing relevant verses of the Quran and the saying of the prophet, the youths suddenly came to regard Yusuf as the leader that will indeed deliver them from malevolence to the promises land. And this could have be responsible to the caliber of adherents that trooped in to join the sect from its the early stage. For instance, it has been noted that families from the high and mighty in Borno and Yobe State, which included one of the sons of the former SSG in one of the State of the North East region . While others, became sympathetic to his cause and supported it financially.

The sect, though with a doctrine that could be termed as being contrary to smooth running of convectional running of Governments in a secular setting, had hitherto be very non-aggressive against State apparatus who most time even patronize the sect, until when the Operation Flush in Borno State, shot to death 17 mourning followers of Sheik Yusuf, who were on their way to a cemetery in a procession to bury four of their members.

To avenge, the death of their members while on a mourning mood to burry others, the sect became activated like a Frankenstein monster that would hunt the entire nation few months and years in the future.

Through scurry, isolated and spontaneous assault against the Nigeria State, the sect could be said to have fired its first salvo in 2009 when hundreds were killed when the sect stormed the Maiduguri police stations .In the same year, Boko Haram leader Mohammed Yusuf was wittingly captured by the Nigeria Army, who against good judgment of situation at hand, handed

Yusuf to the police. While, under the custody of the police, he was subjected to various inhumane conditions and then extra judicially murdered (a tradition that is worldwide known as the endemic nature synonymous with the Nigeria police).

And hence from scurry, spontaneous assault, the group like a wounded dragon galvanized and graduated to a highly corrosive, contagious and explosive frenetic assaults against the Nigeria state. Starting with the September, 2010 daring Rambo’s style of raid on the Maiduguri jail, in which hundreds of prisoners were freed. And freed for what? The answer would be felt and not only seen as time rolled by. Two months later, in December, the sect carried out a deadly bomb attack against the city of Jos, killing 80 people. And to end the year with a big bang carried out a coordinated attack on Abuja barracks on New Year’s Eve.

To Be continued

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