There is no justification whatsoever, when citizens begin to take arms against its nation and fellow citizens by any guise. But this is our story in the Northeast of Nigeria of Borno State aka “Home of peace”- where peace is difficult to find this days.
In the Northeast of Nigeria, over 20,000 lives has been lost, over 2.3 million people displaced, children orphaned, women widowed and many more unidentified number maimed, while properties worth millions are destroyed and human trust derailed totally till then. This is bitter one, with a state that was known to be so peaceful until politic mix with religion, when things fall apart.
There was a group of young people who came together to fight a cause for the establishment of a new religious order with the aim of routing away corruption in Nigeria. That group was founded in Borno state with capital in Maiduguri; a cosmopolitan city. What has become of this group is mind blowing as date.
Boko Haram is a group of young people founded by Mohammed Yusuf, popularly referred as “the leader of young people” in some circles. Mohammed was a cleric that preached and attracted poor uneducated and unemployed youths in poor communities within the Northeast of Nigeria. His style of preaching was targeted at reaching out to most neglected groups and vulnerable youths in communities, which made it possible for grass root penetration of his message and attracted easy traffic flow of followership. His message was how to change society using religion as a tool for a take over of Nigeria’s leadership. This was and is still the drive behind the group. This message was new and igniting, and spurred hope into the minds of vulnerable youths who had hitherto craved for identity and class in the society to no avail. That message of hope is the driving force for new recruitment of young people into the group till date.
“Yan Yusufiyya” was their name when the group was formed and not Boko Haram. Boko Haram is a name given to the group by the media. The group existed for a long time and was peaceful. Though popular at grass root, the popularity became a threat to politicians in Borno State. Meanwhile other politicians saw the popularity of the group as opportunity to launch their political ambition, and so started aligning with the group in attempt to mobilize grass root support into political power. But that was just a monster of security problems in incubation.
When mixing the two is dangerous-
That is when we mix religion with politics. It will always birth violence of war and nothing less. Anyhow, I will prefer to be more specific in making my presentation. That it was in the build up for 2003 election year that the group was brought into politics. The group on it own saw their coming into politics as Clear Avenue to actualize their mission of taking over Government from Borno State to the Nation. From the group’s preaching perspective, that was window for them to launch into politics, and this political presumption made many vulnerable youths who never joined the group to believe the group sovereignty and join them.
The group entered into terms of agreement with politicians who were interested in leveraging their platform to reach out to grass root members. The crux of the agreement was; should the group give support to any politician, and peradventure the politician wins the election into Borno State Government House, then the state will be ruled religiously according to the groups’ tenet and belief.
To beat your imagination, the aspirant/politician the group supported won the election and was sworn in as Borno State Governor for 2003-2007 tenure. The politicians before now had armed this group to teeth as foot soldiers to fight opposition before and during the election. Unfortunately after the election, the politicians never disarmed the group! However, to straighten the agreement that was entered, the group was rewarded with a commissioner-ship slot in the Government House. But the group wanted full scale implementation of the agreement and not just political appointment. The group then started asking for more from the Governor: to translate the agreement they entered into prior 2003 into reality. But that so sad the agreement became unattainable.
In the build up to 2007 election year, the then sitting Government’s interest was to re-contest the election, and the group was drafted in again with a renewed terms of agreement for full implementation of the first agreement should they scale through the second term. After the election, the Government won the election for second tenure which spanned 2007-2011. And between this tenure, was when the group went haywire and violent? A once peaceful group eventually snowballed in terrorist group, why? Because Government realizes the impossibilities of translating the terms of agreement they re-entered with the group the second time into reality. The group got disappointing.
In attempt to weaken the group, Government instead of dialogue, set up a special joint police force and military anti- robbery squad called “Operation Flush” to flush out the groups they armed before election. Then, Operation Flush started arbitrary arrest and detention of the group and other civilian in attempt to weaken the group, knowing fully well the extent they had armed the group. It is on record that from 2007 the group had several confrontation and misunderstanding with Government although violent was not recorded.
But in 2009 the group got tired and revolted by announcing refusal to recognize the State Government authority. They then declare their “state of authority” and castigated the Government as being insensitive, greedy and corrupt. That, Government only used the poor politically to achieve their selfish goals and dump them to deeper poverty because of their vulnerability. The group viewed the action of Government as a renege to the agreement. They term the renege as”THE EDUCATED RICH, using THE UNEDUCATED POOR” for selfish reasons. That, the poor uneducated ones must resist and say – “NO” to the educated rich antics in all ramification. That was how the name of the group came into fruition by the media as BOKO HARAM.
BOKO is a Hausa language and means “Western Education”.
Haram is Arabic language and means “No”.
So, Boko Haram simply means – No to western education. What that mean is that, it is western education that has makes the elites to enslave the poor uneducated and should be resisted and claim such as no fit.
The Explosion Started-
On Thursday 11 June 2009, a detachment of Operation Flush near the Custom market in Maiduguri intercepted this group; who were in funeral procession of its member and were asked why they rode on motorcycles without wearing crash helmet. The group saw the challenge as disregard for their mournful situation and in no time engaged in hot argument with the operation Flush. In the midst of hot argument, an armed member of the Operation Flush opened fire on 17 members of the group and injured many more, whom were admitted at the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital. After that incident, there was no reaction from Government on the bloody shoot out and the group regarded it as affront and deliberate to exterminate them.
Few days later, the founder of the group (now late- Mohammed Abubakar- killed by police) issued a statement that, the action of Borno State Government not condemning the shooting nor empathized with them, and has not set up panel of inquiry into the shooting is a clear indication that the shooting was orchestrated with the aim of eliminating his followers. And boldly promised reprisal as justice. He called his followers to dust up their arms in preparedness for self defense and eventual Jihad to the shooting of 17 followers.
On Sunday 26th July 2009 at about 10pm, the group retaliated by disabling all GSM networks in Maiduguri and struck different police stations and residents of police officers killing in revenge. In counter, Federal Government immediately stepped in and mobilized military force into Maiduguri then launched back on the group members whose houses were brought down and burnt. The approach was an eye for eye, which has gotten all blind.
From 2010, the group started using motor bikes to assassinate policemen at check points at duty posts. Then, they started killing soldiers too. Government workers, politicians, communities members were later joined in. Reason being that, they are the ones that allegedly pin point group members to security for arrest and killing.
As at date, it is rather unfortunate how the whole episode has played and is playing out between the group and Government, and how we couldn’t manage the conflict till it became crisis and now a monster. The world did not really know of the group till when the group kidnapped 276 schools girls at Chibok. Then the internationally media like CNN, Aljeezera etc beamed their light for news headlines.
But the group had existed for years. To my mind is baffling, how this group has gone to become the world deadliest terror group by global terrorism index 2015. Leaving one to wondered why?
Why is this happening in Nigeria this long so long. How we are using hardware technique of militarization to solve all our problems. How the technique is always giving us steady and sustainable problem to handle. And why we wouldn’t learn about software technique is solving social issues.
Let pray for Nigeria so peace will prevail. Peace to Nigeria, peace in Africa, Peace all over the world.