The Project Of Killing Nigeria Slowly


By Kanayo Esinulo

The Governor of 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 begun to bomb places of worship, destroy United Nations buildings and facilities, place explosives at school playgrounds to kill and maim innocents? 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 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.

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 and rule it, 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 sanctuary in Borno, Yobe and 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 North.

Related News

I then ask: What manner and calibre of young men, perhaps educated, would accept to be laced with explosives and sent to go to a church, office complex or Emir’s palace and detonate – knowing 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 root 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 government 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 has been a lot of distractions that I find quite unnecessary, if not outrightly senseless, coming from ‘eminently qualified’ sources – like the one attributed to Professor 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. Yet, Professor 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 administrations 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 trucks-load 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? 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. 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, Yugoslavia and huge Sudan can split, making way for self-determination, peace and harmony, I don’t see the point they are making, given 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?

Load more