Friday, 30 November 2012 03:23

Boko Haram And It’s Campaign of Mayhem – Where is the Outrage By Northern Leaders?

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Where is the Northern Elders Forum? Where is the Northern Governor's Forum? Where are eminent personalities like former presidents Gowon, Babangida, Abdulsalam, Buhari and others? Where are the monarchs? Where is the outrage?

While the Arewa Consultative Forum should be commended for pledging to work with the GEJ administration to resolve this problem, its efforts can best be described as "lukewarm." Where was this group when Christians and Southerners were being slaughtered in bomb attacks by Boko Haram all these years? It is not enough to make statements and issue press releases in condemnation of Boko Haram. They can clearly do more to reach out to the leaders of Boko Haram and help the federal government in starting mediation efforts with this group, after all, their terrorist activities are occurring right in their backyard. In addition, the Chairman of the Arewa Consultative Forum, retired General Jeremiah Useni was reported to have said that Boko Haram was the creation of a former governor of Borno State who had recruited and used them as his political thugs in the past before they metamorphosed into the terrorist group that they are today. In light of this information, that governor should have been engaged by agents of the Nigerian National security apparatus to assist them in reaching out to the leadership of Boko Haram. This is a "no brainer." You don't have to be an intelligence expert to figure this out.

Talking about the Nigerian National Security Apparatus brings to mind what the American government intelligence officials have learned since September 11th. They have realized that you cannot fight terrorism without a first class intelligence and counter intelligence network. Using military power alone has been determined to be grossly inadequate. That's something the Nigerian government needs to learn from American officials. It is embarrassing that the Nigerian national security apparatus are so incompetent they have been unable to preempt attacks by Boko Haram. Effective anti terrorism work is about prevention of terrorism and not just reacting to attacks after they occur. Boko Haram is taking full advantage of this weakness and the absence of a sophisticated intelligence system in Nigeria.

The other crisis facing the Nigerian intelligence community is the issue of traitors in their midst who are suspected of sabotaging efforts by the Nigerian government to deal with Boko Haram. The GEJ administration should make every effort to fish out these individuals, arrest and charge them with treason. This is easier said than done in a country where lawlessness pervades all aspects of society. The reality is that Boko Haram cannot be defeated by military power alone. Agents of the Nigerian National Security apparatus should engage the former governor of Borno State who was responsible for their creation to help them in reaching out to the leadership of this group in order to begin mediation efforts. According to a report by the US House of Representative Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence Committee on Homeland Security, members of Boko Haram are being trained by Al Qaeda in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb which has led to concerns by US intelligence officials. Boko Haram's association with Al Qaeda is clearly a black eye for Nigeria and more specifically for northern Nigeria. There are reports of internal displacements by hundreds of Nigerians of southern origin that had to flee the north for safety due to the mayhem being perpetrated by Boko Haram. Enough is enough!

There were reports that some prominent northern leaders had threatened to make Nigeria ungovernable for President GEJ for daring to run for a full 4 year term after completing the remainder of the late President Yar'adua term in office while others were angered because they lost the last presidential elections to him. As a result of these threats, there is widespread suspicion that these leaders may be sponsors of Boko Haram and colluding with this terrorist group in their campaign of terror against innocent Nigerians in the north. If Nigeria was a country of laws, these individuals would have been arrested and charged for incitement and for trying to destabilize the state. Unfortunately in lawless Nigeria, anything goes. The rich and powerful are often above the law which explains why Nigeria has remained under developed.

There have been attempts by some in the north to compare Boko Haram to the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND). Such a comparison is absolute nonsense! These are apples and oranges. MEND fought a battle for economic and social justice for the people of the oil producing region against the Nigerian government. They never bombed churches or targeted innocent civilians. They never asked any ethnic groups to leave the Niger Delta region. Their primary targets were the oil companies, oil installations and oil company workers. On the contrary, Boko Haram is fighting a religious battle against the Nigerian state. Earlier this year, it gave a three day ultimatum to Christians and Southerners to leave the region and carried out deadly attacks against these civilian targets at the expiration of the ultimatum. Their aim is to transform northern Nigerian into a Taliban like enclave. They want to turn northern Nigerian into another Afghanistan. It is time for the GEJ administration to begin mediation with this group in order to resolve this problem. Mediation efforts should include offering amnesty to some members of the group with less blood on their hands. The government should also offer job training, educational and employment opportunities to the members.

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Tony Ebeh

Anthony Ebeh is an avid writer and essayist on a wide range of political and economic issues impacting the African continent and more specifically Nigeria. He is passionate about politics especially Nigerian politics, its affairs and the wellbeing of its people.

He is both a Political Scientist and Licensed Social Work Clinician/Psychotherapist. He was a founding member of the Nigerian Social Workers Association (NSWA) based in New York City and a former General Secretary of the Organization for the Advancement of Nigerians (OAN Inc.) also based in New York City. He was the General Secretary of the MB Shehu Campaign Committee for Governor of Kaduna State in 2006/2007.

His writings have appeared in various Nigerian newspapers and magazines including but not limited to African Abroad, US African Eye, The Nigerian & African Magazine and amongst others.