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Published On: Tue, Jun 3rd, 2014

Nigeria post-Boko Haram

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By Adeolu Ademoyo

With the Jos bombing and other bombings, it is obvious that we need to turn the page to reflection time. And this reflection time starts with the political Plc, the terrorist business venture called Boko Haram. The signs and evidences show that a political business consortium is in charge of the evil and dark business of death here, and we may be nearing the gradual maturity of the balkanization of the country.

Boko Haram cannot just be flippantly and unreflectively said to be a “national” problem only. It is first a local problem, and then both a local and national problem to the extent that the Nigerian state has the duty and obligation of national security and defense. But to simply say it is a Nigerian national problem only is to ambush the truth. That Boko Haram is both a local and national problem is not contradictory. And the latter should not be privileged in order to screen off responsibility of political forces that are driving this evil at the local and regional levels. For example, if the social is advanced as part of the reason for Boko Haram’s terrorism, then members of Nigerian political class at that local level must first be accountable (before any other stratum of the political class) for what they did with the available resources that led to mass destitution which is said to be the cause for the Boko Haram terrorism and insurgency. The issue of the legendary privatization and private pocketing of public resources by members of Nigerian political class at local levels must be on the able in this evil act by Boko Haram.

On this, a critical knowledge of Nigeria must impel us to reject two false propositions. The first false proposition is that Boko Haram and their civilian sponsors are not known. On the contrary, they are known. Those who should know, know. No one can know our children more than mom and I. We are the first point of knowledge. No bucks passed. They stop on our tables. Good and bad we take responsibility for the moral character of our children. That analogy is applicable to Boko Haram at local level. So Boko Haram plc is known. Either by act of omission or commission, Boko Haram is the baby of regional and local political players. They are not UKOs- un-identified or un-known killing objects.

The second false proposition is that all the bombings are done by those few individuals who started Boko Haram. On the contrary, like all terrorist groups in the country, such as MEND, Dokubo Asari’s Niger Delta Peoples Volunteer Force, the terrorist bands in the Niger Delta Creeks, Boko Haram Plc has become a consortium and a brand. Just as the creek terrorists used terrorism to negotiate for power and economic resources, Boko Haram Plc is using the copybook of the creek terrorists with some modification.

Therefore, individuals and groups who subscribe either rightly or wrongly to the agenda of power redistribution and redistribution of economic resources in the country, and, think that terrorism is the most potent tool to realize their agenda are part of the loose and close members of the Boko Haram consortium and brand. Nigerian peoples especially at local levels and the government know these individuals and groups. This is why sadly; contrary to media reports not all of us are opposed to Boko Haram. The evidence is obvious. It is found in the loud silence and ambivalence in some quarters to the abduction of schoolgirls by one of the most heinous evils ever in humankind-Boko Haram.

No argument, rationale or narrative, will ever justify or mildly “explain” or burnish the abduction of the Chibok schoolgirls. On this Boko Haram Plc, and their sponsors in Abuja, Maiduguri, Yola, Damaturu and other Nigerian communities have over reached themselves thereby putting their civilian sponsors and associates in the political class across all the political parties in big trouble and on the line. There is no argument about deprivation, destitution, lack of infrastructure etc that can justify and legitimise this evil. This is political.

Finally, I note that we may have different understanding of evil. One person’s evil is another person’s virtue. One person’s terrorist is another person’s “freedom” fighter! But the mass pogrom of lives in Jos is beastly and grisly. The abduction of schoolgirls is morally beneath humanity and beyond the border of humanity. It is evil through and through. And just as Boko Haram shuts down schools and kills students, they and their sponsors are shutting down the remaining space for any meaningful national and rational conversation. It is a shut down of national conversation that potentially raises the need to quickly begin to re-think the country. Therefore for any of us to keep quiet on this speaks volume. And for any group- civilian or terrorist- to use the abduction of schoolgirls to negotiate closes all forms and avenues of national conversation because the country can no longer continue in the old way as if nothing happened after this.

Therefore, if (i) we are not collectively and equally opposed to Boko Haram, (ii) if the Nigerian state under our Commander in Chief, President Jonathan is too weak to battle Boko Haram, ground it, terminate it, and scorch it, and (iii) if Boko Haram Plc consortium and its civilian collaborators among Nigerian political class are bent on using terrorism as a tool to renegotiate power and redistribute economic resources as their counter part in the creeks did, then the last option which is a re-understanding and a re-thinking of Nigeria ought to be attractive to all of us.

A united country has to be built on a public ethics, which is open, consistently universalizable, and mutually and equitably applicable to one another, and not on some crude quest for private, personalized, regional power, economic resources and uncritical camaraderie. Therefore, with clear rationality we need to look at this now before we are all consumed and forced into a full-scale civil war-an undesirable and morally undesired consequence that will be unpleasant for all of us.


Adeolu Ademoyo is of Africana Studies and Research Center, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.

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