By Muhammad Abdulqawiyu
In recent months, the world has been watching what seems to be a de-facto recreation of the old Kanem-Borno Empire in remote areas of the north-eastern states in Nigeria and neighbouring countries. Little is known about what people living under Boko Haram-controlled territories think about their new overlords, but what the rest of the world knows is that Boko Haram is a kicking donkey, what with the June 2011 police car bomb-blast in Abuja, the UN car bomb in August 2011; multiple attacks in Kano in January 2012, the abduction of over 250 girls in Chibok in April, 2014; the June 18-22 2014 of Kummabza in Borno; the July 17-20 2014 raid of Damboa, the 24 November fire exchange in Damaturu, and in Bajoga in Gombe. The list is almost endless.
The group’s incarnation as a violent Islamist sect dates to 2010 when it graduated from a group of arrow-totting men who employed gangster drive-by shooting style to a group that now occupies a territory. With its extremism and anti-Western rhetoric, it is safe to say that Boko Haram forms part of an archipelago of global jihadist groups stretching from North Africa through the ungoverned spaces of the Sahel, and then eastward to the unstable areas of East Africa as well as linkage to Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and other militants fighting in Syria. Aided by the government’s tactlessness, blame-shifting, power plays and electioneering for 2015, Boko Haram has thrived and mutated i nto a group that cannot be defeated at a few tactical flashpoints.
Questions about who the sponsors of the insurgents are abound and a few possible culprits come to the mind: opposition parties in the country, traditional rulers in the north-eastern states who want to make the country ungovernable for the incumbent president, the cabals of the ruling parties who plan to disenfranchise some citizens in the North from participating in the next elections, radical Islamic clerics, the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria, individuals with economic interests in the oil and natural gas basins around the Lake Chad region, the Israeli government or even the West! But as history has shown, particularly the 1979 U.S-Taliban/Mujahedeen alliance against the Soviet Union, insurgents usually have a motive which is opposite to the agenda of their sponsors. And in the Nigerian context, Boko Haram’s agenda, regardless of the motives of its financial backbones, is to establish an Islamic Caliphate in at least all the states within the boundaries of the former Northern Protectorate.
I tag Boko Haram’s already established territories as Khawarij (Arabic word for Extremist/Non-Conformist) because of its extremist views and its Khawariji characteristics that fits the description the Prophet of the religion they claim to propagate gave 1,400 years ago in his many of his sayings which can be found in SahihBukhari and Sahih Muslim – two of the major authentic Hadith books in Islamic jurisprudence.
One of their characteristics is that they rebel against a true Islamic leader and kill believing folks (Boko Haram kill local Muslims just like ISIS declares Muslims who don’t swear allegiance to them as infidels and ‘Kafirs’ whose bloods should be shed); they also shed unlawful blood by killing themselves (suicide bombing). According Muhammad (PBUH) as documented in the books of hadiths, they go out of the religion the way arrow leaves a bow and never return (hence the name ‘Khawarij’, people who go out of Islam as a result of extremism). And most of their members are young, ignorant and impressionable Muslims who are trapped by the bewitching finesse of their acts of worship and dedication towards Islam. But the Prophet warned against being deceived by their slickness as found in Sahih Muslim: Book 5, numbers 2323 & 2332.
I write this article, not because I’m a non- Muslim who is uncomfortable under Islamic rule or I am an anti-Islamic individual, but because I, like many other Muslims, fear the evil and injustice of a creeping Islamo-fascist, Kharijite Caliphate where dhimmis (non-Muslims living under Islamic rule) and minority sects are not allowed their due rights to perform their religious obligations and are prone to looting, rape, murder and other inhumane treatments from the so-called Army of God.
Many Nigerians in the southern and eastern regions may perceive the Boko Haram menace as a ‘northern’ problem, and seem to be okay with a creeping Khawarij regime in the north. But in reality, any solution for the quagmire in the troubled states will require every force in the country (especially political and religious) to look beyond their narrow interests and step up to the occasion. Unfortunately, a growing number of citizens are pessimistic about a united Nigeria in 2015: the politicians have been reticent in handling the crisis and way too busy for 2015 elections, the youths who we think are the future of this nation are busy pointing fingers and cyber-bombing each other with political, religious and ethnic rhetoric on Facebook, while Boko Haram is monitoring and planning how to utilize the political, economic, religious and ethnic strife among these youths to their advantage a la ISIS style (ISIS capitalized on Syria’s unstable political climate and Iraq’s religious majority/minority crisis).
Boko Haram is not a passing fad. It’s not a nightmare either. It’s a grim reality that has come to stay. Under five years, the jihadi group conquered the towns and villages, some of them recaptured by the military and civilians with opposable thumbs. One cannot be as sure as to how long the infiltrated Nigerian Armed Forces can withstand the brutal and sustained onslaught of Boko Haram. More people are constantly brainwashed by the ideology of the faction. A discerning person will shudder at the thought of unemployed youths, 7 million destitute al Majirai and thousands of displaced people in those troubled states who the government doesn’t care a lick about who may be up for grabs by the pseudo-jihadists for their expansionist agenda, after all, they have nothing to lose.
The group will have grown stronger and have more intelligence at their disposal and will be waiting for an outlet in this country’s volatile political atmosphere to launch a vicious attack on an ill-prepared government. With a fatally compromised security system, poorly armed civilian JTF (Joint Task Force) and the government’s apparent insipid efforts despite Boko Haram’s bare naked disregard for the country’s ‘territorial integrity’, every potential dhimmi and potential heretic (moderate Muslims) in Nigeria can sit in the comfort of their home, and watch with detached interest the usurpation of their land until they wind up being swallowed up in what used to be a far-off Boko Haram apocalypse.
Muhammad Abdulqawiyu is a Level 400 Mass Communication undergraduate student at Bayero University, Kano.