Boko Harem: The Tragedy of Misguided Leadership & Rebellion.

Listen to article

The tragedy of most rebellions is that the supposed beneficiaries of the rebellion are most often the ones that pay the highest price as the rebellion ranges and the ones that benefit the least even after the rebellion succeeds. Take the case of Boko Harem. The people of Borno, by which I mean the ordinary residents of the city, are dying in large numbers, as high as 100 this month alone. The destruction in property and loss of a good night's sleep and feeling of insecurity are incalculable. The dead are mostly, yes, ordinary people. A few security officers have been "wounded" but the number of dead security personnel is insignificant (of course one dead is one too many) but in relative terms, as compared with ordinary citizens the number is small.       

To make matters worse most of the dead, as far as I can tell, are Muslims who were going about their daily chores. They most likely do not have the much reviled Western Education; most likely live in accordance with Islamic laws; and have not participated in the looting of the country, whatever the reason for the insurgency is. Meanwhile the so called Christians (they are Christians only in the sense that they go to church on some Sundays) have either moved to safe zones in the state (where are the safe zones?) or moved south.       

The economy of Bornu is in tatters and not much new investments are in offing. We read that the 2011 National Youth Service Corps deployed to the state are being redeployed back to their states of origin which I presume would mean that Bornu NYSC members would be deployed back to Bornu to make up for the discrepancy. What a tragic loss! The young men and women would miss out on the opportunity to see how the other side lives and as there are not as many Bornu residents from the state, the state would lose on the free (almost free) labor of the NYSC. Again a further proof that the supposed beneficiaries pay the price.      

But who are the targets of the anger of the Boko Harem movement? I assume they are the federal and state government and their machinery which has kept them hungry and angry; the Alhaji's and the well off; the religious leaders of both the Christian and Muslim communities; and the emirs who are supposedly on the payroll of the movers and shakers. How much price are they paying?      

  Hardly any!      
  When a bomb is thrown at a moving vehicle, it seldom over turns the vehicle and when it does, the occupants are merely injured but the people standing by are killed. When a bomb is detonated against military or police vehicle, the vehicles are armor proofed and have little effect on the intended officers, but once more the onlookers, mostly ordinary Muslims are killed. Take the bombs set off during GEJ inauguration or during October 1 festivity. All the dignitaries continued with their program, went to the reception; drank their gins; danced with their wives and girl friends and went home to continue the victory they had scored "o'er might and wrong." The dead were those who had come to watch from a distance.      

What to do?      
I do not know that there is anything to do than to wait for their misguided enthusiasm to run out which appears to be the government policy now.      

Ohaneze, Afenifere, and various NGOS have called for a state of emergency to be declared in Bornu . Others have called for the deployment of the army to the state (pretty much implemented); closure of some state institutions (U of M has been closed); withdrawal of non residents from the state (many states have the plan on the drawing board (where is Enugu State on this?); and a myriad of other suggestions. Each of these has its merits, but all miss the reason for the fury and the permanent solution to the problem.      

A call for a state of emergency in the state is the most ridiculous of the all the suggestions as it assumes that the federal government knows what to do but lacks the legal authority to do so. The fact is that neither the fed not the state has any idea of what to do. The fed has deployed the army, in larger numbers to the state and the death tolls are still rising. "Shoot at sight policy" does not work in these conditions.       

Even if the entire Nigerian army commands and divisions are deployed into Maiduguri , no improvement would be recorded. A military like ruler which would be the effect of an emergency would not have any better clue than the army now has in policing the area.      

The removal of non natives in Bornu is almost as ridiculous as the declaring a state of emergency with the possible exception that the lives of non natives would be spared. But, this leaves the impression that the lives of Bornu people are valued as less than others. It is a "let them kill themselves" policy. No government would subscribe to such a policy and retain its credibility assuming that the policy can be implemented. The Igbo for example keep returning to the north despite annual killings because they have been inextricably welded to the parts of the north where they have lived for years. My erstwhile Hausa and Yoruba friends retuned to devastated Enugu immediately after the war to rebuild it, and their Enugu born children are still living in the same houses in Coal Camp and other areas, where their parents lived in before the war.      

A possible solution is to identify the true leaders of Boko Harem which can be done more by good police work than by the military action, and negotiate with them as was done with MENDS. This would be a very unpopular solution but a government which means well and have the back bone would pursue it. It could result in converting them or changing their minds with a grant of amnesty which seems to have worked in the MENDS situation. If temporary peace is worked out, then police would infiltrate the organization and be ahead of impending problems and hopefully stop them before they explode.       

This will take time but might solve the problem. Military action will give a false sense of hope and would collapse without solving the problem.       

A stitch in time saves nine is not applicable with military action.      

  Benjamin Obiajulu Aduba