Boko Haram: A Secession Bell For Nigeria

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Is Boko Haram the long awaited secession bell for Nigeria or just a wave that will suffer the grasses while the wind ease off? Following the terrorist, inhumane activities of the Boko Haram Islamic Sect of Northern Nigeria, Nigerians, especially Pres. Goodluck Jonathan and politicians dissuaded America and others from classifying this heartless Sect as terrorist group. Also, when the Nigerian Underwear Bomber/terrorist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was arrested in 2009 by US authorities. Most Nigerians were worried that America unjustifiably placed their country on a terrorist watch list, even though this terrorist is a Nigerian of Northern extraction.

The Nigerian Minister of Information then, was prepped to hurriedly claim that Nigerians aren't and can't be terrorists. This was despite recorded acts of terrorism and other inhumane acts by the Nigerian government against minority groups in Niger delta (Ogonis, for example), including individuals such as the late Dele Giwa. The latter was allegedly killed by a presidential letter bomb for his alleged roles as a journalist who exposed the evil government of military dictator Ibrahim Babangida. So during the Abdulmutallab saga, the Information Minister, Professor Dora Akunyili declared that the U.S. decision to include Nigeria on terrorist states' list was "unfair."

According to the Nigerian Vanguard Newspaper, Professor Akunyili said, "Nigerians do not have terrorist tendencies." I laughed at this kind of national naivety and intellectual dishonesty. Thus in January 2010, I wrote a piece that was published online showing that terrorism (and a terrorist) isn't color, nationality or religion, but inhumane acts by certain humans against fellow humankind. And that almost all governments are guilty of acts of terrorism, given the actual dictionary meaning. Mind you, the actual meaning of terrorism isn't the same as George W. Bush definition, which exclude state-sponsored terrorism or him and likes. Terrorism is the unlawful use of violence or threatened use of violence to coerce societies for political (I add economic which gives rise to political, because they go together) ideologies. All or most governments have committed these acts against their people or others.

In addition, I was at the U.S. House Committee on African Affairs' hearing last year (about July 10, 2012) and saw when Ambassador Johnnie Carson gave his frivolous reasons as to why Boko Haram wasn't and must not be classified a terrorist group. Prominent among these reasons was that Nigeria is a strong American Allie -which mostly means economic interest of America-that doing so will embolden the group.

I wrote my observation from that hearing that was published on some Websites on July 14, 2012, and titled, "My Take on Johnnie Carson's Testimony on Nigeria to the U.S. House of Representatives." Not classifying Boko Haram as a notorious terrorist group, which connections have been linked to Al Qaeda groups in North Africa and beyond will embolden her, I've reasoned against Carson and others' postulations. I hope Ambassador Carson is monitoring this group and what his misleading testimony has contributed to. More villages and towns, government and private sector establishments have been sacked. Numerous killings of innocent people by Boko Haram since Carson and others advocated the need not to classify this group as the terrorist machine the world know it to be have occurred. I was also shocked to watch Pres. Jonathan on CNN with Christiane Amanpour (Jan. 2013) admitting that Boko Haram is a terrorist group, which has Northern Mali and other North Africa's connections. Jonathan also said this group isn't only a threat to Nigeria, but also to the globe, if not cut short, and that such group shouldn't be allowed in any country on earth. This comment against his original position and call for help from the rest of the world makes it look like Jonathan could be honest when alone and not doctored by his Northern vice president and advisers from Ijaw, etc. who make him look incompetent, dishonest and corrupt.

Meanwhile, it could be correct that the Nigerian military operatives may have caused some damages in terms of the loss of civilian lives and in attempting to engage Boko Haram. Some members of the Sect may have died as well, and this could be a reason for the abuse of human rights investigation. Such investigation would be dependent on the manner of approach and if at issue with International Humanitarian laws regarding combat, prisoners of war and more. What I however, see to be irrelevant is the insinuation that Boko Haram's fight is about mismanagement of Nigeria's funds, which are mostly oil money from Niger delta. It's true that corruption, mismanagement and violence are epidemic in Nigeria. The presidency, national assembly, private sector/corporations and everyday individuals and groups, institutions, churches are seriously caught up in the web. Corruption especially is more of a culture that has become acceptable, praised and worshiped in Nigeria.

The assumption, however, that Boko Haram's senseless killing and wanton property destruction is as a result of corruption and poverty is nonsensical, thus inconsequential. The reason this Islamic Sect is fighting such unjustified war and beginning from Northern communities is HATRED for the person of Pres. Jonathan. And they've vowed with the support of some of their political leaders who are also alleged to be sponsoring them that more blood will spill in 2015, if a Northerner don't become the president and Jonathan is returned for a second term. This is like the Republican Party (more than 99 percent white) in America HATING the first Black president, Obama, and so making life harder for the poor, though people aren't slaughtered on the streets due to this action. They approved the free-pass and careless buying of guns without background checks from gun shows and anywhere, and could be used for mass murder as we've seen recently.

In Boko Haram's case, if true the terrorist group has existed for more than ten years, how come its destructive actions weren't to the fore under a Northern president, late Umaru Musa Yar'Adua who died in 2010? Why now that Pres. Jonathan, who is the first minority to be president and also hails from the oil producing region of Niger delta known for Northern, South-West and South-East exploitation, became president? Boko Haram and its sponsors' angst is Jonathan and their quest to making Nigeria an Islamic-Sharia-locked state, which will be disrespectful to and in negation of the rights of Christian and non-Christian groups.

When people eat into such babbles as corruption and poverty and right to presidency charge by Boko Haram one can't help but wonder where the world is going. I have also asked what the world is turning into, when I look at the difficulties people are facing today in USA and the rest of the West regarding corporate influence, poverty and how increasingly difficult it's become for free people to exercise their rights to free speech and expression without institutional and public intrusion. Such invasion comes via so-called society's censorship or political correctness that's mostly incorrect. Also perturbing is that, while the Jonathan government is busy begging this terrorist group to accept amnesty (which the Ijaw militant groups enjoyed thus has become the norm), and they're cheerfully turning it down to killing more people. Igbos who have nonviolently sought their right to self-determination under the umbrella of Biafra, as guaranteed and protected by international law are being threatened by a Federal government of Jonathan influenced and maneuvered by Northerners with treason punishable by death.

Also, Nigerians and the world seems to have forgotten that Northerners (Hausa-Fulani) have ruled the country for too long; and wield much legislative power due to their led-military dictatorship and the creation of the most states for their one ethnic group against what other groups have, thus have huge leverage even though the president is from Niger delta or somewhere else. To understand and justify politics as a game of number and number-politics as power and control leverage or politics, see majority of US Republican Party lawmakers in the House of Reps who keeps making things difficult for Obama and the poor as example. Also refer to 2009 and before 2010 Midterm elections, when Democrats were majority in Congress and Obama got many bills including healthcare passed.

Note that, while it's party and to a great extent racial politics in America, for instance, what obtains in Nigeria is a bad and deadly ethnic politics, which has brought about the lack of upward growth and democratic dividends. Bitter ethnic politics in Nigeria has always threatened the nation's existence since the forced or illegal amalgamation of Northern and Southern protectorates under British colonialists (1914) and a rush to national independence (1960). Such hasty independence like the amalgamation above, which some have called "the mistake of 1914" ignored all the concerns and worries of minorities and bloody power struggles between the so-called majority ethnic groups-Hausa-Fulani, Yoruba and Igbo. The powers that be have continued to ignore minority views and other national issues relevant to national economic development, such as resource development and contribution to the center (resource control), stability and human rights, security and peace; therefore the misery that is Nigeria.

In another take, the Ijaw ethnic group/people in power today (led by Jonathan) are considered the fourth largest group in Nigeria. They're looking out for themselves alone and have forgotten the struggle of the Niger delta, other minorities, championed by Ogonis in recent years. The nonviolent mobilization, intellectual advocacy for human right, environmental protection, accountability, and blood sacrifice of the Ogoni people brought the Niger delta struggle to light and helped cause Jonathan's emergence when BAYELSA State was created for the Ijaws to pacify the Ogoni/Niger delta struggle. BAYELSA State is like the creation of Rivers State immediately before the Nigerian-Biafran Civil War of 1967 that helped in dividing and breaking Biafra. Jonathan and the Ijaws seems to have forgotten Ken Saro-Wiwa, Adaka Boro and the rest who suffered for Niger delta to be where it's that Ijaws can produce the first minority president of Nigeria. Ogoni environment and recommended cleanup and development have been abandoned by Jonathan since he fears Ijaws may have no opportunity to have a cleanup project should UNEP report on Ogoni be allowed into effect without including Ijaw communities of Niger delta, which haven't been scientifically assessed like Ogoni. Such ethnic politics and gross negligence is a serious threat to Ogoni, Niger delta and the entire country.

Despite these approaches by Jonathan and his Ijaw people in collaboration with some powerful Northern, South Western and South Eastern block, Boko Haram and its sponsors have no justification to threaten Jonathan out of office in order that a Northerner become the next president. Such verbal and physical threats could stir resistance and equal reaction from the Ijaws, other Niger deltans, the militants in particular, whose bread are buttered by the Jonathan administration. Indeed the polity is boiling, thus Nigerians are in palpable fear as the North, Boko Haram and Ijaws, their militants trade war-like words-the Igbos are determined to be self-determined, and Yorubas, like most other groups seems not sure where to start. Ogonis have declared a mini-autonomy, while the rest of the country seems unsure of what this political autonomy, which is simply self-rule means.

Considering Boko Haram's poverty claim, if true that Northern leaders didn't develop their region with the much money and wealth siphoned from Niger delta and the wealth not spread. How come the terrorist group and its likes didn't emerge or struck under the late Yar'Adua's government as mentioned inter alia? Or is this not a misplaced aggression? Yes, it's. This Northern terrorists are abreast of the fact that Northern heads of state and dictators, presidents such as Yakubu Gowon, Shehu Shagari, Muhamadu Buhari who is one of those accused to be sponsoring Boko Haram, late Sanni Abacha, Ibrahim Babangida, Abdusalami Abubakar and the late Yar'Adua have misruled the country for more than 40 of the 52 years of Nigeria's existence. Boko Haram didn't also emerge and kill when a president from Western (or South West-Yoruba) Nigeria in the person of Olusegun Obasanjo was in power for eight years (1999 to 2007), having been a military dictator/head of state or president from 1976 to 1979.

It's obvious the North has always bragged of having the rulership/presidency of the country as a birthright and so no one can legitimately struggle with that right...anyone who tries must be resisted squarely, may even face death or at least they make the country ungovernable for him or her as we can see in Jonathan's case. Could Boko Haram's activities be the boiling point of a long heated pot to burst open, that calm and peace may come when held Nigerians shall become free?

Finally, it's unfortunate that most Nigerians are used to sitting and praising corruption, thus are sitting currently to watch Boko Haram and its Northern gladiators threaten violence, killing people and destroying properties. They're watching these terrorists painting the existence of two Nigeria-one under Boko Haram and Northern control and another recognized by the world to be under Jonathan and the Ijaws. The government of Jonathan seems lost, hence handicap enough to act as a sovereign whose security and lives of citizens are in jeopardy. Therefore, since Sovereign National Conference (SNC) which has been identified by most honest political observers and commentators, intellectuals to be the most veritable way out of the Nigeria's logjam and illegality of 1914 and 1960, respectively seems not feasible due to maneuver from the North and other powers that be. The unholy onslaught and bloodletting by Boko Haram, which have cost so many innocent people, Christians and Northern Muslims lives could be the most viable, veritable secession bell ringing and doing so faster that Nigeria could split and groups held captive freed to exist as were before the inhumane British colonization.

These groups could form their countries or agree to form about eight countries based only on true federalism and democracy. Having learn from the mistake that is Nigeria, and of Nigeria, they could form based on choice and freedom, equality and justice; the rule of law, collaboration, security and peace. That is, if Boko Haram and the North don't stop the egregious killing and allows sanity; respect the rights of other Nigerians, support and protect the equality of persons and ethnic groups. If all Nigerians, especially the North, their violent machine don't stand up for true federalism, democracy devoid of violence and bloodbaths. If economic development and resource control aren't entrenched as the national norm for the different groups to think, create, work hard, manage and contribute to the center. The different peoples of Nigeria today can as a matter of fundamental rights to self-determination, security and peace form as many or little countries as possibly agreed that, shall be workable and consistent with the principles of civility, hence a departure from the illegality and disease that is the present Nigeria.

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Articles by Ben Ikari