By Ismail Akintan

The scourge that Boko Haram has unleashed on the Nigeria people cannot be quantified both humanly and materially. Since 2009 ,when the sect became violent after the Nigeria Police Force under the directive of Federal Government killed multitudes of their members as was monitored on Aljazeera.The life of Mohammed Yusuf leader of the group initially known as Jammatu Alisunnah Lidawwati Walijihad in Maiduguri, Borno State, was not spared in that operation.

This action degenerated into terrorist activities being perpetrated by the group such as killing of Muslim and Christian Clerics, policemen and Soldiers, burning of schools, mosques, churches and police stations before graduating to full scale massacre of inhabitants of Borno ,Adamawa,Abuja and Yobe States respectively.

The worst part of their dastardly act is the kidnapping of about 270 girls writing Senior School Certificate Examinations at Chibok ,Borno State. Lately suicide bombing operations were carried out by the sect in Abuja, Kano,Adamawa and Jos ,which led to the death of Hundreds of Nigerians.

Seemingly, the federal government does not have the capability to contain and nip in the bud these Boko Haram activities owing to lack of intelligence gathering ,inadequate sophisticated fire arms,sabotage and corruption levelled against the top echelon of the army for siphoning funds meant for purchase of weapons and settlement of allowances for troops on the mission to wage war on Boko haram in the affected states.

One can unequivocally state therefore that long years of neglect by the elite of Northern region in Nigeria which plunged their people to chronic poverty ,high illiteracy and unemployment level among other factors of underdevelopment, accounted for the aggressive nature of the terrorist group.

The most appalling situation is the almajiri syndrome which pervades almost all Northern States in the country as a result of nonchalant attitudes of most parents who are of poor background in taking care of their wards and inculcating good morals in them by ensuring that they are all-round educated.

Consequently ,such children are jettisoned to fend for themselves while attending Madrasat (Arabic School) thereby making them easy prey of indoctrination and recruitment by the sect under the guise of fighting in the way of Allah.

In addition, the governors in affected states may not totally be absolved from the crisis as they fail to fulfil promises made to their people on provision of basic amenities, jobs as well as scholarship to indigent students from elementary to tertiary institutions.

Despite the terrible situation we found ourselves, hope is not yet lost as both the federal and state governments should join hands in battling the dreaded sect and tackling the insurgency using short and long term approaches.

The federal government should as a matter of fact engage in negotiation with the sect as demonstrated recently by United States of America in securing the release of one soldier for five Alqeedah fighters, in seeking the release of the kidnapped school girls or any other means available.While there should be progressive literacy campaign to encourage children of school age in affected states to embrace western education, there should also be restructuring of the Madrasa form of learning where formal education will be encouraged to be taught in such Arabic School.

On a long term, establishment of more skills acquisition centres should be set up and funded to accommodate adults that cannot cope with formal education in order to make them productive. This should be coupled with employment opportunities in the areas of agriculture, poultry, fishing and

entrepreneurship to teeming youths who are idle as a result of no job . Some Northern state governments and other philanthropists are employing this approach but there is still much more to be done to stem the ugly tide of onslaught of idle youths on the masses.

In addition, mentoring of youths on benefits of education and how it can help in the socio-politico economic development of all societies should the focus of leaders, not only in the northern part of the country but in all the six geo-political divisions. By all these, the long arm of the law could catch up with the culprits in the long run.

* Akintan,an academic planner, lives in Abeokuta

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