Is the Jonathan War a Civil War provoked by Boko Haram?


Mr. President, right there in Abuja, and all over the nooks and corners of

Nigeria, in the mornings especially, you see young men just sitting on the

ground of Nigerian streets, seated under short trees, at the base of the

trees, their legs stretched out in front of them ; or, at other times,

laying on the bare ground with saws, axes or shovel by their sides, some

barely managing to keep their eyes open, waiting to be picked for any

kind—any kind– of laborer's work.
A closer and careful look at their helpless faces will show that they are,

in reality, sincerely looking for honest work, and not waiting to be

called to what former Chief of Defence Staff General Theophilus Danjuma

called a Civil War, nor what Professor Wole Soyinka called a “revolt”.

Let us be clear. President Jonathan has never waged war against the North,

but according to Danjuma, by way of a psychological quip or Freudian slip,

he tells the Southerners to make no mistake; this is an ongoing five-year

war, with enemies between the South and the North, period!

These young men with a show of fluctuating emotions behind their smiles of

anger and frustration, on any given day, can be seen listening to their

little radios with ethnic-sounding languages drumming into their ears,

Northern-related worries, ranging from religious, governance, economic,

power and politics, deprivation, health concerns and many others. Yes,

they have heard complaints relating to Northerners' concerns that it was

their turn to rule. But this is not the immediate concern of these

helpless young men. All they need and are asking for is the opportunity to

work in order to meet their most basic needs for survival.

But these critical needs are not forthcoming, day after day, week after

week, and month after month; so they inherently come to the point where

they feed into the Northerner elites' political concerns, and are forced

to embrace messages of violence. With nothing to look forward to from the

larger society, we make them into something they are not, extremist

If truth be told, the larger part of the North is statically an economic

graveyard, with the rural areas full of pictures of miserable lives. In

the north-eastern states in particular, the entire region is known for its

deep economic wounds of insufficiency and poverty. The only thing that

seems available is the Jonathan War, and many of these young men, on the

basis of historical affinity, become open to recruitment into the Boko

Haram flock.
Without their direct knowing, these young men, who have always been closer

to the door of death, could now care less if their hands bring destruction

and their plundering acts further aggravate poverty and pain in the North,

as long as they themselves are no longer visibly idle and saddened by

their former empty lives. They are now willing to die and take hundreds,

if not thousands, with them, having been forced to come to grips with

their long-standing reality of living in abject poverty.

If truth be told, Boko Haram intrinsically has never been about the

creation of an Islamic state for the whole nation, as they know such

theory in itself is sheer fantasy. In the same light, it is not about a

negative view of Euro-American education, as the Northerners have always

had a bi-learning approach to education in terms of English and Islamic

education. Indeed, many have always had an open and a special heart for

the great Islamic teachings as it relates to peace and humanness.

Nigeria remains a geographically complex place and the Nigerian security

forces find themselves fighting a diffuse war with the Boko Haram who, in

a crude manner, find themselves advantageously depending on poor

electricity, poor and narrowed roads with hidden big holes, poorly

maintained road paths, mosquito-infested environs, and snaked-filled

forests to strengthen its stand against the modernized styles of the

Nigerian security forces.
With the common knowledge that Nigerian security forces may never be

backed by superior American war devices, the Boko Haram crowd and its

sympathizers believe Nigeria is almost finished! But God forbid.

Mr. President, the irony here is that in 2010, the US designated the Boko

Haram as a terrorist organization, amid concern that it had developed

links with other militant groups, such as al-Qaeda. So why they are

unwilling to deploy American troops or sell Nigeria weapons remains an

open question. Could it be that there are bad insiders or secret

sympathizers within the Nigerian security forces that are acting as

watchful eyes for the Boko Haram, against the nation's security agencies

– the military, police and secret police known for their human rights

incapacitations, deep corruption and ambiguous approach to the rule of

This civil war may continue for a very long time under the cloak of

complicity at the uppermost levels of the Nigerian state and ruling elite

who possibly take corrupt pleasure in allowing these killings for

political reasons, especially in the run-up to the 2015 elections.

As the yet-to-be-recruited young Muslim Northerners continue to bear the

consequences of living in the northeast environment, where 70 percent of

people live on less than a dollar a day, and malnutrition and

infrastructure difficulties remain the most severe, the President, who is

a southern Christian, must now swiftly find a way to make the long

standing injustice against the North reduce drastically. All these

youngsters do not wish to maintain their current deadly and vicious

extremist beliefs, thoughts and feeling but, instead, desire something

personally beneficial to their lives. In general, they want to see a more

equitable distribution of wealth and meaningful economic opportunity, just

like in the South, where they have an opportunity to earn a fair

As long as the North remains a region marked with a hopeless and helpless

exploding youth population, the Jonathan War provoked by Northerners'

bitterness, fury, and wrath could exacerbate further and further with no

quick end in sight. Let us hope this will not be the case.

Dr. John Egbeazien Oshodi is a Forensic and Clinical Psychologist and a

former Secretary-General of the Nigeria Psychological Association.

[email protected]
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