BOKO HARAM: THAT USENI HOME TRUTH
It is good we still have an elder, at least one, and so good from the north that still say the truth. He is Gen, Jeremiah Useni. The truth and daring tirade on the troubled Boko Haram was exactly what we need from an elder. My people from the east say it is an abomination for an elder to be at home and watch a goat give birth in tether. That home truth hit at the head by Useni is the same many have been avoiding to speak. It is possible they shy away from it because they thought Boko Haram would just fizzle out or they are afraid of the people involved.
All the insurgent groups in the nation - MASSOB, OPC, Boko Haram, Niger Delta militants got animation from the misdeeds of the ruling class.
But when Boko Haram became an issue, many felt it was just one of the inanities we are used to. President Umar Yar'Adua made promises and never kept any in unraveling the extra judicial killing of Boko Haram leader in July 2009. Just a day after Yusuf, another, Alhaji Buji Foi was killed in the same manner.
Yusuf was assassinated after he had been handed over to the police by the military leader, Col. Ben Ahanotu who captured him. The media report we got was that Yusuf requested to be taken to the Maiduguri government house to see the masters there. It was after he had left the place that he was reportedly shot dead. Possibly silenced like Osisikankwu in Abia State lately so they won't live to talk.
The story about Alhaji Foi was not so different because he was killed in like manner. He was reported a major link between the government of Borno and Boko Haram as the Commissioner for Religious Affairs to Governor Modu Sheriff. He was generally known as Boko Haram financier until his death, and the story was that he served as interface between government and the sect through which money was made available for their activities.
What were those activities?
I read a narrative, at least to the 5th serial in the Vanguard Newspaper by the North's major human rights activist, Shehu Sani on the genesis and activities of the dreaded sect. It was so enlightening that the sect did not initially set out as killer squad but a puritanical Islamic body that intended to sanitize their faith. It was after the founder of the body had died, a man who had no links with violence that Yusuf dropped his job in the Yobe State civil service to head Boko Haram. Because of his slant against western education, his ways became attractive to the young faithful who saw in him a redeeming figure.
But how this humble young preacher overnight turned moneybag in his erstwhile shanty religious abode by the railway line in Maiduguri is what nobody has explained. The speculation remains high that someone in power in the state made money and massive expanse of land available to this man with two wives and 12 kids. Yusuf had following, money and fame. On the day he was captured the security authorities said he had 200 motorcycles, 20 cars, over 600 acres of land the state gave him and many more. So where did Yusuf get all these? Maybe that government Foi served as Commissioner for Religious Affairs could supply an answer. As we battle to fix the jam, if we must fix it, we must not look away from the truth about the birth of the sect, a fact we have been intentionally avoiding until a bold elder said it. Someone created Boko Haram. Someone gave it the monster life it has. Someone used Boko Haram in the past for personal gains. Someone dumped Boko Haram, not just like a piece of waste but with bruises. The bruises are the killing of the leaders, who they possibly used in the past to attain political power. Wait a minute, could that involvement Useni mentioned of Sheriff be the reason the ex-governor apologized sometime to the state and the sect as we read? Could it be the reason Boko Haram vowed in the days of Sheriff that Borno won't know peace until the man left office? Unfortunately, as he was about to leave, he planted a replacement. The replacement he meant to give the state earlier was heartlessly murdered before he could contest the election. Now Boko Haram is like the scientific process which the originator has only the power to set in motion and not control its reach. That avarice of someone propelled by his quest to hold on to power has become the pain in the neck of the nation.
Boko Haram was that tool that had only resentment for a mismanaged society. Their kinsmen that acquired western education, rightly or wrongly, never used it for the good of all and they found reason to hate the system. Someone in quest for power saw a tool in them, skewed their intent, misapplied their potentials, induced and compromised them with lucre, used them and now they turn a dread to the larger world. We await when the FG will question Sheriff for the Useni allegation.
Like the truthful Useni also said, it is the same way Niger Delta militancy was given birth to. A certain governor was desirous of ruling at all cost. Therefore, when he felt threatened the best he invented was a group of heartless goons who aggregated into a terror squad, bullied the opposition into oblivion. In River State, the cradle of Niger Delta weird militancy, the power mongers saw a tool in a group that had existed and agitated for oil revenue rights. Maybe the agitation was not so lucrative, the men behind the skewing process channeled some profit to those that needed it badly, redirected their cause and many top opposition politicians - AK Dikibo and Harry Marshal were the immediate victims. They died. The power owners sat put and devoured their power booty. At a point, the hands of the terror gang grew idle, and they remembered some other uses for the guns in their possession. They first turned them against the gun suppliers in power. And later they faced others with kidnap. Sorry enough, my people in the east took over the kidnap aspect and commoditized it. It remains an industry there till date. At a point, the Rivers State government thought up a trick - to ask the gunmen to return their tools and get some money as reward. Oh! That sounded sweet in their ears. But too bad for the originators, they were not smarter. The gunmen who had used and gained from the tools in their hands knew better how to sustain their clout. They simply turned in the less useful guns, got some handsome cash rewards and with that procured better guns, and grew wilder. And so has it been in all the states. The power mongers have always tried the option of using idle hands as terror merchants to remain in power. There is hardly any state in Nigeria without one. The difference is the extent. Boko Haram has taken an international stature and the alarm rings louder. In the South East, MASSOB, real and imaginary, either as splinter group or impostors has been used one way or the other for sinister jobs. We have reported land grabbing in the past, rape, intimidation and personal aggrandizement with the name of MASSOB. So it really cuts across.
The potentials and efficacy of Boko Haram have possibly been tapped into by some new clients. Possibly they are those that are opposed to one person or the other in power in Abuja, probably over zoning hangover. They saw the relevance of the sect, and Boko Haram has gone haywire and willingly subjects everyone to horror.
Moreover, for Useni, I would simply let the old man know that he dared say the truth. But that was somehow belated. He played compromise maybe for the gains of his party on the day he alleged Sheriff told him the reason he keeps the boys who sell petrol in bottles. If he was elder enough, he would not have put the gains of his ANPP first, but would tell the skillful governor his intent was wrong. He saying it today is better than never, but not timely enough after his party must have gained from the petrol-in-bottle idle hands in Maiduguri to rig elections.