started this article in June 2012, after I listened to a BBC Radio programme where a commentator attempted to make a case for poverty as the cause of Boko Haram terrorism in Nigeria. Understanding that causality of problems like terrorism in a multi ethnic state like Nigeria is something very difficult to assign to a single variable, I did not share his view. In the intervening period, the north has worked very hard to convince the world that a people who can afford AK 47, ammunitions, rocket propelled grenades, military training and technology to make car bombs; are compelled by poverty. Not surprising, the recent interview granted by President Jonathan in which he dismissed poverty as the cause of the terrorism perpetrated by Boko Haram on Nigeria, has drawn the ire of some northerners, who want the world to believe that the ethnic targeting and cleansing of Igbos from the north of Nigeria by sectarian and extremist religiously prejudiced group, is caused by poverty. I couldnít agree more with President Jonathan. For once, he has got his logic right and I only wish he said it earlier. It would seem to me that the problem of north Nigeria is that it looks at the north to see Nigeria, instead of looking at Nigeria to see the north, and unless it corrects this distortion in its conceptualisation of Nigeria, the disintegration will gather momentum.
Within the same period, the United States bought the narrative that an organisation that loudly declared Jihad on Nigerian and displays videos where it reads the Quran before beheading Igbos, targets anybody who does not agree with it, sends suicide bombers to churches and markets and has asked all southerners to leave the north is not a terrorist organisation and that it activities is caused by poverty. I was not particularly surprised because this is what the northern lobby paid the Public Relation consultants to do. For a moment, they appeared to have succeeded in convincing the world that what Boko Haram was doing was not a calculated attempt to acquire power and impose an extreme intolerant world view on Nigeria. However, most surprising was the rather irrational and ununderstandable decision of the government of Nigeria to lobby the United States government not to declare Boko Haram a terrorist group and the deafening silence of Igbo leaders and other people whose ethnic or religious groups continue to bear the greatest brunt of this terror. I am startled at the disorganisation, political naivety and ignorance of Nigerian leaders and their apparent lack of appreciation of the message their inability to rise up to the challenge, sends to those who are determined to prevail by violence. Their position reminds me of the attitude of Britain before Hitler invaded Poland.
It gives a flicker of hope that at last, it would seem that President Jonathan has found his voice and narrative. Unfortunately, Nigerians have paid dearly for his indecisiveness and the putting of ethnic and sectarian objectives over and above the interest of Nigeria as a country. I suppose, with the attack on Emir of Kano, that the north has realised that those who ride the tiger, ends in the tigerís stomach; hence the attempt by some of its leaders to distance themselves from its secterian meeting. It is only regrettable that they did not come to that realisation when thousands of innocent Igbos were slaughtered in cold blood and that the president waited this long before describing Boko Haram for what it is; a terrorist and sectarian group with extreme religious view which wants power to impose Islamic rule in Nigeria. The question is why Jonathan waited until now to say what most objective minded people have known and said all along; that Boko Haram is an extreme Islamic terrorist group that wants to impose a Taliban type of government in Nigeria. Jonathan must now accept that the implementation of Sharia in north Nigeria was simply the beginning of this journey before he can articulate an appropriate response that would save Nigeria. The attack on the Emir of kano is not just a wakeup call to Nigerians as Babangida was reported to have said, because Nigerians are already awake; but a very important evidence that the project to turn Nigeria into an Islamic state, which all the Emirs in north Nigeria supported has run into serious trouble.
It is also important to note that the lack of appropriate civil response by those who have born the blood price of Boko Haram terror emboldened the organisation and those who wish to explain it way terror, genocide and ethnic cleansing on poverty. The truth is that poverty as cause of Boko Haram is a red herring. The fact that poverty is now cited as a cause of Boko Haram is victory of the propaganda warfare which some northerner have mounted since the beginning of this night mare. As Hitler said, if a lie is repeated many times it becomes the truth. Igbos lost the propaganda war in 1966 and has lost it again. Boko Haram is a politico religious insurgency sponsored with multimillion Naira. It has nothing to do with poverty as a cause. Poverty was used in an attempt to rationalise its terror by Mallam Sanusi Lamido , the Nigerian Central Bank governor who set up an Islamic Bank just before Boko Haram declared war on Nigeria. When the group hit Kano state, Mallam Sanusi gave 100million Naira from the central Bank to Kano state his state of origin, and has done nothing to compensate those ( mainly Igbos) whose economic activities have been destroyed by Boko Haram. If poverty is the cause of Boko Haram, why donít they use the money they spend on explosives, AK 47, car bombs, rocket propelled grenades etc., to pursue poverty alleviation programs? If poverty is the cause, where does the group get the money to buy explosives, motorcycles, cars and other ammunitions? If poverty is the cause of Boko Haram, why does it target churches and Igbos and the Emir of kano? How does poverty explain terror, barbarity, wickedness, to to impose one's religious beliefs on all and pure evil?
Igbos and many other minority groups in north Nigeria have suffered enough. They have paid enough of the blood price of the Nigerian experiment. It is now time to make concerted effort to end this madness by insisting on a truly federated Nigeria with a considerable regional autonomy that would enable each region develop at its pace. The federal government has been unable to protect Igbos and other ethnic minority groups in north Nigeria. No attempt has been made to compensate the victims of this evil. Igbo leaders do not seem to see justice for the victims as a priority because it may be inimical to their political and presidential ambitions. Instead, unarmed members of MASSOB are mascaraed in cold blood by Nigerian army whose paranoia about Biafra is legendary. The Nigeria army seem to pay more attention to MOSSAB than to Boko Haram. The federal government has shown no evidence that it is interested in justice for Igbos and other victims caught up in this unjustifiable terror which has been justified by poverty. In the meantime, large sums of money have been awarded to members of the family of the founder of Boko Haram who died in an encounter with the police. It is clear that Igbo and other leaders are not doing enough to use the existing imperfect system to secure justice for Igbos and other victims caught up in this madness and the responsibility for the current state of affairs must rest with them.
The plan of Boko Haram is easy to understand. It is to scare Igbos and other ethnic minorities away from the north so that they can take over their properties the way did during the civil war. There is also another sinister objective which may explain why some norther politicians are behind it. It is to eleimnate Igbo votes from north nigeria so that the north can only vote for its candidate and deny any candidate outside its regin from ever gaining the percentage requires by a winning candidate from all the states. This is not conspiracy theory and the next election will vindicate this theory because the igbos in the north who voted for Jonathan will not be there in 2015. The Islamists also need the villages of ethnic minorities in the north as grazing grounds for their cattle. Igbos and other minorities who are living in the north should be helped by their leaders and organisations to seek compensation from the state and federal governments to enable them to leave the north or provide the security they need to live in a place where an armed group has declared war against them. No unarmed person is safe when your enemy is armed. This is the simple, just and logical solution, if indeed, the Federal and northern state governments sincerely believe in one Nigeria. Nigeria is unravelling. Those who want to stay in the north would be doing a very brave thing and should be supported and protected. they should also be enabled to acquire the means to defend themselves. The government should issue them with guns and amunitions which they should return at the end of this war. To be fore warned is to fore armed. Boko Haram wants the north to itself. Their aim is to establish an Islamic republic. They are a group driven by an extreme Islamic ideology based on primitive interpretation and understanding of a religion which should have no place in any civilised society.
It is surprising that many months after this insurgency started, that the Nigeria national Assembly has not held a debate on the killing and insurgency. They have not acted in any way or manner to show that they care about the people who have lost relatives and properties in this insanity. No attempt has been made by the national assembly to strengthen the law to enable the police bring everybody involved directly or indirectly with Boko Haram to justice as would have been the case in a real democracy where the legislators are alive to their responsibilities. If the problem is ignorance on the part of our legislators, why is it that they have repeatedly fail to attend courses organised to enable them fill their knowledge gap as the deputy president of the Senate said recently. It is sad to watch the opportunity that Nigeria has to save itself slipping away because of ignorance, arrogance, lack of informed and intelligent leadership and toxic ethnic and religious prejudices and nationalism.
In light of the current development, the rest of Nigeria should also begin to plan how to defend the regions when Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen begin to attack and burn villages on horse backs and Toyota trucks. Nigeria has entered a season of war and self-destruction that has afflicted countries like Somalia, Sudan and Congo. Unless the current government acts decisively hell will be let lose in Nigeria. The government of Goodluck Jonathan has increased the risk to Nigeria by involvement in the Mali mess and must now prepare Nigerians for the consequences of this involvement as any good government who takes the step his government has taken, would do. Nigeria is in a state of war. Our soldier will soon be coming back from Mali in body bags and Boko Haram will increase its activities. Already, they have lid an ambush in Nigeria on a Nigerian army convoy heading to Mali. This is the reality, and the government does not need a prophet to tell it to prepare for what is coming. the government does not need to declare a day of fasting and praying to understand that God believes in prevention and prior planning. Hopefully, Jonathanís CNN interview will be the beginning of Hope for the people and rationality in the way the government has handeled this matter so far.
God help Nigeria.