Monday, 19 May 2014

BokoHaram: The 2015 Election & Oil Prospecting Licence Connection, Permutations

This essay is apolitical; there is no intent to malign any individual, group or section of the country. The ensuing analysis is aimed at reconciling the cloaked purpose of the Boko Haram phenomenon and to proffer solutions. It is only when we can precisely connect the dots; identify the real bone of contention that we can prescribe tailored solutions.

The Boko Haram Malady and Futile Prescriptions
The Boko Haram bloodlettings seem to have defied all prescriptions by the Nigerian government. Akin to guerrilla warfare, the Sect keeps metamorphosing, playing a catch-me-if-you-can game, shunning rules of engagement and increasingly embarrassing the Nigerian Government. Their ability to kidnap hundreds of female students, deploying and detonating two successive bombings in Abuja, all within a month and the shortcomings of the current wishy-washy, haphazard approach draws public anger.

Fingerpointing Saga:
A lot of finger pointing is flying around as to who really sponsors Boko Haram's insurgency campaign in Nigeria. The ruling party (PDP) reiterates that Boko Haram is the brainchild of the All Progressives Congress (APC). The PDP and its adherents refer to APC as "Janjaweed Party". The APC reciprocates the allegations in good measure. Acerbic and inciting statements credited to some prominent northern leaders escalate the situation. Interestingly, erstwhile former National Security Adviser, Lt. General Azazi was said to have fingered the People's Democratic Party (PDP) in the Boko Haram brouhaha.

Alibi's for Boko Haram's Existence
Extenuating excuses are bandied as to why Boko Haram thrives. Boko Haram claims it abhors Western education. They say they are fighting for an Islamic republic. But it is un-Islamic to wantonly kill, kidnap, and plausibly rape teenage school girls. They kill their fellow Muslims as well as Christians. Thankfully many Nigerian Muslims have denounced the barbaric acts of Boko Haram in the guise of religion. This proves that the Sect's ideology is not purely premised on religion.

Yes, Youth Hopelessness is Incorporated in Nigeria But...
Unprecedented unemployment rate, hopelessness and 'radicalization' are also said to fan the embers of terrorism, insurgency. However the strongholds of Boko Haram onslaught are not the only under-developed states in Nigeria with high levels of poverty and youth unemployment. Empirical evidence proves Southern states are peopled with more unemployed graduates than the northern states. So why are the unemployed youths from the South not taking up arms against their fatherland? Also bring to mind that Northerners have held Political Power longer than any other part of the country, if anything, those Northern leaders should be held responsible for foisting abject poverty, despondency on their folks. Talking about ‘radicalization’, it is not only folks from the North-East of Nigeria that are ‘radicalized’ neither do they have a monopoly of violence. Plausibly 80% of Nigerians, especially youths across the nook and cranny of the country, are also ‘radicalized’ by poverty and unemployment. Why are they not waging war against their country?

The aforesaid inference is meant to water down the trite notion that Boko Haram is a function of pervasive unemployment, underdevelopment and poverty on a particular section of the country. If it is simplistic that unemployment and underdevelopment automatically transforms folks into terrorists, then plausibly 80% or more Nigerians have enough justifications to become terrorists. But there seem to be more to it. Bring to mind that terrorism is capital intensive hence not a poor man's business. Boko Haram is said to have received millions of dollars worth of funding in the last few years. One is not trying to completely exonerate the aforesaid dynamics. If there were to be a ranking for the reasons behind Boko Haram, unemployment, under-development, poverty, religion et al will probably rank 1-3 on a scale of 10. Having temporarily put down the aforementioned variables that plausibly fuels terrorism and insurgency in Nigeria, let us juxtapose what some school of thought contend may be the crux of the matter: a  disguised freewheeling quest for political power.

The Political Dimension:
2015 Presidential Election Angle
President Jonathan himself emphatically cited that Boko Haram have infiltrated his cabinet, sorry government.
Going by the statement credited to her lately, Nigeria's Finance Minister Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala also concurs to the assertion that Boko Haram is the brainchild of unscrupulous politicians.
In a recent interview with CNN's Christine Amanpour on the issue of the abducted Chibok girls, Governor Kashim Shettima of Bornu State said, "it took the President a while to take action. For the first three weeks, we were politicking. And there is a whole lot of difference between governance and politics. Instead for us to pointedly address the problems, we were busy looking for scapegoats.”
An inkling to some deft political interplay: is it a coincidence that the three northern states under a 'state of emergency' are controlled by the opposition party- the APC? Whereas the PDP controlled central government is bent on extending the emergency rule, many Northern elites are strongly opposed to the move citing that the so-called 'state of emergency' have not yielded the desired result. There are also calls from some quarters for a 'total emergency rule' in those three states that will entail removing the sitting governors.  The Independent National Electoral Commission's Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega insinuated a while ago that there is a likelihood that elections may not hold in Bornu, Adamawa and Yobe (APC-controlled states) in 2015 if the violence and the 'state of emergency' persists till the 2015 general election.

Is it a coincidence that a disjointed, ragtag Sect suddenly became more sophisticated, virulent and a 'global player'? The escalation of Boko Haram's activities sequel to President Jonathan's fated usurpation of Power from a northerner make some school of thought prognosticate that the once sleepy Sect may have transmuted into some kind of "bargaining chip".

Perhaps the ensuing analogy reinforces the hypothesis that there is some element of politics in all of this hoopla. Kabiru Sokoto, a wanted and now convicted terrorist was apprehended by operatives of the State Security Service in the Borno State Governor’s Lodge in Abuja but he escaped from detention in broad day light. A senior police officer, one CP Zakari Biu was fingered and subsequently dismissed for aiding Kabiru Sokoto's escape. Kabiru Sokoto has since been jailed, CP Zakari Biu was dismissed from the police (unconfirmed report suggests he was secretly reinstated and given a soft landing). It appears the said Kabiru Sokoto is well connected? Was the Governor unaware of the 'august' visitor in his lodge?

The Crude Oil Prospecting Licence Equation:
Sometime in 2013, the Chairman Senate Committee on Business and Rules, Senator Ita  Enang made a startling revelation that 83% of Crude Oil Concession Licenses in Nigeria are in the hands of northerners. Senator Enang reeled out the oil prospecting licenses owned by northerners. He subsequently demanded that the aforementioned oil block licenses be revoked and re-awarded in line with federal character principle.

There are suggestions that many of the  Crude Oil prospecting licenses will expire, due for renewal between 2016-2019 hence whoever is the sitting President determines whether or not the current owners will retain their largesse, cash cow. This school of thought insinuate that this explains why some cabals, a section of the country are bent on frustrating President Jonathan into capitulating.

Violence As A Negotiating Tool:
Bring to mind that it was the heckling, agitation for resource control spiced with militancy by Niger Delta youths which dwindled Nigeria's Crude Oil production that galvanized former President Obasanjo to pacify the South South with a Vice Presidential slot. The erstwhile militants have since gotten their own fair share of the 'national cake' sequel to an 'amnesty largesse' that abruptly unveiled a consortium of  ex-Niger Delta militants turned highflying foreign-trained pilots/experts and wheeling dealing, nouveau-riche billionaires.
The problem with Boko Haram is that their 'branding' is not clearly defined but their strategy of keeping Nigeria(ns) constantly on the brink seem to be working.
The Nigerian scenario seem to lend credence to Machiavelli's assertion that an "unarmed prophet" will seldom have his way. MASSOB, Ombatse and other latent militia's, terrorist, insurgency groups are keenly watching the development.

Connecting The Dots:
Nigeria is such an interesting country where folks with the 'right connections' are above the law and can get away with anything. While parading five suspects fingered in the Nyanya bombing, the DSS Spokesperson, Marilyn Ogar declared wanted with pageantry, one Aminu Sadiq Ogwuche, a supposed Army deserter and son of retired Colonel Agene Ogwuche, who she claimed was once arrested for terrorism related activities on 12th November 2011 but was released on bail because of 'intense pressure' that came to bear on the DSS. How many other terrorism suspects have been granted bail? Please madam, does this not smack of manifest institutional failure that is the bane of our dear country? It will be great if the Security agencies - the Department of State Security et al can forestall such criminal activities rather than their penchant for "bringing out kegs to fetch rain water after the rain must have stopped". Hopefully the DSS will not capitulate again when "intense pressure" weighs on them. Come to think of it, a UK-born son of a retired Colonel of the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI) does not have the rap sheet of an average poverty stricken, unemployed Nigerian geezer. Try connecting the dots and you will see there is more to the publicly bandied alibi's for Boko Haram and terrorism in Nigeria?

Some Posers:
What is your take, do you concur with the hypothesis that behind-the-scenes, Boko Haram may after all be an instrument of power play, a bargaining chip? Will a political solution, a "soft approach", a "Special Development Plan" rein in Boko Haram?  Is this insecurity, terrorism miasma a prelude to the prediction of Nigeria's imminent balkanization by 2015? Now that our leaders have gone cap in hand to invite the United States et al and the later obliged, is this an alibi, a precursor to having United States drones, military base, AFRICOM stationed in Nigeria?

How Nigeria Can Overcome Instability, Terrorism and Insurgency:
No doubt the United States wields profound counter terrorism expertise. If our leaders, all Nigerians do that which we MUST do and our 'friends' will do that which they CAN do; then the synergy will yield desirable results. If it must survive as one country, Nigeria urgently needs a no-holds-barred restructuring. Americans cannot come and foist that on us. Americans will not fight corruption for us. An Igbo adage goes thus, "it is easier for somebody who witnessed the burial of a corpse to know what direction the head of the deceased lies than for somebody that was not there". We cannot fold our hands, abdicate our responsibilities and expect the Americans, Westerners to pull the magic wand. Let's go beyond #AmericaWillKnow,  #DiarisGod o o o!

The home truth is that the foundation of this county is built on sand, which explains why it is wobbling and may continue to wobble until we stop playing the ostrich and do #TheNeedful. At the risk of been dubbed a prophet of doom, I dare extrapolate that killing Shekau, exterminating Boko Haram may not end terrorism, insurgency in Nigeria unless we exterminate the causative agents of the disease as against treating the symptoms as we are currently doing. Maitatsine beget Boko Haram; who knows what Boko Haram, Ombatse et al will metamorphose into even if they are temporarily, eventually put down? An Igbo  wise suffices: "after a battle, sharpen your sword". We humbly implore security agencies to think the unthinkable and be proactive.
The discordant tunes emanating from Abuja when Boko Haram offered to swap abducted Chibok girls with their "Comrades" held by the Nigerian government smacks arrant confusion. This reinforces my persistent advocacy for Nigeria to exigently articulate a coherent counter terrorism policy. I suspect Boko Haram may be in for some mind games.

We entreat Boko Haram to unconditionally #BringBackOurGirls and end its bloodletting campaign. There is no justification whatsoever for slaughtering innocent Nigerians.  A clarion call goes out to all Nigerians to be resilient and unite against the vestiges of criminality and terrorism. Security is a collective responsibility. "SAY NO TO INSECURITY AND TERRORISM". See it, hear it, say it, stop it!!!

God bless Nigeria and Nigerians.

Don Okereke, a writer/blogger, passionate advocate, change agent, public speaker, versatile Security Analyst/Consultant with over 17 years combined Military (Air Force), Private Security, entrepreneurial experience.
Twitter: @DonOkereke
Telephone: +234 708 000 8285

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