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BOKO HARAM, NIGERIAN ARMY AND THE UN- MAKING OF A NATION.

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BOKO HARAM, CORRUPTION, FAILURE OF THE RULING CLASS AND THE UN- MAKING OF A NATION. (”WE DO NOT INHERIT THE EARTH FROM OUR ANCESTORS, WE BORROW IT FROM OUR CHILDREN” NATIVE AMERICAN SAYING). The current spate of terrorism in Nigeria today cannot be attributed solely to rejection of western education and civilization, religious fundamentalism and the refusal of the northern leadership to accept a southerner as President. To put the current issues in its proper perspective, one has to examine terrorism from both global and national perspectives and its implication for the Nigerian state. It is unfortunate that Nigerian politicians play politics with violence and the phenomenon of Boko Haram. The political class learnt no lessons from their irresponsibility when they played politics with the sharia/religion. They can no longer control what they created. It is equally unfortunate that nobody is tackling the root cause of the current crisis which is corruption and politicking with religion. Nigeria is currently at the stage where the Nation State can no longer defend its’ territorial integrity and maintain law and order, (the recent successes of ISIS in Iraq should be a cause for concern for all Nigerians). This article will seek to analyze the boko haram phenomenon and the unfortunate state of the Military. Boko Haram as we know it today is about terror, crime, kidnapping, mass murder extortion robbery rape and abductions. The phenomenon is not different from other terrorist organizations in Africa such as Al-shabaab in Somalia which extended its terror to Kenya or the lords’ Resistant Army (LRA) of Joseph Kony in Uganda, Al–Ouida in the Maghreb or the Islamist in Mali. These terrorists operating within Africa today play prominent roles in the global business of terror. Al Qaeda in the Sahara/Sahel region is responsible for networking various local terrorists group. The holy warriors earn a lot of money from human trafficking, kidnapping or drug smuggling across the desert. In the Central African Republic – Christians & Muslim slaughter each other.  The better known a terrorist organization is, the higher the ransom it can demand and the more influence it can assert. The publicity attracted by such horror/terror call attention to a just cause or a losing cause or an excluded minority. Terrorism can also be a means of seeking recognition, a means of asserting political power and sovereignty over a defined territory and populace. It is a weapon used in some instances by the ruling political class against the masses. The masses in turn react with their own form of terror to over throw the existing order. The self-designated “holy” warriors attack what they believe to be terror visited on them by the government and ruling class;-like the reaction of Boko Haram members after the killing of their leader Yusuf. Economic deprivation qualifies as terror on the part of government and this is the enabling environment for the recruiting of youths and others into the Boko Haram and similar organizations.  The growing inequality between the rich and the poor contributed in no small measure to creating a reservoir of frustrated masses who now embrace terrorism as means of getting back at the system at all costs and for survival. The American democrats under president Obama still insist that the rich be taxed more than the poor as a way of bridging the inequality gap. The republicans’ alternative is that the rich should pay lesser taxes to enable them have more money to create businesses that would provide employment for the poor. The French author Thomas Pickety has recently sensitized the consciousness of the world on the need to bridge the inequality gap between the rich and the poor.  He supports the argument that the rich should pay more taxes as a way of bridging the inequality gap. Thomas Pickety using the statistics available in some developed countries came to the conclusion that with globalization, income inequality is widening between the rich and the poor. Whilst this might be correct for the developed world, Nigeria and the sub – Saharan African countries present a different scenario as they operate patrimonial states. The challenge will then be; how to balance the widening inequality gap between the rich and the poor in a patrimonial state. This balancing is all about the relationship between the state and the citizenry.  In Nigeria, this relationship takes into account, the religious beliefs of the various components that make up the Nigerian states. It resonates the argument whether Nigeria is a secular state or not. The 1999 constitution clearly stated that Nigeria is a secular state. This constitutional provision did not resolve the conflict between the north and the south on issues relating to the status of sharia in Nigeria. The position of the north is aptly captured Mallam Sanusi in his paper presented at the 1999 national conference at Arewa House Kaduna 11th – 12th September 1999 wherein he said  “Islamic faith has never accepted the dichotomy between religion and politics. Political life for a Muslim is guided by Sharia”. The British colonial masters had earlier accepted the above position about Islam and guaranteed the Northern protectorate the protection of the Islamic religion. The northern Muslims and their southern counterparts recognized the basic fact about Islam and found a way to co- exist peacefully. The segregations of northern cities into Birni and Sabon Gari areas were a natural occurrence accepted by all.  What is then new that pose the current threat is not the status of sharia or Islam in Nigeria but the call by some powerful northern leaders and politicians for universalization of sharia. This has been categorized within the context of universality and particularity of Islam or Sharia. A first approach asserts that there is an uncontaminated dividing line between the universal and the particular Islam, secondly that the particular corrupts the universal. This conflict also exist in the Christian faith which in itself points to the fact that the universal is a mere event in an eschatological succession and only accessible to mankind through revelation. The various Christian dominations have their particular believes which challenges the universal belief.  There is a distinction between sharia as it had existed historically in Nigeria and universalization of sharia as a movement. Just as there are some Nigerians who share the enthusiasm for a universal Islam, there are other Nigerians who do not share the same ideal. The first school of thought was emboldened by no less a person than the former head of state, General Buhari who called for not only an Islamic President but also extension of sharia law to all the states of the Federation of Nigeria. The current accusation against Major Gen Buhari that he is one of the sponsors of Boko Haram is as a result of this statement. The call for universalization of any religion or ideology is based on absolutism and this is the real danger confronting Nigeria today and manifesting itself in the atrocities of Boko Haram who claim to be the vanguards for the implementation of a universal Islam. The abuse of religion for political reasons is what everybody is against. The governors of the various northern states now compete for authority with the traditional religious leaders that had existed in the past.  Boko Haram on its own part is seeking to displace not only the civil authorities but also the Sultanate and northern traditional institutions. The State Governors have created their vanguards for the implementation of state religion in the same manner other states in the south set up their own security outfits. These religious vanguards and security outfits were manned mainly by the youths. Experience has shown that the governors use the vanguard for their own political ends. The consequences are obvious as they have introduced new challenges to the Nigerian state. The North east is a typical example of what can go wrong when you play politics with religion and violence. The new challenges are the following: A shift of allegiance from the old political structure both traditional institutions of leadership and modern organs of state governance to a new political order, the decentering the state, undefined relationship between ideology and militancy, imploding political/ruling class, corruption and a mafia as an organized group that provides protective services in substitution for that provided by the state in ordinary societies.  The above involve some bilateral relationship between a corrupt government/ruling class and the mafia/militant groups and even perhaps have overlapping membership. Nigeria is an extreme example where the state has been described as a national cake to be divided and sub divided amongst office holders. The competing disadvantaged class can only take control of the national cake through violence. The Boko Haram struggle has consequences for the nation state Nigeria, the Sultanate as an institution exercising both political and religious sovereignty over the Moslems, for minorities, Christians and traditionalists and the international community. Violence and political disorder had remained instruments of governance in the sub – Saharan Africa. African presidents, opponents, dissidents and opposition parties employ the same method. Nigeria is no exception of the general rule that Political disorder, corruption, violence are instruments of governance and control over the national wealth. The Boko Haram debacle properly put into context is the manifestation of a new political order substituting itself to take over the vacuum created by a failed or failing Nigerian State. The existing political order had been built on a relationship between the three main tribes in Nigeria and anchored on the potency of the northern establishment.  The Northern establishment /Fulani Oligarchy exercised power in what was referred to as Hausa Fulani hegemony. This effective hegemony had since been challenged by the newly found political consciousness of the Southern Minority groups. The ability of the southern minority now referred to as the Ijaw nation to challenge the so called three dominant tribes in Nigeria is unsettling the Northern elites. They now see the possibility of the northern minorities achieving the overthrow of existing political structure in the north. Should the Northern minorities come together, they will turn the majority into a minority.  This explains the pattern and choice of Boko Haram’s attacks and their targets as well as the constant attacks on the minorities by the so called Fulani herdsmen. The various militant groups in Nigeria have already succeeded to a large extent in substituting the Hausa Fulani hegemony with urban guerilla hegemony – the militants in the Niger Delta, the South West, Eastern Nigeria and now Northern Nigeria. One thing the entire militant groups have in common is that they are dominated by youths in whatever shape or form. Nigeria has produced a new set of youths who can no longer accept the political disorder, looting of the nation’s treasury, mismanagement and dislocation of social, political and economic life of the nation. Corruption had brought the entire nation state to its knees to such an extent that the generality of the youths have no stake at present since they are totally abandoned by the state, and they have no stake in the past since it has been stolen from them as their heritage is destroyed. The needs of subsistence and lack of education contribute immensely to the impatience of todays’ youth as they see no evidence that the state is bettering their lot. There is nothing to motivate them except the imperatives of survival. It is the responsibility of the government to conceptualise and put into practice empirically tested methods of increasing the proper functioning of the state apparatus and the civil service with full and public accountability. In the north, you have a large army of unemployed and frustrated youths created by the almajiris system, feudalist structures and selfish leaders. You also have the arewa and other youth’s movements. In the south, you have the impatient Ogoni youths, Ijaw youths, egbesu boys, bakassi boys and OPC boys. The youths in the North and South all share one basic characteristic – impatience and unwillingness to accept the status-quo. They want to take their destiny into their own hands now and not tomorrow. Their impatience is unfortunately guided not by philosophical ideals and goals but by materialism. Materialism has a tendency for violence and perversion. The conflicts within the oil producing areas of the southern minorities were championed by the youths. They were not based on religious or ethnic divide but purely materialism. This is the scenario that is breeding the current insecurity championed by the Boko Haram movement. The other set of youths who have not become part of the militants as we know them today have acquired other forms of behavior. The Nigerian youths at the universities, secondary and primary schools now embrace various secret cults and societies; blood vows and terror as a means of socialising and guaranteeing graduation from the various educational institutions THE MILITARIZATION OF IDEOLOGY AND BELIEF AS PRACTICED BY THE VARIOUS MILITANT GROUPS IN NIGERIA: It demands for specialists in violence to protect their own ideals, demands and exact revenge on the enemy side. In this scenario, leadership devolves on the leader who can mirror the anger of the membership to build a fighting force. They seek to substitute the failing state with their own form of leadership, the failure of the state can be mirrored from the collapse of all known institutions of state, the failure of the state to protect and fulfill its obligations towards its citizenry. The reason for the failure in Nigeria is not farfetched. In recent memories, the then head of General Olusegun Obasanjo as sitting President accused his deputy Alhaji Abubakr Atiku of corruption and the same Atiku accused Obasanjo of corruption. Both provided and published documentary proof of their allegations against each other. The same President Obasanjo described the entire Nigerian legislature as dominated by armed robbers. At the same time the legislature on its part witnessed the arrest of the President of the Senate, Senator Wabara for corruption. Ditto for the house of Representative; the first speaker Salisu Buhari was removed for certificate forgery followed by other speakers in succession. The judiciary as an institution and the third arm of government was no exception. The Chief Justice of Nigeria, a judge of the Supreme Court of Nigeria openly accused the President of the Court of Appeal Justice Ayo Salami of corruption and Justice Ayo Salami still sitting as the President of the Court of Appeal accused the presiding Chief Justice of Nigeria of corruption. Nigerians were inundated daily with allegations of corruption against judges. This has created a lack of confidence for judgments emanating from Nigerian courts both locally and internationally. Judgments of the Nigerian courts are treated as abusive to be denied recognition and enforcement in some foreign jurisdictions. An aid of Governor Oshiomole of Edo state was killed recently and the state organs responsible to enforce the rule of law had their own drama; the police arrested and paraded in public self-confessed culprits who admitted committing the murder. To everybody’s’ shock the state security services arrested and paraded a totally different set of culprits who in public admitted committing the same offence. The above allegations and counter allegations were widely published both by local and international press. The political class fits into the saying of Archbishop Fulton Sheen that some people know the price of everything and have no idea of their value. The ruling class also fits into the second saying that you can do anything just because you have the opportunity of doing it.  This explains the corruption and massive looting by government functionaries and officials. The consequence is that every institution of state and governance is destroyed. It is noteworthy that a former minister of finance during the reign of President Obasanjo (democratic rule) expressed shock at the state of the Nigerian economy and said that “she cannot understand why the Nigerian economy is like a post war economy”. Boko Haram is not the only security challenge facing Nigeria. The failure of the Nigerian military to rise up to the current advances by Boko Haram is a greater security challenge. No modern state can survive and sustain itself with corruption as a permanent feature of its existence.  In the past, one will be very reluctant to comment on military matters. Unfortunately the Boko Haram successes of late have put the Nigerian military on the spotlight. Over the years, the Nigerian military fell victim to corruption just like every other organ in Nigeria. No doubt there are many factors responsible for the current decay which ranges from foreign conspiracy theories, no external security threat from the neighboring countries, a weakening of the army as a way of preventing military coups. In this regard, one will remind the military of their popular saying to the civilians; “Nigerians have no other country to call our own. It is our responsibility to protect and save our country. No foreigner can claim to love Nigerians more than Nigerians love themselves”. It has come to a point where the civil populace has to come together to assist the military to rediscover itself as a potent fighting force. The civilian populace can no longer avoid commenting on so called military and security matters when it is obvious that all is not well with the military. The media today and all newspapers are awash with corruption, lack of organizational structure, personnel and equipment to contain the current security challenges. Within the military, mutiny and other acts of gross indiscipline are now common place. There is need to redefine what amount to lawful and legitimate orders. Is it lawful to obey an order that is manifestly, unreasonable by asking inadequately equipped troops to engage an obvious superior fire power of the insurgents? The constant argument between the officer corps and the ranks can be summarized in a few words. The officer corps accuses the ranks of cowardice and mutiny whilst the ranks  accuses their officers of deliberately putting them in harms - way and further hold the view that it is morally wrong to obey corrupt superior officers who divert the resources meant for the military in the fight against the insurgents. If the accusations are not correct, the military owe both Nigerians and the ranks the obligation to convince each and every one that corruption is not an inhibiting factor in the fight against the insurgents. A close observation of military and defense budget since independence cannot justify the current state of affairs within the military. One will recall that during the military regime after unsuccessful coups, the argument of what amounted to lawful and legitimate orders came into play. Junior officers who knew nothing about the coup but were ordered by their superior officers to undertake certain duties were tried for taking part in the coup and killed. The defense of the junior officers that they obeyed superior orders to undertake certain duties were rejected by the military tribunal. The military tribunals held that obeying superiors order to participate in coup events cannot amount to obeying legitimate orders. What is difficult to explain as at today is the apparent shortfall of manpower and equipment to combat the current insurgency. At the end of the Nigerian civil war in 1970, the Nigerian military had over 150, 000 men. Post-civil war Nigerian army program was directed towards demobilization of men and emphasized equipping the army for modern warfare. The regime of President Shehu Shagari equipped the military with war planes, main battle tanks, recognizance and armored personnel carriers in addition to other military hardware’s, missiles batteries, etc. Other regimes continued to acquire Alpha jets, MI 34 and 35 attack helicopters. One thing stood out in the manner of acquisition of military hardware: There had been constant accusation and counter accusations of fraud against the military institution. Recall that the military government of Gen Buhari set up the joint armed forces investigative panel headed by Major Gen Domkat Bali Rtd. to investigate the acquisition of military equipment during the Shagari regime. It was common knowledge that the jaguar jets and main battle tanks bought from Britain were disused and never worked for one day. It was also common knowledge that the helicopters acquired for the military, the MI 34 and 35 were substandard. They were configured in Russian languages and some crashed at the point of delivery to Nigeria. These were widely published in the newspapers. The former American ambassador to Nigeria, Thomas Campbell, in his book “Nigeria on the brinks” did not spare the Nigerian military in his criticism. He established a link between certain cabals in the army and the militant groups, exposed and named highly placed military officers accused of supplying state arms to the militants and the subsequent stealing of crude oil on a massive scale. It is amazing that nobody named in the said book had sued the former ambassador for libel. The ease with which Boko Haram captures military hardware is also a cause for concern. The greatest challenge facing the Nigerian military today is the inability of the military hierarchy to manage and control its troops. Up to the year 1999 when Obasanjo dismissed a class of military officers who participated one way or the other in past military coups, the Nigerian army could be said to be a unified force. They had built a platform which held the entire army together. Military coups were referred to palace coups because it was the same set of people in control that were merely substituting themselves as military heads of state. The Dimka and Gideon Orka coups were manned by those who did not belong to military political infrastructure and it failed. The political platform that held the military together no longer exists. The military is now more fragile and vulnerable than it was in the past. In the light of the above, it will be simplistic to threaten the junior officers with court marshals for mutiny and disobeying legitimate orders. It is a two edged sword that can further unite the junior ranks into taking up arms and other forms of resistance against their superior officers or completely derail the entire democratic processes. One would urge caution. The constant defense of the military authorities that Nigerian soldiers performed creditable well on peace keeping missions abroad and as such Boko Haram is no match for the Nigerian army is questionable. We have to bear in mind that UN and ECOMOG peace missions were properly manned and equipped for the assignments. United Nations peace keeping missions were under U.N commanders in accordance with U N operational manuals, and standards. Some member states involved in peace keeping missions adopt open and transparent ways of managing their affairs to such an extent that the civil populace is carried along and become more patriotic for the cause, some other countries like Nigeria under the cover of security matters employ non transparent and non-accountable ways in the management of military affairs. This opaque procedure encourages corruption and is a disincentive to patriotism. The then Gen Babangida government spent a substantial portion of the gulf war oil windfall on ECOMOG military hardware. Weapons were purchased and delivered directly to ECOMOG field operations. Ghana and other countries contributed both men and equipment. Military officers and their wives lobbied to go for U N or ECOMOG peace missions. This was an opportunity to earn foreign exchange. It is unfortunate that for the current challenges military men run away from operations and their wives carry placard urging their husbands not to go to war. The military hierarchy has a lot to do. The President as the Commander in Chief needs new ideas on the ways and manner to restructure the military. It serves no purpose to concentrate on issues of discipline when the general populace and most men underarm have lost faith in the military. It will serve a better purpose to sensitize and carry the troops along on the need to defeat the insurgents. In this regard, a new balance has to be struck between confidential security matters, transparency and accountability. The military high command must exhibit tolerance to genuine concerns and criticisms. They must in addition respect the rights and human dignity of their officers and men both in and out of service. The ranks demand accountability and a balance has to be struck to fire up the patriotic zeal in the soldiers to die for the country. There must be financial reward for dead soldiers who died fighting for the country. It will be recalled that during the ECOMOG operations under the guise of military and security secrecy, wounded soldiers were brought back to Nigeria and left unattended at some ill equipped military hospitals. The Nigerian press criticized and published pictures of abandoned wounded soldiers at some military hospitals and incidents of mass burial of dead ECOMOG soldiers without honor and dignity. This is not how to honor dead soldiers who gave their live for the country. It is unfortunate that the same accusations are becoming repetitive in the current fight against the insurgents. The huge amounts invested in fighting the insurgents so far have not yielded the desired results. Where 1/3 of national budget spent on security alone, other sectors of the economy suffer. The troops are still demoralized and this is a pointer that huge budgets on the military and treats on officers for mutiny cannot win the war on insurgency. It is the responsibility of the Commander in Chief and the military high command to convince the ranks and the civil populace with concrete evidence that things have changed for the better. A close study of similar insurgency in the Magreb, Tunisia, Uganda, revealed that where the military is corrupt, the more money you give the military, the weaker they become and the insurgents become stronger. (The more the terror and chaos, the more money from the state); the money is not going into equipment or training rather into pockets of provincial rulers, politicians, military weapon buyers. The lesson is for Nigeria to avoid a repetition of the experiences of the government in other African countries in their fights against insurgents. Where the country and its military is perceived by the international community as corrupt and compromised with the insurgents, no foreign government would invest its resources in fighting the insurgents. Military aids in whatever manner will end up in the hands of the insurgents. CONCLUSION Sending of foreign troops will not address the problem. Terrors in Africa are organized crime and business. You need a functional state to confront the terrorists. Functional state and institutions is what is missing in the current fight against the insurgents. No amount of money put into the current fight will substitute the role of a functional state, institutions and organs of governance. The country should avoid the known classic answers to solving national issues, the declaration of a state of emergency and increased budgeting to the military. Nigerians should not be misled by the current ranking of the economy as the biggest in Africa. With the best of tools, the economic team is still managing an economy that is symptomatic of a post war economy. Lessons should be learnt from the past mistakes when the military government diverted the resources meant for other sectors of the economy into developing the capital city of Abuja. The effect is that all other sectors of the economy were destroyed. The government should be more creative in managing the resources in funding the military and sustaining a quantum leap in other sectors of the economy. ACHIKE UMUNNA ESQ, LEGAL PRACTITIONER BASED IN LAGOS

Last Updated on Wednesday, 03 September 2014 10:43

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