“Suspected Islamist Boko Haram gunmen have attacked three villages in northern Nigeria, killing 28 people and burning houses to the ground in a pattern of violence that has become almost a daily occurrence, police and witnesses have said.” This is just one of the many latest headlines that we are seeing surrounding the crises in Boko Haram.
“The world is in so much turmoil because people have decided to abandon the truth. We have consistently launched a vicious attack on the truth, making a mockery of it and refusing it the slightest chance to breath. Those who murder truth are seen and treated as heroes . Their words are laws and are therefore held in high esteem. Have we still not seen enough reason to embrace truth? Everyday, we slap the truth in the face… Yet it comes back to life as soon as we turn our backs.”
These are the words of Nigerian Local Government Monitoring Committee Secretary to the Presidency Office National Poverty Eradication and ex-military personal Amb Abdullahi Bindawa regarding the Boko Haram crisis. A crises that is old to many, new to some, but nonetheless a complex web of positioning and power that few are willing to fully address.
Sparked by the kidnapping of hundreds of school girls, the issue of Boko Haram came to the forefront and sparked an international concern that has long been in existence. And though it has most recently been stated that the girls are located, the means to rescuing them is still unclear and muddled. Many say that this is attributed to President Jonathan’s reluctance to negotiate. A reluctance that some speculate is due to, as The Guardian stated, “an unwillingness to have outsiders looking in on what is considered a very corrupt force.”
Soldiers have told The Associated Press that they are not properly paid, are dumped in dangerous bush with no supplies and that the Boko Haram extremists holding the girls are better equipped than they are. Some soldiers have said officers enriching themselves off the defense budget have no interest in halting the five-year-old uprising that has killed thousands. Sound familiar? Perhaps it triggers knowledge of the very thing that is happening in the Congo.
A Brief History
Boko Haram figuratively meaning “Western education is sin”, is a terrorist organization based in northeastern Nigeria, North Cameroon, and Niger. Founded by Mohammed Yusuf in 2002, the organization seeks to establish a “pure” Islamic state ruled by sharia, putting a stop to what it deems Westernization.
The group is known for attacking Christians, Muslims and government targets, as well as for bombing churches, mosques, schools and police stations. The group also kidnaps western tourists and has assassinated members of the Islamic establishment who have criticized the group. Violence linked to the Boko Haram insurgency has resulted in an estimated 10,000 deaths between 2002 and 2013.
The group exerts influence in the northeastern Nigerian states of Borno, Adamawa, Kaduna , Bauchi, Yobe, and Kano. In this region, a state of emergency has been declared. The group does not have a clear structure or evident chain of command and has been called “diffuse” with a “cell-like structure” facilitating factions and splits.It is reportedly divided into three factions with a splinter group known as Ansaru. The group’s main leader is Abubakar Shekau. Its weapons expert, second-in-command and arms manufacturer was Momodu Bama.
Abubakar Shekau is considered one of the main players who, according to Nick Robbins Early of the Huffington post, is the head of Boko Haram and has been a terrifying fixture in West Africa for nearly half a decade. He refers to him as a “A shadowy figure,” with “a reputation for cheating death, escaping a mental asylum, and commanding a brutal insurrection against the government.”
However while some have used him as the prime point of blame in this terrifying catastrophe, others are not so easily jaded, as is the case in point with Amb Abdullahi Bindawa, who states:
“I’m very sure President Goodluck Jonathan is behind the Boko Haram insurgency in those 3 northern states because I don’t know the type of state of emergency we have in this country! How can a state of emergency [be instated] where military are all over the places and Boko Haram is carrying operations in those states for more than 5 and 10 hrs without intervention of JTF. Plus after the successive operations of insurgents, the JTF come out and say they are on top of the situation and after, nothing you will hear from them again. What situation are they on top of? Lets us not deceive ourselves, this has never happened in any place in the whole world. Only in Nigeria can terrorists carry out operations and go free in the 3 emergency states. Meanwhile the commander of chief of armed forces [attempts to] keep quiet, achieving nothing, as if nothing is happening, President Goodluck Jonathan should stop fooling Nigerians.”
What of the United States?
Nigeria has recently been forced to accept international help, but make no mistake: while there is gratitude in some areas there is disdain in others stating that we should have been making the world far more aware of this crises sooner.
In an Article entitled “Boko Haram and Mainstream America Media Negligence” Nicole Symmonds of UrbanFaith.com explicates with scrutiny that the same amount of attention that has been place on the Ukraine crises, should have also been allotted to that of Boko Haram. Symmonds states that the United states has just as much capital investment in Nigeria as it does the Ukraine but we would have no idea of this relationship by the lack of media coverage that Boko Haram has received. She then challenges us to think of the racial and religious implications that may be involved. Not shying away from some of the many difficult topics at hand she provides greater insight allowing readers to become more responsible and educated global citizens.
David Cook of the Combatting Terrorism Center at West Point tells us: “The roots of Boko Haram lie in the Islamic history of northern Nigeria, in which for some 800 years powerful sultanates centered around the Hausa cities close to Kano and the sultanate of Borno (roughly the region of the states of Borno and Yobe together with parts of Chad) constituted high Muslim civilizations. These sultanates were challenged by the jihad of Shehu Usuman Dan Fodio (that lasted from 1802-1812), who created a unified caliphate stretching across northern Nigeria into the neighboring countries.”
But while many are fast to attribute this dilemma merely to religion, other facts have shown that not only is there no religious hub to this exigency, but that no one of any particular religious background is safe; forcing us to stop making the link between religion and terrorism. Bindawa offers another perspective articulating this viewpoint “Boko Haram are neither Muslims nor Christians, they kill both Christians and Muslims. Yet the government [still has] no weapons to handle them.”
So What Now?
As the insurgency continues, many are left feeling betrayed and helpless. Parents and family members not only mourn the loss of these young women, but also shed tears in the current turmoil that is plaguing their country. In a cry for peace Bindawa proclaims these powerful final thoughts:
“The victory of falsehood over truth does not stand the test of time. Do not be afraid to say the truth in all circumstances and no matter the consequences. If we say the truth in all that we say and do, in our actions and abilities, the world will know peace. Love will rule supreme and progress will be achieved.”
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