Nigeria: The Ghost of Boko Haram

Posted by By at 30 January, at 02 : 30 AM Print

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Nigeria: The Ghost of Boko Haram


The Butterfly Effect is a term used in Chaos Theory to describe how tiny variations can affect giant systems, and complex systems, like weather patterns. The term suggests that the wing movements of the ordinary butterfly might have significant repercussions on wind strength and movements throughout the weather systems of the world, and theoretically, could cause tornadoes halfway around the world.

While no one really expect ordinary butterfly wing to cause tornadoes, the point is, small things in a seemly ordinary place or time can lead to exponential events. It’s an exercise proposed into the chaos theory that the small turbulence from a butterfly flight can lead to a chain event so massive that it could produce a hurricane sometime after.” – Wikipedia.

Although the Butterfly Effect is just a philosophical metaphor referring to everything happening for a reason, it makes eminent sense to study it, as events that are seeming unrelated could have their origin located in distant cause no one ever predicted.

Who would have predicted that the overthrow of Colonel Muammar Gadhafi would cause a coup de tat in Mali, or would today threaten the security of West Africa or the corporate existence of Nigeria?

Om March 17, 2011, the United Nations Security Council, at the urgings of some Western countries, who were hell-bent on a regime change agenda in Libya, passed Resolution 1973, that authorised a no-fly zone over the territory of Libya, ostensibly to protect civilians who were, allegedly, been massacred by ‘Dictator’ Gadhafi.

The resolution, in part, read: “Demanding an immediate ceasefire in Libya, including an end to the current attacks against civilians, which it said might constitute “crimes against humanity”, the Security Council this evening imposed a ban on all flights in the country’s airspace — a no-fly zone — and tightened sanctions on the Qadhafi regime and its supporters.

Adopting resolution 1973 (2011) by a vote of 10 in favour to none against, with 5 abstentions (Brazil, China, Germany, India, Russian Federation), the Council authorized Member States, acting nationally or through regional organizations or arrangements, to take all necessary measures to protect civilians under threat of attack in the country, including Benghazi, while excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory — requesting them to immediately inform the Secretary-General of such measures.”

“The Council stressed the need to intensify efforts to find a solution to the crisis that responded to the legitimate demands of the Libyan people, noting actions being taken on the diplomatic front in that regard. It further demanded that Libyan authorities comply with their obligations under international law and take all measures to protect civilians and meet their basic needs and to ensure the rapid and unimpeded passage of humanitarian assistance.”

Totally forgetting the vital aspects of the resolution that called for the intensification of diplomatic efforts to find solution to the crisis, western forces wasted no time in unleashing lethal forces against Gadhafi’s army, a support that led to the rebel capturing Tripoli.

With his army routed, Gadhafi ran to his hometown, Sirte, but that was not enough for his enemies.

On October 19, 2011, US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton flew to Tripoli and, apparently, gave the order for the killing of Gadhafi. Speaking to students at the University of Tripoli, Clinton said: “The most important thing to do right now is to make sure that Gaddafi and his regime are finally prevented from disrupting the new Libya… But we hope he can be captured or killed soon, so you don’t have to fear him any longer.

Secretary Clinton was speaking about a sitting head of an African state. No one questioned the source of her legitimacy to so callously and so flippantly give the order to execute a de jure and de facto ruler of a sovereign African state.

A day later, Ghadafi was captured and killed at his hideout. British media told us that French intelligence killed him to stop from spilling the nasties on then French President Sarkozy.

However, what is instructive to note here is that the killing of a bona fide sitting African head of state, the destruction wrought on Libya and the balkanization of the country into a militiastan was made possible with the acquiesance of some African nations.

Whereas five of the world most important nations (Brazil, China, Germany, India, Russian Federation) very wisely avoided taking sides by abstaining from voting, very sadly for continent, the two most important countries in Africa, Nigeria and South Africa, VOTED in support of the UN resolution the western nations used to kill Gadhafi and destroy Libya.

In supporting the resolution, the Nigeria’s UN Representative, Joy Ogwu had this to say: “The current State of affairs leaves an indelible imprint on the conscience and compels us to act… Nigeria was also encouraged by the fact that the political path to a solution was endorsed in the text. Today, we have sent an unequivocal message to the Libyan people that the dignity and safety of every man woman and child is paramount.

Blessed are the naïve, for they shall be had for a song.

The lack of the capacity to think strategically lays at the root of all Africa’s problems, and the tragedy of continent can be attributed directly to the poverty of ideas and vision by her leaders.

While other people operate on the basis of enlightened self-interests, African leaders continue to be wowed and bowled over by fake smiles and fake promises by more enlightened folks, who know what their interests are and how to pursue them.

Without singing Gadhafi’s praises or mourning his death, we wrote some articles predicting that those that voted to destroy Libya will live to rue their folly.

No, we were no sooth-sayer, but anyone with a smidgeon of intelligence would have predicted that chaos would follow any violent disruption of order in such volatile tribal mish-mash like Libya.

Less than a year after Gadhafi’s death, the chicken started to come home to roost.

On September 11, 2012 the US Ambassador in Libya was killed in Benghazi which, ironically, is the headquarters of the forces that, with NATO support, overwhelmed Gadhafi.

Less than two years after the overthrow of Ghadaffi, the country has descended into total anarchy with the central government weaker than the centrifugal forces that shot it into power.

Today, even the BBC refer to the once prosperous country as a failed state.

Today, we wonder what type of message Nigeria (via her UN representative) is sending to the Libyan people about the paramountcy of the dignity and safety of every man woman and child.

We warned of grave consequences when the government of President Ebele Goodluck, reversed Nigeria’s long-standing African-centered foreign policy and decided to pitch tent firmly with the imperialists. See here:

Chancellor Williams warned us in his classic, ‘The Destruction of Black Civilisation,’ never to repeat the mistakes our ancestors made to confuse the smiles of foreigners with genuine friendship.

Sadly, rather than for African leaders to think strategically, they still hanker after duplicitous smiles of those who, very loudly, proclaimed that they are motivated by the sole pursuit of their selfish interests. Five hundred years of been enslaved, colonised and neo-colonised seems not to have dampen the enthusiasm of our leaders to be taken for complete fools.

As attested by this bold headline, ‘BP to resume oil operations in Libya:’, the imperialists got oil, arms and other contracts for their adventure in Libya.

Mr. Jonathan should tell us what exactly Nigeria received for his imbecilic decision.

Libya lay in ruins and the thousands of Nigerians, who had good-paying jobs in Libya under Gadhafi, have been hounded out by Arab racists.

Unable to fathom the lack of foresight by the leaders of Nigeria and South Africa, the Zimbabwean president, Robert Mugabe, abandoned diplomatese to tell his counterparts some home truth: “Our African countries were naïve, absolutely naïve, to vote with the West when the West had its interests, you know, its own motives … ulterior motives.” Papa Mugabe cried in an interview.

These motives include wanting to re-occupy our countries. They are in search of our resources, in search of political control. It’s now the reversal of the freedoms that we attained through various struggles, in some cases political but in others armed struggles.

We should by now have been very much aware that these aggressors and colonisers of yesterday had not repented, relented on their past ways of relating to us, and that they were still enemies. Once an enemy, once an imperialist, always an imperialist. Is it not [Kwame] Nkrumah who said an imperialist is never a good friend? He’s only good when he is dead — the only good imperialist is a dead one.”

“We are seeing that achievement, that status of liberating Africa, now being reversed by the same people who colonised us yesterday, our erstwhile colonisers. They are coming back now using our own people and presenting to the world that it is we, the Africans, who would want to see change, when in fact they are using that pretence as a way of paving entry back into Africa, perhaps entry in search of resources – oil or other forms of wealth.”

“We know now, it is very clear that the motive is to overthrow the Libyan government, overthrow Gaddafi and have a free opportunity to enter Libya and of course, share the resources that they so direly need in Europe.”
Signally, the ANC party’s Youth League criticized President Jacob Zuma for failing to notice the “inconsistencies being applied to Libya” in voting for the resolution.

What is absolutely incredible is that when barely-literate Army chaps ran the country, Nigeria brandished solid pan-African credentials, and ran a dynamic, solidly African-centered foreign policy that earned the country widespread kudos.

Example is the role the country played in helping to concentrate the minds of the British during the negotiations for Zimbabwean independence.

Again in Angola, General Murtala Mohammed had the courage to tell US president Gerald Ford to mind his business when the Yankee sought to enlist Nigeria’s support against the nationalists MPLA.

The sight of the young, dashing Colonel Joe Garba as minister of foreign affairs (under Murtala and later under General Olusegun Obasanjo) was something that brought sense of pride to Nigerians.

The sad spectacle of Nigeria joining the West to destroy an African nation would have been unthinkable when Joe Garba and his colleagues ran the show.

It is equally difficult to imagine Thabo Mbeki voting for the destruction on an African state.

Today, under a president that brandishes a PhD, Nigeria has become the toothless lapdog of the imperialists in Africa.

Today, looted Libyan arms saturate West Africa, and is being used to cause maximum dislocation in the sub-region.

Today, thanks largely to the ineptitude of its leaders, Nigeria faces an existential threat to its corporate existence, the like the country last witnessed during the abortive Biafran war.

A violent Islamic sect, Boko Haram, menace large part of the northern part of Nigeria with wanton bombings and indiscriminate killings.

Shadowy and with no discernible ideology safe for a violent opposition to western education, Boko Haram said it would like the imposition of strict Islamic code, Sharia, imposed in the northern region.

It is however difficult to imagine Boko Haram being satisfied once it can achieve its aims in the northern part of the country.

Which brings us to the existential part of the equation.

The Yorubas with their deep spirituality and highly-tolerant religion, and the Igbos, with their fierce republican disposition, would rather die than live under sharia. It is equally difficult to imagine any of the minority groups in the south, many of them militarized by years of fighting in their oil-soaked creeks, allowing any imposition of sharia law.

Many Nigerians today openly talk about each component part going its way if the forced marriage, imposed by British imperialism, is proving too arduous. They remain mindful of the alleged prediction of a US Intelligence estimate predicting their nation’s breakup in 2015.

Boko Haram is actually the Hausa nickname of the organisation whose official name, Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad, means “People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad.”

Founded in 2002, the initial announced aim of the organisation was opposition to western values, including western-styled education. Hence the name, Boko Haram, which is a Hausa phrase that means, “Western education is forbidden.”

When in 2009, Boko Haram began low-intensity military operations, the Nigerian military swiftly replied with massive counter-measures. Boko Haram founding leader, Mohammed Yusuf, was captured and killed in mysterious circumstances while in Nigerian police custody.

That was among the many strategic mistakes the Nigerian military committed. Rather than keep Mohammed Yusuf and gather vital intelligence, the military establishment, buoyed by insane sense of triumphalism, stupidly killed him.

Other errors committed included visiting wanton violence on the populace – see example here (please be warned that this is too graphic for the vain-hearted):

A more intelligent move would have been to befriend and woo the hearts and souls of the local citizens, who would have aided with vital intelligence gathering. With its neo-colonial mentality and its shoot-to-kill disposition, the army soon alienated the local people.

With such inept handling, few were surprised that Boko Harem boomeranged out of control. Its current leader, Abubakar Shekau appeared a much more violent personae than the late Yusuf, and under his leadership, Boko Haram has bombed large swathe of Northern Nigeria.

At a point, Boko Haram struck at will including bombing, among others, the headquarters of the Nigerian police and the United Nations building in Abuja.

There is no more doubt about its sophistication in both intelligence-gathering and bomb-making capabilities.
What baffles Nigerians is the apparent ease with which Boko Haram seems to get around its business. The people also wonder why the Nigerian government, with all the massive amount voted for security, appear incapable of stemming the senseless violence.

Another question that no one has answered is how supposedly illiterate and poor almajaris (student at Koranic schools) managed to acquire the wherewithal to launch such massive and sophisticated assault on the Nigerian state
Conspiracy theorists abound aplenty. They range from those that see a Western desire to get rid of the most potent of the African nations, to those who see attempt by failed Northern politicians to frustrate a southern president.

However, what is no longer in doubt is the believe that the vast amount of weapons the West gave to the militias in Libya, plus those looted from the considerable arsenal of Colonel Gadhafi has found its way to several West African countries including Nigeria.

Security experts also believe that there is considerable coordination between and among the Jihadist movements in West Africa.

Whilst Boko Haram bombed churches and schools at will, and slashed the throats of sleeping students, Nigerian military establishment resorted to heavy bombastic in press releases.

Abubakar Shekau, has had his death announced so many times by the Nigerian military that Nigerians only yawn when they hear news of his death.

Apparently, with little care about looking utterly ridiculous, Army spokeman, Lt-Col Sagir Musa announced on August 19, 2013 that: “Abubakar Shekau may have been killed by the security forces during a shoot-out.

This was how it was reported: “An “intelligence report” showed that Shekau, the leader of the Boko Haram group, may have died between 25 July and 3 August, Lt-Col Sagir Musa said.

The intelligence report suggested that Shekau was shot on 30 June, when soldiers raided a Boko Haram base at Sambisa Forest in north-eastern Nigeria.

The army said he was killed sometime between 25 July and 3 August. In that period, and in the weeks since, at least 70 people have been killed in bomb and gun attacks. Many in Nigeria take the military’s word with a massive pinch of salt – it has reported “top Boko Haram leader killed” before.

Shekau was mortally wounded in the encounter and was sneaked into Amitchide – a border community in Cameroon for treatment… It is greatly believed that Shekau might have died between 25 July to 3 August 2013,” Col Musa said.
A video of Shekau, released on 13 August, was “dramatised by an imposter to hoodwink the sect members to continue with the terrorism“, he added.”

Few days later, Boko Haram which, unlike the Nigerian Army, does not believe in holding useless press conference, struck.

This was how it was reported: “At least 87 people have been killed in an attack by Boko Haram militants in Nigeria’s north-eastern Borno state, according to local officials.

Disguised in military uniforms, the militants set up checkpoints outside the town of Benisheik and shot dead those trying to flee, witnesses said.

They also razed dozens of buildings in Tuesday’s attack.

Borno state governor Kashim Shettima visited the scene on Thursday, and described the killings as “barbaric and un-Islamic”, and pledged financial assistance to relatives of the victims.

He said they were heavily-armed, some with “anti-aircraft guns“.

Such communication fauspax seem not to have dented the enthusiasm of the Nigerian security establishment.

Rather than stay in the background and do its job properly, the Nigerian State Security Service also wanted to bask in some media limelight. On Monday, 16 September, 2013, the Punch newspaper reported: “The Director-General of the agency, Ekpenyong Ita, who said during the passing out parade and inauguration of 385 members of the Cadet Officers Basic Course 27 in Lagos on Saturday that terrorism would soon be a thing of the past in the country. He said the war against terrorism is paying off as terrorists have been weakened and can no longer carry out simultaneous attacks in the country.

He said, “We can confidently say that we have decimated the terrorists’ top and middle level leadership and its foot soldiers thereby dislodging its centre of gravity. There is no doubt that our strategies have invariably affected the cohesion of the group as well as the chain of command, to the level that the group, for now does not possess the capacity to direct and launch simultaneous attacks on several cities or targets in Nigeria as had been the situation in the past two years.

“We intend to build and consolidate on our successes in this war against the terrorists in order to create a conducive environment for democracy and development.”

Few days after the boast, Boko Haram gave its violent replies in spate of killing across Borno state.

On September 19, the Associated Press reported a Boko Haram attack that led to 143 dead.

On the night of Sunday, September 29, 2013, members of the sect descended on the College of Agriculture in the town of Gujba, some 30 kilometers from Damaturu, the capital of Yobe state, and cold-bloodedly killed at least 40 students, who were asleep in their dormitories.

It looks like that with each attack, Boko Haram intends to make points with the dastard manner in which its operatives slaughter innocent Nigerians.

And citizens now ask if it is the ghosts of Boko Haram that continue to do all the beheadings and the shootings and the bombings, since officials say that they have extinguished the movement’s potency.

Nigerians would rather that their paid officials do their jobs properly rather than resort to hugging media limelight that help none.


About the Author

Femi Akomolafe is a passionate Pan-Africanist. A columnist for the Accra-based Daily Dispatch newspaper and Correspondent for the New African magazine. Femi lives in both Europe and Africa, and writes regularly on Africa-related issues for various newspapers and magazines.

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