We have played a lot of politics with Boko Haram as a nation and we keep doing so. First, we have refused to define Boko Haram as it is and do a thorough diagnoses of the case. We keep going round and round around doing the same thing and getting the same result, failure to tackle the issue and to protect our people.
Just within 24 hours there have been multiple bomb blasts in Maiduguri with a lot of casualties. The bomb blasts have been consistent nowadays despite claims by the army top officials that Boko Haram is coming to an end and ultimatum given to the army by the president to end the mayhem in three three months. Boko Haram are flexing their muscles and on rampage and seem to be saying, “come and get us if you can.”
Does the federal government understand Boko Haram? I want to believe they do in a way but not fully. If the federal government understands these people it wouldn’t be talking peace or amnesty because Boko Haram don’t want both and for them there is no turning back in their quest to establish their utopian Islamic State.
What do we do about Haram? As the army tackle the militant angle fire for fire, the government is not tackling the ideological angle to this problem. President Muhammadu Buhari has consistently denied that Boko Haram are not Muslim as what they are doing is not consistent with the message in Islam. I don’t agree with the president. When majority of Muslims are peaceful and do not believe in Boko Haram’s interpretation of the Holy Quran and have become the enemy of Boko Haram because they disagree with Boko Haram, they are quite a number of Muslims who believe in Boko Haram’s interpretation of the Quran and who those who find it appealing.
Over the years before Boko Haram, religion have been used to cause mayhem in Nigeria. So many individuals, groups and even people who are in government have used religion to promote their agenda, sometimes to the detriment of the nation. We have to be honest about this. Until we are honest we cannot get to the root of this. We like to publicly declare that the problem is caused by poverty but all agree in private discussions that how we preach religion is more responsible than poverty. The poverty angle is not consistent as we have seen the likes of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab and people who are not poor from Europe going to join terrorist groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda. Recently there was the case of two Nigerian students studying in India who were arrested as they attempted to go and join a terrorist group in either Pakistan or Afghanistan.
Until this government properly defines Boko Haram and wage a campaign against Boko Haram’s ideology, they are going to battle Boko Haram for a long time. They may end up winning the battle but not the war. The ideology of religious violence in deeply rooted in how Islam is preached in some parts of Nigeria. We should say it as it is and stop deceiving ourselves.