If you were in search of an article that “denounce” Boko Haram and goes on and on and on about how they don’t represent Islam then you are reading the wrong piece. Stop wasting your time and move on. Google the name of any Muslim leader in Nigeria and add Boko Haram to it, you will see what you are looking for. You will hear how Boko Haram members are devils, evil, non-Muslims, without a religion, cursed, and cowards. Little wonder there was almost no one to stand in the middle of any settlement even when it was reasonable to have one not to speak of now that the group seem to have gone way too far. The politics of being heard denouncing Boko Haram is not one that has paid off because the denouncing has not stop the group neither has it been organized to do so. What we have seen is a rush to release a new curse on the group so as to prevent being tagged one of them or named their sponsor; a naming that can be done by anyone with 18 dollars with which he can purchase a website on wordpress and become a “media”. In the end no one is talking solution but everyone is giving a sound bite.
That right there is solution one. Less sound bites. If the government wants to stamp out Boko Haram they should spend more time doing it than talking about doing it. We have talked so much about doing it we even have a deadline. With due respect to our beloved and sincere President, no deadline is reasonable. If you will stamp out Boko Haram tomorrow afternoon that is enough time for them to murder 200 people trying to do something as usual as buy a phone. A promise to stop those who kill us in the future is almost insensitive no matter how close that future is. Maybe we should not speak about our plans so much else the group, China, France, every other person and “America will know”. If I command a group you announced will be out of circulation in a month time I’ll simply tell my boys to lay low for one month. If a bomb goes off in January the morale of Nigerians will be on ground zero just because we fixed a date which we had no business, apart from political pressure and maybe sincere mistake, fixing.
After getting rid of the sound bites we should be sincere with ourselves enough to know this group do not go about recruiting members by promising them salaries and an official ride. They do such recruitment on the basis of a doctrine. Such erroneous doctrine must be identified and corrected point for point. Shekau releases videos that are close to an hour and I do not know if even the National Security Adviser watches and listens to up to 15 minutes of those videos. There is no talk about what he preaches, the media takes out a catchy talk from it and we have screaming headlines and the government spends all the time responding to such sensation. No mention is made of what he states as his justifications and thus no learned person in the religion Shekau claims to represent comes forth and corrects such misinterpretation. Everyone keeps complaining about how this group kills people and how killing people is wrong like it takes a Phd level knowledge of rocket science to understand that bombing a market place is wrong.
What should be done, preferably by our esteemed Sultan, is that scholars of Islam should be gathered and a uniform fatwa be issued addressing each and every single point the group raises and refuting them evidence for evidence without name calling and purposeless “you are cursed, you are evil”. This is not just a reasonable suggestion but it is how the Companions of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) handled the situation when such people first arise in the history of Islam. A senior companion of the Prophet, Ibn Abbas, was sent to the camp of the rebels to debate with them and he succeeded in turning a large amount of them who were misled and the stubborn ones who persist were the people to be “stamped out” without promising to do so over and over again. That brings me to my third point.
After a uniform presentation of refutations, evidence for evidence, of the claims of this group, those who will definitely fall off their ranks will be useful in helping the government understand how things work within the group. Those who will remain will be compromised and desperate. If they persist and want to fight the last offer to be made by the scholars of Islam will be simple; if you want to fight and you believe God is on your side, then meet the army in an open and agreed location, you will not be disadvantaged or ambushed, it will be man for man. Even ISIS will gladly advise the group to take up this offer. Related to this is that the fight against Boko Haram must not involve America directly or indirectly. Involving America was, is and will be a mistake. When you invite America and the “western world” to help you fight Boko Haram you have handed the group a jewel; an endorsement in the eyes of the “global Jihad movement”, and this means free fighters from anywhere in the world and funding from ISIS; a group in charge of the oil of Syria making millions of dollars from it daily and grossly unaware of the excesses of Boko Haram as such reported excesses are dismissed as mainstream media propaganda. American fire power has not stop terrorism anywhere you the world, I wonder why our government is so hungry for it.
If you consider ISIS extreme that is another topic. What is related to this topic is that even ISIS will consider Boko Haram extremists, worthy of execution, if only they can get the correct information on the activities of Boko Haram. Information from their trusted sources and scholars they respect, information they won’t see as western propaganda. But a lot of Nigerians will not want to hear this because ISIS has been made a Nigerian problem. We have to start unbuying the propaganda of the west that every problem they are in, even the ones they cause, is a problem of the whole world and everyone must come to Washington and New York to solve them. ISIS is not a Nigerian problem so if solving Boko Haram means using trusted channels to ISIS in passing the information that this group they are endorsing goes to what even they consider extreme, then let’s do it.
Lastly, you may not like these ideas for ending the problem but at least it’s a talk of solutions not a singing of the problem. If Nigerians will, and I say this in closing, put their heads together and roll out suggestions instead of rhetorical condemnation and conspiracy theories, I am sure we will find a way. After the points made on ISIS and the fact that this article is not about ISIS, I won’t be surprised if an educated Nigerian or a number of them respond to all that has been written with a Sherlock Holmes question like “who is buying Oil from ISIS”. Such distracting sound bites are the obstructions to our finding a way out of this mess. Let’s leave what we don’t know and make good use of what we know by focusing on solutions and solutions will come In shaa Allah.
Eseoghene Al-Faruq Ohwojeheri