Thursday, June 9, 2011

ONGOING CONCERN: Boko Haram and Nigeria's "war on terror"

8 June 2011

By Tolu Ogunlesi

Nigeria is a country perpetually under siege. During the military era the blockaders operated in uniform from the corridors of power. Democracy only succeeded in accomplishing a reshuffling of the prime characters in that siege scenario, replacing the military with militias and militant groups: the Oodua People's Congress (OPC), Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), Arewa People's Congress (APC), and a flurry of shadowy groups in the Niger delta (NDPVF, MEND, etc).

Somehow, much of the ethnic tension fizzled out, thankfully. But the delta militias, empowered by politicians seeking personal armies to fight "do-or-die" electoral "battles", and justified by a ready-made cause - years of criminal neglect and oppression by successive governments - soon upgraded themselves into full-scale terrorist organisations, and in effect began to wage war against the Nigerian state.

And then, just when we thought it was time for peace - with the decline of kidnappings in the south east, and the seeming effectiveness of a controversial amnesty programme in quietening militancy in the delta - a new monster has emerged, in full force: Boko Haram, an extremist Islamist organisation with a ruthlessness and stubbornness that sometimes makes the delta militants look like boy scouts. Boko Haram believes Western education is sinful, and it also seeks the imposition of Sharia law in Nigeria. These warriors are not fuelled by oil pipelines.

No comments:

Post a Comment