Goodluck Jonathan preparing to negotiate with Boko Haram for Chibok girls – By Richard Dowden
Despite contradictory messages coming from within the Nigerian government it looks increasingly as if President Goodluck Jonathan has decided on negotiation with Boko Haram to secure the release of the 270 kidnapped girls. This could mean the release of Boko Haram prisoners from jails as well as cash paid to the movement’s leadership, according to a senior Nigerian security source.
Although the girls may be released, the source said, Boko Haram will be enriched and strengthened and will no doubt capture more hostages in the coming weeks. The army however will be further demoralised.
The source also revealed that there is a security vacuum at the heart of the Nigerian state with the army, police and the State Security Service uncoordinated and at odds with each other. Despite a huge increase in defence spending, the army is ill-equipped to fight Boko Haram, which is often reported to have better, more modern weapons and communications equipment.
Goodluck Jonathan only began to pay serious attention to the crisis in north-east Nigeria when US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle raised the issue internationally two weeks after the abductions took place. President Obama also ordered senior US security officials to Nigeria without consulting the Nigerian Government. Offers of help from the United States, Britain and Israel were ignored by Nigeria for almost two weeks.
Under enormous pressure and with few alternatives, Nigeria has let in small teams from Israel, but President Jonathan has apparently ruled out an operational role for US or British forces to release the girls. The Nigerian security forces do not have the capacity to launch a successful rescue mission themselves.
President Jonathan has been unable to call a meeting of the state security council because the army chiefs do not consider the President’s security adviser to be of sufficient rank. Sambo Dasuki is a colonel and the generals did not respond to his summons.
A substantial ransom for the abducted girls could mean that Boko Haram will become a major player in Nigeria and the region for a while. Its original hard-line Islamists have been pushed aside by criminal gangs who use religion as a cover for extortion, smuggling and theft. Current funding comes from bank robberies and protection money. The actions of the police and the army in the region, arresting or killing people at random, not showing respect to Muslim women and robbing homes in house to house searches is further alienating the region’s ethnic Kanuri youth.
There are also serious concerns about the loyalty of the local people of the north east to the government and even the state of Nigeria. For some 400 years Maiduguri was the heart of the Islamic Bornu Empire which was ruled by Kanuris. But, eclipsed by the Hausa Fulani people in the rest of Northern Nigeria in the late 19th Century, the Kanuris are now alienated from the rest of the country – a minority within a minority. Pride in their history is driving a growing desire for a Kanuri state, autonomous within Nigeria. But today they are bereft of leaders. The only Kanuri to rule Nigeria was General Sani Abacha, probably Nigeria’s worst dictator.
Meanwhile Maiduguri, the capital of Bornu state, is growing poorer. Traditionally it has been the marketplace for goods made in or imported into Nigeria then traded throughout the Sahelian countries including Chad, Niger and northern Cameroon. In return, the cattle wealth from these regions comes to Maiduguri. But the trade is being interrupted by violence and weakened by demands for the payment of protection money. This further impoverishes the region, reduces the opportunities for an ill-educated youth still further, and gives greater power to an increasingly wealthy Boko Haram.
Richard Dowden is Director of the Royal African Society and author of Africa; altered states, ordinary miracles. Follow Richard on twitter@DowdenAfrica
The Abduction of Innocent young [female] students and Boko Haram and the Cult of Gangsterism is indeed the “new face of terror” impaling Africa with intense anti-intellectual vigour.
The ‘Congregation of the People of Tradition for Proselytism and Jihad’â€”better known by its Hausa name ‘Boko Haram’ meaning ‘Western education is sinful’â€”is an Islamic jihadist and takfiri militant and terrorist organization governed by the gangsterism ethos without any credence to the serene intellectualism of the Islam Religion advanced by the Prophet Muhammad. Founded by Mohammed Yusuf in 2002, the Boko Haram organisation seeks to establish a “pure” Islamic state ruled by sharia law, putting a stop to what it deems ‘westernization sustained by crass colonialism’.
This Boko Haram cult of gangsterism evidenced in the violent abduction of young women from their schools must/ought be considered and regarded by all who value social order as being gangsterism in promotion of fear coupled with disregard for rule of law within society.. This abduction of innocent women reflects/refracts in the strongest lack of governance dialectic. These school girl abductions reinforce the gross lack of civil civic social order in Nigeria. President Goodluck Jonathan and his administration of governance must be held to strict account. These innocent young women were seeking only to improve their intellectual social standing grounded in learning in acquiring both academic and practical knowledge so as to enhance their personal lives along with enhancing and strengthening their society and culture in terms of prescriptive social civic civil cohesion.
The government of Nigeria has a fundamental obligation to eradicate this element of gangsterism shrouded within the veil of Islam using every and all national resources. Anything less must be considered as tacit compliance in accepting this pernicious cult of gangsterism who regard themselves as ‘law’.
The international community has been reluctant to become involved in the battle, and Nigeria’s military
has struggled to push back the militants despite having the largest army in West Africa.
Security analysts pointed to too little corruption and investment in the military as key motives.
But after greater than five years of insurgency, the military appears to have turned a corner in the
conflict against Boko Haram. Troops have reclaimed swathes of
territory in the north and rescued hundreds
of captured women and girls. Much of the success was attributed to a
former army general, President Buhari, and his crackdown on corrupt military officials.
The formation of a more powerful regional coalition has also helped push the militants back.