By John Amoda
ONE person’s atrocity does not excuse another’s and revenge is not the motive. It is good governance.
It’s ridding yourself of the terrorist organisation so that you can establish a standard of law that people can respect. And that’s what needs to happen in Nigeria.”
The above remarks show the consequence of analyses of misconduct by the opposing forces, Government and Boko Haram, BH, without focus on the course and nature of the conflict in Nigeria. The course is terrorism, not insurgency.
BH terrorist operations make no distinction between combatants and non-combatants; between Muslims and Christians. BH terrorist operations are of dual purposes:
*To destroy the capabilities of the Nigeria Government to wage counter-terrorism operations in Nigeria
*To control and rule areas of Nigeria as bases for gaining more Nigeria territories that are to be brought under the BH government. The US criticism addresses the first of the two aims of the BH. The Government of Nigeria is not engaged only in counter-terrorism internal security operation.
It is engaged in a civil war with the BH that has transformed itself into colonising party.
The Boko Haram’s course of territorial control and rule is a civil war course and how an aggressive BH fights a territory grabbing war compels the Nigerian Government to fight to win the civil war for it is the integrity of the Nigeria society that is now at stake. All civil wars are fought over governing or conquest of society.
The US has to factor the fact into their counter-insurgency plans for their allies that global terrorist organisations initiate civil wars as means of developing their capability to conquer and rule territories that serve as their base for global terrorism. The BH seeks to replicate in Nigeria what the AQIM achieved in Northern Mali. President Jonathan explained what was at stake in the declaration of the state of emergency in the three Northern states.
According to President Jonathan: “These terrorists and insurgents seem determined to establish control and authority over parts of our beloved nation and to progressively overwhelm the rest of the country. In many places these have destroyed the Nigeria flag and other symbols and flags suggesting the exercise of alternative sovereignty.”
The Boko Haram at the stage of the declaration of the state of emergency had established their own government over areas they militarily controlled and thus shown themselves to be a rival contestant for sovereignty over parts or all of Nigeria.
The Boko Haram, according to President Jonathan, has become by their course of war a revolutionary party, replacing the Constitution and its government with its Islamic Sharia government in the areas of Nigeria it controlled. Northern Mali was being replicated in the parts of North Eastern Nigeria where the Boko Haram held sway.
The course of civil war make winning the allegiance of society, part or in its entirety, the overall goal of the war. The Boko Haram as the aggressor-party make neutrality of the inhabitants of the parts of the society under its control suicidal.
The course of civil war polarises society and it does so fundamentally and the Nigerian Government must first defeat the Boko Haram and recover lost territory in the course of war determined by the aggressor.
The US cannot claim ignorance of the course of civil war-its experience in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq is fresh and painfully so. And this same experience confirms the fact that control of society is the strategy of choice for Al Queda affiliates in all areas of their terrorism operations.
This strategy is most attractive where control of society is weak or tenuous as was the case in Mali. It is thus part of the course of war for terrorists to go through the phase of insurgency during which government control is weakened by indiscriminate use of violence to the stage of consolidation of military control of the society controlled and the institutionalisation of their authority over the society transformed into a new country for a terrorism base.
For the Secretary of State to focus on the protection of human rights in the course of counter-terrorism operation is to ignore two salient facts in Nigeria, namely: That the present chronic violators of human rights are non-state actors; that the condition of anarchy in Nigeria inherited and or induced provides the space for the organisation of armed gangs that constitute themselves into militias. Militias can, as has been the case with the Boko Haram, develop into insurgent groups through the radicalisation and or change of their leadership.
The Niger Delta crisis provides ample evidence of the emergence of militias out of gangs and the development of militias into insurgent groups as was the case of MEND (Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta).
The US that cuts into the spectrum of the course of war in Nigeria at the phase of formation of terrorist organisation out of a militia will find its efforts futile and frustrating in Nigeria.
Nigeria is attractive to Al-Qaeda and other terrorist organisations for objective and structural reasons. Nigeria is a country with vast segments of its territory poorly or weakly controlled and these provide camps for organising and growing armed gangs who have become militias advertising Nigeria as largely anarchic.
Why this is so must be addressed in the planning of long-term peace and security in Nigeria.