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Niger Delta militants and the Boko Haram: Complex contrast

By John Aomda
VANGUARD of July 20, 2011 ex pounded on its front page headline: “Reps afraid to discuss Boko Haram” as follows:”The fear of a possible reprisal attack against them or members of their families has kept members of the House of Representatives from discussing the growing menace of the Boko Haram sect which has been engaged in violent confrontations with security forces in Borno and other Northern states of the federation, Vanguard investigations have revealed”.

Prior to this report, two governors have publicly apologised to the sect, thus fulfilling one of the conditions for peace stipulated by the sect. Government on its own has taken a placatory step by ordering the prosecution of the members of the Police Force accused of extra-legal killing of the leader of the Boko Haram sect while he was under the custody of the Nigeria Police.

These happenings point to a remarkable difference between the government’s perception of the threat posed by the Niger Delta insurgency and that posed by the Boko Haram sect. That difference is captured in the deployment of amnesty as the solution acceptable to government in resolving the Niger Delta conflicts and a genuflective deference to the Boko Haram as the solution canvassed by government for reconciliation with the sect.

What does this difference in methods suggest as to the security of the Federal Government? Amnesty implies a “take it or leave it” approach- a tough “your last chance” option. On the other hand government’s approach to the threat posed by the sect appears reactive, rather than proactive.

Why? My take on government’s Boko Haram diplomacy? The sect has opted for war and its policy is to kill, kill and kill and that by any means that gets the killing going. What is the primary enemy of the sect? The security forces of the government. The Niger Delta militants’ strategy on the other hand was largely to disrupt the operations of the oil and gas companies in order to extract concessions.

The Niger Delta militants from my perspective were not insurgents and did not pose a threat of insurgency to government; at its best, their demands were for a just treatment of the Niger Delta, the cash-flow of the entire economy.

The Boko Haram politics on the other hand is insurrectional, and is a threat that is infinitely greater than that of the Niger Delta. The sect by its politics has staked its claim as a primary state power interest group. In so doing it has decided that it can at will use force to implement its purpose and resolving its conflict.

Not even the PDP has been that presumptuous as to contest with the Armed Forces the independent use of force to effect its political purpose. It still seeks the way of elections to assume power.

When members of the National Assembly acknowledge their fear of addressing the security challenge posed by the sect they also explicitly declare their subjection to the sect. That statement that they are afraid to discuss the security threat of the Boko Haram sect transforms the Boko Haram into a state power party.

All that is needed for their insurrection to turn into full scale insurgency is a shift in interest, a shift from intimidation and vengefulness to interest in ruling the country as a party of dominion. Is the government’s appreciation of the sect different from my own “bloody civilian” analysis of our country’s security politics? And should it be?



Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.