OVER the months, while eminent citizens the world over have lamented and condemned the series of senseless killings, maiming, displacement of Nigerian citizens and the destruction of their property, occasioned by attacks by members of the Boko Haram sect, Northern leaders of thought kept mute.
But suddenly, they are talking. They are saying all kinds of things. This makes one to begin to wonder why the sudden burst of emotions.
It seems that the recent call by President Goodluck Jonathan on members of the Boko Haram sect to identify themselves, state the reasons behind their confrontational stance so the Federal Government could enter into dialogue with them, has somehow emboldened our Northern elites who until now were afraid to hear their own voices.
I recall that immediately after this call by Mr. President, they broke their long silence even before the so-called members of Boko Haram could say anything. Some of them have traced the causes of the insurgency and in the process have also justified its emergence. Some have even raised their voices in condemnation of the military action taken against the sect while endorsing the dialogue option proposed by the President.
The root causes according to these leaders are injustice, lack of fairness in the polity and imbalance in resource allocation. It looks like these ‘talking’ elites are doing a better job than the sect’s spokespersons that we know. As an illustration, let us take a look at an article by Is’haq Modibbo Kawu, a social commentator and a Northern apologist in the Vanguard of Thursday, February 2, titled “Boko Haram and President Jonathan’s olive branch of dialogue”.
He wrote: “In Northern Nigeria, grievance and organisation of resistance to the state could only have been framed within the context of Islam given the history of the region. Here we have Borno’s over 1000 year history as a Muslim state and the radical tradition which came out of the Jihad of Sheikh Usman Dan Fodio. To compound the situation, the Northeast part of Nigeria also suffers the worst indices of under-development in our country. This was the combustible mix that conditioned the rise of the Boko Haram insurgency”.
Kawu’s declaration quoted above is quite instructive. None of the named spokesmen of the sect has ever said this much. Again, what does his statement imply? Have we not heard it being said over and over that Boko Haram is not an Islamic sect and that it should not on any account be linked to Islam?
Another eminent personality in the person of the Central Bank governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi also recently broke his silence on the sect’s insurgency. In an interview he granted the Financial Times of London he said that there is clearly a direct link between the uneven nature of distribution of resources and the rising level of violence in the country. He said: “When you look at the figures and look at the size of the population in the North, you can see that there is a structural imbalance of enormous proportions. Those states simply do not have enough money to meet basic needs while some states have too much money. The imbalance is so stark because the state still depends on oil for than 80 per cent of its revenue.”
A respected Northern leader, Mallam Adamu Ciroma on his part, in an interview published in Thisday Newspaper of Saturday, January 28, 2012 , had this to say: “I was one of the four people who founded PDP, and when I was talking about PDP policy of zoning, of changing the leadership from North to South, I knew what I was talking about…I didn’t hide it, I told them in caucus, and I warned them that if they depart from that, it is going to have very serious consequences for the party. And it has happened, and they know this. That is why after the elections I have kept quiet because everything which is happening I have already indicated and warned against them”.
The Northern socio-political group, the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, is also insisting that it is only dialogue or nothing that will persuade the dreaded sect (Boko Haram) to end its confrontation against government and unprovoked violence against the Nigerian people.
In a press statement issued recently by the group, it maintained that no amount of force can stop Boko Haram. The group also went ahead to intimate us of what inspires the sect’s members to engage in their destructive activities, saying that the highest commitment which drives these young people is no mundane things but rewards in heaven. Again, what we got from this ACF statement is something that the “original” spokespersons of the sect have never told us. Does this tell us anything?
Can someone please remind me, because I cannot recollect, if any of the Qaqas (Boko Haram spokesmen) had ever spoken about injustice, marginalisation, resource allocation or party zoning policies. I thought they were mainly concerned about the evil of Western education, Islamising Nigeria and promoting Islamic ideologies in the country. The Boko Haram members (the Mohammed Shekaus) do not seem to care so much about dialogue the way these elites are.
All “the sect’s members” have said since the President’s call (besides disowning the tape purportedly nominating some leaders to dialogue with FG on their behalf), is that Mr. President should first convert to Islam before they could talk with him.
By now you would have noticed as I have, that our Northern politicians and leaders are the only ones waving the flag of dialogue as the only panacea to peace in the region. In this call for dialogue, they know as well as you and I that the government cannot dialogue with illusive members of the sect or a faceless group.
So, who is the government to dialogue with? Please note also that in all their statements, they have not given government any conditions. In my mind, they have only met the President’s conditions for dialogue. How? You ask. By speaking out the way they do, they have identified themselves.
Ms. EDO EDAFE , a social critic,wrote from Lagos.