It may not just a matter of time for the entire north eastern geo-political hemisphere of Nigeria to be engulfed by a looming famine coming on heels of the activities of Boko Haram. Saturday Vanguard in this special piece documents the economic woes of the people.
By CHIOMA GABRIEL, LEVINUS NWABUGHIOGU; NDAHI MARAMA; EBUN SESSOU & OLAYINKA AJAYI
Perhaps, no one saw it coming. No one also believed it would happen. It appeared to have taken us unawares even as it is considered very novel and alien to this clime. To many people, it is totally unAfrican. But surprisingly, what started like a bully at the thresholds of 2009 has grown and assumed a gargantuan dimension, menacingly and uncontrollably tearing the country apart.
It has caused us injury and pain. It has brought us hunger. It has spelt and unleashed untold hardship on the people. The economy is bleeding. It has brought division amongst us, fueling animosities amongst adherents of Islamic and Christain religions. So sad. So unfortunate. It is our common enemy.
Each time it strikes, it leaves behind scoreS of deaths that agitates the mind. Men, women and children have fallen victims. Blood has been utterly spilled. Deaths and more deaths have become a recurrent decimal; carnages, a daily sight on our streets.
But the government and the security agencies have not also been keeping quiet. They are fighting. Almost every substantial weapon of the Nigerian Army seems to have been moved towards its direction.
The Department of the State Service, DSS, is busy with intelligence gathering. The Police is at work too. Fortunes had equally been expended amid a state of emergency which had been extended by six months in the states considered to be hot zones. But unfortunately, the fire still rages.
Recall the previous attacks at the force headquarters, army barracks, United Nations building, ThisDay, St. Theresa’s Catholic Church in Madallah, Niger State, and then a plethora of others in Yobe, Adamawa and Borno States which have continued unabated. And now the Nyanyan,Abuja bomb blast attacks? Can anyone count the number of the dead, other surviving but heavily traumatized victims?
What about the last Tuesday abduction over 100 school girls in Chibok, Borno State? What about the loss of property in these attacks? Have all these not overwhelmed us?
For how long would this trauma continue to hunt and hurt us? For how long will the bombings and the killings continue?
It appears this menace is part and parcel of the plan to destabilize Nigeria for political purposes.
All these insurgencies appear to be politically motivated. This is because of the sophistication and the equipments used.
The popular anger, protests and antagonism as a result of the negative state of the nation in all respects and corruption in the country made it impossible for the security services to function effectively in certain respects.
As a matter of fact, famine is looming in the region and it may be just a matter of time for it to escalate and engulf the whole country. But again, we say God forbid.
Read the account of how its activities have literally shot down the economy of the north-east geopolitical zone of Nigeria with concomitant hunger and joblessness amongst the people.
How it all began
The story is no longer new. Jama’atul Alhul Sunnah Lidda’watiwal jihad also known as Boko Haram, a dangerous Islamic sect is termed the principal perpetrator of these gruesome, ill acts.
At first, their demands were not clear. All what was known was a group of religious fundamentalists who promulgated their beliefs even though they were considered too extreme by many Nigerians.
But they were bent on their mission of Islamizing the country via the implementation of Sharia law across the country. In essence, they chose to start from their immediate environments in Borno and Yobe states.
And to make real their pursuits, they consciously arrogated themselves a name that defines their philosophy: Jama’atul Alhul Sunnah Lidda’wati wal jihad, meaning “people committed to the propagation of the prophet’s teachings and jihad”.
That was in 2002. But not much was heard about the Islamist religious sect until in 2009 when a discrepancy erupted between them and the law enforcement agents which culminated in the death of the leader of the group, late Mohammad Yusuf.
Prior to the time, Mohammad Yusuf had faulted the participation of most leaders of northern states especially the governors who were full blooded Muslims in the affairs of the country.
He saw it as an illegitimate, non-Islamic venture and too secular for their “religious inclinations and preached a doctrine of withdrawal”.
But the lid was to be let open when the group declared that “that western education is evil”, a phrase that gave the group its notorious name “Boko Haram”.
Thereafter, Boko Haram began to launch a series of onslaughts against the state but that did not define the reasons for their attacks whether it was to avenge the death of their former leader, Yusuf or that the government institutions were fundamentally “haram”.
In the aftermath, the attacks permeated as Boko Haram carried out a number of suicide bombings and assassinations from Maiduguri to Abuja, and staged an ambitious prison-break in Bauchi, freeing more than seven hundred inmates in 2010.
In November 2011, the group staged its most deadly attacks so far in Maiduguri as well as Yobe’s Damaturu and Potiskum, targeting churches, mosques, banks, and police stations.
At least 150 people were reported killed. November’s 2011’s violence garnered more international attention for the group, with condemnations from the head of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the Pope, the UN Security Council, and the UN secretary general.
Bombings on Christmas Day at Madallah, Niger State in 2011 targeting churches and killing dozens raised fears about the possibility of another spate of religious violence between Muslims and Christians. And of course, it almost climaxed to that as most killings became the lot of Christians in the North.
At a time in 2012, the killings apparently took an ethnic dimension that fear of another civil war was felt across the federation. But somehow, the days rolled past by without wars.
Politically, it started as a sectional insurgency. First, in the North East, then in the North West and North Central and now in the Federal Capital.
This group seems to have its sponsors in high places. They think if the country disintegrates, they will get away with what they stole because the separate units that have been integrated will have no time to caution them about what they stole.
The problem started with the manipulation of the differences between secularism in Islam arising from the incompetence of governments since the second republic in Nigeria.
The hot zones
The group has since ramped up violent attacks on diverse government and civilian targets, including attacks on different locations in the country. The most hit states are Adamawa,Yobe and Borno with the latter being the epicentre of the crisis.
Of particular concern are the growing sophisticated arms and weapons used by its militants in recent attacks, evidenced in seizures made by security forces in northern Nigeria. Their activities have also eclipsed Nigeria’s longstanding security threats such as piracy, militancy, kidnappings, and armed robbery.
Geographically, Borno state which has an area of 61,435sq.km is the largest in the federation in terms of land mass. Located on the north eastern corner of Nigeria, the state occupies the greatest part of the Chad Basin and shares porous borders with Republic of Niger to the north, Chad to the north east and Cameroon to the east according to the Comptroller of Immigration in Borno State, Mr. Modu Musa Miringa.
In Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States, the porous nature of the borders is almost tearing the states apart due to the ongoing war waged by the Boko Haram insurgents against government as well as security establishments including school children, business men/women and teachers.
The terrorist war which has so far caused the deaths of thousands of security and civilian population and the destruction of property worth billions of naira is gradually crippling the socio- economic activities in the three affected states in the north east.
Pundits believe that the preponderance nature of the porous borders in Yobe and Adamawa must be tackled to stem the influx of terrorists in the two states, including Borno which is seen as the birth place and breeding ground of the Boko Haram sect.
Speaking on the influx of illegal immigrants into the state almost on daily basis, the governor of the state, Alhaji Kashim Shettima in an interview with newsmen recently revealed that several unmanned routes from outside into Nigeria exist from Borno axis.
”Locals in border communities believe that willing emigrants from Niger, Chad and Cameroon can venture into Nigeria through more than 10,000 unmanned routes that have no gates, police and customs or immigration officers.
”It is equally through the same unmanned borders that smugglers, peddlers, traffickers and other sundry offenders troop into Nigeria from Sudan, Central African Republic, Mali and Libya”. Shettima said.
”From Cameroon for instance, there are over 300 routes that people can get into Nigeria or out of the country with any kind of truck or load, provided they know the terrain,” said a local fisherman called Kunce Mai Zare in Kuros- Kawwa, a village in Monguno Local Government Area of the state.
He alleged that smugglers of contraband goods and those engaged in arms shipment use various means of transportation including donkeys, camels and bull-driven carts to ferry their consignment into the country without a trace.
A primary school teacher in Ashigashiya, Mr. Yusuf Usman Ngoshe who relocated to Maiduguri as a result of the crisis told our correspondent in an interview that “there are over 50 border villages and hamlets directly linked with some settlements in Cameroon”.
Investigation also indicated that central Borno, Bama, Kala Balge and Ngala Local Government Areas have direct links with the Cameroon. Also, apart from Banki, Maksamari, Kumshe, Sigal Diba, Mokhole, Djilbe, Wulgo and Gamboru, there are dozens of settlements with hundreds of people who are more connected to the Cameroon than Nigeria.
Likewise, dozens of villages and small towns exist in the state where it is difficult to identify whether their indigenes are Nigerians, Nigerien or Chadians.
Such communities are Zaga, Fage, Bula Batube, Ngilewa, Kabbal Balram, Ngurno, Baga, Kawwa, Barwati, Bisagana, Arage, Mitile, Mallam Fatori, Kadi, Asagar, Gashagar, Foguwa and Galjiya, among others, within and across Nigeria’s borders.
According to a security source, “Boko Haram has been able to smuggle arms into Nigeria using various methods such as the use of specially crafted skin or thatched bags attached to camels, donkeys and cows where arms are concealed and moved across the borders with the aid of nomadic pastoralists or herders.
Its members are known to connive with merchants involved in cross-border trade to help stuff their arms and weapons in goods that are transported via heavy trucks, trailers, and lorries. Given the huge size of the goods loaded on these vehicles, very little or no scrutiny is conducted on them by security and border officials.
“Commercial activities in the Borno trade hub are down by half, because of the campaign of violence waged by terrorist group Boko Haram and government efforts to curb it seem to yield no positibe result”, says Mallam Modu Koroma, a local dry fish seller in Baga Market of Maiduguri metropolis.
Anguish as the people
tell their stories
Mr. Kwaji Philimon in Michika Local Government Area of Adamawa state who sells provisions in the main market while describing the economic effects caused by Boko Haram said, “Business has been slow in the last one year and it is increasingly difficult to make ends meet.
Sometimes, I spend the whole day in the market without making any sales because traders in neighbouring villages of Gulak, Madagali, Gwoza, Izge and other remotes areas are no longer coming in due to Boko Haram attacks. I use whatever little sales I make to feed my family.
”I am now planning to pull my five children out of private schools in Mubi and Jimeta Metropolis and put them in a government- owned school in Michika, as I cannot afford the fees”.
The decline in economic fortunes of Borno state started with the ban on the use of motorcycles in the state and other volatile council areas where over 80,000 people lost their means of livelihood.
These people include okada riders, motorcycle dealers, mechanics, spare parts dealers among others.
Some Okada riders have to move to other neighbouring states where motorcycles are still in use. Some who bought the motorcycles some days before the ban on its use at the cost of N120,000 had to sell them at the cost of N30,000 to N50,000, as the motorcycles have become useless tools in the city.
Although, in its efforts to cushion the effect, the state governments of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa procured and distributed thousands of tricycles to the members of Okada riders association on hire purchase basis, these could not solve the increasing hardship on residents as transportation fares continued to bite harder by the day due to increase in fuel prices.
In Bama council area of Borno state for example, the attack on the town in which the Shehu of Bama’s palace was affected and over 500 vehicles were razed down at a motor park have left many drivers jobless. In that attack, 600 houses, 200 shops, market were burnt with property worth millions of Naira destroyed.
A local farmer in Jere council area, Mallam Abubakar Usman in an interview said, “Only God knows the cost and qantum of damage caused by the Boko Haram insurgents as people living around Sambiza forest, such as Maiduguri, Konduga, Mafa, Dikwa, Damboa, Kala-Balge among others did not farm in the last farming season because the insurgency did not allow them to do so.
Even in the few communities of Ajigin, Talala, Konduga and Zabarmari that cultivated, some of their farmers did not harvest as the insurgents set them ablaze.
An economist, Dr. Maigari Inuwa said” economic activities in Borno state have dropped to its lowest ebb as a result of the protracted Boko Haram insurgency which has made it impossible for traders to move from one location to another.
“Another reason also is the inability of farmers to cultivate their crops which they sell to supplement their food crops. During the last farming season, only farmers in southern Borno were able to farm as their counterparts in the northern and Central zones were constantly subjected to attacks when they attempted go to their farms.
”A clear example is when the wheat farmers along the Chad Basin had to abandon their wheat even though the yields were good, but for fear of Boko Haram, they lost all they laboured for,” he stated.
Another business man who specialised in fruits, Mallam Abba Ibrahim Gaidam in Yobe and Borno states said, “ the situation has led the people to near starvation as they resort to eating unripe mangoes and other fruits to survive.
“Cash crop farmers like cotton, pepper and even vegetables have resorted to other trades like brick laying and pushing trucks where any could be found as most of the population depend on handouts from National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA ) and other government agencies to make ends meet.
“As for those border communities, even the rosy life they enjoyed has been cut off because people from neighbouring countries no more come to buy from them and life is very hard as all commercial activities have ceased to exist”.
A local farmer, Mallam Labo who came to Maiduguri Government house said, “we came to Maiduguri to report to the government that Boko Haram has taken over our farms around Konduga and its environs setting them ablaze.
They have also killed 17 members of our communities and as I am speaking to you, people were also leaving the areas.”
He said most of the communities around them have not cultivated their farms in the last farming season due to the fear of insurgents, lamenting that even few of them that were able to do so have now lost the farm to the terrorists.
Also in Gwoza mountainous area, the people of Ngoshe, Kuhum, Ashigashiya, Barawa, Chinene, Gava and other villages have left their farms and fled to the neighbouring Cameroon republic for fear of their lives.
The Borno state Deputy Governor, Alhaji Zannah Umar Mustapha who had visited different refugee camps in Cameroon and Niger republic appealed to the fleeing residents to return to their respective villages, as government will provide security to protect them and sympathized with the people over the crises.
The Deputy Governor also donated relief materials to the displaced people and assured them of government support at any time.
Investigations by Saturday Vanguard indicate that the level of damage caused by insurgents in the state through burning of farmlands, looting and setting ablaze of food stuffs and domestic animals have a great impact on the food security of the area that if care is not taken and government does not intervene, the people of Borno will experience famine, as they did not farm in the last farming season.
Even at that, the small food they have in stock were looted and burnt by Boko Haram terrorists.
A farmer, Mallam Audu Agijin who fled to Buratai village in Biu local government said he fled with his children to Buratai because the insurgents have taken over their villages and he is living at mercy of the people of Buratai where he was squatting with his friend with two wives and 10 children.
Another resident of Miringa, Abubakar Idris said a lot of people of Ajigin and Mangari have fled their areas and are now living in Miringa due to the activities of the Boko Haram insurgents in the Ajigin area and its environs.
A butcher, Mallam Shuabu Isa said he used to slaughter over 20 cows per day but now, he hardly slaughters two or three cows, as he lost all of his working capital in the insurgency.
According to him, anytime there was an attack in the abattoir or the Maiduguri Monday market, they would abandon their meat and run for their lives and when they come back a day or two later, the meat would have damaged.
He said, “ you know this our business, sometimes we have to give the meat on credit to retail meat sellers and afterwards, they would settle the credit and when they incur loss, there’s nothing you can do but to exercise patience’.
I used to slaughter 20 cows but now, I hardly slaughter two. Some times, I don’t even slaughter. The economy is now biting harsh on us.”
Another butcher, John Dahode in Gamboru market said they have lost a lot of money to the insurgents as according to him, each time there was an attack on the market, they fled and left their meat only to come the next day to meet it spoilt.
A trader in Maiduguri Monday market, Alhaji Abdullahi said things are hard for them, because some times, he’d come to the market without making a sale and have to trek 15 kilometers back to his house.
He said he used to make sales worth over N10 million per day when the people of the neighboring Chad, Cameroon and Niger used come to the market, but now, they have stopped coming due to the state of insecurity in the state.
A roadside mechanic, Alhaji Hamman said he used to make N30,000 to N50,000 a day but now, there is no market especially when people are after what they would eat and not to ride a car which they considered a luxury.
He added that he too has parked his car and bought a bicycle as sometimes, he spent the whole day without making N10 and had to go back home without a dime in his pocket.
Another Mechanic, Mallam Gambo Yaradua said the economy is biting hard on them as people are not coming to mechanic workshops for repairs.
“Nowadays, even if you relocate to another city, people will look at you suspiciously and nobody would patronize you no matter how good you are because of the security challenges in the country”.
A royal lamentation and plea
The Emir of Gwoza in Borno state, Alhaji Idrissa Timta, last Sunday decried the renewed insurgence in the area, saying it had crippled the socio-economic activities in his domain. Gwoza is about 129 kilometres from Maiduguri, the capital.
According to the Emir, his people have witnessed increased attacks with mass killings by the insurgents in the last four months.
“The attacks have crippled both social and economic lives in the entire area, it is sad to say that my people have been blocked from going to the market by the insurgents who kill at will. Even the food crops cultivated by them in the last farming season have ended up with the Boko Haram as the harvests were seized by the insurgents making life unbearable.
There is an urgent need for the security agents to intensify and change their tactics of operation to stop the mass killings in this area,” he said.
He said the insurgents had also killed many people by blocking major highways, and appealed to security agents to intensify patrol on these roads to prevent the attacks.
“If care is not taken, my people will completely flee the area to neighbouring states and countries for safety. In fact, sincerely speaking, my people, including the traders and other businessmen and women have been prevented from traveling to Maiduguri to buy industrial and household goods for sale to customers in my chiefdom with an estimated population of 655, 000 in 11 wards and other border communities with Cameroon. Therefore, I am pleading and will continue to plead to the military, police and other security agencies in the state to take emergency and proactive measures against the sect,” Timta lamented.
The Chairman of Monday Market Youth Traders Association (MMYTA) in Maiduguri, Alhaji Kashim Abdullahi Galtimari in an interview said, “The lingering Book Haram crisis has seriously affected socio-economic activities in the state as traders from neighbouring countries of Chad, Niger and Cameroon Republics no longer come to the state to carry out businesses for fear of being attacked or kidnapped by the insurgents.
Alhaji Abdullahi further stated that economic activities at the Monday Market which is the largest market in the state is at its lowest ebb as most traders find it difficult to move from one city or the other, adding that traders and innocent civilians were being murdered daily on the main roads.
He urged people to pray for peace to return to the north east, so that commercial activities will pick up, as Borno according to him is the largest trading centre in the north, apart from Kano.
An All Progressive Congress ( APC ) aspirant wishing to represent Maiduguri Metropolitan Council (MMC) of Borno State in the House of Representatives in next year’s general election, Alhaji Mohammed Bukar, also lent his voice on the matter, saying the fulfillment of campaign promises by politicians in the country is the necessary panacea that will bring Boko Haram insurgency to an end.
The aspiring lawmaker added that the sincerity of politicians and an end to the game of deception for electoral gains are also key in ending the crisis that is currently ravaging the North-eastern part of the country.
Bukar said politicians should address the growing poverty and unemployment among Borno youths, which he said are the real cause of the Boko Haram insurgency.
Maintaining that it was wrong for politicians to forget their campaign promises soon after their election, Bukar, popularly addressed as ‘Bungus’, also, a top official of the Bank accused Borno lawmakers of betraying the trust of their people by not keeping to the campaign promises, a situation that has made many jobless youths to resort to violence and take laws into their hands by killing innocent lives and destroying properties without any cause.
Thousands have been killed in my constituency
Hon. Abudlrahman Terab is the member representing Bama/Ngala/Kala-Balge Federal Constituency of Borno State in the House of Representatives.
His constituency is in the theater of operations of the conflict between the Boko Haram sect and the Nigerian military. In an interview with Saturday Vanguard, he narrated the story of the hell and tales of a horrible story of insurgents’ attacks on his Bama Community and beyond.
He said: “The experience is agonizing and one that is very sad. It was never envisaged before now.
These things that our people used to see on the TV happening in some parts of the world are all of a sudden around us. Within my constituency alone, we are already rolling into thousands, only within my constituency of 3 local governments, but of course, if we are talking about the neigbouring local governments and the whole of the state, between the beginning of the crisis and now, I think we are running into hundreds of thousands.
That’s the fact of the matter. Of course, we know that everything that is being reported even in the media is not the actual figure and we do not have such proper measures that will take the proper account of casualties and those who die in the hospitals afterwards due to the same crisis.
The fact of the matter is that millions of lives are being threatened now, first by hunger, second economy and third by the act of terror itself. You can see that the situation is in dire need of a drastic action.
“But beyond that, our current situation is one where schools no longer exist. Students cannot identify themselves as students. Teachers cannot identify themselves as teachers and cannot dare go to where school locations are.
“The existing structures have all been completely burnt down. And our economic activities have been brought down not just because there is sense of insecurity but because specifically, market and economic hubs have been targeted and burnt down. Peoples’ assets have been specifically targeted and burnt down. So, clearly, it makes people that have invested a lot over a long period of time to be helpless.
“Now, food, all of a sudden is becoming luxury because in the last two years, farming activities have dropped drastically to less than 20 percent and the major preoccupation of the entire people of that area is farming.
”Over 90% of people last year could not even farm.
Those who were able to get to the farms to cultivate were not allowed to harvest at the end of the day. So, we are in the most critical stage of the crises. The issues of hospitals and other services are luxury. In any case, I think the issues of crime are no longer reported because you can’t find a standing police station that’s ready to listen to complaints and take them up. Every murder is considered a Boko Haram case.
None is being investigated and none is receiving attention. So, just imagine how dire our situation is. It has come to its knees and that’s the reason why we are crying out that anything beyond this is anarchy on its own. People are losing, have lost and may never have confidence in government again. Of course, there is growing migration out of our areas to other areas, the neighboring ones and even far places.”
The economy is in doldrums—Ibrahim Mantu, former Senate Deputy President
Definitely, the economy is in doldrums because the Boko Haram activities have brought everything to a halt even the infrastructures. As you know, there was the dual carriage road from Kano to Maiduguru being constructed by a Chinese company.
Boko haram people slaughtered some of their workers and as a result of that, people now abandoned the project. So, that road has suffered because the insurgents are attacking the workers.
That is one. Two, nothing is happening economically in the north east of Nigeria because nobody in his correct senses will like to go to that part of the country and work no matter how much he likes money. So the economy is in total shambles.
There is nothing happening at this point in time.
By extension, it has affected Nigeria as a nation in the sense that when people are suffering in one part of the country, they migrate to the others and now partake from the economy of that area they moved to.
If your economy in Imo State, for example was good enough to take care of 100 people and now you have 200 people living on the same economy, definitely, the cost of living of everybody will now go down because they are also taking care of additional numbers.
What we are afraid of is that these Boko haram people want to have an area they will take full charge of, full control of and then launch attacks to the other parts of Nigeria. That’s why they want to take the north east and from there, continue to acquire more and more until they get to the bar beach in Lagos.
That is exactly their own ambition and that is why it is not a northeastern war alone. It is not a northern problem alone. It has become a Nigerian problem. And now we must all rise in unison to fight them, to make sure that we bring them to a halt. Otherwise, we are all going to be victims.
North east economy dead-—Dr. Junaid Mohammed, Second Republic federal lawmaker
For any economy to move and for any society or community to prosper, there has to to be peace and after peace, there has to be some commercial activities. People are after their own lives and we have to make sure they are not rough handled. So, clearly, for the past years,there has been no commerce in the north east and therefore, the economy in those areas is dead.
The people are scared-—Muzzammil Sani Hanga, Lawyer and national secretary for Supreme Council for Ulama of Nigeria
It is quite obvious. It has affected the north. Whenever there is insurgence, whenever there is crisis, the first victim to fall is the economy. People will be scared and actually cannot come out to business. They cannot even survive. So, I believe the economy has been affected and will continue to be affected so long as we allow this insurgence to continue. By extension, the whole country is going to be engulfed. When one arm of the country is affected, all other arms will be affected.
We are yet to get protection from government-—Alhaji Yerima Abdulahi, elder statesman and former Nigeria’s ambassador to Malaysia
Honestly, it is no longer a secret. The economy of the north is in shambles. People can’t go to where they want to at the time they want. Not only that, even our farmers can’t go to the farm. When they go,even if they produce, Boko haram will come and take everything. Not only that, you can’t leave your house with certainty that you will come back. You are not sure. Not only that, people are being killed by the day.
We were told on the radio that the army and security people are doing something about it but everyday, we hear reports to the contrary. What happened in Nyanyan, the one in Chibok, Borno State where over 100 school girls were abducted, how on earth can this kind of thing happen without being traced? It is amazing. And with this kind of situation, how can the people cope to even begin to think of their own economy? It is terrible and people are confused.
They can’t go on their economic activities. We are dumbfounded. We don’t know what next to do. Government must come in clear terms. The military must ensure that they are there. We must reassure people that they are protected but with the present day situation in Nyanyan and Chibok, certainly, nobody will have the confidence that somebody is being protected. Unfortunately, without security, how on earth can people go on their normal economic activities? They cannot.
Obviously, it will affect the whole country. Don’t you see that the south more or less has plenty of money but they depend on the north to get foods: yam, rice, potatoes, vegetables, beans, maize, name it. All the food that people eat. Even the chicken that people slaughter, even the goats that people slaughter, a lot of cows.
Now, all these cannot be ferried as normal. They cannot because there is no peace. You take your lorry load of beans, goats and someone snatches them and leaves you high and dry if they don’t even kill you. It is very dangerous and you can imagine what will happen in the south where they don’t farm, places like Onitsha, Lagos, Enugu, they depend on the foods from the other parts of the country. And if they don’t go to the south, they don’t get the cash. So, you can see the vicious circle we are in. It is terrible.
Insurgency is aimed at disintegrating the country
The perpetrators of the violence are organized, well equipped, probably protected and easily recruits agents, fighters, and suicide bombers because of mass poverty and unemployment of young people. There are today in Nigeria more than 20 million post-secondary graduates from colleges of education, polytechnics, universities, among others who are unemployed and from poor families and they have no hope of employment during the next five years.
Who is to be blamed?
Government at the federal, state, and local governments are to be blamed because they have the power, authority and responsibility and have failed to use them to bring about good governance. They allow disabling levels of corruption, stealing, criminal waste of public resources .
What are the contributions of the Northerners on this issue
First, let us look at the contribution of Nigerian leaders before that of regional leaders. Nigeria is a federation with an executive president and a law- making National Assembly, and an independent judiciary. The military, the police, and all law enforcement agents are under direct control of the executive President. Therefore, the role and responsibilities of all other bodies are secondary, including the powerless regional leaders which do not exist in law.
Insurgency is not caused by poverty alone. Poverty makes it only easy to recruit people for insurgency. Insurgency itself is the work of rich, powerful groups hiding behind internal authority or foreign interests both of which have political objectives to destabilize Nigeria, starting with the Northern part of Nigeria which is considered to be strategic for effective attack.
The Nigerian internal groups that may want to destabilize Nigeria for political purpose are: firstly, those that think that insecurity, instability, poverty, and hunger can enable them massively rig the 2015 election or alternatively enable them to continue in power when there is no elected ones to handover to as required by the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Secondly, the convicted, being prosecuted and exposed thieves who think that if Nigeria disintegrates, the different countries resulting from the disintegration will not have time and peace to try them.
The external foreign agents are international imperialists which already predicted the disintegration of Nigeria and may have been conspiring with the Nigerian internal groups to effect the separation.
Blame the Northerners for allowing evil seeds to be planted— Zakka
A public affairs analyst, Bala Zakka in this interview disclosed that the insurgency is a fallout from Northerners’ ability to allow evil seed of Boko Haram to be planted in the country’s soil.
Looking at the recent suicide bombing in Abuja, what is your opinion?
It is a clear indication that all the preventive, detective and corrective control measures of our internal or municipal security have failed. The questions to ask here are clearly simple and straightforward. If the internal preventive mechanisms were working and effective, why was the incident not prevented? If the internal detective mechanisms were working and effective, why was the bomb not detected?
If the appropriate corrective and compensating medical mechanisms were working and effective, why are the injured who survived still dying till this moment? The news and photo clips have gone round the whole world and that is not good for our global image. With such tragic security failures, no amount of economic summit will attract foreign investors into Nigeria because you can only enjoy the fruits of your investment if you are alive.
Let us look at the problem from the beginning and how it started?
The seeds of Criminality, betrayer and traitors have been there right from creation; go through all the Holy books regardless of beliefs or religion; go through history books regardless of the people or race involved and you will notice that there are a thousand and one reasons or causes of such seeds being planted, watered and nurtured to germinate and cause havoc.
What led to where we are today in terms of insecurity?
Definitely, it has to do with the failure of national security apparatus. By national apparatus, we simply legally constituted authority of any country and that is simply the government because yes, the government exist to serve its citizens but the government has the powers (laws) and tools to make sure its citizens are civic in their behaviours.
Look, insecurity simply means absence of safeguards and once there is no security, a country is at risk. So, what is a risk? A risk is the chances of threats (Boko Haram terrorist, insurgences, kidnappers, thieves, among others) taking advantage of your vulnerabilities (non-functional laws, lack of well-equipped security agencies, etc) to cause national harm, which could be economic, political, environmental, social, material and human assets (as in the case of the Nyanya bombing)
How has the situation drifted to the level that thousands of lives perish through this problem?
First of all, you have to understand that what happened in Nyanya is a clear case of terrorism. Terrorist are generally disloyal people and have no respect for the laws of a country and nation they wish to attack because their sole aim is to subject a country to a state of lawlessness and render the government irrelevant.
Once a government has been rendered irrelevant, they will then foster their ideology, which could be political, social, religious, narcotic and whatever. Lives get perish in hundreds or thousands because of the brute force they apply in clearing (by killing, maiming, bombing, among others) any human or material obstruction that will stand between them and their satanic or evil objective or agenda.
Who is to be blamed: The Government, the people or Northern leaders?
Initially it started as a Northern social defect and problem but I think it has become a national embarrassment and insult to all Nigerians today. One can clearly blame the North for allowing a fertile for such evil seeds to be planted in the first place (due to its level of poverty, beggars, religious fanatism, etc) but today, a better and more permanent solution can be better found is if it is faced and fought as a national cancer and as an evil monster and a beast that must be arrested or stopped. I opine so because as you can see, the Nyanya bombing and killing did not differentiate between Northerners and non-northerners, it killed Christians, Moslems, Animist, Pegans and Free Thinkers. It killed all, whether PDP members, APC members, graduates and non-graduates.
You can clearly see that it has now snowballed into a national problem but no one can deny the fact that the northern leaders should have been more vigilant because terrorists get their recruits using the tools of indoctrination, radicalism and propaganda, and there were many vulnerable recruits due to high poverty, illiteracy and religious intolerance.
What are the contributions of Northern leaders in this?
To the best of my knowledge, the north does not have a central leader or coordinator like it had in the days of Sir Ahmadu Bello-the Sardauna of Sokoto. I don’t think it will be completely out of place to say that greed, religious intolerance, political affiliation, ethnicity, ideological differences, mutual distrust and fear of domination have completely destroyed the bond of unity amongst the northern leaders. Sometime, I just get confused and worried because, how can you reconcile the fact that our security personnel (Police, Army, Navy, Airforce, etc) go to other countries and succeed but keep failing in a woeful manner in their own country on simple local assignments, where they even know the terrain better? Does it make any technical, logical, social, political or military sense?
The argument is that the insurgency is caused by poverty yet the people are buying sophisticated weapons including guns, bombs and even kill themselves for money, what is your opinion?
Poverty, illiteracy and religious intolerance, constitute a definite major problem in Nigeria. An AK-47 rifle cost hundreds of thousands of Naira and I can tell you that there is no way those hungry and haggard looking insurgence can afford a single AK-47 rifles without well-crafted, syndicated and coordinated team of sponsors. In an organized country or society, after arresting or killing some of the insurgence, the origin of the recovered rifles can be traced by the security agencies. If the citizens are busy through gainful employment, they cannot be idle and fall victims of terrorist recruiters. If they are properly educated, they will know the real values of human capital in the macro-economic growth of their country and can never fall prey to terrorist recruiters.
Analysts believe that Nigeria is in a state of war with Boko haram. Their prayer is that this war will be won by the Nigeria state. Indeed, to realize this objective, every hand must be on deck. The common enemy must not triumph over our common good. We must fight and not be weary. So help us God.