If you uproot terrible weeds from a land without planting good trees on the land, tougher weeds will grow. Also, if you remove bad thoughts from a person’s mind without replacing it with good thoughts, worse thoughts will resurrect. After punishing people for stealing food without showing them how to honourably earn without stealing, they become timid or hardened criminals. Since nature abhors vacuum, punishment cannot remove the hunger for food, pleasure, activities, meaningful life and creativity in human beings. Hence, fighting Boko-Haram terrorists without building a social system for people to develop and use their energies for gainful productivity remains ineffective.
Different Nigerian governments declare their commitment to fight Boko-Haram, corruption, and crime with military power. Thus, the national budget for importing different arms, ammunition and military equipment continues to rise. Even foreign countries offer to contribute more firepower to crush these indicators of social breakdown. However, the quick resort to force for solving every problem without element-focused reasoning continues to produce negative effects.
Boko Haram is a terrorist group that has killed and injured tens of thousands in the Northern Nigeria since 2011. The name “Boko-Haram” is translated as “Western education is forbidden”, “Western influence is a sin” or “Westernization is sacrilege”. It began non-violently in 2002 with socio-religious teachings by Muhammed Yusuf for purifying Islam in northern Nigeria. They became radicalized two years after the death of their founder, who was apparently murdered by Nigeria’s security operatives. Since then, it’s mode of operation involved kidnapping, robbery, suicide bombings and assassinations.
Terrorism is “the use of violent action in order to achieve political aims or to force a government to act”. Progressive societies rise from people’s agreement to collaborate in using their human and material resources for social development. They educate members to earn their living, prestige and fulfilment by developing and utilizing their potentials for productivity, administration and security in the society. When some members of a society FEEL maltreated or neglected in the social progress, they often express their frustrations through agitations. When diplomatic and peaceful agitations are neglected and unaddressed, their agitations may aggravate into terrorism. Hence, terrorism rises from the FEELING of maltreatment, a feeling that is addressable through sincere dialogue, education and productive engagement.
CAUSES OF BOKO HARAM
We noted that terrorism springs from the feeling of maltreatment, neglect or injustice in a society. Factors that contribute in creating and sustaining Boko Haram terrorism include:
SOCIAL FACTOR: the Northern Nigeria, where Boko-Haram operates, was created as the Northern protectorate by British colonialists, who sought raw materials and territories in Africa. The area includes a vast territory of previously independent and agrarian ethnic communities, groups and tribes. In 1804, the nomadic Fulani from Futa Djallon, led by Usman Dan-Fodio, proclaimed jihad against the Hausa Gobir city and conquered the majority of the Hausa city-states. Usman Dan-Fodio restructured the different ethnic communities by installing Arab-like political and religious systems. He established the centralized Sokoto caliphate and appointed Emirs (with absolute powers) to rule different parts (emirates) of the caliphate. The Fulani eventually intermingled with the indigenous Hausas and other conquered ethnic communities.
Few decades after Dan-Fodio installed Sokoto caliphate, British colonialists conquered the north with superior firepower. Noticing the centralized structure and organized tax-system in the North, the British introduced an indirect-rule on the existing structure. Thus, the colonialists used the existing elite-class of Fulani rulers to govern these territories and collect taxes. Later, the colonialists added other groups that were not yet conquered by the Jihad as part of the Northern protectorate. Yet, the influence of the caliphate and its extended emirates was dominant in the new structure under the colonialists.
The blend of elite-class Fulani rulers and British colonialists on once independent Hausa communities supported caste-systems called talakawa and Almajiri. The conquered natives became the talakawas (second-class) who pay rent to their conquerors for cultivating the lands. So, the talakawas could not own the farmlands, but had to rent land, or work for the elite-class to survive. While Almajiri (lowest class) is a system of Islamic apprenticeship under an imam for boys from polygamous and poor families. The boys are taught elementary religious studies and sent to beg for alms and food.
After the colonists amalgamated northern and southern protectorates, the northerners increased their cash-crop cultivation for export. But, the later discovery of crude oil in Niger-delta diverted the colonialists’ attention from agricultural exploitation to crude oil exploitation. Ultimately, the north’s agricultural zeal reduced, and few talakawas got educated to work for the elite-class, while others became unemployed. The elite’s importation of efficient agricultural machines displaced more of the talakawas’ manual labour, thereby increasing their idleness and poverty.
RELIGIOUS/EDUCATIONAL FACTOR: using persuasive teachers, the conquerors preached ascetic Islam as the way to meaningful life. Thus, the conquered people are made to see their lives’ aim as totally following God’s commands till death. They learn to alienate themselves from infidels (non-muslims) and ‘vanity’ (wealth, indecency, lust and alcohol). Alienating themselves from infidels meant rejecting infidels’ education, language and culture – westernization. This rejection of ‘western’ education and languages limited the lowest-class’ ability to communicate and understand global trends.
However, the overlords send their own children to study in the West. This prepared the elites’ children for working with colonialists and foreigners in business, religious and political administration. So, the talakawas and almajiris (low-class) depend on the elite-class to interpret and direct them on “God’s wish” and life goals. Then, the elites’ messengers disseminate the instructions in native languages on radios, social and religious gatherings. Since they cannot evaluate the directives from other sources in broader academic languages, most low-class take these directives without questioning.
Like the bible, Quran contains both tolerant and intolerant teachings about unbelievers. The edict to kill unbelievers, which Islamic terrorist assert, is similar to the biblical edict to kill unbelievers in Old Testament. With modern enlightenment on the sanctity of human rights and life, the intolerant edicts became or lead to crimes. Unfortunately, some politicians focus on the intolerant parts to occupy the low-class’ minds with hating infidels and judging lukewarm Muslims, instead of modern productivity. Yet, some Muslims countries are harnessing the tolerant edicts in Islam to develop their society following modern enlightenment for human dignity.
POLITICAL FACTOR: after merging the northern and southern protectorates, colonialists made several laws for exploiting people’s mineral resources and labour. They trained few natives from different sections of the country, especially among elite-class, to assist them in colonial administration. Before leaving at independence, they installed a constitution to guide their former assistants in ruling Nigeria and exporting people’s resources. Thus, through elections, the few colonially-trained natives struggle for the colonially-made offices to control the colonially-merged resources and funds.
Since the low-class are socially conditioned to depend on the elite-class, some elites feed and arm the low-class for political thuggery. Hence, during elections, the ruling class use these low-class people to fight or intimidate their political opponents. After getting power, the ruling-class abandon these low-class people who they had armed with sophisticated weapons for political thuggery. Feeling used and dumped, the armed low-class people use the weapons for agitation, which later rises to terrorism.
ECONOMIC FACTOR: Nigeria’s colonially-imposed constitution arbitrarily allots all tradeable mineral resources in any community to the federal government. From mid-1960s, crude oil from Niger-Delta became the most viable item from which Nigeria earns foreign exchange and consumer products. Eventually, the federal government created states, local governments and ministries for sharing these imported products. The share of allocation from the federal revenue is arbitrarily made to depend on the state’s population or the sharer’s (president) discretion. Then the state and local governments distribute their allocation according to their own discretion.
Some historians argue that colonialists twisted the Nigerian population/structure to favour the north in order to sustain their indirect-rule influence. Having higher population on record, the north receives higher allocations from federal government and more federal parastatal appointments. Despite the huge allocations, over 50 million Northerners are living in ABJECT poverty; Alhaji Balarabe Musa and UNIMAID Vice Chancellor, Prof. Abubakar Njodi, are yet to agree whether the north is 40 years or 500 years behind the south in education; the effect of this education-deficiency and abject poverty is vulnerability to terrorist inclinations against the society, especially the wealthy.
Contrarily, the few elite-class, who got western education and government appointments continue getting rich. Preparing for 2019 election, 19 indigenous aspirants from the terrorized Borno state easily paid 22.5million naira each for governorship form. The ruling-class keep getting rich, while the people languish in abject poverty, illiteracy and unproductivity. And since the north records more population for higher allocations, the elites do not need to educate the locals for productivity. Instead, they may sustain horrible situations to attract more allocations and charity/international funds for security and IDPs.
Social reorganization for building kobo life over boko life
Kobo is the smallest currency-unit for measuring wealth in Nigeria, before the naira. Our use of kobo life in this article implies having a reasonably productive and valuable life to afford basic necessities.
Wealth is the opposite of poverty, and wealth is created by applying scientific knowledge on natural resources to create useful commodities. Without reorganizing the society for industrial productivity and internal wealth-creation, the feeling of injustice that breeds terrorism may not end. Occasionally feeding the teeming population of out-of-school-children and teaching them religious piety may not hold them from terrorist manipulations. Instead, helping them earn sustainable income, prestige and fulfilment by developing and utilizing their potentials aligns them to the society. By contributing and earning from their society, they feel like responsible shareholders who would rather protect, than destroy the society. A sincere government determined to curb Boko Haram may do the following:
- Conduct a social research to discover and acknowledge the different Nigeria’s peoples, their beliefs about humans, respective lands and resources. Northern rulers will be encouraged to re-evaluate the talakawa and almajiri caste system for creating an industrially productive region. The north has arable lands and a large human population for building a formidable workforce, capable of feeding West Africa. It arguably has the highest livestock, food and cash crop production in Nigeria, both for local and foreign markets. They have enough deposit of solid minerals, capable of igniting an industrial revolution for producing relevant machines in Nigeria.
- Organize intercommunal conferences among sections and groups towards a national conference for Nigerians to agree on their mode of partnership. Thus, constitutional decisions and laws will reflect the people’s beliefs and agreement for a productive partnership.
- Invite local and foreign-trained specialists to train Nigerians to process their local resources for more industrial production. The north can choose to learn proper science for industrial productivity in any language they choose. Once it helps them utilize their resources effectively in production.
- Release the people’s lands and resources for industrial productivity and eventual tax-payment to the central government. This will encourage the government to protect the people’s productivity for better tax-returns, and encourage citizens to become productive. A gainfully productive people with active industries will focus on social creativity, instead of terrorism.
Directly addressing boko haram terrorism in Nigeria
- Collaborate with traditional rulers and religious preachers to establish institutions for development – scientific education, industries and banks. Thus, the religious preachers will emphasize on the tolerant, progressive and productive aspects of Islam in their broadcasts.
- Declare full-scale state of emergency on the major terrorized states.
- Temporarily replace the governor with a military administrator – the governor’s basic salary will still be his. However, the allowances and security votes go into the military administration of the state pending restoration of industrial productivity.
- Provide adequate security for the governor so he will be safe and available to assist the military administrator on the investigations.
Boko Haram’s rejection of western education is not really a rejection of productivity, but a rejection of the colonial education that alienate Nigerians from their environment and productive ways of life.
 Encyclopaedia Britannica. Boko Haram, retrieved 2nd September, 2014
 Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary, International Student’s Edition (New 8th Edition), S. V. Terrorism
 Ahmadu Kurfi and Oyelade Bello, Know Your Country And Beyond (Ibadan: Safari Books, 2014), p.52-53
 Oladele Fadeiye, European conquest and African resistance (Lagos: Murfat publication, 2011), p.28-p29
 Ahmadu Kurfi, Oyelade Bello, op cit. p53
 http://africanhistory.about.com/od/nigeria/l/bl-Nigeria-Timeline-1.htm retrieved 9-11-2017
 Oladele Fadeiye, European conquest and African resistance (Lagos: Murfat publications, 2011) pp.64-65
 C. C. Dibie, Essential Government (Lagos: Tonad Publishers, 2012), p.137
 Cf. Ahamdu Kurfi, Oyelade Bello, op cit. p53
 Cf. Hussain Obara, https://m.guardian.ng/news/the-almajiri-abused-neglected/ 29th February, 2016.
 S. O. Oyedele, “Federalism in Nigeria” in Issues in contemporary political economy of Nigeria, edited by Hassan A. Saliu (Ilorin: T. A. Olayeri publishers, 1999) p57
 Al Baqarah 150: that there be no ground of dispute against you among the people… 256: let there be no compulsion in religion
 Al Imran 85: If anyone desires a religion other than Islam, never will it be accepted of him.
 Chukwunwike Enekwechi, “Linking Christianity, Islam and Traditional religion for a new Nigeria” in Restartnaija. https://restartnaija.com/2018/05/01/linking-nigerian-religions/
 Al Tauba 123: O ye who believe, fight the unbelievers who are near to you and let them find harshness in you.
 Numbers 30:17 – Moses instructs the Israelites about the Midianites: “Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.”
 Cf. Walter Rodney, How Europe underdeveloped Africa, 2009 edition (Abuja: Panaf publishing, 2009), pp.277-279
 Walter Rodney, op. cit., p.319
 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Section 45, subsection 3.
 Barry Mason, “Britain rigged election before Nigerian independence” in World Socialist Website https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2007/08/nige-a09.html retrieved 15th December 2017.
 Cf. Leke Baiyewu, “Buhari’s appointments: A tilt towards the North” in Punch July 10, 2016 www.punchng.com/buharis-appointments-tilt-towards-north-2/ retrieved 15th December, 2017.
 Kashim Shettima, “Over 50m Northerners living in poverty” in Vanguard by Joseph Erunke on 11-10-2017 https://www.vanguardngr.com/2017/10/50m-northerners-living-poverty-gov-shettima/ retrieved 15th December, 2017.
 Balarabe Musa, The North is 40 years behind the south in education, https://buzznigeria.com/balarabe-musa-northern-nigeria/ retrieved 15th December, 2017.
 Abubakar Njodi, The North-East is 500 years behind the south in education, In Guardian news, https://guardian.ng/news/north-east-500-years-behind-south-in-education-says-vc/ retrieved 15th December, 2017.
 Henry Hazlitt, Economics in one lesson (New York: Pocket books, Inc. 1946), p.149
 Chukwunwike Enekwechi, “The social research for a new Nigeria” in Restartnaija June 5, 2018. https://restartnaija.com/2018/06/05/social-research-new-consented-nigeria/ retrieved
 Chukwunwike Enekwechi, “Organizing the national conference for a new Nigeria” in Restartnaija February 5, 2019.