I read with keen interest an open letter to Mr President titled Boko Haram....The real issues written by Mamman Kashim, Kalli Gazali and Dr. Usman Ladan. In the letter my brothers from Borno have indicated that "The root causes are two. 1) Injustice, which must be corrected. Secondly ÔÇô an obvious lack of economic development in a zone (Northeast) which in the last 5 years has received less than 1% of Federal Government spending. That the North East is the most deprived part of Nigeria". They concluded that the solution to the problem is jobs and justice.
It is true these concerned Borno citizens have a point about jobs and justice and there is a need to address these issues appropriately as they affect all Nigerians. My concern however is that it appears to me that even those who claim to know the sect may be missing the point. I have asked in different fora, what exactly Boko Haram stands for. Can anyone please tell Nigerians what this muslim sect is fighting for.
There have been many suggestions. For instance we have heard and read that the sect is against western education and that is the meaning of Boko Haram. However as Mamman Kashim and colleagues stated, the followers of late Yusuf were young, able bodied, unemployed with no prospect of hope in the horizon. They had Western Education and therefore literate and aware of the prevailing social conditions.
They have obviously excluded the numerous illiterate Almajiris who because of the feudal system operating in the place have nowhere to go and no one to look up to other than follow the likes of late Yusuf who can use them to carry out the various atrocities. I agree there is freedom of worship and expression but these are not synonymous with destruction and sabotage of constituted governments.
I have always wondered why people who are fighting for jobs and justice should be burning churches any time they are angry. Are the churches the provider of jobs in the state? Why do they burn police stations? Why do they call on all Muslims in Nigeria to stay away from Christians, Security Agents, Government institutions and functions or face death? Is this still about jobs and justice? Are the Christians not also looking for jobs and justice in Borno and Bauchi?
We know that a high ranking commissioner in government resigned his appointment to join up with the group and was subsequently killed. His death is still being questioned. This was an employed man who left to join the unemployed. I would have thought that being in government should have offered him the opportunity to influence the creation of jobs. This is why I ask whether there are powerful political dark forces operating under the guise of religion, jobs and justice? The government and security agencies have a herculean task of distinguishing the wheat from the chaff or else we shall be chasing shadows.
Talking about justice, we all know that the country Nigeria as it is currently made up and operates is unjust to all Nigerians in one way or the other.Every one has something to fight for; Biafra has something to fight for, OPC has something to fight for, Beroms have something to fight for, the Fulani herdsmen also have something to fight for. So what should happen if all Nigerians start killing and maiming other Nigerians and continue destroying government property? Did we not condemn the militancy in the Niger Delta?I thought we ought to have learnt our lessons from destructive tendencies. The way to fight for jobs and justice is not to plant bombs and kill indiscrimiately but dialogue. You can not dialogue if you are faceless. If we continue this way, I believe in no distant time, there will be no place we shall call Nigeria. To nourish our democracy and remain as one nation, we must have tolerance for one another.
Many of our past leaders are now making suggestions on how to curb the menace. The ideas have always been the same things that have been shouted since and nobody cared to listen because of their selfish and individualised greed. When they had the political or military power they lacked the will. It is however never too late to do something for the majority of the country. I only hope President Goodluck Jonathan can muster the political will to do what other Presidents failed to do.
I hear some politicians in the northern part of the country are now running to Abuja just as the Niger Delta politicians did during the Niger Delta militancy. But as we have seen recently with the spate of bombings, even Abuja is no longer a safe haven.
So this is the time to look at how we should live as Nigerians. There was a Yakubu Gowon committee on social security for the country. The document I believe is among a pile of other documents with dust on them as usual. I don't know why as a country we keep constituting committees that churn out reports that do not see the light of the day. This is one report that should quickly be brought to the front burner. The National Assembly must do something quickly.
I had written in 2009 about social security, Boko Haram and the Niger Delta. I had stated that Social Security embodies Biblical and Koranic principles of intergenerational responsibility and support. We all know that the principles underpinning social security recognize the vulnerability and abandonment that may come with lack and want. That abandonment is not a problem of one sect or religion or even a part of the country.
This is a national problem far from what the open letter to Mr President by the concerned Borno indigenes appears to be indicating that the problem is that of the North East region. We all know that there have been bombings outside the North East in Kaduna, Niger states etc.
The tendency for social conflict under the guise of religion and resource control will continue to grow if we do not provide basic needs for the populace. This is the basis of social security both in the Bible and the Koran. I am of the opinion that, even the electoral reform and transformation we want for our country may not be effective if there is no social security system on ground. People who are hungry, uneducated and have no future will not be interested in any electoral reform. They will only live for what they can get to live and even be used by those who claim to be educated.
A good social security system will strengthen our democracy, by enhancing security, self respect and freedom of our citizens. The future belongs to those who give the next generation reason for hope. Now is the time.