BokoHaram vs Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress (Part One)

A few years ago, fresh out of secondary school, I visited the University of Nigeria,Nsukka, for the first time, with hopes of starting the next phase of my education there.UNN, as it is fondly called, was built in the sixties, and isstill the only major educational institution in the eastern part of Nigeria. With its exceptional student body and distinguished staff, being admitted there has always been any student’s dream.During my last visit to UNN, I stayed with my sister, who by then was in the last year of her food science program (I never did understand why she chose that field of study). I was already getting used to university life by that time:eating, talking—hell, even walking—like the other students. I had also started listening to the university’s own student-run radio station, “Lion FM.”

Lion 91.1 FM was just what the stressed-out students needed to help them blow off steam.The stationhad a show (that I cannot remember the name of) on the air every Mondayat 3:00 p.m., about events making news around the country.One Monday I sat down to listen, expecting a dose of current affairs, when a different topic came up:Boko Haram.Since that year was the first of Boko Haram’s existence, I had never heard of them or aboutwhat they had done, but listened asthe anchor of the show recounted the ordeals of the myriad people affected by their nefarious activities.

Did this group arise out of poverty and lack of education? I think not. Although both are major factors, these conditions exist in the south and east as well, and nothing like BokoHaram ever formed there. All the militants we have had in Nigeria seem benevolent when compared to Boko Haram and the violence and destruction it has wrought.

Some people attribute Boko Haram’s rise to Islam or Quranic teachings, but again,I disagree. Similar and worse atrocities have been committed elsewhere by those with no allegiance to Islam, such as the Rwandan Genocide of 1994.

Is it due to a special combination of Islam and poverty? This may be a convenient explanation, but poverty has coexisted with Islam in the northern region for a long time, and yet the dreadful banditry of Boko Haram is a very recent phenomenon.

Furthermore, why is there no Boko Haram in other poverty-stricken Muslim communities, such as Saudi Arabia and Bahrain?

Was Boko Haram set up by Al-Qaeda in Nigeria? This is clearly the kind of conspiratorial nonsense that America uses to justify invasion of other nations and capture resources and markets. So what is really responsible for the emergence of Boko Haram? Neither book study nor common sense can answer this question. Truth is always dialectical and concrete; only by looking at the specifics of its chronologycan Boko Haram be fully understood.

But whatever the reason, BokoHaram has become Nigeria’s nightmare.

The national flag of the Federal Republic Nigeria is divided vertically, into three equal parts. The central part is white and the two outer parts are green. The green represents agriculture while the white represents unity and peace. The flag was designed in 1960, in the twilight of colonial rule, by Mr. Michael
Taiwo Akinkunmi, a student in London. His design was adjudged the best out of two thousand entries for the National Flag Design Competition, and earned him a cash prize of one hundred pounds, paid to him by M.A. Martins, Nigeria’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom at the time. (The Guardian, 1996 and 1999.)

So even before Nigeria became a country, unity and peace were being preached. But peace is something I have never experienced here; if we are not fighting ethnic wars, then we are fighting intercommunity wars. We even had a civil war that some parts of the country have yet to recover from—even decades after it ended, much like Japan still feels the impact of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings of the Second World War.

I will see you shortly…


Edited by <a href=””>Timothy Pike, freelance editor for hire</a>


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