Saturday, January 7, 2012

Boko Haram-what is the real agenda?

The killing spree embarked on by Boko Haram in Northern Nigeria is gradually putting the country on edge. Perhaps, at no time since the end of the civil war has the unity of the country been more threatened than now.
Boko Haram attacks have taken a definite pattern. The obvious aim seems to cause maximum damage to both lives and properties, cast fear into non-Muslims and non-indigenes in Northern Nigeria. The bigger aims seem to be to provoke retaliatory attacks in the Southern part of Nigeria against Northerners.
In the last one week, in a bid to provoke these retaliatory attacks, BoKo Haram has directly threatened  Christians living in the North and has taken its pledge into action by carrying out an evil massacre of over 20 Southern Christian men with threats to  kill more.
The question that the Boko Haram attack is raising is what they really want beyond the fact they hate western education. Is it just the hatred for Western education that is driving them to use western tools to commit mass murder or do they have a higher agenda?
There are have several motives put forward as the reason behind the attacks. There is the conspiracy theories that some Northern leaders having lost out in their bid to win the presidency has gone ahead to arm Boko Haram in a bid to make Nigeria ungovernable.  These seem to be the popular view. For those who put this view forward, arrest these disgruntled Northerners and Boko Haram will hopefully vanish.
There is a second view recently advanced in an article in New York Times which states that Boko Haram is made of criminal gangs using the Boko Haram tag to commit, threaten and extort money from their victims. If this view holds, then Boko Haram is the most vicious criminal gang to have emerged in Nigerian history with the impunity they have displayed in taking the lives of their victims. This view even claims most of the criminal minds are actually from Southern Nigeria.
There is however a third theory in existence about the Boko Haram agenda. For me, this is the more sinister view and the most dangerous for Nigeria as a country if it is true. This view sounds like an elaborately well written fiction. It talks of an elaborate plot by external parties working in concert with internally corrupt individuals in high places in government to cast maximum fear in Nigerians, not only in a bid to discredit the Jonathan but take over Nigeria‘s security apparatus for their own interest.
The plot seems so sinister that it is incredible. The idea is kill enough Nigerians and make it look like a religious fight. This creates doubts about the ability of the government to protect them. The government panics and increases its security spending which benefits the same people that inspired this violence in the first place.
But this sinister plot is not just about security contracts. It is also about hard drugs. The idea is that a desperate government eager to improve security will have to employ security consultants fed up with the inability of its own security agencies to stop bloodshed in the land. This sinister group that is behind the violence now comes in as security consultants and are placed in a position to penetrate the Nigerian security agencies for their final act. The final act is using their control of Nigeria’s security agencies as a platform for turning Nigeria into a drug route to Europe.
As noted earlier, this third idea for the existence of Boko Haram is so sinister that it sends a cold sweat down ones spine. What seems to be emerging is the creation of a Mexico out of Nigeria and it has a good chance of succeeding. Already government security budget for this year is one of the highest in history. A good chunk of the security budget, besides the one for the military and the police, will go into buying security equipment, most of which the country is buying for the first time ever.
It is not certain which of these three agendas Boko Haram is pursuing or is being pursued using the platform of Boko Haram. What is certain is that Boko Haram is killing Nigerians the way no militia group has ever done before. The killings have cast fear that may be only comparable to what happened just before the civil war. The fear of retaliation in other parts of Nigeria is going up by the day and the government security expenditure has shot up significantly.
But most significantly, the activities of Boko Haram are making Nigerians question the capacity of their president even as the president is questioning the capacity of its security chiefs. What is needed now is a sober reflection of the Boko Haram challenge. No agenda should be ignored and all options should be placed on the table. 

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