Monday, April 9, 2012

What does Boko Haram really want?

It is usual to hear that Nigeria’s deadly Boko Haram sect wants the implementation of sharia in Nigeria. In the past one year, the group has launched a bloody campaign that has claimed the lives of about 1000 Nigerians.

Interestingly, if a critical break down of the lives claimed by Boko Haram attacks is done, it may surprise many to know that more Muslims may have died from Boko Haram attacks than Christians. Yet the common assumption is that Boko Haram is fighting for an Islamic state in Nigeria. If that is the case, then the group must be defeating its own fight by killing the same people it is claims to be fighting for.

It is usual to see in media reports that Boko Haram demands the adoption of Islamic law or Sharia in Nigeria. This statement seems to lack merit. Is it the media that is not getting right the demand of Boko Haram or Boko Haram that is not sure of what exactly it wants from Nigeria and Nigerians?

My confusion about Boko Haram’s demand for Sharia implementation in Nigeria is because Sharia law is already implemented in Nigeria. As at last count, 12 states are already implementing Sharia law. Nine of these states implement Sharia law in full. These States are Zamfara which kicked off the implementation of Sharia law as far back as 2000. The other states that implement sharia fully in Nigeria are Kano, Sokoto, Katsina, Bauchi, Borno, Jigawa, Kebbi and Yobe State. Three other States have imposed Sharia law in parts of their States because of the large segments of non-Muslims in parts of their states. These States are Kaduna, Niger and Gombe State.

Most of these states have been implementing Sharia law for several years now. These States are predominantly Muslim states and have chosen to do so. It is therefore confusing if Boko Haram will be said to be fighting for the implementation of Sharia law. Where else do they want Sharia Law? All over Nigeria? Will that be fair considering that there is a predominance of Christians in other parts of the country? Would it be fair if Christians were demanding that all Muslims become Christians even if they did not want to?

Then there is these other claim in the media that Boko Haram hates western education and wants it abolished. This demand by Boko Haram, if true is also confusing. This demand is confusing because all over the North, Koranic schools are run concurrently with western schools. There are parents who voluntarily choose to send their children to only Koranic schools or Western Schools or both? What is wrong in having a choice to decide what form of education or knowledge to pursue? Is it not true the mathematics, the foundation of western education has Arabic origins? Why would such valuable knowledge that has benefitted the West be a taboo to those that gave it to the world?

It is regrettable that an initial effort at dialoguing with Boko Haram was discontinued because it was leaked to the Press. In as much as it was regrettable that the negotiation process was leaked, it is even more regrettable that it was abandoned because of the leak. Now more people are dead. Families are being destroyed, business activities in Northern Nigeria are at standstill and the violence is taking a heavy toll on the economy and social activities in the North. No one is safe any longer in Northern Nigeria, not even Muslims who are equally being attacked by Boko Haram.

As I am writing this, a day after Easter Sunday when Boko Haram detonated a car bomb that has claimed 38 lives, most of whom were poor Okada riders and taxi drivers, Reuters report that in Yobe state, where Sharia law is already in operation, suspected members of Boko Haram on Sunday stormed the home of local policeman Hassan Isa and shot dead his 6-year old daughter, injuring two of Isa's other children, a police spokesman there told Reuters. Even Children   yet to understand what Boko Haram stands for, are now in the line of fire.

 The BIG question for Boko Haram is if the killing of fellow Nigerians is the best way they prefer to advertise their ideology or beliefs? Is the best advertisement of their beliefs the blowing into pieces  innocent Okada riders, worshipers and gunning down people walking on the streets of Northern Nigeria struggling to make a living in a country that has offered them little or nothing since they were born? When will the killing stop? Is it when no one can walk safely in any city in Northern Nigeria or when they have killed everyone that does not agree with the Boko Haram ideology? Is killing the Boko Haram answer to the inability to convince others of the righteousness of their ways?

Definitely, blowing up and shooting down unarmed civilians is a poor advertisement of any ideology  that Boko Haram stands for. Whatever BoKo Haram demands may eventually be, that demand will only make sense when they realize that other Nigerians have a right to life, just the same way they do and that blowing up innocent Nigerians leaves them with no Nigerian to support their cause, whatever that may be. 

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