Origins of Boko Haram and IPOB
Sir: Boko Haram (BH) and the Independent People of Biafra (IPOB) are terrorist groups, indubitably. IPOB’s terroristic tendency became clear to me when some of its members started pursuing those they referred to as Hausa in Biafraland. But if Nigerians don’t care about how BH and IPOB became terroristic, there will be no end to emergence of terrorist groups in Nigeria. BH is a product of politicization of Islam and Christianity. The constitution stipulates Nigeria as a religion-less nation, while Islamic and Christian purveyors insist that Nigeria is a multi-religious nation. The former means that Nigeria as a nation has no religion, while the latter means that Nigeria has many religions. The latter position makes Nigeria responsible for the religions within her, as if she owns them, and so public funds are expended on religious festivals, pilgrimages, etc, sometimes as priorities above infrastructure and workers’ salaries and emoluments.
If the separation of religion from politics implied in Nigeria’s constitutional prohibition of “state religion” were respected, the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua would not have abused his presidency to attack a Muslim sect, BH, living its own community life, and didn’t attack anybody until attacked. The inordinate ambition of Yar’Adua’s deputy, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, led him to compound the crisis; he pulled Biafra and Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) to support himself against BH, as if the original mission of BH was to attack Christians. Jonathan rebuffed any form of dialogue with BH, even when it became expedient to save the Chibok school girls adopted by BH in April 2014. He missed that golden opportunity to resolve the BH imbroglio.
On his way to power, the current President, General Muhammadu Buhari (GMB), rather than seeking ways of bailing Nigeria out of crisis, was boasting of defeating BH, thereby pouring petrol into the raging fire. And the fire has been consuming human lives and economic resources, massively. Many elders across Nigeria were calling for restructuring that will make Nigeria sustainable, GMB and his Deputy, Pastor (Prof) Yemi Osinbajo, said it was a ploy to reduce money accruing to the presidency.
Lack of order and sanity made CAN to terrorize Governor Ben Ayade out of banning assembly prayer in religiously mixed schools. So, what can you expect other than harvest of terrorist groups when Christian and Islamic predators constitute themselves into unruly organizations, above the law, simply because they have massive followers? The Muslims in Ekiti section of Kwara State have fixed a ceremony to which they are inviting Christian and Muslim government functionaries, traditional rulers, as well as officers of political parties to bring donations. That is typical of how church and mosque create confusion and encourage corruption (haram) in politics and governments of Nigeria.
The Christian and Muslim masses enslave themselves without knowing it. Creating large followerships is the reason Christian and Muslim leaders are always desperate to win converts, and they go beyond using the name of God, to deception and, as a last resort, war, only to turn people into masses, and exploit them, clerically and politically. That is why, for instance, Ilorin Emirate is supporting Saraki dynasty, idolizing Saraki in songs and other poetical genres. The starting point of sanity is to liberate Nigeria from religious encumbrances in which she is entangled. Rather than taking joy in fighting terrorist groups, address the religio-political circumstances that produce them. Some Nigerians also want GMB to tell them whether the Fulani herdsmen ravaging crop farms and sacking farming communities are not terrorists.
Prof Oyeniran Abioje wrote from University of Ilorin.