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‘Terrorism Is Not Due To Religion, It Is Hydra-Headed’



The Dean Faculty of Arts, University of Lagos (UNILAG), Professor Olajompo Akinyeye, spoke with DEBO OLADIMEJI on the reasons for emergence of female suicide bombers and the way forward.

IT appears that there are female-children suicide bombers in the country now, what do you think could be the cause and how are they being indoctrinated?

It is because the terrorists see that these children are innocent, and they can easily be impressed; their minds are still impressionistic. They can easily be twisted and misdirected, that is why they are cashing in on them to do this dastardly act of suicide bombings. I am convinced that the so-called suicide bombers, adolescent suicide bombers, underage suicide bombers like the seven-year old girl, don’t know the implications of what they are doing. They are simply used as canon fodders to go and do that. It is another dimension, a strategy of these terrorists. Those adolescents or under aged people are not rationally thinking. They are simply directed or misdirected if you like. 

It is believed that these terrorists use religion as a strategy to indoctrinate them. Do you agree with this assertion?

No, it is not religion; it is hydra-headed and still to be properly understood. Religious fundamentalism is more prevalent in the North than in the South. Incident of illiteracy is also there. Illiteracy in the sense of ability to read and write from the western perspective is more prevalent in the North. Also, poverty is more widespread in the North; you have more of the talakawas, the downtrodden people in Nigeria in the North. You have the phenomenon of the Almajiris, young children of school age who are outside school. They are more in the North. So, all these work together to make the North the theatre of what is unfolding. These insurgents also attack the Muslims, they kill people indiscriminately; so we cannot clearly say it is a religious movement.

Also, there is vast expanse of land where these terrorists can easily adopt the guerrilla tactics of attack and retreat in the North. That is why terrorism is more rampant in the North. The south is more urbanized with few forests. The conditions that make this phenomenon to thrive are more pronounced in the North. 

It is on record that foreigners with Islamic background are establishing Islamic schools in the North and they are being use to train these young terrorists. Do you think it is true?

The answer is clear, and that is because there are people to be trained there. There is a fertile ground for the reception of the ideas that they are propagating more in the North than in the South. It is true we have our own area boys, but it is not on the same scale as you have people who could be easily used to do other things in the North.

 What do you think could be or is the agenda of the financiers of these terrorists?

Destabilisation of the country, making it ungovernable and change of government to suit their own taste and agenda. They are not pursuing Islamic agenda as such, but hidden things. They want access to political power, which is a platform for economic power. That is what I think they are doing.

Do you think that children of the well to do are more involved in terrorism?

It is based on idealism; they are being idealized. They have their views about what the world should be and they want to actualise that. A good example is the case of the young Nigerian, Abdul Mutallab that was jailed in the United States. People from poor background want to be rich; they want to enjoy the good life, and they envy those who are well to do. This in my own view explains why you have people from reasonably well to do families coming to participate in issue of terrorism. In ISIS we have people from well to do families from Saudi Arabia. 

What is the way forward?

Government should put in place proactive policies, make sure they get more children in schools, and create more employment opportunities. They must create socio-economic facilities and infrastructures that can keep people fully engaged. This will help make them less prone to radicalism and terrorism.

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