The problem of Boko Haram is coming to all our homes faster than we can imagine.
Days before the splintering began, the Boko Haram faction, still whole, had created a list of all its public enemies. These men represented all they felt was wrong with their world and contained those that could be traced to the death of their beloved leader, Mohammed Yusuf, who was killed in police custody. The list allegedly included the ex-head of Borno police force, the ex governor of Borno, Alli Modu Sheriff, Senator Danjuma Goje, Professor Wole Soyinka, Vice President Sambo and others. The main antidote that could protect these men from the upcoming executions was a public apology to the group and various other concessions. The enemy number 1 was Alli Modu Sheriff who led Borno state at the time Mohammed Yusuf was arrested and executed in police custody. The now Senator Sheriff apologized publicly for the death of Mr. Yusuf and he thought that was to be the end of it. Some members of the faction felt strongly about avenging the death of their leader regardless of the apology and wanted to kill Senator Sheriff. Others disagreed vehemently with the idea of killing a man who has already humiliated himself at their request. Also, the group had begun feeling the heat of the public backlash at the indiscriminate mayhem that had pilled up massive amounts of private corpses in the morgues of the North. Parents were angry that their children could not go to school and about the end of commerce in the North. Boko Haram was no longer the defender of the common man and his religious ethos, but a disorganized and bloodthirsty group who killed fellow pious Muslim men, women and children for no apparent reason.
Days later Yusufiyya Islamiyya was born, with Sheik Abu Usamata Al’Ansari taking the lead. Pamphlets were quickly distributed to proclaim the goal of this new group, which was to do jihad against the other evil groups killing Muslim men, women and children indiscriminately. They were keen on negotiation and allegedly attended the “secret” talks in Dubai and Dakar. Another group, Ansarul Musilimina Fi Biladis Sudan quickly emerged in the wake of Yusufiyya Islamiyya’s birth. This group was adamantly against negotiations and claimed so in its own leaflets that were distributed in Kaduna. It is not interested in dialogue and claimed that it wanted to kill all enemies of Muhammed Yusuf, Muslim Nigerians, and all enemies of Muslims in Africa. Its goals are large and often schizophrenic since it manages to kill and destroy the livelihood of the group it claims it wants to protect.
The effect of this great splintering is that negotiated settlements are now clearly improbable. If the government manages to negotiate with one party, the other party is sure to kill in revenge of that negotiation and the drama continues with Nigerians at loss. The rate of rampage has not subsided since the current governor of Borno State has given in to various concessions to one of the splinter groups. Borno State has paid property damages and apologized for any crimes of the government.
All this shows just how urgent it is to put an end to this insurgency. The more splintering and break away we allow, the less likely it is to trace funders and external benefactors. If Nigerians were to go along with the dialogue strategy, regardless of its expensive and inhumane virtues, there will soon be no one to dialogue with. The more splintering we let occur, the less likely it is that Boko Haram will be stopped in our generation. Nigeria is fast running out of option to collectively restore the North back to its glory days of commerce and culture.
For the past three weeks, I have written about Boko Haram and what must be done to stop the mayhem in the North. The deafening silence of most people whose daily lives are not touched by the horror in the North has been obvious. Boko Haram is not their problem, they think; let the Northerners kill themselves, some of them say. While the empathy fatigue is human, especially when daily horrors don’t touch our lives, Boko Haram spreads its wings. Last week, the Lagos State Government claimed that it is worried about new Polio outbreaks in the state due to the migration of displaced persons moving southward to safety. The problem of Boko Haram is coming to all our homes faster than we can imagine.
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