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Of Bigmen’s Children, Boko Haram And An Unholy War, By Hassan Gimba

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Of Bigmen’s Children, Boko Haram and An Unholy War, by Hassan Gimba

From the beginning, the quasi-Islamic jihadist movement with the high-sounding name, Jama’atu ahlus sunnah lidda’awati wal jihad, loosely translated to mean “People committed to the propagation of the Prophet’s teachings and jihad”, was anti-West. Many believe, albeit erroneously, that Boko Haram started in Maiduguri, Borno State, in 2002 and that the founder was Mohammed Yusuf.

The group, not with its latter-day and most known name, started in the mid-‘90s in Yusufari, Yobe State. Popularly called “Taliban” or “Sahaba”, a name derived from what the prophet’s companions are called, it comprised mostly the children of the well-to-do in the society. With white as their preferred choice of colour, they were always attired in white garments and used camels for their transportation.

They were mainly idealistic youths who opted to shun worldliness, sacrifice the flesh and nourish their souls in seeking the favour of Allah. They started romanticising a Utopian world where God does for them whatever they fancied. That was what governed their thoughts, and they concluded that the best way to achieve that was by divorcing themselves from a world filled with sin.

Most of them came from Borno and Yobe states, and being from the same social class and having met at the university, that of Maiduguri precisely, they all agreed to migrate (hijrah) to a virgin land where they would worship their God undistracted by temptations that feed the flesh and starve the soul. They chose the desert of Yusufari in Yobe, bordering the Niger Republic.

Alhaji Bukar Abba Ibrahim, a three-term governor and three-term senator, was the governor of Yobe State then. Those whose children got involved were top shots in the two states. Naturally, the Yobe State Government was concerned that ‘heirs’ were derailing and abandoning the path being paved for them. What to do? Disperse them as gently as possible, causing no harm to the prodigal children. And so the government, using the security agencies, tenderly dislodged them with each bigwig advised to rein in his ward so as not to lose his scion.

The kids sired by the elite got ferreted out of the country to Europe, America and Asia to study and, in the course, got drowned in the world. Better take the path of the world than the futureless life of asceticism they were so enamoured with, their bigshot parents in government thought.

They left those sired by the nobodies stranded with nobody to give them succour. They did not in reality do anything that may warrant the government giving them ‘amnesty’ then, but a serious society would have done something about those idealistic kids whose eyes were blazing with religious fervour. But no, society left them to their devices. And so they congregated in Maiduguri and paid allegiance to Mohammed Yusuf, who started his rise to infamy.

He, it was, that popularised the ‘Boko Haram’ (western education is sinful) mantra. ‘Boko’ stands for western education and ‘haram’ is sin in Arabic.

Most of the sect’s early adherents dropped out from western education-based schools, from primary schools to tertiary institutions. Some of those who had completed such schools tore their certificates. It became an obsession for the Boko Haramites to stop western education wherever they could.

Some measures they took included but were not limited to abducting school children, killing some of them, and burning their schools. In one such gruesome campaign, they slaughtered 59 young boys in their sleep at Federal Government College, Buni Yadi, Yobe State, on February 25, 2014. They also razed twenty-four buildings in the school.

Similarly, later in the year, on November 10, one of their suicide bombers, disguised as a student, detonated an explosive device during a morning assembly session at Government Senior Secondary School, Potiskum, in Yobe, killing 47 students and maiming 79 others, some for life.

In between the two massacres, on April 14 they hit Government Girls’ Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, and abducted 276 of the students, aged between 16 and 18 – a raid that forced the entire world to sit up and take note. Seven years have gone by and over a hundred of these girls are yet to be accounted for. Then, four years later, on February 19, 2018, there was another mass abduction of schoolgirls at Government Girls’ Science and Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe State, where about 110 schoolgirls were carried off in a strike reminiscent of Chibok. Weeks later they were released, but not before the death of five others, and returned to their town by their captors, except one Leah Sharibu, who would not accept being forcefully converted to their form of Islam. Authentic Islam frowns at forced conversion.

While the North East is daily getting free of the menace of Boko Haram, with life slowly but steadily returning to normal, it is not so for the North East and the North Central. Appendages of Boko Haram in the disguise of bandits, herdsmen and kidnappers are having a field day abducting people at will. Herdsmen’s nefarious activities, which started taking a turn for the worse in Zamfara State in 2011, are now more complementary to Boko Haram’s.

Mass abductions of pupils and students have become so commonplace in Zamfara, Kaduna, Katsina and Niger over the last two years that it is no longer ‘unexpected news’.

These brigands go to houses in towns and schools to take whoever they fancy, and whenever they want. Apart from turning kidnapping into a lucrative vocation where they rake in hundreds of millions by squeezing family members, they have forced state governments to do their bidding by shutting down schools. Some states have ceded roads and sizable portions of territory to them. Sad, but that is the reality – a sort of victory for those who believe there should not be western education.

Those who were left to their own devices when the bigshots took their kids abroad have now forced all of us to sleep with eyes wide open. They have unleashed an unholy war on all of us, the haves and the have nots. In the process, they have recruited foot soldiers in almost all sectors of society. They have their sponsors, informants, associates, suppliers and apologists among politicians and the clergy. Those that minister to them can also be found in the security sector, among students, trade unions and the business class.

Insurgency and related criminal activities have taken their toll on the North. In every society, those between the ages of 15 and 40 build it up, being the most vibrant age bracket. But those in the region’s most active age group are daily joining the increasing groups of bad eggs or spending energy running away from them.

The North has long suffered this breakdown of law and order. It has crippled the economy of the people and the people’s mainstay, agriculture, has taken a back seat because of the nefarious activities of the criminals. People in many parts of the region cannot go to their farms, and where they could, they have to pay taxes to insurgents or bandits.

As a result, revenue generated by states has fallen to an all-time low. The revenue from agricultural produce, livestock production and personal income tax, except for those in government employment, has thinned out. Many businesses – big, medium and small – have closed shop, throwing more able-bodied youth into the unemployment market, further putting stress on society and fuelling more reasons for social discontent.

Things in the North East, as earlier stated, are getting better and the current successful onslaughts recorded by our security operatives in the other parts of the region are commendable. Hopefully, the government has woken up from its inertia and has taken the bull by the horns. Nigeria looks forward to having a peaceful and secure North.

To avoid regressing to the days (of course we are not yet out but hopefully soon) of fear, Northern states must aggressively pursue all means to improve their internally generated revenues. There should not be any hypocrisy in that. I truly believe Islam forbids the consumption of alcohol. Not only that, it prohibits its production, transportation, sale, or using the proceeds of the sales. Therefore, if you are a genuine believer who destroys alcohol in your town, refusing its sale and punishing those who take it, why should you gleefully accept any money, in whatever name, from the proceeds of its sale?

By the way, do bicycles and dogs have licences anymore like we used to see decades ago? There is an increase in using bicycles with the banning of motorcycles for security reasons across the states. Northern state governors must think out of the box for their states to survive. They need to build projects, not for fancy, but those that can bring more revenue to their states. They need to open up the hinterlands and invest in education and health. A healthy, educated person will feed himself and others and can generate revenue.

I believe when all states start generating reasonable amounts of revenue, the country’s unity will be cast in concrete and guaranteed. Come to think of it, each state will have what the others need and we will look at none as a parasite because each contributes a necessary portion to the general purse.

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Opinion

A well deserved leadership & The Sun Awards For Mai Mala Buni

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A WELL DESERVED LEADERSHIP & THE SUN AWARDS FOR MAI MALA BUNI

By Abba Dukawa

The hallmark of a great leader is not measured in Castle and materials, but in ability to groom and lead successful discipline. The caretaker committee under Gov. Buni had regained the party and made it stronger and able to put the party back on track by addressing all the grievances that, in the first place, brought it to its knees.

Preceding to June 2020,there was euphoria from other oppositions politicians camps and even some political analysts were writing off that governing All Progressives Congress (APC) party was on the brink of either serious leadership crisis or party might be in its last days. But like a miracle the parry found a lasting solutions by dissolution of then National Working Committee (NCW), led by Adams Oshiomhole.

The award Conferred on APC Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC), chairman Governor Mai Mala Buni, as a Politician of the Year at the 2021 Annual Conference and Awards Ceremony of Leadership Media Group. Also It is for other reasons that the Board of Editors of The Sun Publishing Limited chose him as winner of The Sun Political Icon of the Year Award 2020. Both the awards are marks of recognition of his led committee in retooled the ruling governing party and also a convincible pointer and a well deserved award on this humble grassroot politician in addition a morale booster to serve Yobeans and the country at large.

Reassessing the emerging success recorded by National Chairman APC Caretaker/ Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) in rebuilding the APC in line with the CECPC’s core mandate: to engender unity in the party, promote true reconciliation and give a sense of belong- ing to every party member. At the inception of the committee he had met Party national leaders like Chief Bisi Akande, John Oyegun and Tinubu and other aggrieved members toward restoring crisis-ridden ruling party back to life.

His uncommon dispute-resolution skills have paid off, with many formerly aggrieved members withdrawing and terminating many litigations involving the party. This efforts have put the party on the path of greatness again. Governor Buni’s CECPC led the party to unprecedented nationwide membership registration, revalidation and register update, to shore up the party’s membership and support- base nationwide.

HMB’s efforts have also resulted in three PDP governors comprising Ebonyi State (David Umahi), Cross River State (Ben Ayade) and Zamfara State Bello Matawalle) decamping to the ruling party, prominent politicians return the APC, including the former PDP national chairman, Barnabas Gemade; former speakers of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara and Dimeji Bankole, former governor of Ogun State, Gbenga Daniel, Senator Joy Emordi, Senator Stella Oduah and recently one most critical to the APC led administration Fani Kayode joint the party.

In Buni’s led committee, the ruling governing party found a peace Regaining it soul as and was able to made the party stronger through a successful drive of hard work, building through peace reconciliation trait. HMB reconciliation drive save the party from being a divided party. APC witnessed gale of defection to the party, from its closest rival, the Peoples Democratic Party governors, federal and states legislators and other influential political leaders across the country.

In fact, HMB proved himself as a huge asset to the ruling governing party and the country that his three decades experience in politics are giving the party a sense of directions as National Caretaker and Extra-ordinary Convention Committee members acts together in ensuring party discipline, and cohesion are made sacrosanct and are imbibed by members by high and low.

This Piece Is To Celebrate With Strategist , Grassroot Politician And A Great Achiever Of Transforming Socioeconomic And Infrastructural Development Of Yobe And Also Leadership Newspapers Award Conferred On
Governor Buni’s As “politician Of The Year 2020 Of The 2021 Annual Conference And Awards Ceremony Of Leadership Media Group And Also Political Icon Of The Year Award 2020 Of The Sun Publishing Limited.

Dukawa write in from Kano and can be reached at abbahydukawa@gmail.com

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Opinion

PMB Approves Reappointment of Prof Bashir Haruna As Exe Secretary NCNE

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PMB Approves Reappointment Of Prof Bashir Haruna As Exe Secretary NCNE

By Adamu Mohammed Dodo, Yola

President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the renewal of appointment of Prof Bashir H Haruna as Executive Secretary, National Commission for Nomadic Education (NCNE)

The appointment letter signed by the Hon Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, dated September 1st, 2021, explained that the appointment was for a second tenure of five years with effect from August 30, 2021.

The appointment shall be under the same terms and conditions as that of the first tenure and as stipulated in the NCNE.

Some of the staff of the Commission seen jubilating said the reappointment of Prof Bashir was a worthy development.

The National Commission for Nomadic Education, the Implementation and the delivery of the Nomadic Education Programme (NEP) were commended by the commentators to have witnessed giant strides and made landmark achievements under Prof Bashir’s first tenure of five years; from August 2016 to July 2021, which ensured the strategic planning and systematic implementation of policies and programmes of NEP, making it more responsive for the 21st century generation boost,
thereby ensuring that there is a cardinal link between goals/objectives of
NEP and implementation of key projects and programmes.

Some of the achievements of the Commission credited to Prof Bashir include; acquiring a permanent and befitting head office complex with a view to getting the Commission out of the rented building.

Gaining ministerial approval for the allocation of the Office Complex at the Defunct National Educational Technology Centre, Kaduna, in addition to being allocated 21 units of houses at the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) Kaduna Study Centre.

Institutional strengthening and human capital developmen, establishment of a robust and expanded the Administrative Structure of the Commission to address emerging needs and repositioning of the Commission and improve its operational efficiency towards meeting its goals and objectives.

In response to the demand for the provision of Technical and Vocational Education and Training Skills for the nomads, new Departments of Extension Education and Skills Development and Social Mobilisation and Women Development were established, in addition to the establishment of Directorate of Special Duties under the Office of the Executive Secretary, to effectively coordinate activities of Sections and Units under the Executive Secretary’s office.

Partnership Peace and Conflict Resolution Unit was established for the promotion of peace-building and constructive engagement of the farmers and herders for improved relations and ensure effective management and amicable resolution of conflicts.

Establishment of Consultancy and Outreach Unit as part of measures to step up resource mobilisation and utilisation through the improvement of internally generated revenue base for the Commission, improvement and diversification of funding pattern for the Commission and provision of critical infrastructure and facilities under capital projects and Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) interventions.

Pioneered the conduct of Tracer Studies on the implementation of Nomadic Education Programme across the over 4,026 nomadic schools spread across the 36 states and FCT.

Revitalization of activities at Nomadic Education University Based Centres at University of Jos, University of Maiduguri, Usman Danfodio University and University of Port Harcourt.

The University of Jos centre is in-charge of Research and Evaluation for education of Nomadic Pastoralist, Usman Danfodio University Sokotocentre is responsible for Curricula and Textual Materials Development, while University of Maiduguri centre is specifically saddled with the task of Teacher Training and Outreach Services. The University of Port-Harcourt centre is in-charge of Research and Evaluation, Curricula and Textual Materials Development and Teacher Training and Outreach Services for the education of Migrant Fisher-folks and farmers.

Academic support services and quality assurance mechanism and securing approval from the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) for the establishment of an AM Radio Broadcasting License (Frequency Channel 720 KHz and a bandwidth of 9KHz) for an initial period of five years from October 2018 to October 2023.

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Opinion

The North And The Effect of Janus, By Hassan Gimba

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The North and the effect of Janus, by Hassan Gimba

I wrote the following on March 1, 2021. With what is happening, I find it still relevant, hence repeating it today.

I had intended to continue with the topic, ‘Nigeria and Presidential Democracy: Any Better Alternative? (3)’ but I had to suspend it; it is more of a proposal for the future. I had to look at what was immediate. Boko Haram (translated to mean Western education is a sin) advocates are threatening to overwhelm the North and impose their creed on a docile, perhaps Janus-faced, like people.

Since kidnapping for ransom became a fad on the Abuja-Kaduna road and in the bushes of the northwestern and central states of Nigeria, I started shouting here that it is a financial drive by Boko Haram. The kidnappers belong to their economic arm. They are only ignorant foot-soldiers being used as cannon fodder.

On December 24, 2018, I wrote on this page: “In the North West, armed bandits, perhaps Boko Haram with another face, are threatening to take over with Zamfara State almost under their control. It is under their control, well, almost, because they ransack communities at will, kill, maim and take as many as they can with them for ransom. The bandits can come to a marriage gathering and just demand the bride-to-be and she would be handed over to them, with thanks.

“The North Central has become a traveller’s nightmare—from Rijau, Birnin Gwari, Gwanin Gora, Rijana through Kaduna and down to the suburbs of the Plateau. One travels at one’s own risk as even four-star generals are not safe, being killed at will. Herdsmen kill every moving object and sack villages, burning everything to ashes. Kidnappers are also having a field day. Are some of them, especially the herdsmen and kidnappers, another face of Boko Haram, getting them the much-needed cash?

“Our security apparatuses possibly need a total overhaul and help from elsewhere. There has to be synergy among the different actors, and there is the need for modern policing methods and the revival of community policing.”

Yet two weeks later I again wrote: “We have been at war for quite a long time, but it became even more apparent with the return of the Dapchi girls. There was a real ceasefire when the girls were returned, the type we see in areas that are in a state of war, like Syria, Columbia with the FARC rebels and in parts of Congo and Uganda, where the Lord’s Resistance Army operates.

“It is an actual war when a militant organisation can ‘force’ the Nigerian government to sit with it and an agreement brokered by international bodies under the international Law of Armed Conflict.

“The president was quoted as ordering his service chiefs not to allow the abductions of girls again. A citizen, in the first place, would expect the president to tell his service chiefs not to allow the abduction of any citizen, not only schoolgirls. All citizens are citizens and want to feel equal before the law or before the eyes of their president.

“Farmers and voiceless Nigerians are being abducted by those who have declared war on Nigeria, but we have allowed them to play the music while we dance to the tunes.

“And it is this sort of thinking by governments that makes the militants strong. The ordinary citizen sees them as strong and comes to see that his government cannot protect him. It makes the ordinary citizen lose confidence in the country. Little wonder some abducted Nigerians have switched allegiance while others hail the terrorists (as happened in Dapchi) as ‘saviours’ because the people of Dapchi and elsewhere saw the power that should live with their government being exercised by enemies of the state.

“What has happened to our intelligence-gathering ability, especially in front-line states like Borno and Yobe, that Boko Haram fighters would gather, strut confidently, and move in convoys, sacking military bases, villages and towns, at will? Yet our army cannot confront them without support from the air force? The implication is that our soldiers are no match for them.”

It is quite a wonder how scores of marauders riding motorcycles with sawed-off silencers can leave the bushes, come to towns, operate for hours and pick hundreds of students and return to the bushes unchallenged. In the not-so-distant past, our security agencies used to have operatives called “stool pigeons”. They were the backbone of human intelligence (HUMINT) gathering. Our security agencies could deploy them in strategic areas/locations as tailors, shoe shiners, water vendors, etc.

Now, such HUMINT operatives can be scattered across the towns such that the moment insurgents or their economic arm, the bandits, come out, the operational headquarters of our security agencies will be aware. They could be farmers, hunters, villagers and even herders who are all over the place.

The way the innocent child sees their father as a superhero who will give it protection is the way the innocent citizen should consider his country. Unfortunately, we are learning the hard way that in Nigeria, no matter what happens, life goes on. The people’s innocence has been deflowered, but most importantly, their confidence in their country has been shot to pieces. We should fear the day when the citizens will no longer have respect for a government or society that cannot protect its own.

But such is even what is already happening. For instance, it is because the government has not lived up to the expectations of the citizens that concerned individuals like Sheikh Ahmad Gumi are taking the bull by the horns. And on the negative side, we have people like Sunday Igboho taking the law into their hands to “rid their areas of menace”.

The terrorist is by nature a leach; give him an inch and he will take a mile. But the worst aspect of the whole thing is that it is as if the federal government is not aware that it is dealing with ruthless, very intelligent terrorist organisations that see whatever they are doing as mind games.

Because we have failed to protect the weak, governments are not concerned about the plight of abducted individuals; the bandits have now become more emboldened. They go for those that the government must talk about. And it is working for them because in doing so, they are forcing the hand of the government to do what they desire: the abolition of western education.

Our schools are no longer the safe havens they used to be. Students and staff leave in fear of those who will come and take them unchallenged. The worst is that even if they kill one while doing it, nothing happens. Students have been shot to death in the recent kidnappings, yet the kidnappers are being thanked for “releasing” others. Who is to be held accountable for the death of the student? Is there anyone willing or ready to make someone pay for that crime?

So, the government on its own is now closing down schools—exactly what the terrorists want. For how long, not even the government knows. More numbers are now being added to our millions of out-of-school kids we are yet to do anything for or about. What will Boko Haram-orchestrated out-of-school children be doing? Any plans by the government for them or would they be roaming the streets with their minds idle, becoming the devil’s workshop? Does that sound like the death knell of education in Nigeria, specifically the north?

As long as they (Government) will not bring criminals to justice, as long as we continue treating them (criminals) with kids’ gloves, so long shall we continue to play into their hands. They see how others were given “amnesty” and “deradicalised” for taking up arms against the state, wreaking havoc on communities and letting blood flow. They see that the worst that can happen to them is “condemnation”. But condemnations, like rebukes, are meant for those who recognise your authority over them. This class of criminals does not recognise the condemning authorities.

Of course, one can understand the dilemma facing the government. On the one hand, there is the need to assuage public outcry and parents’ concern, hence the negotiations. On the other, the military and various intelligence agencies are finding it hard to end the menace posed by the insurgents and the bandits who are being fed with enough seed money to recruit, train and buy more arms. It is Hobson’s choice for the government.

I want to leave us with a short story written by one Aigg Giwa-Amu: The President was informed. The information got to him at 11 pm on that fateful day. He placed a call to the Deputy Governor of the State and told him tersely “… if by 10 am the next morning, your sons in the Niger Delta do not release the hostages, grass shall not grow in that region for the remaining part of my 4 years Presidency…”

The deputy Governor went into the creeks that night to negotiate the release of the hostages. They were released at 9 am the next day. They were Italians, British and French. That President was Olusegun Obasanjo. That deputy Governor was Goodluck Jonathan.

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