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Published by Toyin Adepoju

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Published by: Toyin Adepoju on May 15, 2012
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 Oluwatoyin Vincent Adepoju
Who is Behind the the Islamic Terrorist Group Boko Haram?
 Analysts are asking who is behind the the Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram whichhas been ravaging Northern Nigeria for years, escalating its attacks after thePresidential elections of 2011.
Roots of Boko Haram : Religion, Poverty, Politics, or All of Them?
 People trying to explain the intensification of Boko Haram military and ideologicalattacks on the government and Christians after the 2011 Presidential elections as wellas the pre-2011 emergence of Boko Haram as an extremist Islamic group present anumber of positions.Some point at obviously wealthy and politically fanatical and perhaps also religiouslyfanatical backers, perhaps within and beyond Nigeria. None of the group's backers has identified themselves but the agreement between thestrategy and resources of the group and the threats of violent change and chaos,making Nigeria ungovernable, by some politicians from Northern Nigeria, at theheart of whom is unsuccessful Presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar, alongwith existing anger expressed in widespread murderous violence againstSoutherners in Northern Nigeria after the failure of Muhammadu Buhari, the one Northern candidate in the 2011 Presidential elections, has led to fingers being pointedat Atiku and his fellow ideologues threatening a choice between a President from the North or chaos and violent change, as using Boko Haram, which existed before theelections, in serving their own political agenda.Atiku Abubakar and some fellow Northern politicians promised chaos making Nigeria ungovernable and violent change in Nigeria if a Northerner did not become Nigerian President in 2011 in line with their understanding of an internal arrangementwithin the ruling PDP to rotate the Presidency between the North and the South, these Northern politicians in question believing it was now time for the North to producethe President.Southern writer and social activist Wole Soyinka has argued for the source of the
crisis being both a political class struggling to gain political power, likely alludingto the aggrieved Northern politicians, and a recruitment base enabled by decades of underlying and recurrently erupting Islamic extremism in Northern Nigeria. The Nigerian National Security adviser, Andrew Azazi, months after Soyinka made thisobservation, followed gradually by increasing voices expressing a similar opinion,gives credence to this view by blaming the crisis on the grievances stemming from thePDP zoning formula, working in tandem with Northern Nigerian social problems, describing this zoning formula as not part of the Nigerian constitution, being an agreement only among members of the political elite represented by thePDP.Others have focused on poverty in the North as the root of the crisis, Nigerian central bank governor and prominent Northerner Sanusi Lamido Sanusi arguing Northern poverty is significantly contributed to by unfair allocation of funds to the North bythe Nigerian government in which states in the North are cheated while others in theSouth are over funded.At the same time, Muslims and Northerners on Nigerian centred litstserves struggle todistance Islam and themselves from the Islamic terrorist group, emphasising thegroup's indiscriminate murders regardless of religion or ethnicity, describing these askilling more Muslims than Christians on account of the relative density of the Muslim population in Northern Nigeria, and struggle to explain the group's anti-Christianfocus in bombing of churches with horrendous casualties while avoiding bombingmosques, and the group's efforts to divide Nigeria along religious and ethnic lines,struggling to respond to this evil representation of Islam by debating what is or is notgenuinely Islamic.
The Struggle Against Boko Haram in the Context of the Group's Integration intoNorthern Nigeria
Responding to a debate between Vantine Ojo, Ibrahim Dauda and Baldwin Ihemeluon Nigerian centred listserves on the claim of the terrorist crisis being a ploy todiscredit the Presidency of Southerner and Christian Goodluck Jonathan, I try tocontextualize the issues in relation to Boko Haram's successful combination of  propaganda and military action, thereby confusing and dividing its opponents, adivide and rule strategy of a kind.I think Baldwin has a point in insisting that the Boko Haram crisis is too complex andin my view the efforts of the government too sustained, leading to consistentsuccessful efforts to uncover Boko Haram cells, with Nigerian soldiers dying in the process, for the government's efforts to be described as evidence of failure.I dont think it can be proven that some Northern politicians are implicated in the BokoHaram crisis but their possible involvement cannot be dismissed because the activitiesof Boko Haram and the stated goals of these figures, Atiku Abuibakar and hiscompatriots who promised violent change and chaos if a Northerner did not becomePresident in line with their understanding of the PDP zoning policy, are practicallyidentical.I would modify Baldwin's summation of the relationship between the Boko Haram
 problem and Northern Nigerian society as indicating the problem is compounded bythe integration of the terrorists into the social fabric of Northern Nigeria.
Boko Haram's Mutually Reinforcing Propaganda and MilitaryStrategies
Anger in Northern Nigeria over the Outcome of the 2011Presidential Elections
I am not sure if I can explain this integration concept very well here but I can begin by stating that one view is that the terrorists are particularly difficult to flush out onaccount of their successful use of both terror and claims of being Islamic soldiersadvancing and protecting the interests of Muslims. Through terror, they make peopleafraid to help the government fish them out. Through sending mixed signals of beingMuslim and Northern soldiers, they can be described as trying to gain someideological respectability and possibly feed into the sense of being cheated by aSoutherner becoming President expressed by PDP Northern members who understoodthat as the betrayal of the PDP zoning agreement as well as by those Buharisupporters who went on a murderous rampage against perceived enemies whenBuhari lost, leading to a yet uncounted number of people killed by these pro-Buharisupporters, including youth corpers on compulsory post graduation national service,young people cut down by these murderers because they participated in electionmanagement in the North, of whom only eleven killed in Bauchi state have beenofficially recognized by the government, to the best of my knowledge, while theseattacks on youth corpers took place in other Northern states apart from Bauchi.So, there is a wellspring of anger in Northern Nigeria that has discredited thegovernment in the eyes of many people, a wellspring that Boko Haram could betapping into for identification with aggrieved people in Boko Haram's fight againstthe government, particularly as Boko Haram at various times emphasizes on or other of its goals from Islamising Nigeria to revenge for their murdered leader to avengingand protecting Muslims to trying to discredit the government to trying to create adivision in the country along ethnic and religious lines.Shehu Sani is of the view that one reason why Northern political figures are not asmotivated as they could be in addressing the problem is that they feel alienated fromthe present political arrangement, a comment that can be connected to feeling cheated by PDP not zoning the Presidency to the North as allegedly earlier agreed within thePDP.Atiku Abubakar had promised violent change on account of a Southerner becomingPresident. Another of his colleagues had threatened that the country would becomeungovernable for the same reason. .These pronouncements from these men, rich, economically and politically powerful,highly connected, and fanatical in their utterances, utterances they have never denied,modified, retracted or apologized for, even after increasingly loud voices, from WoleSoyinka onwards, either suggested or stated that they are culpable for this terroristcrisis, using Boko Haram as a military wing in pursuing a political goal, necessitatesat the very least recognizing an implicit link between these Northern politicians and

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