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The Metamorphosis of Boko Haram

Khalifa Aliyu Ahmed Abulfathi

Background information on Borno state
Borno state, whose capital is Maiduguri, is centre of the historical Kanem-Bornu Empire and one of the 19 northern states of Nigeria. It has a population of 4 million of which the majority tribe is Kanuri who are all Muslims. Other tribes are the Babur/Bura, Waha, Marghi, Wula, Chibok composed of a mixture Muslims and Christians; Shuwa Arab, Hausa and Fulani that are all Muslims. There are other visitors from different neighbouring countries involved in Islamic  education  and  transboundary  trade.  Such  countries  as  Cameroun,  Chad,  Niger, Central African Republic, and Sudan have had strong trade and marital ties with Maiduguri and Borno state for a long time. They dealt on agricultural products including fish, cattle, beans, spices, kola nut, peanut etc. Aside trade, Maiduguri  was well known  for Islamic scholarly activities that attracted seekers of knowledge from west, central, and North Africa.

Historical perspective
The transboundary trade and human relationships between neighbouring countries and Borno state gave rise to a diverse population of inhabitants with different norms and cultural backgrounds. A peaceful coexistence was in place with minimal crime rates until the mid-1980s (1986 – 1987). A glut of youths who were deprived of either or both western and Islamic education as a result of parental negligence or absence of government programs (such as lack of employment) began organizing themselves into groups or gangs. They began committing heinous crimes including robbery, rape and murder within the community; this is a common trend for such group of youths worldwide that often leads them into terrorism. Their activities were checkmated by the establishment of ‘Operation Damusa’ commanded by the then Buba Marwa. Relative peace was maintained until the devastating fuel scarcity of the late 1980s to early 1990s.

Events of the 1990s
Two parallel scenarios played out during the ‘90s that helped transformed the youth gangs into political thugs on one side while on another side the radicalization of preaching using the Wahhabi approach gained much prominence.
1. Remnants of these gangs that were rendered idle without education or jobs found economic breakthrough in the illegal sale of petroleum products at very high  prices.  The  petroleum  markets  operated  by  the  gangs  were  locally referred to as the ‘black market’. Such black marketing became a norm which successive governments gladly maintained in order to positively distract the attention of the youth and prevent them from reengaging in previously named crimes. Although, other states in Nigeria with similar markets had abolished theirs, an action like that was of security concern in Borno state owing to the calibre of youths involved in the trade. These youths were engaged in this black  marketing  until  the  return  of  democracy  in  1999  when  they  began serving the political class for elections.
In 2003, the then Executive Governor of Borno state, Senator Ali Modu Sherrif capitalized on the thuggery, idleness and marginal literacy of these youths to engage them in political  thuggery  and  election  rigging  machinery.  Instead of using state powers in a democracy to help rehabilitate these youths he converted them to a form of personal security force popularly known locally as the ‘Ecomog’. Across the state, he erected stands for them furnished with cable televisions, chairs and snooker boards as well as constant supply of hard drugs and cash. The youths continued idling away and became more dependent on him as they had no other job except spending all day in those stands and doing the biddings of the politicians. There are several police cases of violence, brutalities, assassinations and murders involving these ‘Ecomog’ that have been strongly linked to the former Governor Sherrif.

2. In a parallel manner in the early 1990s, a Muslim business mogul Alhaji Mohammed Indimi who had little knowledge of the subtle balance maintained amongst Islamic scholars in the state opened up an Islamic centre in a choice area of the city accessible to majority of youths (Damboa Road Maiduguri). Prior to the commissioning of the centre, he Indimi deceptively informed the Ulama  (Islamic  clerics)  of  Borno  state  that  the  centre  was  meant  for  all Muslims irrespective of sect affiliation. All the Ulamas were invited for the opening ceremony. Afterwards, Indimi brought in a Wahhabi cleric – Malam Jafar Mahmud Adam from Kano who was made to pay courtesy call to all the Ulamas on arrival. Incidentally, Adam’s first tafseer (exegesis) during Ramadhan (Muslim month of fasting) revolved around condemning all the Borno Ulama and apostatizing them (calling them Kafir – unbelievers) thereby setting discord between his followers (Izala) and other Ulama’s. The youth were provided free meals during the Ramadhan making it attractive for more of them to come over to listen to the exegeses. Furthermore, the Saudi Arabian government used the centre as an outreach through which scholarships to indoctrinate youth into radical Wahhabism was coordinated. The process adopted by the Saudis included a three weeks training after which assessment is conducted and successful candidates were fully sponsored to the University of Madina, Saudi Arabia (the centre of Wahhabism).

It is important to note that before the advent of the Indimi Islamic centre and Jafar Mahmud Adam, there were Wahhabi adherents in Maiduguri who were in no way radical. A combined effort of Adam’s radical teachings, Indimi’s influence on the government and return of University of Madinah’s graduates brought in a new clime of radical Wahhabis with tainted ideologies alien to our long-standing Islamic culture. On the influence of Adam’s sermons, it was troubling to the Ulama because it lacked respect  and  tended  to  set  the  youth  against  established  institutions.  Before  then sermons and exegeses by Ulamas were conducted with respect and reverence for one another in order to sustain peace and harmony even as differences were amicably resolved through the Islamic Preachers Board.

The Borno state Islamic Preachers Board at some point in time (1994) observed the negative repercussions of the exegeses (tafseer) of Adam and wrote to the state government in a letter dated 29th   November, 1994 (Ref. No. BO/IRPB/ADM/Vol. 1/29) warning them of the impact of same and providing clear remedies. They advised that Adam be stopped from conducting exegeses during Ramadhan as he was lacking in the basic knowledge required for such. This trend continued unabated and gained more grounds to the extent that top state government officials (Deputy Governor) became disciples of Adam in 2003. Mohamed Yusuf emerged from this development from the shadows and tutelage of Adam. It is well known by the locals that Adam once  raised  the  hands  of  Mohamed  Yusuf  and  said  “if  today  there  are  no  more scholars in Borno, this man (Yusuf) is sufficient for you as an Islamic guide”. This was a public approval of his ideology at that time by a man with numerous followers (Adam),  resulting  in  the  rise  of  Yusuf  as  a  popular  cleric.  Yusuf  began  holding exegeses in the stead of Adam (whenever he was unavailable). Mohamed Yusuf began holding speeches, preaching, and exegeses in various communities, of elites, school dropouts, undergraduates, commercial motorbike riders, and unemployed youths. At this point they were still peaceful and had no signs pointing towards violence even as  they  declared  western  education  and  government  service  as  forbidden  (haram).  The Markaz (religious centre) was in proximity (5 km) to my mosque (Madinah) and we did not have any report of violence on them. Although there was an attack on police formation in Damaturu (in Yobe state) by a group called the ‘Taliban’ suspected to be disciples of Yusuf. This group also attacked Bama police station killing the area commandant in an apparent reprisal attack for the Kanamma incident between them and the police (the police dislodged them from Kanamma village where they gathered before their attack on Damaturu). The police and Department for State Security (DSS) arrested him (Yusuf) several times, such arrests only made him more popular among the youths as an anti-government figure. His release was always welcomed by a large convoy of supporters and followers in Maiduguri. As he gained more popularity and followership, he began to fall apart with Adam due to his (Yusuf’s) even more radical preaching. The discord between Adam and Yusuf led to the assassination of Adam in 2007 by foot soldiers of Yusuf following public condemnation of the new ideologies of Yusuf by Adam.

In 2008, a convoy of his disciples met with an accident that led to the death of two of his disciples. During the funeral procession they violated some traffic laws including overloading a motorbike (mounting 3 on a bike for two) and non-usage of helmets (which was a new law then). The police stopped the procession to uphold these laws but the procession reacted in an uncivil manner. As impunity was a hallmark of security forces in the land, the police fired shots at them during the commotion thereby injuring two of their members. This further infuriated them, and on return to their Markaz, they organized protests under the clime that they are being treated unjustly by security forces. The riot raged on while properties were destroyed and security operatives killed. The Lamisula police station was razed to the ground and the commandant of the mobile police headquarter was killed. This incident occurred when virtually all followers of Yusuf were in town, with reports indicating aliens from Niger were seen around the vicinity on camel backs with arms (not a normal sight for the community). The Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) under the leadership of President Umaru Musa Yar’adua then responded by dispatching the military to Borno state to help quell the crisis. Mohammed Yusuf’s followers then were called adherents of the Yusufiyyah (apparently referring to followers of Yusuf’s ideology) and more generally referred to as the Salafis (an offshoot  of the Wahhabi-Sunni  ideology) across the nation. In 2009,  a radio anchor in Radio Kaduna referred to the group as Boko Haram (western education is sin/forbidden) and the name stuck to them ever since.

The military killed over 800 of them but maintain two major battle decisions;
a. Whoever surrenders should not be harmed
b. Whoever runs away from the city should not be chased
The latter tactic was based on the assumption that the group have been remarkably decimated and would be unable to regroup with such a few numbers of escapees. It is pertinent to mention here that at this juncture in the crisis the group did not attack civilians; all attacks were directed at security forces and government officials. During the heat of the military response, the group erected road blocks around their strongholds and they let only ordinary civilians who had no link (by having no identity cards) with the government through with a stern warning not to return. As that was going on, the police on the other hand shot indiscriminately at every youth they come across unlike the military that were quite specific then. The military captured their leader Mohamed Yusuf and handed him over to the police who  killed  him  extra-judicially.  With  assistance  from  community  chiefs  (in  2009),  the remnant of the group’s members hiding in the communities were brought to book only for the police to publicly execute them. The others went underground to resurface in 2010.

Rebirth of Boko Haram
The new rebirth of what was now popularly called the Boko Haram (they called themselves “Jamaatu ahli Sunnah li daawati wal jihad” translated as “People committed to the propagation of the Prophet’s teachings and jihad”) saw strategic assassination of community chiefs and security personnel especially the police. Military and civilians (not working for the government) were not targeted at the early phase of their resurgence in 2010. The spate of assassinations and chaos was so devastating that the Nigerian government had to dispatch a new set of troops to restore law and order in Borno state. These troops were dispatched from other regions of Nigeria and were grossly deficient in basic security intelligence of the operational tactics of Boko Haram as well as limited or no understanding of the local culture, traditions and demography. They came in with the notion that every inhabitant of Borno state is a “terrorist”,  thus  went on  a killing  spree  of youths.  At this time both  Boko  Haram members and ordinary citizens were thereby wary of military tactics that effectively instilled resentment of the military amongst the populace. Boko Haram began assassinating soldiers and their associates openly. On close observation from the onset of the crisis the initial set of Boko haram members were products of radical Wahhabism and they were not violent until they were provoked by the police and events led to their dislodgment. We should also recall that prior to this there were political thugs who metamorphosed from criminal gangs to black marketers to Ecomog used by the political class. A majority of these thugs resided around the Gidan Yashi area of Abbaganaram in Maiduguri which is very close (about 2km) to the Markaz. Residents of this area observed the gross absence of these thugs at the same period which the Boko haram members went under. The resurgence of the insurgents came with new battle tactics that was closely similar to those of the Ecomog thugs and completely different from the 2009 fighting style. This tactical change became understood when the Ecomog members returned as strong members of the Boko Haram group indicating their indoctrination  immediately after the murder of Mohammed Yusuf. This metamorphosed thugs walked around freely brandishing arms (AK47s) and ammunitions within the community and terrorizing inhabitants of Maiduguri.   They  embarked  upon  selective  political  assassinations,   imposed  monthly taxations on transporters, shop owners, businesses, conducted bank robberies, rape and most shockingly obtained financial support from sympathizers in government.

The above stated scenario worsened with the indiscriminate killings and wanton property destruction by the military. The military had a saying then that if one soldier is killed, 50 –100 civilians would be killed in retaliation. It got so dirty that corpses of innocent civilians murdered by the military were not released until family members signed forms claiming their wards are Boko Haram members. We as a people can generally say that between 2010 and 2012, the military killed thrice the number of civilians killed by Boko haram members, hence the lack of trust for them in the community. It should be stated here that as far as I know no security personnel sought information from me (as a community leader) or anyone for that matter during that operation. In fact their operation was quite disorganized and terrorizing that they ransacked and humiliated everyone irrespective of socio-political or economic status (emirs and  religious  leaders were not  spared).  And  when  they desire to speak  with  the leaders, they only do so to dole out instructions not to seek counsel. At this stage, majority of the residents who could afford it began to flee the state, relocating to states like Kano, Kaduna, Bauchi and the Federal Capital Territory Abuja.

Such  impunity,  extrajudicial  killings  and  wanton  destruction  of  properties  by  both  the military and Boko Haram was the order of day. The military was then empowered by the ‘state of emergency’ declared on the state (along with Yobe and Adamawa). This state of emergency under the Nigerian laws at any time is akin to dictatorship where authority of the state is taken over by the military. In our scenario the military then converted the insecurity into a lucrative business venture and purposely lacked the will to end the crisis. Both Boko haram  members  and  the  military  openly  robbed,  kidnapped,  bombed  and  murdered individuals seizing their properties. The military also made profit from unjust arrest of youth and demanding millions of Naira in bail money even as families were forced to declare their wards as Boko Haram members. Interestingly, such bail conditions were ‘graciously’ extended to the insurgents as well, who only needed to pay more. Such a level of failure on the part of our security was surprising to us all although we knew corruption was a norm. This trend sickened the community until in 2012 when a new set of troops were dispatched to Borno whose sector commanders had first-hand information on the local settings, customs and traditions. Before this dispatch, military personnel posted to Maiduguri were neither relocated nor promoted periodically thereby frustrating them and demoralizing them. At the onset of the crisis, being that most of the officers of the police and military are either cronies or families of the higher echelon of the security forces or political elites were immediately transferred out of the ‘red zone’. This singular action dampened the spirits and morale of the troops as they were literarily made to understand that they were sent there to be killed. Those officers that were posted over to Maiduguri purposely deprived troops of arms and ammunitions even as the Abuja-sitting generals and officers short-changed the troops of their allocations. Officers located in Borno also pocketed allowances meant for the troops (paid by the state government), placed them on single daily meal rations while deducting the cost their allowances. These actions partly explain why the military troops turned the crisis into a profitable business since they were not catered for by the government of the day.

In 2012, the youth took advantage of the composition of the newly dispatched troops to propose a collaboration to help end the crisis. This began in the Hausari ward where the youths rallied themselves to flush out Boko Haram members from their community with the support of the military. The youths only demanded that justice (no bail) be done to those who were identified as members of the insurgent group so that innocent citizens would be spared. The sector commander of the Joint Task Force of the ward agreed to these terms hence the birth of a new community driven security operations called the Civilian Joint Task Force or locally known  as ‘Civilian  JTF’. They knew  their communities  so well that they easily pointed out and arrested Boko Haram members (via house-to-house search) and handed them to the military for action. Civilian JTF (CJTF) gained acceptance by other communities seeing it spread across the entire Maiduguri and other villages and local government areas. Now the insurgents have a newfound enemy in these youths. The result of this collaboration was the flushing out of all members of the insurgency group out of the communities and the escape of some into the forests, villages and states outside of Maiduguri. The peak and most resounding success of this operation was in 2013 when the CJTF in a joint operation with the military dismantled the last operational headquarters of Boko Haram then located at the Umarari ward in Maiduguri. This operation revealed the modus operandi of Boko haram where the military observed that the entire ward was connected by series of large holes drilled through walls to aid their escape after committing crimes hitherto making it difficult to trace and apprehend them. They also observed first-hand the atrocities carried out by the insurgents in this ward thereby exposing them as a truly un-Islamic bunch of thugs bent on causing chaos only.

Before dislodging the Boko Haram from the last headquarters a new trend of kidnapping school girls began. The kidnaps and sometime killing of school girls did not make the news anywhere until the Chibok girls incident. Before then, hundreds of girls have been kidnapped and unaccounted for, leaving our communities devastated as to why the central government and the military so much cared less for us. The insurgents effectively ‘migrated’ out of Maiduguri  after the 2013 Umarari operations and declared total war on every citizen of Borno. The declaration of war saw them capturing 17 local government areas (LGAs) out of the 23 LGAs in Borno state and declaring them as a caliphate of theirs while recruiting youth from captured communities. Youth that were not willing to join them despite been forced were murdered. To our dismay, little effort was made by the government to reverse this ugly trend of community capture. The trend continued till the election period of 2015 when it became of political interest for the previous government to truly face the ugly scenario. This was even more important with the Chibok girls kidnap in the international limelight, only then did the FGN become serious about the crisis. The government seemed comfortable with the crisis until it started crawling into Abuja. They had provided little or no technical support for the military despite heavy budgetary allocations (in trillions of Naira); hence the recent arms scandal.

The advent of the recent government, who came into power in May, 2015 saw revamped morale toward curbing the chronic menace. They have largely succeeded in reducing the coordination of attacks and decimating them from their strongholds. Comparing February 2015 (during the past administration) and February 2016, the recent government have been able to recapture 14 LGAs. Abadam, Kala Balge and Mobbar LGAs are still within the grip of the terrorists. Daily flights hitherto suspended have resumed Maiduguri and the city is peaceful, calm and vibrant. These achievements can be truly described as “technical victory” in the words of President Buhari. However, the statements credited to one Senator Baba Kaka in January 2016, is not far from the truth where he said that only three local government headquarters are safe. This is true because the said headquarters are supplied with troops while the outskirts and villages away from these places are left unmanned. The people in such unmanned villages become soft targets for the hit-and-run dastard acts of the terrorists. Quite  recently  in  January,  there  were  attacks  close  to  the  Maiduguri  city  centre  in  the outskirts of the Government Residential Area that had weak military presence to fend the attack off. The Dalori village incident is another that brings to fore the need to dispatch troops  to all villages and townships  to effectively curtail the new attack tactic of Boko Haram. In Dalori, children were maimed, girls kidnapped and the whole village burnt to the ground with casualty figures put at over 100.

Generally, from 2009 to January, 2016 the CJTF has put the figures of the total number of people killed in Borno state alone at 300, 000 to 350, 000 and internally displaced persons (IDPs) at 3 million. The figures for the dead are actually underplayed by the government. The casualty figures for the military and other security are kept secret from the public even the families of the victims are kept in the dark. Currently, the Boko Haram terrorists are still roaming about freely within the environs of Borno state, killing, kidnapping, and destroying properties. Although the magnitude and sophistication is not as much as previous years where they used Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs), trucks, tankers and motorbikes to attack villages and military units. They now ride on animal backs, motorbikes and on foot, signifying a sign of hope for the routing of them in the nearest future.

In my opinion, summarily the factors that contributed to the emergence and metamorphosis of Boko Haram are:

1. Ignorance: the roles played by Malam Jafar Mahmud Adam in association with Alhaji Mohammed Indimi in radicalizing the Wahhabi ideology of the community produced the likes of Mohammed Yusuf who took the ideology to the utmost extreme. Mohammed then produced the likes of Abubakar Shekau who the locals know is a mentally disturbed fellow. These characters gained a vast amount of followership because the youths at that time were idle and ignorant. They used religion and periods of exegesis to obtain free meals and identify with a new purpose of ‘propagating Islam’. These leaders of theirs basically lack the rudiments for purposeful religious leadership and guidance of the masses as they were immature and too radical in approach. They used abusive words on scholars and governments which was then appealing to the rebellious youths who were somewhat tired of the governing systems. Ignorantly, both the business mogul Alhaji Indimi and members of the state government (the former Governor Sherrif and his deputy) protected these preachers from regulation thinking it was service to Allah and guidance to humanity.

2. Poverty: Youths that were unemployed, idle, partially literate, and lacked the ability to further their education due to the unfavourable educational and government system on ground were easily conscripted into the group and indoctrinated with the ideology. These youths were also tools for the political and elite class to be used as thugs, election riggers, and hired assassins for paltry sums.

3. Tribal sentiments: It is common knowledge to the community that over 90% of the members of the Boko Haram members are of a single tribe – the Kanuri. This tribe helped in protecting them from the onset because the targets were largely  non-Kanuri.  They  only  realized  their  mistake  when  they  became targets  too.  Up  to  the  point  of  emergence  of  the  CJTF  this  tribe  were protective of their wards rendering no counsel to them or cautioning them of their action, practically no parental guidance was in place. They accused the CJTF  of  tribal  cleansing  when  it  was  obvious  to  everyone  that  only  the Kanuris  were  members  of  the  Boko  Haram.  Petitions  were  sent  to  the traditional ruler of Borno (the Shehu) alleging that the CJTF was cleansing the city of the Kanuris, the Shehu called their bluff.

4. Politics: As have been stated in (2 – Poverty) above, the political class used the Boko Haram boys as hired assassins for selfish reasons. Other elites also used them to settle scores between themselves and perceived enemies as well as for debt collection.

5. Military: As we have mentioned in the earlier sections of this paper, the military composed a major factor in the propagation and chronicity of Boko haram. They killed indiscriminately and extra-judicially thereby alienating themselves from the immediate community. The military role in the crisis is a bit complex:
a. Two decades ago the recruitment process of the military took a dangerous institutional dimension where only cronies of the higher echelon of the security   forces   or  government   officials  were  recruited   and  rapidly promoted  across  the  ranks.  Such  officers  were  then  posted  across  the nation with no combat experience, leadership acumen and passion for maintaining peace. Immediately the crisis began, parents of these officers demanded   the   transfer   of   their   wards   to   safer   locations   thereby demoralizing other soldiers who weren’t that connected.
b. The  military  was  so  demoralized  by  (a)  above  that  soldiers  began  to mutiny and disobey direct orders. In addition to (a), the corruption in the military affected the supply of arms and ammunitions to soldiers. When soldiers complained, they were arrested and accused of mutiny and then sentenced to death. This created distrust between the soldiers and the military hierarchy and the government. Monies allocated for allowances and logistics were pocketed by the superior military officers leaving the soldiers to fend for themselves. The soldiers then resulted to collecting bail monies from even suspected Boko haram members, they also planted bombs at various times in order to attract more monies and as well delay the closure of the operation.
c. Indiscriminate and unjust killing of innocent citizens as well as wanton destruction of properties of residents of Maiduguri fuelled resentment of the military. Some of the youths whose parents or family members were killed  by  the  military  sometimes  join  the  insurgence  in  order  to  seek revenge on the military. Therefore the military were indirectly providing willing recruits for Boko haram.

1. Tackle the Wahhabi ideology:
It is pertinent to state here that even if this set of insurgents are defeated, without tackling the ideological roots of the evil; such victory would only be temporary. The radical Wahhabis come in different forms and name such as Al-Ansar, Daesh, ISIS, Izalah, Salafiyyah, Al-Qaeda and Boko haram; they all have their roots in Saudi Arabia who are the sole advocates of Wahhabism. Currently the Wahhabi leaders in Nigeria have been denouncing their involvement in the crisis but the fact is that their ideology  is basically  the same and  is financed  by  Saudi  Arabia.  These Wahhabi leaders are highly influential and well placed in every sector of the Nigerian economy from governments to businesses. They sponsor preaching in choice media outlets and are given choice viewer timings to propagate their ideology of segregation and apostatizing of Muslims who do not tag along with them. They openly insult Islamic scholars, traditional rulers and everybody who is not part of them. The current Sultan of Sokoto openly identifies with these Wahhabis to the detriment of other Muslims in Nigeria in a disheartening manner.

If the government does not stand firm in regulating the activities of these people, it would only be a matter of time before another extremely radical Wahhabi group shoots off. Preaching licences, radio and television licences for such Wahhabi clerics should be withdrawn until they agree to preach peace. Unlicensed people should also be prevented from preaching within the communities or in masjids during Friday prayers as this also constitutes a threat to true Islamic teachings when they preach out of context. The government also needs to equally support other Ulama to assist in diffusing the Wahhabi ideology among the youths.

With regards to regulation of radical approach to transmission of exegesis; our masjid in Madinah, Maiduguri under the mentorship of Sheikh Ahmed Aliyu Abulfathi have always preached tolerance. This trait became imbibed in his disciples making it not uncommon  to  find  every  sort  of  people  residing  in  Madinah,  be  it  Muslims, Christians, northerners, southerners, Nigerians, and non-Nigerians. The Madinah became a safe haven for most victims during the heat of the insurgency because there have never been an attack on the mosque despite our close proximity to Mohammed Yusuf’s Markaz. This is because we have always preached in a gentle manner without resorting to abuse, apostatizing or violence.

2. Provide adequate education:
The Nigerian government should provide more schools from secondary to university levels (both Islamic and western) in order to absorb those applicants seeking entry into the universities. Youths who graduate from high schools and do not have the opportunity to further their education tend to become idle and serve as targets for Boko haram recruiters. Our national education system currently cannot cater for up to
40% of the bulk of applicants (over one million annually). For instance the local
federal university, the University of Maiduguri in the 2015/2016 academic session alone had 36, 000 applicants out of which only 7, 000 were admitted. This leaves a balance of 29, 000 applicants who would stay idle for the next one year because their parents cannot afford to send them to other universities far away from Maiduguri for economic reasons. This 29, 000 can be a social security risk for the state if they are not appropriately engaged. This is the trend every year; hence it is a cumulative increase every year since the inception of the university and is the norm across the country. On another hand these unsuccessful, unemployed and poor applicants see children of the affluent enjoying life seamlessly with many privileges therefore prompting them to do ‘anything’ to make ends meet.

The government should also involve and encourage schools without radical ideologies by providing them with modern facilities to engage the students in modern methods of teaching.  Teachers  of  such  schools  and  Islamic  scholars  should  be  continuously trained in modern methods of teaching and conducting da’awahs as is currently obtained in Morocco. It is common knowledge in Borno state that graduates (irrespective of tribe) from schools operated by the non-Wahhabis  (especially the Sufis) have never been caught in this act of insurgence. For instance the Sheikh Ahmad Abulfathi Foundation that manages the Maahad Primary Schools and Thanawiyyah Secondary School have been in existence in Maiduguri for over six decades, yet none of its students or graduates have ever been accused of involvement in the crisis. In fact they have academicians, educators, medical practitioners and professionals in all spheres of life. Some of them are currently housing internally displaced persons (IDPs) in a bid to assist the government. The masjid (Madinah Mosque, Maiduguri) alone currently houses 1,762 IDPs who are solely dependent on the centre for upkeep. This is a reduction from the over 4,000 IDPs that we housed for two months from March 2015 after the Baga attack. Most graduates from our schools also provide shelter for 5 or more IDPs as well.

3. Tackle unemployment:
The unemployment rate has dramatically soared in Nigeria from 2009 to date. Those that benefited directly or indirectly from the now moribund transboundary trade are now jobless. The economy of the state has been in a decline since the insurgence began. The table below shows the trade volume of United Bank for Africa; one of the banks in the capital showing a decline in trade and revival during periods of relative peace (2008 and 2010). Most of the increased trade volume in 2010 was of savings because people frantically took their money to the banks for safe keep.

Table 1: showing the annual trade volume of United Bank for Africa between
2008 and 2015
Year Amount (billions of Naira)
2008    17.60
2009    17.53
2010    18.02
2011    17.30
2012    16.70
2013    15.30
2014    15.00
2015    13.02
Source: Personal communication with the Bank Manager, Maiduguri Branch.
Currently many youths have been rendered homeless, orphaned and poor as a result of the insurgence. The government with the assistance of international organizations and communities  should  as  a  matter  of  urgency  begin  providing  skill  acquisition programmes for these youths in order to engage them. Following these programmes, soft business start-up funds should be given to them to economically empower them. Some  of  the  youths  are  graduates  who  are  still  jobless,  the  government  and international community should provide scholarships for those who are willing to pursue higher degrees. Institutions or industries need be created in the immediate communities to help absorb and engage them meaningfully. It is vital to advice the Nigerian government at this juncture to eschew cronyism in employment processes and embrace merit and transparency.

Agriculture should be harnessed as a single employer of youths, because Borno state is blessed with a large expanse of arable land for agro economics.

4. Intelligence gathering:
In order to sustain victory over insurgency when that comes, the government need to effectively revamp the national security intelligentsia. They should provide them with modern technologies, equipment, and techniques as well as training of personnel involved in intelligence gathering. The security force should immediately begin a total overhaul of their system to weed out non-professional  and corrupt elements. They should also begin massive and rapid recruitment of patriotic Nigerians who are passionate about the country’s success and are dedicated to unity, peace and rule of law.

5. Curb corruption and impunity
Recent revelations in the ongoing investigation on the arms fund have confirmed the level of corruption within the military and past administration. People involved in this diversion of funds operated with high level of impunity. The tradition of impunity was also carried on by dispatched soldiers where they kill and destroy at will without facing any form justice or retribution. These should be addressed and reversed.

The origins of the recent Nigerian insurgency have been traced in the eyes of locals. It has been identified as a product of a combination of many factors ranging from educational backwardness, radical Wahhabism, politics, poverty, unemployment, systemic neglect of the masses by the governments, impunity, corruption, to absence of intelligent assessment and inability to nip the crisis at the bud. Thousands of people have been killed in the wake of this insurgency while millions have been displaced from their homes. Adequate measures are still not being taken to supplant the root cause of the radicalism in order to achieve sustainable victory. Government should own up to its responsibilities towards the populace while the youths need be engaged in more profitable activities instead of idleness. Religious leaders especially the Sultan of Sokoto need to be non-partisan and act as true leaders of Muslims. The government at all levels should be seen as being just, patriotic and protective of its citizens in order to regain its long lost public trust and support.

This write up cannot end without mention of the recent incident involving the Shi’ah sect in Zaria where hundreds of them were massacred by the military in January 2016. No matter the law broken by this group of people, the response by the military was and is still unjustifiable. Killing not one, two or three but hundreds of them only bred further distrust and impunity. This is not only a replica of the origins of Boko Haram but a more scary re-enactment of same with a group that is more organized and of wider base and support than Boko Haram. They also have strong footings in parastatals, businesses and socio-economic strata in the Nigerian community even as they have the unflinching support of the Iranian government. My warning to the current Nigerian government is to tread carefully and handle the situation in a matured and civil manner. If we recall clearly, the resurgence of the Boko Haram in 2010 was undoubtedly a scenario of revenge against security forces for the injustices meted upon them in 2009. Following the same course of action without learning from the past is absolutely disastrous.

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