As it is generally said: “It is not giving a monkey a cup that is the problem, but retrieving the cup from the monkey”.
When the Boko Haram insurgency started to brew in the North East in the early years of President Goodluck Jonathan administration, most Northern Muslims did not actually believe in it. Or rather, they only saw it as President Jonathan’s headache, after all, a very prominent son of theirs had earlier threatened that if he failed to win the 2011 Presidential election, he would make the country ungovernable.
True to that threat, perhaps, because the man did not win the 2011 election, throughout the period of Jonathan’s Presidency, Nigeria had remained practically ungovernable due to the activities of Boko Haram.
Initially, the Boko Haram attacks were directed mainly against the Christian believers, in particular Churches and other places of Christian worship. We still remember the Madalla Church bombing on Christmas day of 2012. Later, other strategic places like the Police Headquarters and the United Nations Office in Abuja were bombed.
At that time, most Northern Muslims were very sympathetic to the Boko Haram cause, even if they would not express it publicly, viewing it as a religious war, or war against the “southern infidels”.
So, rather than cooperate with the authorities to clip the wings of the insurgents at that early stage, they treated the group with kid gloves and thereby allowed it to grow, and to fester all over the place.
In the same vein, every other Nigerian who spoke or who tried to condemn the insurgents was taken as an enemy, while those who took it upon themselves to fight the insurgents to submission, like former Chief of Army Staff, retired Lt. General Azubuike Ihejirika, were accused of waging a genocidal war against the North.
As the war progressed, some people began to see it as goldmine, a money spinning venture, a source of making quick money, as those who claimed to be fighting the insurgents were merely enriching themselves, either cornering the money meant for the purchase of arms, or procuring obsolete arms and ammunition.
Perhaps, the highest peak of Boko Haram activities, was the abduction, in 2014, of over 260 students of Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, in Borno State, who were preparing to take their West African Schools Certificate Examination (WASCE).
Rather than tell the world, as Chief Security Officer of Borno State, what he had done to forestall the incident, and to convince them that he did not have any hand in the girls’ abduction, Governor Ibrahim Shettima, turned round to mock and to blame President Goodluck Jonathan for not coming on time from Abuja to rescue the abducted Chibok girls.
To sort of slap Jonathan on the face and reward the principal of the Chibok school for perhaps, a job well done in arranging for the kidnap of the girls, Governor Shettima promptly appointed her Commissioner in his cabinet.
From then on, the abduction of the Chibok girls became a campaign issue, which substantially contributed to the defeat of President Goodluck Jonathan in the 2015 election.
Three and half years after Governor Ibrahim Shettima had helped Buhari to oust Jonathan, he was at Aso Rock, the nation’s seat of power, to bemoan the fate of the people of Borno State in the hands of the Boko Haram insurgents.
The governor who led a delegation of Borno State elders to meet with President Buhari, openly broke down in tears while narrating the ordeals his people were still passing through in the hands of the insurgents.
But before we would console Governor Shettima, we would like to ask him just some few questions:
We would like the governor to come clean to tell the world all knew about Boko Haram. Did Governor Shettima know when the group was building up? Did he have any hand in nurturing the group?
What rôle did Governor Shettima play in nipping it in the bud when it was developing, or did he encourage it to fester, believing it to be a weapon against some political opponents?
We believe that Boko Haram members are not spirits. They are human beings, who no doubt, are indigenes of Borno or Yobe States, where the insurgency started. They buy the food they eat from the local market and do every other thing together with the local community. How on earth will Governor Shettima or any of the authorities in government, even at the federal level, not know those who constitute this group?
Why is Boko Haram more militarized or more sophisticatedly equipped than our own soldiers? Where do they source their funds? Obviously, there are many more questions begging for answers.