• Monday, May 27, 2024
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The Islamist sect, Boko Haram, is seriously trying to bring to fulfillment the prediction made by the United State of America (USA) that the entity called Nigeria would not exist beyond 2015.

The Americans had forecast that the people of Nigeria, given the internal wrangling and inclination to ethnic and religious leanings, and the persistent agitations for self-determination, would go their separate ways on or before the next round of elections billed for 2015.

Analysts say it was against the prediction that the Boko Haram insurgents doubled their efforts to impose strict Sharia law on the entire nation, beginning from the Northeast.

The blood-thirsty group says it does not believe in the current constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Nigeria has been governed by a number of military dictators, who had occupied the greater part of the driving seat of leadership in the nation’s 54 years of existence from its independence in 1960.

A country that has known ethnic militancy, nearly went apart in the early ‘60s following agitations for secession from the East over what they termed as oppression and ill-treatment from the then Northern-led government. Failure of the then regime of Yakubu Gowon to attend to the problem by meeting the conditions rolled out by the region drove the country into a civil war between 1967-70.

In its 54 years, the country has also seen religious violence, which has claimed several thousands of lives and unquantifiable property. One of such was the violence in 1980 in Kano, the largest city in the northern part of the country, where the Muslim fundamentalist sect, Yan Tatsine (“followers of Maitatsine”) instigated riots that resulted in four or five thousand deaths. In the ensuing military crackdown Maitatsine was killed, fuelling a backlash of increased violence which spread across other northern cities.

Boko Haram, the current insurgency, was mid-wived by Mohammed Yusuf in 2002 in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, when he established a religious complex with a school which attracted poor Muslim families from across Nigeria and neighbouring countries. The centre had the political goal of creating an Islamic state, and became a recruiting ground for future jihadists. By denouncing the police and state corruption, Yusuf attracted followers from unemployed youths.

He is reported to have used the existing infrastructure in Borno of the Izala Society (Jama’at Izalatil Bidiawa Iqamatus Sunnah), a popular conservative Islamic sect, to recruit members, before breaking away to form his own faction. The Izala were originally welcomed into government, along with people sympathetic to Yusuf.

The Council of Ulamas reportedly advised the government and the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) not to broadcast Yusuf’s preaching, but their warnings were ignored. Yusuf’s arrests elevated him to hero status.

Boko Haram was founded as an Islamic fundamentalist sect advocating a strict form of Sharia law and developed into a Salafist-jihadi group in 2009, influenced by the Wahhabi movement. It seeks the establishment of an Islamic state in Nigeria, and opposes the Westernisation of Nigerian society that has concentrated the wealth of the country within small political elite.

NATHANIEL AKHIGBE