Boko Haram: What Does Nyako Really Know? By Abimbola Adelakun
“The arms, ammunition and explosives being used by the so-called Boko Haram are not manufactured in Nigeria. Somebody must have brought them from abroad to the scenes of attacks … Somebody outside the zone must have bought these arms, ammunition, and explosives … somebody must have deliberately substantially increased illegal drug trafficking in the north…Who are the barons behind all this?”
– Governor Murtala Nyako
Governor Murtala Nyako of Adamawa State recently spoke on Boko Haram’s insurgency, in Washington DC, and his theory, I admit, left me worried.
He is playing an interesting hand. His not-so-subtle theme is to suggest that Boko Haram is a tool in the hands of the Nigerian government to destabilise the North.
Nyako’s evidences are largely speculative, but I find them hard to accept because one has to first distinguish between deliberate machinations against the North-East people, and sheer failure of strategy and intelligence operations. He says, “The people in the north” have started seeing the insurgent attacks as a way of disenfranchising them so they won’t vote in 2015. For a region that has been said is likely to vote against President Goodluck Jonathan, his argument looks plausible enough to gain sympathisers.
Nyako did not stop there; he had to drag the January 1966 putsch into his laments and allege that somebody is targeting Northern leaders once again. Unchecked, Nyako’s rhetoric can ignite raw emotions and erode whatever gains the country has made since the coup and counter-coup he alludes to.
But is Nyako alone in the Boko Haram sophistry? For a while, propagandists of Jonathan have played a similar card. They have dredged up primordial sentiment by claiming terrorism is the “North” way of making Nigeria “ungovernable” for the President. They quote certain “sources” but never arrest or even cogently connect such persons to Boko Haram.
The logic is worn to death but, still, the Peoples Democratic Party spokesperson, Olisa Metuh, repeated it recently. They even created a Wendel Simlin character to accuse the suspended Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Lamido Sanusi, of funding Boko Haram. They simply will not back off from sciamachy. If this mischief typifies Aso Rock attitude to Boko Haram, then Nyako might have a point about government complicity.
Except, once again, like other conspiracy theories that blame the United States, France, Al Qaeda, and everyone but Boko Haram itself, Nyako’s postulations are more questions, not enough answers.
First, how can Nyako be so certain that there is “simply no person in the North-East rich enough to foot the financial and logistic bills of Boko Haram?” Why the haste to look outside the zone? Does Nyako know Boko Haram’s operating cost before ruling out his kinsmen? There are billionaires in the North-East, some of whom show off their wealth in vanity magazines. Yet, with all the Boko Haram rampage, they have never been reported attacked. Who says Boko Haram cannot be funded by those who regularly pay the devil his dues to keep him off their backs? I am not accusing anyone but to say that there is “simply no persons” in the North-East to pay Boko Haram’s bills is to foreclose possibilities.
If Nyako is, like some of us, a truth-seeker, he should be more open-minded.
Also, who does Nyako mean by his constant reference to “somebody” remote-controlling Boko Haram? I do not understand Nyako. If he has names or serious evidence to back his claims, why not state them rather than speculate? Who is the “somebody” outside the zone that supplies Boko Haram’s arsenal, and, also increased the illegal drug trade in the north? If his people are being targeted by “somebody”, it behoves him as their leader to name and confront such persons rather than invoking spectres.
His conjecture on Boko Haram’s operations could simply be that Nyako is alienated from the strong room of intelligent information on Boko Haram. He resorts to guesswork because he just doesn’t know better. It’s not surprising. One of the interesting things about the terror war in Nigeria is that you just never have details. Compared to Al Qaeda and its leaders, you can barely even get a clear photograph of the rumbustious Abubakar Shekau who issued another ultimatum last Monday. You don’t know where he schooled or if he has a private life. Thanks to some female abductees who escaped from Boko Haram camp, we have an inkling about the terrorists and the fact that beyond their religious fundamentalism, they also have a sex life. This information on their mundane activities is important for us to have a mental forensic sketch of who they are.
There are many other things we are never told. The Nigerian government tells us 700 cars were seized from terrorists but it ends there. They don’t tell us to whom or where the cars were registered; how 700 cars were parked in a place(s) and how they were maintained. We are told the government has seized some arms from them but you are left wondering why the weapons have not been traced to the manufacturer through the serial numbers imprinted on them. It is not enough to guess which region their sponsor comes from, but the routes the monies used in their operations move through.
The paucity of information again highlights the lack of the culture of surveillance in our part of the world.
I agree with Nyako that the security process that enables arms to get into Nigeria needs to be checked but his weighty accusations and wild premises don’t say much. Admittedly, arms can be smuggled through the ports but is it only through the ports that arms enter Nigeria?
I expect the Nigerian government to react to Nyako’s bombast with far more maturity than was exhibited the last time when Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State raised a red flag. There are some situations in the life of a country that should be beyond banal politicking; the do-me-I-do-you attitude Nigerian politicians’ exhibit over life-and-death issues.
If their thinking is that the death of some rural folks in faraway North-East doesn’t really count as long as the rest of us are safe in our zones, well, they should not forget that the spectacle of their deaths corrodes our collective human dignity and, in the larger scheme of things, depreciates the worth of the Nigerian life.
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