The suggestion by the International Community based on their Security Intelligence report that Nigeria could disintegrate by 2015 is based on geopolitical analysis; Geopolitics is the social science theory that analyzes the relationships between politics and geographical territories. When predictions are made about what might happen in the political dynamics of nations at a future time, geopolitics is the primary tool used for such analysis.
Boko Haram came to into existence in Borno State, North East Nigeria in 2002 as a religious group under the then Governor of the State – Ali Modu Sheriff. Despite the increasing militancy of the sect in Borno and Yobe States both in North East Nigeria, most Nigerians had never heard of Boko Haram until the event of July 2009 when the Nigerian Security Agencies engaged Boko Haram in a full blown assault in Maiduguri, the Borno State Capital. In that tragic incident hundreds of Boko Haram members were killed, the dead included “Muhammad Yusuf, the sect’s leader.”
This event of July 2009 brought Boko Haram conflict to the fore. There have been not too subtle message in that Nigeria from some elite Northern politicians that Nigeria will be made ungovernable if power and privilege does not devolve back to the North.
The silence of Northern political leaders in condemning the actions of Boko Haram is a clear signal of their tacit endorsement of the sect and its destabilizing actions. There are however some significant issues with the use of Boko Haram as a geopolitical tool which has been a topic of controversy in view of prevailing circumstances and evidence to this. Unlike MEND and OPC (both sects like Boko Haram but operating out of the South South and South West of Nigeria.
Boko Haram’s message is not purely geopolitical. The sect is perceived as a religious fundamentalist organization and that fact makes it ineffective as an effective geopolitical tool. The North has never lacked the ability to produce Presidential candidates on the platform of major parties but presently It has failed to guarantee that a Northern Presidential candidate emerges on the platform of the PDP (People’s Democratic Party), the only party which despite its many faults makes claims to being a truly national party and therefore most likely to produce Nigeria’s Next President.
The Boko Haram crisis is an attempt to influence the politics and the political dynamics of the Nigerian nation and her people. The risk for the North is that the sectarian and random maiming and killing of civilians, the calls for the expulsion of Southerners and Northern Christians is damaging the North politically. Forcing a Northerner to attain the Presidential ticket of the PDP is one thing, getting votes from across Nigeria (the South West, South East and South South) to guarantee that candidate’s electoral victory is another. Buhari was forced to adopt a Southern Christian who incidentally was a pastor of a fast rising church as running mate to allay concerns that he was a religious fundamentalist.
As the Boko Haram crisis spirals forward, Northern Christians and the Middle Belt States will be firmly pushed towards a geopolitical reality that will increasingly favor collaboration with the South for their safety and progress. It therefore entails a collaboration to save not only themselves but also their businesses, families and communities and the day may dawn sooner than expected with the rapid rate of spontaneous violence and the escalating violence in Northern part of the country.
The recent bombing of a community in Jos, Plateau State leaves one to wonder at the mixed messages being sent and also to wonder if we are truly dealing with only one Sect “Boko Haram” or if we are truly witnessing miscreants entering the scene in the name of mischief to cause further confusion, Jos has been relatively peace for quite a while now until the recent bombing and the people (Christians and Muslims alike) have been able to live relatively in peace all these while. Though Boko Haram is yet to claim responsibility but all fingers point towards their direction.
Boko Haram appears to be financed adequately because they possess the latest technology with sophisticated arms and ammunition to back up with dastardly acts. The Nigerian security agencies must do more to find Boko Haram’s financiers, even in view of the recent capture of some Boko Haram members and their confession of “five serving generals in the Nigerian Army” who are their financiers and sponsors supplying the arms and ammunition they utilize. The Nigerian Government still has a lot to do to penetrate and neutralize the network.
To save Nigeria, Jonathan must remember that his oath is not to the PDP but to the Nigerian people.