Analysis: What is good for Boko Haram is bad for Nigeria – By Dr Michael J.K. Bokor

The writer, Dr Michael J.K. Bokor

Folks, isn’t it bewildering that the Nigerian terrorist group (Boko Haram) is still active—in fact, more active than the Nigerian security apparatus?

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Since the terrorist activities of this group came to notice in 2002, I have written opinion pieces advising that the threat posed by Boko Haram goes beyond the borders of Nigeria and that leaders of the West African sub-region should pool resources together to confront this group and neutralize its damaging activities. Nothing has been done so far to persuade me that any of these leaders has ears to hear. They have eyes to see and cringe at images depicting the carnage being caused by this group.

Of all, the Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan, seems paralyzed before the problem and isn’t giving any convincing account of his leadership skills and ability to solve this problem. Day-in-day-out, Boko Haram perpetrates dastardly acts, murdering and plundering while the Nigerian leader and his government adopt ad hoc measures to tackle these terrorists.

So far, efforts have failed to achieve anything concrete to prove that the Nigerian establishment is capable of solving the problem. There is nothing issuing out from the corridors of power to prove that the Nigerian authorities are in contact with the outside world to solve the problem. All that is happening is a clear demonstration of a failed leadership.

If a government cannot provide security for its people, what is its worth?

Emboldened by the Nigerian government’s laxity and cowardice, elements of Boko Haram are out of control, especially in the Borno State (Maiduguri, its capital city) and are doing terrorist acts with maximum impunity.

Just this morning, they took their notoriety to the highest and most brazen extent by attacking the local military base in Maiduguri, causing so much havoc as to make me wonder whether the Nigerian military are worth their name at all.

Here is how the BBC has reported the brazen attack:

A BBC correspondent says the large-scale, co-ordinated attack is a big setback for the Nigerian military.

Ministry of Defence spokesman Brig Gen Chris Olukolade said in a statement that two helicopters and three decommissioned military aircraft had been “incapacitated” during the attack which had been repelled. He said some army bases had also been targeted…

Local residents told the AFP news agency that hundreds of heavily armed Islamist gunmen besieged the air force and army bases, razing buildings and setting shops and petrol stations ablaze.

“I saw two air force helicopters burnt,” a local official told AFP.

Bomb and gun attacks were carried out in Maiduguri, an AFP reporter in the city said.

A resident said: “We heard women and children in the barracks crying and wailing. At the gate, I saw some vehicles destroyed and the checkpoint there in shreds.”

There are reports of military checkpoints being attacked in different parts of the city.

Recent Boko Haram attacks have been in more rural areas, and it had appeared as though the military operation had made Maiduguri city far safer, says the BBC Nigeria correspondent Will Ross.

Mobile phone links to the city have been cut since May, when the state of emergency was declared.


One wonders what the soldiers were doing to be so over-run. Sleeping or simply cowering before the Boko Haram elements? How inconceivable!

Had the Boko Haram threat been limited to that part of Nigeria alone, one might not be so alarmed; but it is not, which is very troubling.

The attacks on the UN headquarters in Lagos and many other places in the country (including Abuja, the federal capital city during the celebration of Nigeria’s independence anniversary last year) are clear indications of how Boko Haram wants to tyrannize Nigerians.

Given this free-wheeling terrorist spree, one expects Jonathan Goodluck to be more forthcoming with measures to safeguard limb and property and to re-assure Nigerians that the government is capable of protecting their interests.

If the situation persists—or even escalates—no one knows what will stop Boko Haram from “exporting” its brand of terrorism to other parts of the sub-region. That’s why the leaders have to put their heads together now and help Nigeria stem the tide. If they think that their countries are safe and won’t do anything to cripple Boko Haram, they will be shocked one day when the unthinkable happens in their backyards.

The conditions spawning the kind of terrorism that this group has adopted as its weapon against the Establishment exist in the sub-region: discontent among the youth (over joblessness, frustration, and extreme poverty, not to mention religious fundamentalism or manipulation by unconscionable, vicious characters seeking to undermine the establishment by way of settling scores).

Added to political intolerance and ethnic rivalry, the situation is already explosive and can be abused by anybody who knows how to appeal to the disgruntled and malleable youth roaming the streets with pent-up energies and bitter feelings.

Against this background, it is imperative that Boko Haram be contained. I expect the Nigerian authorities to seek help from the international community (as France did to the malcontents in Northern Mali) so that all means are used to eliminate this home-grown terrorist organization.

As it sustains its terrorism, it destabilizes the system and gains more grounds, recruiting willing hands and poisoning the minds of others against the establishment. This kind of sabotage must be thwarted.

Boko Haram was founded in Maiduguri in 2002 and was also the scene of its first uprising, in 2009. Thousands of people have been killed since then, when Boko Haram launched its campaign to install Islamic law.

What is good for Boko Haram is not good for Nigeria (or any other country); and the authorities have no excuse for not acting decisively to solve the problem. Only drastic measures can end this terrorist group’s activities. The time to act is fast ticking off and away.

I shall return…

The opinions expressed are the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or have the endorsement of the Editorial Board of, and