Boko Haram: The Birth, Geography and Hypotheses Responsible For the Sustenance of the Conflict in Nigeria (Published)
There are many states on the northern border of Nigeria with Niger, Chad and Cameroon. And in these states, there are many ethnic groups. However, it is only the Kanuri enclave of Borno and Yobe states that produced the radical Islamic boko haram sect. It is the informed position of this paper that one of the reasons why the Kanuri gestated boko haram was largely due to the international territorial advantage they have. The reason is that the Kanuri is the only ethnic group in northern Nigeria that undistorted distribution into neighbouring countries of Chad, Cameroon and Niger, with the special feature of almost uninterrupted spread. Therefore, the paper argues that this geographical advantage certainly has a fundamental role in the on-going conflict of the boko haram. It is also the submission of this paper that the version of Islam prevalent in the Kanuri enclave is predisposed to radicalism that boko haram prides with. It is common knowledge that since the conflict ensued, the Nigerian government has taken measures aimed at curtailing moments of attacks and frustrating the movement’s ambition. This desire is yet a success. Therefore, the paper appraises the methodologies so far employed, identifying why they have not worked, and probably why they will never work for this conflict that has lasted for a decade now.
This research deals with the Yussufiyya Boko Haram sect as a social phenomenon. The group emerged as a response to Western cultural norms and value system, and viewed western education (Boko) as sin (Haram), and toxic, considering it ‘westoxication’. The objective was an analytical survey of the genesis and developmental strength of hitherto simple students of the sect’s founder, Mohammed Yusuf and how they metamorphosed into what is known today as Boko Haram/Yusufiyya (named after Yusuf) or by its much broader name, Jama’atul Ahalul Sunna Waljama’a Lidda a’ wati Wal Jihadi (JASWAL JIHAD). Boko Haram, was once a social communal movement but gradually evolved into a full-blown destructive hydra-headed insurgency operating in some states of the north-east of Nigeria. Yusuffiya was studied from an evolutionary qualitative survey perspective and ‘interview technique’ employed to illicit data; six states in the North Eastern region of Nigeria were sampled with relevant literature cited in the context while face-to-face interviews and focus group discussions (FGD) were carried out. Data collected was validated to ensure reliability of information among the study population with good background knowledge of Yussufiya Boko Haram. The results showed Boko Haram dreamt of establishing a Marxist Utopian egalitarian society and to achieve this endeavour recruited gullible youth to stage Jihad or ‘Unholy War’ for the “Islamic Republic of Ibn Thaimiya” to replace the current democratic structure in Nigeria. The National and State assemblies would be replaced by Surah Council of Ulamas. Yusufiyya’s body of thought was a warped derivative of the 13th century early scholar, Ibn Thaimiya’s doctrine. Findings also revealed that Boko Haram appeared to be a ‘throwback’ of another Muslim sect, Izalatul bidiya waikamatul sunna, which came to limelight in the early 1990s in Nigeria, but rejected the synthesised idea of Mohammed Yusuf believing it capable of creating an anomie condition. Historically, the socio-economic and political landscape of the region had been overwhelmed by the activities of immigrants and political Islamists; the Rahbeh, a Century ago, and the early 1990’s Maitasine in the North, particularly Borno State, stronghold of the Boko Haram’s Markas. These insurgencies occasioned by deep-rooted corruption, poverty and institutional decay resulted in the erosion of norms and cultural value system as some states were thrown into an anomie condition.The survey disclosed that the root cause of the Boko Haram phenomenon is the inherently self-sustaining nature of its driving force stemming from ignorance, poverty and illiteracy. Yussufiya, in recent times, has evolved and proliferated to such a frightening point it can now engage the Nigerian military in full blown confrontations, which suggests that if the phenomenon is not contained, a number of ominous implications are imminent. It has the tendency to expand to other regions of Nigeria and as the phenomenon has been interwoven with religion, there is suspicion and attendant negative views surrounding Muslims and Islam in general in the country which could have devastating consequences for peaceful co-existence. Winning the war against Jama’atul Ahalul Sunna Waljama’a Lidda a’ wati Wal Jihadi (JASWAL JIHAD) in Nigeria, the research showed, needs strong political and diplomatic will by building global consensus with countries interested in combating insurgency within and outside the region, ameliorating or eradicating poverty and illiteracy and empowering the youth to improve quality of lives.