Aug 26, 2017, 7:20:13 AM News

I’m not surprised at the allegations of handing over children to Boko Haram to be used as suicide bombers, levied at the doorstep of parents in Borno state, by the Nigerian military. The military under the much maligned past administration of Goodluck Jonathan expressed as much back then, even to the extent of the then president, visiting elders from Borno State to ask for their assistance in that regards amongst others, only to meet a brick wall of total non-cooperation, and the rest is history. Now even UNICEF is alluding to this trend, with children almost forming Boko Haram’s front line of attack not just against civilians but even against the military (Joint Task Force, JTF) and their lightly armed civilian support group (CJTF), in Nigeria’s northeast, especially in Borno State, where hardly not a few days pass without another news of suicide attacks using children, including babies.

It’s no different from what many a poor parent do in the north of Nigeria, when they hand over some of their kids to so called Islamic teachers, to join the army of Al-Majirai who are all over the place there, not only constituting a public nuisance, as they are with their plastic plates begging, engaging in petty stealing and pickpocketing, but also serve as ready and willing tools at the beck and call of some politicians, evil minded ethnic champions, and other mischief makers, to be used to commit wanton destruction of lives and properties, during the many ethno-religious crisis that frequently plague the north; which is at the heart of fears by many that the quit notice given by northern (Arewa) Nigerian youth groups shouldn’t be treated with kid gloves, knowing full well that there’s a standing army ready to carry out such biddings to the latter for no fee at all, save for just water to quench their thirst after a “hard day’s” (of maiming and killing) job.

It is therefore possible that some of these parents, who have many mouths they can’t feed, may have given over their children to become Al-Majiri, only for them to be cornered over, into the hands of Boko Haram headhunters, who then apply them as human bombs. Jonathan’s attempt to have the Al-Majiri children incorporated into the normal education system was rebuffed, even after he built schools in targeted areas in the north to accommodate and cater for them. While i was serving in the north, a locale told me that the Al-Majiri are like the disciples of the new testament era in the bible, and is part of the religious culture of the Muslim north, though curiously one doesn’t find the same scenario in other Muslim countries, especially the the Arab world, making me consider that as an attempt at one been trying to be more Christian than the Pope, or in this case more Muslim than Arabs who brought the message of Islam down here in the first place. I often wonder though what the case is with and for the females, who in recent times have formed the core of the arsenal of the Islamic Fundamentalist group, in their renewed onslaught, leaving death and destruction in their wake, in their attempt to render untruth the Muhammadu Buhari-led APC government’s claims of technically defeating the group.

The war against Boko Haram and indeed other groups, and ideologies driving Islamic fundamentalism, religious intolerance and fanaticism in the north of Nigeria, cannot be won either in the short or long term without a redirection of the hearts and mind of the people. Unfortunately, since much of the changes must be driven by political as well as traditional and religious elite in the region, who constantly benefit directly and indirectly (in terms of using violence as bargaining chip in negotiations in the larger Nigerian context politically), from the chaos that frequently plague the region, because of the way the power and culture in the north is structured, it is very much unlikely that the much desired changes will occur anytime soon, in spite of the rhetoric of northern leaders in public just to be seen to be uttering the right sound bites, many times to garner political advantage across the divide.

What happened with Emir Sunusi of Kano after he attempted to direct the attention of northern elite to the errors of their ways, and the danger it portends even for the continued existence of a people and culture, that actively and consistently resists change, tells the discerning that the majority of the leaders there prefer the status quo that has left northern Nigeria backward in all the indices of measuring human life and living as a whole. His message of change to meet the demands of today, such that the north can at least be at par with southern Nigeria in terms of development was met with so much angst, not just amongst the elite, but even amongst the Talakawas who he must’ve felt to be giving voice to their aspirations in the north, that he almost stood the risk of deposition, just like his father before him, until he appeared to retrace his step to accept silence as price for keeping his Emirate and rule over it intact.

When the Sultan of Sokoto just last week, kicked against calls for restructuring Nigeria, he appeared to have foreclosed the idea of such discussions in the north, largely for fears (amongst northern political elite) of losing revenue mainly coming from the south (oil and gas, as well as taxes) to subsidize the north, even though in the long run the mineral resources, agriculture and human capital (buried) in the north, if fully utilized and exploited will give everything the south thinks it has, a run for their money. His statement further shed a light to why the attempt to review the constitution to devolve more powers to the states, and reduce items on the exclusive list, at the national assembly failed, because of lack of support by northern legislators, who form the majority in the House Of Representatives and Senate. Seeing as a caravan is as fast as its last member, northern Nigeria in sticking to old ways continues to hamper the speed of Nigeria’s progression to the future we all could be proud of.






Published by m'khail madukovich

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