While I share some of the views expressed in the above caption article authored by one Patrick Oguejiofor, published on the website saharareporters.com, many of his postulations are narrow minded. A few are deliberate distortions that underscores his pseudo-intellectuality and painted him as an obscure Western apologist who promote the demonization of faiths and/or religions. All the above are in spite of the many contradictions that characterizes the six paragraph (merely one page) article.
"It is a known fact that human beings distort whatever message of peace and tolerance a religion preaches", declared Mr. Oguejiofor. I absolutely agree with this! But the writer immediately became aberrational when he took a swipe at Rana Foroohar, the assistant managing editor for TIME magazine who penned an article in her magazine, "Missing girls: The End of Terror is Nowhere in Sight", reproduced by a local newspaper in Nigeria. Foroohar's crime? The mere quoting of Aliko Dangote as saying, "Unless we create more jobs, we won't eliminate Boko Haram."
Mr. Oguejiofor doesn't seem to agree the above quotation. For him, the Boko Haram phenomenon in the North East of Nigeria has no any relationship (directly or indirectly) with the endemic poverty in the region, that was categorized "poorest" in the country by National Bureau of Statistics, NBS Poverty Profile in 2012, and, remains so till date.
Mr. Oguejiofor's idea of the pertinence "to absolve Islam and Muslims of blame over the atrocities of the Boko Haram sect", is a veiled attempt to hide what he insidiously harbours against the religion and, which was blown by his own pen when in another breadth he referred to the Boko Haram as "Islamic militant sect." What a double standard!
Even though they are claiming to be Muslims, the Boko Haram is a tiny, informal and misguided fraction denounced repeatedly by the Supreme Leader of all Muslims in Nigeria, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa'ad Abubakar and the (majority) mainstream Muslims. This should have provided Mr. Oguejiofor the evidence that Islam has no "militant sect", but for the malice inherent in him. It is not only unfair but also mischievous and malicious to ascribe terrorism to a particular faith based on the incongruity of a tiny fraction.
It is a universal truth that all insurgencies and terrorism are directly connected to poverty, deprivation, helplessness and hopelessness.
In a New York Times article, "Linking Extreme Poverty and Global Terrorism", published March 13, 2012, Jake Harriman, a former special operations platoon commander in the United States Marines has this to say about his experiences in the Middle East and the Horn of Africa. "I came face to face with an unnecessary evil that takes more lives each day than are lost in Fallujah, Gaza, Kandahar, Mogadishu and Jaffna combined, an evil that is directly connected to the proliferation of the terrorism and insurgency that we were fighting: the evil of extreme poverty."
Mr. Harriman quoted the renowned Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu to have said, "You can never win a war against terror as long as there are conditions in the world that make people desperate - poverty, disease, ignorance." He also notably quoted former United States Secretary of State, General Colin Powell thus; "We can't just stop with a single terrorist or a single terrorist organization; we have to go and root the whole system. We have to go after poverty."
The Punch newspaper, on February 27, 2013 reported that former United States President Bill Clinton has said poverty is the only thing fueling Boko Haram insurgency. "You have all these political problems - and now violence - that appear to be rooted in religious differences and all the rhetoric of the Boko Harams and others, but the truth is the poverty rate in the North is three times what is in Lagos”, Mr. Clinton was quoted as saying.
The United Nations Secretary General in his "Remarks to the Security Council on Prevention of Conflicts in Africa: Addressing the Root Causes", on 15th April, 2013 told the Council that, "Unrest flourishes where people are poor, jobless and without hope."
Although Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan has dismissed the recent World Bank rating of Nigeria among the "poorest" nations, he acceded to the fact that we have a problem of "unequal distribution of wealth".
In his message to Nigerians on the occasion of the 2014 May Day celebration, President Jonathan told the nation that, "They say Nigeria is poor, and I was surprised when the World Bank listed us among the poorest nations in the world. Nigeria is not poor, it only has the problem of unequal distribution of wealth", which is capable of breeding dissidents.
Finally, I urge Mr. Oguejiofor to come to terms with the reality of the underlying causes of insurgencies not only in Nigeria but all over the world.
10, Muhammadu Danmadami Street, Azare, Bauchi state.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters