Skip to main content

Jonathan: Boko Haram Amnesty & Dearth of Ideas By Elias Courson

May 1, 2013

In contemporary times the state of Nigeria has witnessed monumental challenges from regional groups that have questioned the basis of the federation. These agitations and state responses to them have led to the death of millions, several internally displaced and unquantifiable property destroyed – in the extreme communities have been annihilated. Unfortunately most conflict analysts, commentators and even our leaders have all explained the various conflicts confronting the Nigerian federation without regard to her emergence. Nigeria is the conception of an imperial power whose primary interest was resource accumulation to the exclusion of other world powers at the time. Until we come to the realization that we possess differences that cannot be ignored but must be managed after extensive consultations, there will always be crisis. The colonial masters realized these facts hence they ruled each section of Nigeria based on an appropriate mode of governance – some regions that resisted colonialism were coerced, others were ruled in proxy through traditional institutions,  while warrant Chiefs were imposed in acephalous territories. This explains how complex and complicated the country was at inception and even now.

In contemporary times the state of Nigeria has witnessed monumental challenges from regional groups that have questioned the basis of the federation. These agitations and state responses to them have led to the death of millions, several internally displaced and unquantifiable property destroyed – in the extreme communities have been annihilated. Unfortunately most conflict analysts, commentators and even our leaders have all explained the various conflicts confronting the Nigerian federation without regard to her emergence. Nigeria is the conception of an imperial power whose primary interest was resource accumulation to the exclusion of other world powers at the time. Until we come to the realization that we possess differences that cannot be ignored but must be managed after extensive consultations, there will always be crisis. The colonial masters realized these facts hence they ruled each section of Nigeria based on an appropriate mode of governance – some regions that resisted colonialism were coerced, others were ruled in proxy through traditional institutions,  while warrant Chiefs were imposed in acephalous territories. This explains how complex and complicated the country was at inception and even now.


 
The rumoured amnesty requested for the Boko Haram sect that has rendered sections of northern Nigeria ungovernable is a wrong step proposed towards resolving a wrong action. Of recent, respected northern monarchs and elites have proposed and suggested amnesty as a way out of the quagmire. It is high time we knew that every section of Nigeria is aggrieved concerning the foundation of the Nigeria nation, but the manifestations therefrom are distinct and distinguishable. The question we need to ask ourselves is, whether or not amnesty is adequate and sufficient in addressing the meta-demands of various sections of the country directed at the foundation of the Nigerian nation? There is the urgent need to distinguish those who want the agitations resolved and those who want to make gains out of every ugly situation in the country. In the light of this, the proposed amnesty proposal is not only self-serving but also designed to enrich certain elements within the elite group, and is not an antidote to the Boko Haram dilemma.
 
First, it should be noted, there is discontent in every section of Nigeria (North, East, South, West). The manifestation is expressed in the form of Boko Haram in the North, Bakassi Boys in the East, MEND in the South and OPC in the West. Unfortunately, when these manifestations are expressed (violently or otherwise) analysts ascribe them regional discontents. The Nigerian nation from exception is flawed and until this imperfection is exhaustively tackled irrespective of its outcome, regional/sectional demands or agitations will remain recurring phenomena. Thus, the need for a holistic analysis of conflicts is paramount in Nigeria.
 
The Boko Haram demands: (1) Islamization of Nigeria and (2) eradication of western systems of thought, cannot be resolved by the granting of amnesty to some almajeris that would be packaged as Boko Haram militants in a few days to come. The Niger Delta amnesty now used as a paradigm for every crisis-ridden region of Nigeria is nothing but a wrong-headed solution to the Boko Haram saga. Is the Niger Delta crisis resolved with the declaration and implementation of amnesty? No. As we speak the fundamentals that led to armed struggle in the Niger Delta are yet to be addressed – environmental despoliation continues unabated, oil extraction is ongoing to the detriment of communities, lack of amenities is still evident and oil companies and government collusion in people and communities’ repression is a daily routine in the region. The fragile peace and rise in oil production recorded could be attributed to the dexterity and knowledge of the Chairman of the amnesty programme who is doing everything possible to stem the ugly situations in the region. Except the internationally recognized post conflict reforms –political, economic and military, and I will add in the case of the Niger Delta ecological reform are properly implemented the crisis is bound to relapse.
 
I am alarmed by the dearth of ideas from Jonathan’s aides who have made him a laughing stock before Nigerians. Nigerians expect new ideas proffered on existing and new problems, rather what is thrown back at society are antiquated solutions used during Obasanjo and Yar ‘Adua years that yielded next to nothing. First, there was fuel subsidy, what Jonathan’s lazy minded men did was to dust the Obasanjo hand-book on fuel subsidy – increase the pump price of fuel locally as recommended by IMF and World Bank. Again, when the Boko Haram brouhaha emerged on the scene, rather than critically examine the demands with regard to the historical emergence of Nigeria with a view to bringing visionary ideas/solutions to regional conflicts, these mentally barren aides and their civilian collaborators merely plagiarized the Yar ‘Adua textbook on amnesty in the Niger Delta. What does amnesty mean to a man whose psychological imagination is the acquisition of seventy virgins in heaven? Or a man who believes he is a candidate for heaven through the destruction of others? Jonathan and his handlers ought to know that the demand for breaths of fresh-air by Nigerians connote fresh/unadulterated ideas and innovations articulated to solve existing and contemporary tribulations. It is unfortunate and unacceptable to proffer analogue solutions to computer-age troubles.
 
If the Boko Haram upheaval is poverty induced, as some elites have posited, then it should be noted that poverty is without borders. The Government could take a cue from other nations and embark on a holistic social security reform in the country.  Since poverty is not region specific, what is required of the Government is a comprehensive analysis of the poverty situation in Nigeria towards the articulation of a catholic social security policy directed at the reduction of poverty. Piecemeal implementations of social security measures to the exclusion of deserving individuals in any society engender conflicts of various proportion/dimension. Such far-reaching social security policy measure will check eruption of conflicts from other poverty stricken region/corners of Nigeria.
 
 
Elias Courson
PhD Candidate, University of California, Berkeley, USA
Rotary World Peace Fellow 2008-10

 

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('content1'); });

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('content2'); });