By Ibukun Akinnawo
Over 10,000 deaths have been linked to the insurgent Boko Haram sect since 2001 and 2,500 deaths linked to Niger Delta Militants down South Nigeria. The Boko Haram (Hausa for “Western education is sinful”) sect is a jihadist militant organization based in North-East Nigeria. It strongly opposes man-made laws and modern science. Founded by Mohammed Yusuf in 2011, the sect seeks to establish sharia law in Nigeria and is known for attacking Christians and bombing churches though these are not their only targets. Boko Haram does not have one central leadership and is divided into splinter cells making it difficult to “find the source and destroy it”. The Niger Delta militants on the other hand are less organized than Boko Haram but are said to be about 15,000 men strong. What do North East and South-South Nigeria have in common? Apart from having a large percentage of their populations living below the poverty line (in the Niger Delta, 70% live below the poverty line), these regions have the most neglected educational sectors, ridiculously high unemployment rates and economic deprivation making them easy prey for brainwashing and induction into illegal societies.
The Joint Task Force which was set up in what looks like a half-hearted attempt to curb violence in the North and South Nigeria has proven no match for the Boko Haram and Niger Delta insurgents. It is even suspected that the JTF may have been infiltrated by the Boko Haram as the sect has brazenly attacked the JTF more times than can be called coincidence. In the most recent attack, extremists reportedly set ablaze four police command posts and an army barracks where they looted vehicles and weapons and killed about thirty-five JTF members. The JTF is clearly no match for the terrorism monster in Nigeria—it never was and it probably never will be unless certain measures are taken by the government.
To reduce the rate at which lives are lost and desensitization happens to the rest of Nigeria’s population, the Federal Government will have to fight corruption, economic deprivation and illiteracy in the north-east and south-south regions of Nigeria. When the Federal, state and local governments embezzle funds allocated for building schools, hospitals, industries, etc., youths are denied good education, employment and good health. These youths are therefore affected socially, psychologically and economically. Frustrations, dejection and hopelessness remain a day to day occurrence in their lives so they’d rather be labelled “insurgents” and “militants” than (and more appropriately) “unemployed” and “illiterate”.
Educating the population will make it less likely to embrace apathy and anarchy. It would be difficult for a young educated and gainfully employed young man to be recruited as a suicide bomber. Such a person just doesn't fit the profile. If Nigeria can win the war against corruption then we can easily defeat terrorism.