Monday, October 15, 2012

Why we should care about Boko Haram

The high costs of food items like grains and tomatoes is one reason Nigeria’s government needs to deal with the Boko haram problem. I read this article and did not think much of it until I went to the market and the money I had to buy foodstuffs was not enough.  The insecurity in the North has caused a disruption in the farming and this has affected the economy. How you may ask? As Simon Kolawole mentions, farmers, transporters and other businesses are hampered. Tell also conducted interviews with some Northern farmers and transporters and they report that their number 1 problem is Boko Haram because they cannot farm or send agricultural produce to the South, and most non-northerners are migrating from the region. Thus the prices of items that make it to the South are increased.  Apart from exorbitant cost of food items, Boko Haram also hinders Nigeria’s economic growth in the area of infrastructural development. The activities of the sect have also caused infrastructural deficits for the Northern Nigeria as properties and roads are destroyed causing gaps. However, the greatest economic cost of BH is the loss of human capital.
In addition to economic reasons we should care about Boko Haram for political reasons.  At the root of the sect’s agitation is grievance. Nigeria comprised multiple ethnic groups and communities that do not see eye to eye. Every community feels aggrieved for one reason or the other. Nigeria and Nigerians have to tackle the issue of our existence as a country. What does it mean to b e a Nigerian? Are there any shared visions or dreams that make bring us together?  Yesterday, it was Niger-Delta militants troubling Nigeria’s Israel, today it is Boko Haram, who knows what group would emerge tomorrow? The political grievance of the sect has to be properly addressed and dealt with. The shoddy handling of the Niger-Delta problem and the throwing-money-at-the-problem syndrome would not suffice in this case and in other cases (I believe that the amnesty program is a fraud and a scam and the “peace” experienced in the region now is artificial)
Finally, we should care about solving the Boko Haram problem because the escalation of the crisis to its present level is an indictment on our enforcement  and legal  systems.  At the initial stages of attacks, members of the sect attacked police officers as retaliation for the treatment meted out to members (it’s a long but expository read). In the last week there has been outrage about the Aluu incident, unfortunately Aluu community is a microcosm of how the government and people of Nigeria treat alleged criminals. There is no opportunity to defend oneself and the first resorts are force and jungle justice.  Thus, the escalation of these crisis should cause a rethink about policing, intelligence gathering and how to deal with law-breakers. Killing them is not always the answer as proven by Boko Haram crisis.
In conclusion, Boko Haram is not a Northern problem. It is a Nigerian problem that needs to be properly and ethically addressed even if it only to reduce the price of tomatoes and beans. 

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