The kidnapping of over 200 Nigerian school girls, and the massacre of 300 civilians in the town of Gamboru Ngala, by the al-Qaeda affiliated group, Boko Haram, has shocked the world. While condemnations have rightly been forthcoming from a whole range of figures, from celebrities to government officials, less attention has been paid to the roots of the crisis.
Instability in Nigeria has been growing over the last decade. One reason is climate change and its subsequent economic stratification and resource shortages. Other reasons include ongoing exploitation of land and people by oil transnationals.
In 2009, the UK Department for International Development (DFID) conducted a study warning that climate change could contribute to increasing resource shortages due to land and water scarcity, and increasing crop failures. Scarcity has then produced increased sickness, hunger, and joblessness. Poor responses to these factors has fueled groups such as the Boko Haram, who many people have turned to to solve local problems where the government has turned a blind eye.
The Boko Haram has appeared as a counter influence to the West, and as a local advocacy group. Where local problems are not being solved by the government, groups like the Boko Haram have stepped in. Dr. Obafemi Jegede at the University of Ibadan explained to Telesur reporters, “Any ideology in Nigeria in the contemporary political economy social space will always get attention because of unemployment. People are not meaningfully busy and are thus dragged into competing local groups. These small groups promise to solve the local problems that the government has opted out of dealing with.”
Dr. Jegede suggested that the Boko Haram are an Islamic sect which began to preach against Western education because they saw it as responsible for the political and economic problems in Nigeria. Teaching Arabic instead of English or French has been seen as a way to counteract the history of European intervention in Nigeria.
Dr. Adedayo Lusino Adekoya of the Isese Agbaye foundation also stated, "The reason for the rise of the Boko Haram dates back to the colonial period where national borders divided ethnic groups.
Now, in the north, groups on the Nigerian border see their neighbors´ economic success and are frustrated that although they are of the same ethnic group, they are suffering in Nigeria."
The Boko Haram aims to challenge the history of Western imposition. As such, Dr. Jegede suggested, "The abduction of the 200 school girls is part of the plan to create an alternative to Western influence." He stated: "The kidnappings are terrible. They are part of a political strategy to Islamicize the young girls and prevent them from having a Western education."
"The situation in Nigeria is so difficult. With the corruption at the upper levels of government, these kinds of groups who emerge out of poverty are looking for solutions to problems created by colonial paradigms," he said.
In fact, instead of asking the Nigerian military or a foriegn military power to intervene, Adekayo suggested that the problem of the Boko Haram should be solved by the Nigerian people.
He argued, "Most of the area where the Boko Haram resides has local hunters and they know the area better than anyone, they should be employed to tackle the issue using their own indigenous knowledge to solve the problem. Let us use African power to fight fire power."
teleSUR / rb-CS