By Adam Bulama
The Boko Haram insurgency in North-East Nigeria had indeed festered since 2009 when the group began its violent campaign against Nigeria. Successive governments introduced various initiatives aimed at addressing the scourge but to no avail. Instead of the Boko Haram group losing steam, it gathered momentum and continued to wreak havoc of unimaginable proportion.
I believe there is one hard truth we are not telling ourselves why the activities of Boko Haram have continued to fester in Northern Borno despite the efforts of the Nigerian Military. We might wish to recall that there was a time the six states in North-East Nigeria were once under the constant threat of the Boko Haram insurgents. So much so that over 16 local government areas was under their control. But the efforts of the Military as well as the political authorities at the federal and state levels saw to the dislodging of the Boko Haram group from these local government areas including their operational base in Sambisa forest.
The Nigerian Military toiled day and night, in ensuring that the Boko Haram insurgents were decimated and indeed gains were recorded that five out of the six states in North-East Nigeria were utterly rid of Boko Haram insurgents. However, the case of Borno still presents a mystery as to why the Boko Haram insurgents always find Northern Borno a haven for their nefarious activities.
Today, Northern Borno is the only region experiencing pockets of Boko Haram attacks. The several instances where the convoy of the Governor of Borno State was attacked is in Northern Borno. It is on this premise that the governor has made several attempts at galvanizing the support of the political leaders and stakeholders in Northern Borno in bringing to an end the activities of Boko Haram in Northern Borno.
The governor in doing this has never failed to acknowledge the efforts of the Nigerian Military in restoring normalcy in other parts of the state and wishes for same to be replicated in Northern Borno which would ultimately signal the end of the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria.
There is a famous saying that politics is local as well as happiness is local. And for peace to return to Northern Borno, the actors must come to a consensus because these insurgents are not spirits. They are domiciled with the people, and they are somewhat known, I believe. I say this because strangers cannot come to a foreign land and dominate the people. There must be some level of cooperation with the people in the case of this or it is the people themselves that are perpetuating the dastardly act.
I stand to be corrected, the case of Northern Borno is that of arms struggle, smuggling, criminality and with lots of political undertones. This much has been highlighted in numerous forums, and the question is what has the stakeholders in Borno done in this regard. It is not on record that they have disputed this position and it is on record that they have not been forthcoming in addressing the threats in their region.
This indeed calls for concern and the time for all the stakeholders in Northern Borno to heed to the call of the governor of Borno state for peace in Northern Borno. Like I stated earlier, these insurgents are not spirits. Abubakar Shekau, Abu Musab al-Barnawi and all other Boko Haram commanders are Nigerians, this much we all know and as such it should not be rocket science for these individuals to lay their arms and embrace peace. The Nigerian Military has been playing its role and as such other stakeholders must step into the fray to play their parts in bringing the Boko Haram insurgency to an end.
Aside from the deployment of Military might, there is also a place for other mediums with which these insurgents can be prevailed upon to give up their arms struggle and embrace peace. And this has been the missing link towards ending the Boko Haram insurgency, especially in Northern Borno. I must not fail to commend the Governor of Borno State, Babagana Zulum. He has indeed demonstrated an unalloyed commitment towards ending the Boko Haram insurgency in the state even at significant risk to his life.
Let us make no mistakes, what is indeed needed now is a call for the remnants of the Boko Haram insurgents to embrace peace, and the governor has been leading this charge calling on all stakeholders to join hands with him in the arduous but surmountable task of bringing long-lasting peace to Borno State. All hands are required to be on deck in support of the efforts of the Nigerian Military that have been exceptional, especially in the past five years.
We must admit that this wasn’t the situation five years ago. And who would have thought that in five states North-East Nigeria would be free from the Boko Haram scourge. And even in Borno state, the Military has been able to confine their activities to Northern Borno alone. This is indeed a remarkable feat that must be commended and as well supported in the overarching aim of bringing to an end the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria.
I very much support the call for peace in Northern Borno. And this would only happen if the relevant stakeholders agree to complement the efforts of the Nigerian Military in this regard. The principle of structural functionalism suffices, which is a framework for building theory that sees society as a complex system whose parts work together to promote solidarity and stability.
I can go on nonstop in this regard, but I must, however, warn that all the gains recorded in the past five years would go down the drain if the call for peace in northern Borno is not heeded. Those that can speak should speak. Those that can reach out should reach out. Those that can negotiate should negotiate, and those that can calm frayed nerves should do so in the overarching objective of retuning Borno State to the Home of Peace. This is my two cents.
Bulama wrote from Maiduguri, Borno State.