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You are here:Home>>Strategic Research & Analysis>>Boko Haram:The Dangers of Appeasement
Monday, 27 February 2012 13:42

Boko Haram:The Dangers of Appeasement

Written by OBI NWAKANMA
Boko Haram Boko Haram

It is not compromise. Compromise is a pragmatic means of negotiation. Appeasement is giving in to conditions that equal blackmail. It is unequal exchange. Ultimately, and in the long run, it undermines the goals and the fundamental objective of the enterprise.

 

In more recent history, it was Neville Chamberlain, who as the British Prime Minister in the inter war years, gave the term "appeasement" its worst name, in ceding much grounds to Hitler in Germany, with the Munich Agreement, and eventually plunging Europe into a war with global consequences following Hitler's invasion of Poland.

 

Appeasement is like sweeping the dust under an already dirty rug. This is precisely what many are pushing the Nigerian president to do in the calls and the pressure to "negotiate" with Boko Haram. I'd like to register a total disgust for that move on two grounds (a) it further weakens the hands of an already weak government and (b) it continues to perpetuate the indeterminacy of the Federal government on matters of national security.

 

By its own avowal, Boko Haram is intent on overthrowing the Federal Government of Nigeria by force of arms and by acts of treasonable subversion, and having secured its aim, upturn a central, cardinal principle of the Nigerian federation: its status as a secular democratic republic by imposing a Sharia theocracy.

 

In tune with its aim, Boko Haram has launched deadly, violent attacks against the institutional symbols of the Federal Government of Nigeria - police stations, military installations, the office of immigration, Nigeria's security personnel, as well indeed as churches and mosques.

 

They upped their ante with the attacks on the United Nations building in Abuja, and the killings of Christian worshippers on Christmas day with the bombing of the St. Theresa's Catholic Church in Madalla, as well as the horrendous attacks on the city of Kano that left hundreds dead. Boko Haram is an equal opportunity killer - they kill Moslems and they kill Christians in the north.

 

They group has killed over two thousand people and counting since it launched its open revolt against the Federal Government, a situation that has exacerbated the uncertainty of the continued union of Nigeria. In December of 2011 it "ordered" all Christians and Southerners to leave the North of Nigeria, failing which they would be attacked. Boko Haram's plan seems to be working, for quite clearly the migrant frenzy has gripped the Igbo in Kano, with MASSOB reportedly sending a retinue of twenty buses to evacuate many Igbo willing to leave the North and setting up a "refugee camp" in Igboland.

 

A rising separatist mood is shaping around the moment and it is very obvious that this political game has moved too far, and as some observers of the trend have noted, might require the intervention of Nigeria's armed forces to protect the territorial integrity of Nigeria as a nation. Even that prospectis increasingly weakened by the potential fissures within that institution and by a current doctrinal forbearance. But the point this column is willing to make at this stage is that President Jonathan must not, under the current circumstance, succumb to the pressure and blackmail of "negotiating" with Boko Haram.

 

He must indeed stop negotiating with any terrorist group intent on blackmailing Nigeria into supine tolerance of the very powerful factors and interests that are attempting by their criminal activities to subvert and supplant the Nigerian national endeavor.

 

Recently, leaders of the Arewa Consultative Assembly began to claim that "only a negotiation with Boko Haram" can solve the problem. But here is the trouble: negotiate on the basis of what? To cede control of the federal government to them? What exactly is Boko Haram fighting for and for whom? Colonel Hamid Ali says "military action will not solve the problem." Perhaps indeed not. But that problem will not be solved either by a dawdling and compromised government willing to appease a mindless and fascist revolt against the Nigerian state. It requires decisive action one way or the other.

 

It is appeasement that brought us here. The subversion of Nigeria, since 1998 has much to do with the Obasanjo administration's inability to establish a civilized democracy. The idea of democracy as "a civil" government has roots in the notion that law and abiding by civic order is the mainstay of a civil/civilian/civilized society.

 

But the unresolved killings, political murders, kidnappings, assassinations - including the assassination, execution-style of Nigeria's sitting Attorney-General and such other prominent, public deaths without consequence gave rise to the sense that Nigeria is not only a failed state, and a savage enclave, but one in which atrocity directed at its very soul goes unpunished.

 

Boko Haram is not the first terrorist group in Nigeria. The Niger delta militia was organized, presumably to fight the injustice of oil exploration in the Niger Delta. In time these "militants" of the Niger Delta, first recruited as political thugs, soon morphed into armed insurrection, killing kidnapping, and generally rendering the creeks impassable and inamenable to oil exploration.

 

One could sympathize with them on the basis of their fight for economic justice.

 

But it does seem that the business of national subversion is big businesses - it sells arms and it guarantees huge concessions. Under Yar Adua, the militants were appeased and settled. Today one of them, Tompolo, has a concession for maritime security.

 

Boyloaf is an international envoy for the president. We reward bad behavior: anybody who could organize a private army against Nigeria is bought off with concessions. That is appeasement. Yet, the problem persists. In the end, in spite of all the killings, and with the pressure to negotiate, President Jonathan is moving towards the appeasement of Boko Haram. Nigerians must reject that option. Indeed, the option left for the president is fairly simple: he must re-establish the authority of the Federal Government of Nigeria, by any means necessary.

 

It is time this government establishes law and order and bring to the books any Nigerian, no matter how highly placed, who is connected in any way to the subversion of the nation. Selective and dilatory law enforcement is dangerous to the health of nations. The National Assembly must provide the president grounds with a National Security Act to proscribe Boko Haram, MASSOB, Niger Delta Militia, Oodua People's Congress and other fissiparous entities, and to launch a national security initiative to permanently degrade their activities by both symmetric and asymmetrical methods.

 

It is past time to, as the poet Odia Ofeimun once wrote, take Nigeria seriously. It will not be by appeasement. The greatest security threat to Nigeria is not Boko Haram. It is a government that is unwilling to rise toits highest duty, which is to restore the public trust - the ability to guarantee its citizens national security which includes economic and social security. Selective appeasement of criminal gangs and armed political thugs will not do it.

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