My home country,Kenya is fighting Al-shaabab both within our borders and deep into their hiding caves in their country of abode-Somalia.

In this light,it is very easy for me to empathise with the Boko Haram situation in Nigeria,and unforunately, much as we are in denial,the current wars in Africa are taking a religious front-Muslims versus Christians.

We all hate to admit this bare fact that is playing out in CAR,Nigeria,Kenya and elsewhere in Africa.

Our last civil wars were mainly fought along the lines of Capitalists versus Communists.

Could we be fighting a secret proxy war that is aimed at making our continent ungovernable and thus giving way to rape of our natural resources in the chaos that now abound?

With the end of cold war,civil wars have taken a religious front;it is a fact we can deny,but the earlier we see it for what it is,the sooner we will be able to come up with harmonious solutions for our African people.

Hate or like this fact,but it will shape the destiny of our African continent from now henceforth!

Back now to the infamous Boko Haram.

It’s tempting to dismiss Boko Haram and its
brutal, public atrocities as an aberration, a
temporary road-block on Nigeria’s slow but
inexorable upward trajectory.

This is, after all,
Africa’s largest economy and a thriving, if
dysfunctional, democracy.

But the violence
keeps coming, and Nigeria’s leaders – despite
their bullish, near-farcical declarations to the
contrary – are powerless to stop it.

At the beginning of this year, Nigerian President
Goodluck Jonathan said that it’s only a matter of time
before his government defeats Islamist militant
group Boko Haram.

“Boko Haram insurgency is a
temporary challenge…We will surely overcome Boko
Haram.”

Even then, in January, these bold words rang hollow
(and it didn’t help the tense sectarian atmosphere
that the president was speaking from a Church of
Christ pulpit).

Having abandoned any form of
diplomacy, Jonathan’s administration was eight
months into an all-out military offensive against Boko
Haram in its northern strongholds.

Three states were,
and remain, under a State of Emergency, with
curfews in place and cellphone signals interrupted to
disrupt communications.

The army was out in force,
hunting the militants down, while air force bombers
harassed them from the air.
The offensive was Jonathan’s big gesture, a show of
force to prove to his nervous citizens that he was
taking Boko Haram seriously.

Except Boko Haram
didn’t seem to notice: far from cramping their style,
Jonathan’s heavy-handed tactics have merely pushed
the group into more frequent and more spectacular
terrorist attacks.

So far, 2014 has been the bloodiest
year of their insurgency: at least 1,500 have been
killed in dozens of attacks, and it’s only April.

This compares to 2,100 deaths between 2009 and 2013.

This week was typical.

On Monday, 71 people died in
an explosion at a busy bus station on the outskirts of
Abuja.

Because of its proximity to the capital, this
incident attracted a lot of media attention, even
though it would not make it into the top 5 on a list of
Boko Haram’s deadliest attacks of 2014.

Then on
Tuesday night, the group struck again, kidnapping
more than 100 schoolgirls from their school in north-
eastern Borno state.

In some ways, the latter incident, despite being less
expensive in terms of lives lost (so far, at least; the
eventual fate of those schoolgirls is still unknown), is
the more concerning because of what it shows us
about Boko Haram’s strength.

First, the group was
able to overpower the soldiers who had been sent to
the school to provide extra security – not exactly a
glowing recommendation of the ability of the armed
forces to protect Nigerian citizens.

Second, in flagrant
contradiction of the government’s claim to have
forced them out of their strongholds, the militants
clearly have the facilities and resources to hide 100
terrified school girls, indicating a level of organisation
and security that should have the authorities
extremely worried.

The attack on the school was also particularly
symbolic.

The name Boko Haram loosely translates
as ‘Western education is forbidden’, and the group
encourages parents to send their children to Islamic
schools instead.

The attack on the school in Borno is
a punishment and a warning to those who disobey.

This approach makes sense, in a strange, twisted
way: it is at schools that children are inculcated with
the theoretical values of the state – in Nigeria’s case,
a commitment to secular, liberal democracy – and it
is these values against which Boko Haram fights,
wanting to replace them with a strict commitment to
Islamic Sharia law.

This is not an unreasonable position.

The Nigerian
state has, by and large, failed its population.

It may
be awash in oil wealth, but none of that trickles down
into the population which has yet to see much in the
way of material benefits from an independent
Nigeria.

Who wouldn’t be looking for an alternative?

“Most Nigerians are poorer today than they were at
independence in 1960, victims of the resource curse
and rampant, entrenched corruption,” says
International Crisis Group in a new report.

“Agriculture, once the economy’s mainstay, is
struggling.

In many parts of the country, the
government is unable to provide security, good
roads, water, health, reliable power and education.

The situation is particularly dire in the far north.

Frustration and alienation drive many to join “self-
help” ethnic, religious, community or civic groups,
some of which are hostile to the state.”

It’s this dynamic – the frustration and alienation felt
by the illiterate, the unemployed, the helpless –
which underpins Boko Haram, driving a steady
stream of new recruits into their arms and ensuring
some degree of popular support, without which they
could surely not maintain the sheer breadth of their
operations (which are even spilling across Nigeria’s
borders).

It also illustrates the futility of the Nigerian
response: guns and soldiers can’t solve decades of
poverty and marginalisation, especially when the
soldiers have been themselves implicated in
atrocities against civilian populations.

Instead, Nigeria would be better served if it put
resources, and real political clout, behind reforming
the state and addressing the development deficit
between north and south.

Ironically, President
Jonathan is part of the problem: his presidency has
fuelled feelings of marginalisation in the north, as he
is accused of breaking the ruling party’s unwritten
code to alternate leadership between the north and
the south (in other words, the Nigerian president
should have been a northerner for the last four
years).

To his credit, Jonathan knows all this.
“Life in the
North must change. Development must go to all
parts of this country,” he said, to that same church
service.

“Let me reassure you that we will continue to
work harder and harder to improve the quality of
lives of Nigerians. But you must know that this
cannot be achieved overnight. Even if you go and
plant a crop, it takes a period of time before you start
seeing the fruits.”

Fine words these may be, but that’s all they are:
there’s so far been little evidence of crop-planting
from Jonathan’s government, which means the fruits
of development are even further away.

In the meantime, Boko Haram are here to stay.

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