ALL ABOUT BOKO HARAM
Readers may recall that last week, at the bottom of the Letter from Russia piece, I had announced in that there was going to be an “International Conference on Insurgency and the Boko Haram Phenomenon” (details and papers at http:// www.ibhconference2018.org) at Bayero University, Kano (BUK), Nigeria, and promised it would be the subject of this page this week. I asked Conference Chief Rapporteur (and colleague at BUK) Umar Jibrilu Gwandu (umarung[email protected] com) to brief readers on this important international event. Enjoy:
Perhaps apart from the North Eastern States of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, one state that really suffered a series of deadly attacks and the devastating effects of Boko Haram mayhem was Kano.
One unforgettable incident was the assassination attempt on Kano’s beloved late Emir Ado Bayero who was attacked in broad daylight by Boko Haram. Though they did not succeed in killing him, many others were killed, including his assistants. It was not his time to go - he died peacefully at home in 2014.
Also notorious was the Friday January 20, 2012 coordinated bomb attacks where sources claimed that the death toll had risen to 185 people, 150 of whom were said to be civilians and at least 32 police officers, including 3 members of the secret police.
And then exactly three years ago came the November 2015 attack on Kano’s Grand Mosque as Grand Imam Prof. Zahradeen led the faithful in Jumu’a Prayers. Hundreds were killed and many hundreds injured - some permanently. Only Allah’s intervention saved the Imam - and Boko Haram were said to be after Kano’s then new Emir Muhammad Sanusi, a leading critic of their methods. He happened to be out of town.
And because ‘Boko’ is ‘Haram’ to Boko Haram, they did not spare ‘Boko’ institutions. Federal College of Education, School of Hygiene and even our BUK were not spared. On April 29, 2012, Boko Haram attacked us, and scores of people were killed including two Professors - Library Science Department’s Prof. Andrew Leo Ogbonyomi, and Chemistry Department’s Prof. Jerome Ayodele.
Six years on after that unforgettable attack on our citadel of learning, BUK’s Centre for Islamic Civilization and Interfaith Dialogue (CICID), in collaboration with the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) Nigeria Office, the Kano State Government and other collaborating partners organised this international conference on Boko Haram November 13 to 15 to discuss causes, effects and future.
At the Conference, it was restated that between 2009 and 2015, the Boko Haram insurgency had claimed over 20,000 lives and had rendered millions of children as orphans, women as widows and millions more made homeless. In addition, they caused lots of intra-Muslim discord, interfaith mistrust, infrastructural damage, social insecurity, political instability, economic backwardness, and generally created an unprecedented humanitarian crisis in northern Nigeria, in addition to causing international embarrassment to the country at large.
President Muhammadu Buhari, in his message to the Conference, restated his Administration’s commitment to end the Boko Haram insurgency. The President noted that the activities of Boko Haram insurgents had led to destruction of schools, worship places and other public structures, and stressed the need for concerted effort to rebuild the places. He said “We must continue to support our youths to make sure that lack of employment does not create problems for our country again, and we must strengthen our various institutions so as to guide our youths to be self-reliant and be able to contribute their quota toward the development of the country.”
Participants at the Conference came mainly from the academia, religious groups, and educational institutions and from diverse groups within Nigeria. International participants came from Europe and the USA. The participants were made up of academics, youth and student groups, government policy makers, security officers, civil society organizations and the mass media.
Delivering the keynote, Prof. Mukhtar Umar Bunza of Usmanu Danfodio University, Sokoto, lamented that: “It is sad to note many commentators who have no knowledge about the Boko Haram phenomenon, both within the country and abroad, arrogate to themselves the authority to write and speak very often mischievously on the subject. Consequently, poor analysis, unfounded assumptions and naughty and misguided conclusions emanated from different angles as regards to the incident of Boko Haram in Nigeria”.
“It is with a view to contribute to making objective and concrete analysis and proffer practical solutions to the menace that this conference is organised. In the course of deliberations and discussions in the proceedings of the conference, our learned speakers at different plenary sessions will assuredly leave no question raised by this address un-attempted”, he had added.
Over 70 papers were presented at three parallel sessions over the three days.
In a communique issued after exhaustive discussions and deliberations, the Conference recommended that “the Islamic system of education should be mainstreamed into the Nigerian educational system in order to ensure inclusiveness and effective integration of its products.”
The Conference also recommended that the government should “hasten the establishment and constitution of the Northeast Development Commission to fast-track reconciliation, reconstruction, rehabilitation, resettlement and the general socio-economic development of the North East region”.
Similarly, the Conference recommended that “Journalists should be trained on peace journalism, while media reporting in case of conflict must be regulated and monitored by government to avoid bias and fuelling of the crisis”.
Also recommended included creation of synergy between “the Nigerian intellectuals, university-based centres and security agencies for the provision of academic and researched-based findings with regards to security and peace” while the Federal Ministry of Education was urged to revisit school curricula to include courses on preventing violent extremism.
The Conference also identified some immediate steps to be embarked upon as a matter of urgent attention: “an effective de-radicalisation programme to be pursued with the involvement of Ulama through appropriate interface with the office of the National Security Adviser, the Ministry of Interior and Defence Headquarters, and that University-based research centres should be empowered to undertake baseline surveys on Tsangaya schools and institutions that were destroyed in the frontline states, as well as statistics of widows and orphans with a view to ensuring effective intervention.”
As the Conference collaborating partners agreed to promote the establishment of a forum for Fatwa on topical issues within the Nigerian context, the main organiser, Centre for Islamic Civilization and Interfaith Dialogue (CICID) was mandated to engage other partners in developing and promoting mechanisms and tools for intellectual engagement with Boko Haram members with a view to deconstructing their ideology and influencing them to reform.