Weekly Trust - - Sportxtra - With Bala Muham­mad

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.ib­h­con­fer­ 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.

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