The Nigerian Government Is A Greater Threat To Its People Than Boko Haram By Udoka Okafor

O ur car gallops through the bumpy road, as night fast
approaches. The glimmer of the sun is fading fast, and the
stars are starting to illuminate our way. Our eyes are weighed
down with tiredness. We have had a very long day, and we
cannot wait to get home. As our car travels along, the
policemen signal us to a stop. We all look at each other because
we know what to expect. Do we just ignore their signals and
speed along or do we stop? Like most Nigerians, we stop, in
order to avoid any unnecessary trouble. But we do not stop for
very long. The thing is, we don’t need to show them our license
or our car papers, because that is simply a waste of our time.
Ultimately, we know what they want. I watch as the driver of
the car slips the policeman a 500 Naira note. They nod in
approval, and our journey continues, as abruptly as it was
interrupted. Corruption is a disease that has infiltrated the fabric of my
country, Nigeria. It has become a way of life. Corruption exists,
not simply at the human level, but at an institutional level as
well. Our political climate and sociocultural narrative is
fundamentally shaped by corruption. Corruption manifests
itself in different ways, both on a micro and a macro level.
Policemen collecting bribes is just one of these said
manifestations of corruption in Nigeria. Bad roads,
intermittent to nonexistent power supply, ill-maintained
infrastructures, black markets with stolen resources such as oil,
embezzlement of funds by public officials, electoral crimes such
as ballot stuffing, politically sponsored ethnic violence,
politically motivated erosion of the human rights and dignity
of persons, are amongst these aforementioned manifestations
of corruption
Boko Haram, is an insurgency group in Nigeria that gained
international recognition when they kidnapped over 300
Nigerian schoolgirls, of which an estimated 100 girls managed
to escape, and about 200 girls still remain in captivity. This
international spotlight on the group, which many have referred
to as a terrorist group, has led to intense criticism of the
group.
Before Boko Haram emerged, there was a very popular
following of people called Yan Tatsine that was led by
Maitatsine. The group then, like Boko Haram now, capitalized on
the alienation and fear of the Nigerian people. They observed
the political and social corruption that exists in Nigeria, the
ineffectiveness of the Nigerian government, and they used
those sentiments to their advantage. Maitatsine and the
founder of Boko Haram, Mohammed Yusuf, denounced political
corruption by the Nigerian government. They appealed to
people’s anger, especially that of youths, and people drenched
in poverty, to form a base for their group. Religion is the
ideology that fuels their insurgency movement, but illiteracy,
and their frustrations regarding political corruption in Nigeria
are the root issues that unite their base.
This context does not seek to, in any way, justify the actions of
the insurgent group. It does however show that, like most
Nigerians, the group is engendered by a frustration with
political corruption and the inevitable social alienation that
comes with it. So, we can argue all day about how horridly
horrific Boko Haram is, and few people would disagree with
that assertion. But, the Nigerian government, in my opinion,
remains a worse ill and a far greater threat to the Nigerian
people, than any insurgency group.
It is, after all, the marginalizing social and cultural policies of
our imprudent legislative branch that creates an environment
hostile enough to encourage radicalization. Policies that
encourage illiteracy, that do not address poverty, and that
completely ignore, if not create and propagate, the social ills
of this country. It should also be noted that it is the
incompetency of our current president, Goodluck Jonathan,
and his lack of understanding of the political, social, historical
and ethnic climate that has defined the Nigerian society, that
has led to an intensification of the actions of Boko Haram. The
institutionalization of corruption that is present in Nigeria,
terrorizes the Nigerian people and further creates a climate
that leads to the birth of radical, insurgent groups, such as
Boko Haram, that go on to terrorize the Nigerian people.
The current legislative and executive government are an
epitome of the corruption in Nigeria. Even those that are not
actively engaged in corrupt actions passively support these
actions by not intervening to preemptively or retroactively curb
political corruption. But, this is not simply an individual problem.
Rather, corruption in itself, as stated earlier, is an institutional
problem. So, while it would help to have intelligible and
honourable persons as members of our ‘representative’
government, it would be, foolishly simplistic, to think that this
is enough.
Like any institutional problem, corruption ought to be
addressed by first trying to deconstruct the system, and then
trying to understand its political and social context and the
history that belies the institution. Once we understand the ill
that we are dealing with, then we can try to fix the problem.
We can start having much needed discussions and arguments
about how to tackle the problem. And, like most things,
education provides the best avenue to deconstruct, discuss, and
then dissect these aforesaid institutional problems.
By creating access to critical platforms of discussion, through
means such as education, we give Nigerians the tools that would
enable them escape the brutal and oppressive reality that one
inevitably faces when their government incessantly terrorizes
the people. But, we must not submit to this brutality any
longer. We must no longer be forced to accept corruption as a
way of life, one in which we must adapt to, in order to survive.
Dismissing the status quo would be a difficult task, but social
and political revolutions are never easy. Our revolution needn’t,
also, be violent or radical. We can simply start with, one debate,
one discussion, and one argument — as done in this article —
at a time. And so, our revolution begins!

Follow Udoka Okafor on Twitter: @gabbiefleur

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