Monday, October 26, 2020

A tale of terrorism and corruption – Boko Haram in Nigeria

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The act of financing of terrorism is a well-known strategy for individuals or organisations to destabilise economies or societal norms to achieve a desired outcome.

The breeding ground for terrorism financing lies in corruption, whereby the desire of selected individuals or organisations out-weighed the need of a society.

Political corruption breeds marginalisation, inequality, poverty and desperation, these are tools for building terrorism.  Most terrorism organisation proclaim to fight for such political corruption agendas.

The romance with corruption has ensured terrorism continue to spread across third world countries and ineffective policies in tackling them.

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Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country and ranked 148 out of 180 countries in Corruption Perception Index 2017. This a country currently battling increasing activities of terrorism and corruption.

The most popular terrorist group in Nigeria is Boko Haram, with links to the international terrorist group, Al Qaeda.

The narrative of Boko Haram’s insurgency against the Nigerian state is a complex one layered with different twists of irony. One of the major aspects of the sect-turned-terrorist organisation’s worldview is hinged on a strong campaign against corruption.

The previous spiritual leader of Boko Haram, Mohammed Yusuf, despite the patronage he had enjoyed from some of the politicians in both Borno and Yobe states, rose to popularity in the northeast of Nigeria by railing against the political ruling class in his speeches and sermons.

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Boko Haram’s viewpoint on corruption is that the Nigerian system of governance is irredeemably riddled with corruption because its rulers are corrupt.

This tragic situation, Boko Haram’s leaders espouse, has been made possible because of secular/Western education. The relative success Boko had in its earlier years can be attributed to the glaring disparity between the lives of the elite, who make up a minority of the population in northern Nigeria, and those of the underprivileged, who comprise the region’s majority.

This made it easy for the targeted audience of the sect’s sermons to relate quite strongly to the theme of the messages.

Related: What is Corruption

The same corruption theme has continued to recur within the national narrative of the Boko Haram insurgency. The acknowledgement that the Boko Haram insurgency was bigger than had previously been estimated and that heavy funding was required for the army to prosecute this war has led to the increasing disbursement of funds by successive administrations towards providing the Nigerian army with the support it requires to successfully combat Boko Haram.

The security sector since 2009 has astronomically captured a larger chunk of the nation’s budget than it has in previous years. Each of the thirty-six states within Nigeria, in addition, is entitled to a monthly allowance which is meant to go towards funding the security services within their respective domains.

This allowance, known as a ‘’security vote’’, has equally increased over the last half-decade. When considered within this context, it can be seen how the purported war against Boko Haram has become a profitable enterprise, especially within a country in which systemic corruption has a long history.

Taking this into consideration, the series of allegations, rumours, media stories, and court cases which have cropped up in recent years in relation to the underfunding of the army and embezzlement of funds should not come as a surprise.

At present, the case of the former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, over allegations of diversion of millions of dollars meant to have been used in the counterinsurgency efforts in northeast Nigeria is still in court awaiting a conclusion.

The fight against terrorism should be uprooted in the fight against corruption. Government and organisations must tackle economical deficiencies to eradicate corruption in its fight against terrorism and terrorism financing.

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