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Opinion: Boko Haram, poverty and violence

February 26, 2012 by Eghes Eyieyien 8 Comments
Children from northern Nigeria

The latest statement by the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, has raised not a few eyebrows. He told the Financial Times of London that “there is clearly a direct link between the very uneven nature of distribution of resources and the rising level of violence.”

Sanusi believes that the unfair distribution of Nigeria’s resources, especially the payment of 13 per cent derivation funds to oil-producing states, is actually what led to Boko Haram’s murderous campaign against their fatherland.

This unscientific argument that Boko Haram is the consequence of “poverty and unfair national revenue distribution,” is worrisome.

Needless to say, this is a false assertion that seems to justify the unjustifiable.

Was Mohammed Yusuf, Boko Haram’s founder, poor? Was Baba Fugu poor? At least Baba Fugu was of such personal net worth that the High Court and the Court of Appeal felt that N100m was the least amount the Borno State Government should pay his family as “compensation” for his murder by some officers of the Nigeria Police after his arrest.

In fact, the Borno State Government has since explained that the reason it thought it was pointless taking the case to the Supreme Court for final adjudication was because it was afraid it might be made to pay much more than the compensation the High Court and Court of Appeal said it should pay the family.

Clearly, the courts knew that the family is not poor, unlike the families of those killed by Boko Haram in Borno State which the state government recently paid N250,000 as “compensation” for their irreparable losses. I guess the Borno State Government reckoned that the gesture, however little, is really what counts since money cannot resurrect the dead even though the widows, widowers and orphans created by Boko Haram could no doubt do with much more than N250,000.

Again, was the suicide-bomber who drove his vehicle into the car park of the Nigeria Police Force Headquarters in Abuja a poor man? Not likely. He reportedly gave his family N2m as “pocket money” before he left Maiduguri for Abuja to carry out the Boko Haram attack. He was also said to be well educated and a successful businessman.

What about Abdul Mutallab, the failed underwear suicide bomber who tried to blow up the airplane in which he travelled to the United States just before it landed and who has just been given a life sentence for the attempt? Surely, the young man was not poor. Though unemployed, the UK university-educated boy had enough monthly allowances from his millionaire banker-father to travel frequently to Yemen, Ghana, Nigeria and the United States.

So, where is this concept of “poverty caused Boko-Haram” coming from? It seems Boko Haram and Sanusi have conveniently forgotten that prior to military’s incursion into government in 1966, the derivation formula was actually the allocation of 50 per cent of the funds generated to the regions where the revenue came from; while the Federal Government also took 50 per cent. So, the perceived “injustice” in Nigeria’s revenue distribution should not be avenged by Boko Haram but by the oil-producing states whose people have not ceased to advocate resource control till date. Boko Haram, like other terrorists elsewhere in the world, are not poor people but just wicked, misguided and deluded religious extremists who believe they do God service through their murderous activities.


Eyieyien is a Lagos-based banking and finance consultant.


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Posted by on Feb 25 2012. Filed under Boko Haram, Headlines. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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