Boko Haram and the conspiracy theories

BY AHMED MUSA HUSSAINI | OPINION, YERWA EXPRESS NEWS, AUGUST 12, 2017

Boko Haram skeptics in the north keep shifting the goal post in their attempt to rationalize the BH insurgency in conspiratorial terms. Under Jonathan, they saw it as a southern (CAN's) conspiracy against the north and now under Buhari it is seen as an international conspiracy against Nigeria with the UN and international aid agencies as main culprits.

It is easy to blame the international community as this fits into two misguided narratives of western Christian conspiracy against Islam and western post-colonial conspiracy against Africa. These two mutually reinforcing conspiracies feed into our suspicions of western intentions and fuel the possibility of dual rejection of western humanitarian efforts in a northern Nigeria that is both African and predominantly Muslim (we see that with Polio vaccine).

I wish the BH insurgency was that simple so we can put an end to BH by expelling the UN and its acronym soup of humanitarian organizations working in affected areas. If it were that simple, we could have also seen the natural death of BH with the ouster of Jonathan.

While it is true that BH was allowed to fester uncontrollably under Jonathan, it was no conspiracy. It was sheer Jonathanian incompetence and insensitivity (charges that are equally criminal) spearheaded by two prominent northerners, Sambo Dasuki and Alex Badeh.

I agree that foreign agencies and NGOs must conduct themselves in a manner that respects Nigeria's sovereignty and with due consideration to our current security realities, but blackmailing them risk alienating key strategic allies in the fight against terrorism.

Today, international aid represents the most important lifeline for those areas affected by BH. There is an entire NGO economy that pours hundreds of millions of dollars for humanitarian causes and its vacuum will be impossible to fill. This no doubt comes with its own risk of corruption and racketeering as is often experienced in conflict areas.

I could only deduce three reasons for the official hostility towards international agencies: (1)their insistence on human rights and humanitarian laws, (2)their decision to disburse aid directly due to their distrust of corrupt government officials, (3)and as a means of distraction by government to divert attention from its incompetent handling of the insurgency and its humanitarian after-effects.

There is no international conspiracy regarding Boko Haram. What we have is international geopolitics. Every country has a different assessment of the BH threats and therefore decides to deploy resources that are commensurate with its own threat assessment and security objectives.

The problem is we fail to realize/accept that as how the world works and act accordingly. Diplomacy is not an act of charity. Countries commit themselves to tackling other countries' security challenges only to the extent that those challenges affect them too, that's the extent their security priorities allow.

That's why war and diplomacy go hand in hand and one is merely the continuation of the other. We should not expect the rules to change, we should adapt to the rules and make up for lost opportunities. The window is still open.


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