Karl Marx’s thesis that economic conditions determine the basis of existence is yet to be proved wrong. It is one tool I always apply in the course of discovering the real motives behind what people say or do. But I must confess that unravelling “Boko Haram”, which many now call insurgency in the north, has put this scientific method in doubt for the past five years.
Somebody solved the riddle on Wednesday: former Senate president and former minister Dr Iyorchia Ayu. In brief, this is what Ayu said at the 5th Convocation Lecture of the Adekunle Ajasin University:
The oil wealth beneath the Chad Basin is fanning the embers of insurgency in the country because prominent businessmen and politicians in both Nigeria and Chad, in association with French companies, have invested heavily in oil exploration and exploitation. They are the principal financiers of, and arms suppliers to, Boko Haram. The group’s destabilisation of the north-eastern part of Nigeria benefits these investors because it delays exploration and production on the Nigerian side of Lake Chad.
The Lake Chad Basin is estimated to have a reserve of 2.32billion barrels of oil, and 14.65trillion cubic feet of natural gas. The oil and gas flows underground across the countries sharing the Lake Chad Basin: Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroun. Using 3D drilling, Chad is not only tapping oil within its territory but also from Nigeria, to push up its production levels.
Boko Haram is made up of Nigerians and a large number of Chadians from the Chadian provinces of Lac and Hadjer Lamis – provinces that share a long border with north-eastern Nigeria around the Lake Chad region and provide Boko Haram with trained Chadian fighters.
The drying up of Lake Chad, once the largest water body in Africa, is affecting the economic and social life of over 30 million people in the four countries around the lake. This has resulted in the migration of many farmers and herdsmen as well as engineered local conflicts between Camerounian and Nigerian nationals; fishermen are fighting farmers and herdsmen to stop diverting water from the lake to their farms and livestock.
The disappearance of Lake Chad and subsidiary rivers has also created a large population of unemployed and discontented youth who have become a reserve army easily available for recruitment by the insurgents.
So far, Boko Haram has not attacked any territory in Chad but has a cluster of bases in Chad from where it launches its terrorist activities in Nigeria. President Idris Deby of Chad is said to have cordial relations with the insurgents.
The accuracy of Ayu’s postulation could be doubted only by fools. Many of us have often pointed fingers at politicians as those behind terrorism in the country. But Ayu has mentioned the type of politicians – those with economic interests to protect. Therefore, Boko Haram is not sponsored by anyone aspiring to be the president of Nigeria. It is not backed by the PDP or the APC. Also, Boko Haram has nothing to do with Islam or Christianity, north or south. Neither is it a crusade against western education.
The people behind the masks have used all these and other tricks to cause a war that would enable them to corner the oil wealth flowing under the north-east’s soil. Have they really succeeded?
Oil is a curse indeed. From the early days of insurgency in the north-east, the suspicion that some foreign powers were behind it has persisted. The Nigerian government itself seems to know the truth but has done little to tackle the enemy despite the myriad of agencies pretending to be protecting the safety and security of Nigerians and the Nigerian borders. The security agencies seem to be fighting one another because a lot of cash has been made available for the “Boko Haram” war.
A strong Nigerian leader would have since sent troops to overrun Chad or any other neighbouring country that provides a haven for terrorists. If France or any foreign oil company came to the aid of such a country, we would be able to consume both the beans and the weevils inside them. The Nigerian armed forces should work; soldiers exist to fight wars, not to eat pepper-soup or accumulate money with which to contest elections after retirement.
The Black man deserves pity. While the White man looks a century ahead and strives to achieve his goal, the Black man offers himself to be used to destroy his own people. The plot to balkanise Nigeria and steal the oil in the north-east must have preceded the forecast that Nigeria would break up in 2015. For anything that threatens the economic interests of certain powers does not stand. During the Cold War, we learned how progressive leaders in Africa were removed or killed through sponsored coups and counter-coups. In recent times, we have witnessed the overthrow of Muammar Ghaddafi of Libya. Each plot was carried out with the citizens of each country.
It is in this light that all Nigerians should now see the patriotism exhibited by Gen. Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu 46 years ago. Many know that the Nigeria-Biafra war was instigated by foreigners, but only a few know that it was also about oil. In the middle of the war, the Soviets approached Ojukwu and asked for a part of Biafra’s oil in return for fighting on Biafra’s side. Ojukwu vehemently rejected the request because he did not want his country to be a theatre of war for the western powers. The federal side gratefully received the British in order to “crush” the “rebels”. Yet, had Ojukwu accepted the Russians’ proposal, Biafra would have survived and perhaps millions of Nigerians more would have been killed.
Compare Ojukwu with the Nigerian businessmen that have been fuelling terrorism in the north-east. While Ojukwu fought to defend his people, the terrorists of the north-east are killing their own people. It is laughable that a Lagos court had to jail one of those found guilty of financing terrorism for only 10 years. These are people working with foreigners to destroy their country; they have killed almost 20, 000 and displaced millions of people. Their wickedness is made more manifest by the fact that they have been killing and kidnapping students and defenceless villagers.
My gratitude goes to Dr Ayu for solving the mystery surrounding Boko Haram. I have little doubt that the 2015 elections – if they eventually take place – will be the last straw. The invading forces are likely to lavish money on saboteurs and impoverished Nigerians to kill themselves so that this mineral-rich land would be left for them to exploit. Indeed, the heart of man is wicked.
If Nigeria would not work as one nation, let us revisit the idea of confederation. Rather than prepare for polls in 2015, we should implement the National Conference’s report, especially as it concerns the six-state structure. A semi-independent north-east might even decide to merge with its kith and kin in Chad, Cameroun and Niger. Under an effective government, no region would be helpless in defending its people from external aggressors.
–By ANIEBO NWAMU