By Stephen Ubanna
For years, there had been rumours making the rounds that the political elites were behind the Yobe state born terrorist Abubbakar Shekau and Boko Haram , the Islamic Fundamentalist group, terrorising Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states , in the north east geo-political region but ”swept it under the carpet”.
Even former President Goodluck Jonathan had complained that there were Boko Haram members in his government and the security agencies but nobody too him serious. Again, the complaint was swept under the carpet by the political class as usual while billions of naira was spent to gather information and procure arms to crush the insurgents and force them out of the country but no luck. Mama Shekau, appears to have confirmed people’s feelings that that the Political Elites were behind Boko Haram operations for their pecuniary gains.
I It would be recalled that despite the efforts made by the then Jonathan Administration to crush the insurgents in their operational base in the north east, it further emboldened them to attack military targets e as they gained sufficient strength to obtain their own arsenals from the enemy camp as they began to manufacture explosives and incendiaries from commonly available materials. This in addition to laying of ambush based on available information without their missing targets and detonation of improvised explosives on civilian targets in the region.
The situation was so bad that the then ex-President has to reach out to his counterparts in the United States , Russia and the United Kingdom for military support and supply of equipment. But the weapons, allegedly used by the insurgents appeared to be more sophisticated. The question on the lips of most people was : who are the people funding the Islamic Fundamentalists?
Until he vacated Aso Rock in 2015, having lost his re-election bid, Sambo Dasuki, a retired Colonel and the National Security Adviser, NSO and other members of the National Security Council, NSC, never furnished him, with security reports about those behind the group . The fallout was that their operations got worse by the day , followed by kidnapping and raiding of banks to steal money in the flash point states.
Unknown, to many, Falmata Shekau, the mother of Abubakar Shekau, te BokoHaram leader who give out vital informations about his son was still alive. She was said to have kept to herself for fear of being linked with group activities or placed under security watch that might land her in jail, for accessory to Boko Haram operations.
Indeed, the revelation that Falmata, the Boko Haram leader’s mother was alive , may have leaked out to the Voice of Americ ana, VOA, Housa service, Correspondent , in the north who reached out to the Head office in Washington DC, thhe United states on the need to trackMama Shekau for an interview about her son’s involvement in Boko Haram activities.
Given the information available to the VOA, Editors, the moved into action to track Falmata, at Shekau village in Yobe state. Their effort was said to have yielded fruit as they met the old woman in her house in a very painful mood. According to the VOA, Journalists, it was a very rigorous journey traveling to Shekau village, in Yobe state because ”driving from Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, to the Community, the” roads get narrower as the towns get smaller”.
The Housa service VOA reporter in the team disclosed that” along the road lie bullet ridden buildings and military security checkpoints as Vigilante groups patrol the city gates, showing signs of a region where people struggle to protect themselves”.
Mama Shekau may have prepared for the VOA team of interviewers in advance , going by the informations she volunteered during the interviews session. For a start, she An angry Falmata Shekau, was said to have told the VOA, team that she had not seen Abubakar, as she fondly him for the past 15 , years, meaning that the Almajiri turned terrorist could have left the village between 2001 and 2003 to Maiduguri to meet other Islamic scholars. It is not surprising while Mama Shekau said she could not really place his character for now , noting that what the behaviour he was exhibiting in public was not what she had brought him up with as a child. An aggrieved Falmata averred that the government could have avoided the calamity that had befell the nation since 2009, if it had taken proactive action against the insurgents.
According to her, if past and present governments had taken the education of the Almajiris serious, the crisis could have been nipped in the bud before it get out of hand, noting that Shekau, grew up from the ranks of the Almajiri in Maiduguri. She insists that if the government had been alive to its social responsibilities , Shekau, his son, turned terrorists, could not have had any opportunity of coming in contact with Mohammed Yusuf, the late founder of Boko Haram , who condemned Western Education, describing it as” sinful” to brainwash him and for him to believe what he had said and to defend it.
She disclosed that the ”resources of this country can afford free education for children of school age both at Conventional and Skill acquisition / vocational training centers,” across the country .
She was sending a signal to the government that if it cannot develop the talent of many gifted children roaming the streets to beg for food and alms, for the benefit of the society, the devil will take over their lives and the result is what the country is experiencing today, particular in the north.
Former President Jonathan must have known the dangers of the almajiris who are roaming the streets of major cities and towns in the north to beg for food breaking loose and its implication to the society took a courageous decision to build Almajiri integrated model schools in the region.
The Jonathan Administration was said to have built 165 model Almajiri integrated schools in the region alone. The United Nations Children Emergency Funds, UNICEF, had said that there were over 10 million children of school age , out of school in Nigeria noting that about 80 percent of these population of children, came from the north, particular, the north eastern states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe.
It is not surprising why Jonathan had justified the building of the integrated model schools in the region to the value attached to education and the noticeable ugly situation of limiting the opportunities of the Almajiris which is negatively by affecting their intellectual development.
The good news about the integrated model schools was that it combined both” western and Islamic education in its curricula”. The Almajiri models which are mainly for poor children in the north, according to sources are still being under-utilised. The Magazine learnt that weed had taken over some of the schools in some of the villages in the north east geo-political region, as most of the Almajiris were still found on the streets in search of food to eat and money for their Islamic teachers that sent them out.
Many believe that it would have been a different ball game if Presient Muhammadu Buhari, has sustained the tempo set by former President Jonathan in educating the Almajiris by ensuring that the Almajiris are registered in these schools by initiating policies that would make it a punishable offence for any child of school age being pushed out to the street to seek for means of survival in the name of religion instead of being school. This is where the governors have to come in the north to save the situation from getting worse as more Almajiris find their way to join BokoHaram in the bush in the north east geo-political region. This is because there are still many Shekaus among these neglected Children by the society begging to be helped before they fall into the hand of these Islamic extremists terrorising Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states and the occasional attacks in Kano, the original operational base of the Boko Haram insurgents, a security analysts had said.
The attack on schools by the insurgents , particular in Borno and Yobe states speaks volume. Falmata confirmed that the attack on schools is at the heart of Boko Haram,’s’ manifesto. because of the teaching they have receive from their teachers in the Quranic schools. The UNICEF, in its reports disclosed that the terrorist group had so far attacked over 100 schools in the three flash point states in the north east, thus forcing many out of school. The first secondary school in the north east was said to have been invaded beetween 2013 and 2014 between 2010 and 2013 where they killed both the Principal and the Secretary of the school.
The successful attack of the school may have opened the floodgate for the invasion of other schools and kidnapping students. Take for instance, in 2014, the group was said to have killed 59 students at a Federal school, Buni Yadi, Yobe state.
The school expansive campus, Falmata had said, was as a sad reminder of” one of the bloodiest school attacks in the north east”. It would be recalled that last February, the group the BokoHaram insurgents, in a very controversial circumstances kidnapped more than 100 students from a girls secondary in Dapchi, Yobe state. The insurgents, had returned the students but are still holding on to one Leah Sharibu, who had refused to to join the Islamic religion against her Christian faith.
The emergence of armed herdsmen is anothersad commentary of the activities of the Almajiris in the north, political analysts had revealed. The armed herdsmen are wrecking havoc in the north Central states of Plateau, Benue , Nasarawa,and Niger including the north eastern state of Taraba, Theophilius Danjuma, a retired Lt. General and former Chief of Army Staff, and minister of Defense home state.
Bello Sani, who shuttles between Lagos and the north says ” mass burial , has become a common sites in Benue and Taraba states, as a result of the activities of the armed herdsmen, described as” above the law in unofficial circles as they go about with their AK.47, freely in the bush in the pretext of protecting their Cows from intruders but actually terrorising people found in their farms, without police interruption.
Only recently, the armed herdsmen were said to have attacked passengers , along the Benin-Ore road. A Youth Corper who to witnessed the robbery operation was said to have reached out to the police but no luck as the inspector General of Police, IGP, Ibrahim Idris boys, were said to have arrived the scene when the herdsmen turned robbers had left. This is where Idris, IGP, may have to step up the security of Nigeria major highways to protect travelers from these armed herdsmen turned thieves and kidnapper before the situation degenerates.