ON JANUARY 1 1914 British colonial rule merged three regions, namely the Northern Protectorate, the Southern Protectorate and the colony of Lagos into one administration called Nigeria. Thus 2014 marks the 100th anniversary of that merger under British colonial rule and also marks the 54th year anniversary of independence from British colonial rule, obtained in 1960.
Nigeria, which derives its name from the Niger River, has currently more than 170 million people. Nigeria is a federal state with a strong central government and weak federal states.
In the south is the coast – the Gulf of Guinea – in the east is Cameroon and north-east is Chad, in the north is Niger and in the west is Benin.
The Northern Protectorate was Muslim and the north of Nigeria is still Muslim-orientated. The Southern Protectorate was Christian and the south of Nigeria is still Christian orientated.
It is reported that the Northern Protectorate was poor while the Southern Protectorate was well off.
In Nigeria’s 54 years of independence since 1960, 29 years of it was under military rule arising from revolts in two periods. The military have been in power from 1966 to 1979 (13 years), just six years after independence, and also from 1983 to 1999 (16 years).
Regular elections started from 1999. During 1967 to 1970 there was a bloody civil war when Biafra wanted to secede from Nigeria to form a separate independent state.
Boko Haram, which means “western education is a sin”, clamours for sharia law and an Islamist state for the whole of Nigeria. It is reportedly based along the borders north-east of Cameroon, Chad and Niger, and has some “liberated zones” in the north of Nigeria.
Since the inception of its campaign in 2009 more than 4000 people have been killed.
The brazen abduction of 276 school girls and the inglorious reason of punishing them for getting an education, instead of getting married, has wondrously unified the world in its condemnation of both Boko Haram and its actions. The despicable deed, however, is a symptom of the deadly disease of terror, widely and wantonly waged, for unmandated, unconstitutional attempts to impose a different system of rule.
Boko Haram’s quest is questionable in that:
It is purportedly clamouring for an Islamist state with Islamic (sharia) law for the whole of Nigeria instead of, at least, for the north or the former Northern Protectorate;
It is doing so only from 2009, almost close to 100 years after the merger of Nigeria in 1914 and it never arose during the golden opportunity of undemocratic military rule of 29 years between 1960 and 1999;
It has no demonstrable majority support for its cause and action in Nigeria. Islamic law frowns upon the kidnapping, forced marriage or selling of girls, and the shameless utterances and taunting demeanour subsequently made by the Boko Haram leader;
Islamic law, in particular, and the African Union’s Constitutive Act also frown upon unconstitutional change of governments and acts of terror, especially when it is carried out against women and children.
It is disturbing that a great nation like Nigeria seems unable to exercise effective control within and along its borders, and is unable to contain Boko Haram when (Nigerian rule) is not hamstrung by legitimacy concerns at present.
It is also deeply disturbing that Africa again, today, is cancerously consumed in clashes of differences like religious (faith) conflicts, for instance in Mali, Central African Republic and Nigeria, and ethnic conflicts, for instance in South Sudan, which have become security albatrosses around the neck of a democratised and progressive Africa. Africa must weed these out now or weep forever.
Mpumelelo “Bond” Nyoka, Port Elizabeth