Why Boko Haram, N’Delta militancy persist, by Gaskia
Rights activist, Jaye Gaskia has offered an insight as to the reasons behind the emergence of the Boko Haram Islamist insurgency and the spate of militant activities in the Northeast and South-South geo-political zones of the country.
At an interactive session with a group of foreign journalists led by Peik Johansson who is the programme, coordinator Vikes the Finnish Foundation for Media and Development in Abuja, he identified exclusion , marginalisation, lack of access to basic necessities of life as main reasons behind the emergence of the menace in the polity.
He argued that the problem was further compounded by deep seated illiteracy among able bodied youths and the problems associated with environmental degradation in the geo-political zones respectively.
Gaskia who is the head of the steering committee on Partnership against violent extremism (PAVE) working closely with the office of the national security adviser canvassed a holistic implementation of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) across the entire Niger Delta region.
According to him: “When you look at the insurgency and the militancy in the Niger Delta, often time you can see some commonalities in terms of why the two communities became receptive and in terms of what initially drove those processes. There is the general questions of exclusion, marginalisation, lack of access to basic necessities of life so if you look at the Boko Haram insurgency for example, you look at the epicentre of that insurgency which is the Northeast of the country.
“And when you look at all the indicators for human and social development in the country, that region records the lowest. For instance there are about 37 million out of school children globally, 10.5 million of those children are Nigerian children and seven million of those children are from the north east. So you can understand the relationship between being deprived, being excluded and then the susceptibility to the insurgency when it started and then the reason why the insurgents could also recruit massively because you have so many people who are out of school, and out of jobs, impoverished and that the society considers a burden and so for some of them it was like a way to get back at the society.
“And so that initially played into the hands of those behind the insurgency and so that was why they could massively recruit. Of course there was the issue of bad governance and the way and manner the government of the day responded to the problem determines how communities are also going to respond to you.”
Continuing, he argued: “The Niger Delta case was compounded by the fact of an increasing awareness by first these environmental degradation that led to a situation whereby it became impossible for traditional livelihoods to continue to sustain communities and sustain livelihoods.
“Of course the soil was no longer fertile, they could no longer fish in the rivers and the capacity to engage in agricultural activities was also becoming more limited and then you do that in a context where you have an oil economy which by its very nature is very restrictive because it is an enclave economy, it is capital intensive, it is technological intensive, it is not labour intensive sector.