By Linus Okechukwu
NSUKKA, Enugu State, Nigeria – In 2002, when Muslim cleric Mohammed Yusuf set up a religious complex, including a mosque and an Islamic school in the northeastern Nigerian city of Maiduguri, Nigerians barely had reasons to fret.
But few years later, everything changed. People became much more concerned because abductions, bombings, assassinations and wanton destruction have become commonplace.
Analysts say that Yusuf’s religious complex was committed to spreading its teachings and recruiting followers, and this was how Boko Haram sprang up.
As time passed, it became obvious that beyond the veneer of using the religious complex for educational purposes, Boko Haram has a political goal – the creation of an Islamic state in Nigeria.
Politicians and statesmen have often been accused of fanning the flames of insurgency for their personal gains.
Security operatives captured Yusuf in July 2009 and he died in custody shortly thereafter. But his demise never led to the termination of the group. Instead it regrouped and re-energised under the leadership of Abubakar Shekau, fondly called ‘imam’ or ‘leader’ by his followers.
|U.S. State Department map|
Under Shekau, the group became more radical and powerful, unleashing a wave of brazen acts of terrorism on the country. Nigerians watched helplessly as attacks on churches, bus stations, military barracks, police and UN headquarters in Abuja were awash in the media landscape.
Boko Haram fighters have deliberately shrouded the names of its sponsors in secrecy.
On Saturday, a twin blast in Maiduguri, the capital city of Borno State in northeastern Nigeria, left more than 15 people dead. Reports on local media blame the attack on a 10-year-old girl on whose body the bomb was strapped.
Nigerians have had enough of these bombings. Some are numb to all the atrocities and hardly commiserate with survivors of the deadly attacks that have become commonplace.
But a few well-intentioned Nigerians refuse to give up. They stand by the people in the north and strive to create enough awareness about the dire situation besetting the victims and their families.
Some 1.5 million people have been affected by the insurgency, the BBC reports.
The abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls in Chibok, Borno State in April 2014 brought the affliction of Nigerians in the north to the limelight. But despite international aid from the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Israel and others, the missing girls are yet to be rescued.
The vast majority of Nigerians are enraged that the federal government finds it difficult to rout the terrorists. There is widespread public dissatisfaction with the military and government for not being as open about the insurgency as many would want.
In the north, an air of trepidation lies even in the very air the people breathe. Many churches have closed down, and worshippers are dwindling as people live in dread of Boko Haram attacks.
With the presidential elections in Nigeria slated for February 14, 2015, what many Nigerians seek is an end to the insurgency and its brazen acts of terrorism.
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