El-Rufai, Boko Haram apologist, political opportunist or verbal contortionist? Your call!

By

Noel A. Ihebuzor

I visited my archives and found a rejoinder I wrote to this article by Malam Nasir El-Rufai. It is still worth reading for two reasons. The first is the persisting BH scourge which has been marked lately by the increasing savagery, mindlessness and bestiality of their attacks. The kidnapping of innocent schools in Chibok and the earlier slaughter of school children outside their dormitory represent the high point of this campaign of sadistic and mindless savagery. The second reason to read the article again is related to recent attempts to firm up, embellish and market a four variants model of Boko Haram by Mr El-Rufai. How solid is the evidence for such a model? How good is a model building that picks, chooses and stretches evidence at the whims of convenience? What levels in frequency of occurrence justify inferences and conclusions on which such a bold four variant models is built?  Such questions are worth asking as the country struggles to separate fact from fiction and facts from faction-driven twists and distortions. Model building is a serious business and is different from an exercise embarked upon out of spite and bitterness and in a style characterized by malicious flippancy. In its present form, Mr El-Rufai’s four variants model is not very persuasive. Its intentions are not to clarify issues but to obfuscate and to divert attention and public wrath from the sponsors and apologists of BH. The reader will recall that Malam El-Rufai had in the recent past, with plenty of characteristic indecent haste, given great publicity to an interview granted by Dr. Davis which had suggested, by implication, that Gen Ihejirika was a BH sponsor. Gen Ihejirika has since replied and the reader is advised to read all three sources – the Davis interview, the El-Rufai uncritical publicity blitz of the same and the General’s Response and make up his/her mind as to where truth, sanity and decency lie.

Click here for the El-Rufai article – and read my rejoinder below. At the end, ask yourself this question, in consideration of the said article, my rejoinder and recent outbursts by Malam El-Rufai whether we are dealing with a BH apologist, a political opportunist, a verbal contortionist or simply with a man in acute need of help.

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This is a very revealing write-up. Though well researched, the findings of the research are selectively used and herein lies its major flaw. Malam El-Rufai may not want to be seen as apologist and spokesperson for the BH but this is the impression that stays with one as one goes through much of this article. Let me illustrate with one or two examples.

I will be drawing excerpts liberally from the write up by Mr Nasir El-Rufai (NER for short in the rest of this comment) as I make my long comment, with advance apologies to NER for any plagiarism.

NER describes BH as peaceful in origin. But read below –

“In April 2007, Sheikh Jaafar was murdered in cold blood while praying in his mosque in Kano by assailants that years later turned out to be suspected members of a sect to be known as Boko Haram, operating out of Bauchi State”.

Can such a group be correctly described as “largely peaceful”. Largely peaceful should be made of more peace conducing acts!

NER affirms “Many in the North see the patent inaction of the authorities as the advancement of a sinister agenda to destroy an already near prostate northern economy through occupation, militarization and disruption of socio-economic activities. The federal government has done nothing to deny these or indicate otherwise, and the state governments have acquiesced to the cavalier attitude of the Villa.”

This is mischievous, inaccurate, unhelpful and is deliberately crafted to further incite a section of the country against the rest. NER knows that action has been engaged and is on-going yet NER finds it convenient and expedient to the advancement of the agenda he defends to deny these.

NER also tries to distinguish between what he calls variants of BH – “Many of us believe that there are at least four variants of Boko Haram – the real BH and three other fakes – sponsored by the government, politicians and criminal groups – that use the brand to advance their own self-centered agendas”. Questions for NER – who is this “Many of us” and where is the evidence base for this belief? Unless substantiated, such sweeping statements are simply exercises in sensationalism and are very unhelpful.

NER says nothing in this write up of the consistent targeting of symbols or institutions of Christianity by the BH. This is a deliberate omission that weakens the credibility of his analysis of the causes of the BH terrorism. Rather, NER is at pains to point out greater northern and Muslim casualties as a result of BH terrorism. Here, he creates the unfortunate impression that his primary concern is with the lives of northerners and Muslims, a focus which I believe betrays a mind-set we should all condemn. One also notices with great concern the very subtle manner NER tries to elevate BH terrorism to the level of an insurgency challenge.

NER appears to know what does not motivate BH and can thus advise those thinking of an amnesty type program to go back to the drawing board! To what does NER owe this knowledge?  Yet NER recommends dialogue and “honest discussions” between government and BH, and with that the implicit that either that there have not been such dialogues or that discussions that have taken place so far have not been honest!

NER’s section where he mentions the Maitatsine is particularly worrying since it could be read to mean that persisting difficulties with unearthing BH in the north could reflect surrounding community acceptance and admiration of this group. If this is true, then there is indeed great cause for worry. If it is not then NER’s “the current situation in Kano and Borno States is one in which the military occupiers are killing more innocent people than Boko Haram, which injustice is creating resentment against the Army” should be read as unfortunate attempt at creating resentment against law enforcement agencies carrying out a difficult national assignment against a terrorist group that vanishes into and blends with the crowd.

NER’s last paragraph reads like a recommendation and endorsement of terror tactics and he achieves this through very crafty paragraph editing. The paragraph commences with an argument that military solutions alone against terrorists do not work, and then shifts to a case for government to act to stop the loss of lives and to deliver a country that works for all. He then ends by urging government to bend over backwards to make this happen. Implicit in all of this is that things are not working well for portions of the country who are now up in arms. This way, NER hopes to reposition and brand the BH terror campaign as a crusade for social justice and not as a manifestation of religious fanaticism, extremism and intolerance which has now been tapped into by a bigoted political elite. And by the way, is the implied threat in NER’s last sentence really necessary?

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