The Emir of Kano Muhammad Sanusi II (pictured) recently spoke with the BBC’s Mansur Liman about what needs to be done to stamp out Boko Haram. Opting for a more comprehensive approach to handling the terrorist group, the Emir explained that when people feel economically and politically abandoned, they are more likely to join these destructive groups.
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Speaking on religion, the Emir said that one of the first issues that must be acknowledged is that groups, such as Boko Haram, are not following Islam, “The first thing we need to understand is going back to our Islamic roots. A lot of what we see as problems comes from leaving our teachings of our religion.”
Using girls’ education as an example, one of Nigeria’s former top bankers says that the argument that girls should not go to school or should be married as children isn’t consistent with the Koran. “Some of the issues of early girl child marriage, taking girls from schools and marrying them off in the name of Islam, is actually a cultural practice that is not consistent with the teachings of the religion.”
Boko Haram have come to kill and terrorize both Muslims and Christians alike this year, even killing the Emir of Gwoza, Alhaji Idriss Shehu Timta, in May, and then kidnapping his son and replacement Alhaji Mohammed Idrissa Timta in August.
The homegrown terrorists have taken over at least nine towns, killing thousands and displacing even more.
Still, the Emir contends that the grave challenge Boko Haram represents cannot be handled just by stamping them out. In fact, he says that the socio-economic problems that created the group in the first place must be properly addressed.
“The federal government has to understand that the economic conditions in the North and the level of poverty and marginalization are likely to be fertile ground for breeding extreme ideologies.
“And it happened in the Niger Delta, with the Niger Delta militancy. It happens everywhere, when people feel economically excluded or politically disempowered, then there is grounds for resentment, and people come up with all sorts of lunatic ideas.
“While it is important that we handle this thing from a military perspective and make sure that the military advances and the insurgents are stopped and crushed, there has to be a proper marshal plan. There is no investment in irrigation [in Nigeria], there is no investment in agriculture productivity, there is little focus on Western education and a general quality of life and employment generation.”
“….As long as people are gainfully employed, they are not likely to jump on the bandwagon of insurgency.”
Watch the Emir of Kano speak on Islam, girls’ education, and Boko Haram here: