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Fighting Insurgencies, Fascists and Resistant Movements

Prof. R. A. Ipinyomi

By Prof R.A. Ipinyomi, University of Ilorin, Nigeria

A resistant movement by definition consists of a group of people wishing to enforce a change in the society. It is usually an organized effort by some portion of the civil population of a country to resist the legally established government and to disrupt civil order and stability. It may seek to achieve its objects through either the use of nonviolence resistance or civil resistance such as incessant strikes or the use of armed force as we are witnessing from Boko Haram. Such a resistant movement usually defines its parameters and known to the public. The fact that force is used rather than dialogue and the fact that the force used may create mass destruction beyond their initial demands gives the impression that an average resistant movement is fascist or anti-government. For example, during the apartheid regime in South Africa the African National Congress (ANC) was a mere resistant movement but it is now the ruling political party in South Africa.

Women react during a protest demanding security forces to search harder for 200 abducted schoolgirls, outside Nigeria's parliament in AbujaCurrently we cannot classify Boko Haram as a resistant movement because it has only come to destroy, steal women and food, kill as many as fall on their undefined targets, bringing sorrows to families and creating fears and panics in the minds of people everywhere they are noticed. Its publicized goal is to ban western civilization whereas they depend entirely on the same western technology to run their organization and to perpetrate all the evils. The differences between terrorism and insurgency emanating from a resistant movement are poles apart. Boko Haram has a name that makes it to resemble a resistant movement but the outcomes of their actions classify them as terrorists. A resistant movement is a matured organization where many could identify with publicly. The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, even though currently under ban in Egypt, is a resistant movement.

Our description above is perhaps very weak and non-encompassing enough. Other definitions of resistance movement in the literature are rather controversial. For example, according to the United States Department of Defence a resistance movement is “An organized effort by some portion of the civil population of a country to resist the legally established government or an occupying power and to disrupt civil order and stability“. A resistant movement is often more than just resisting the policies of a sitting government or occupying power and they accomplish their objectives through violent means. A resistance movement is specifically limited to changing the nature of current power, not to overthrow it. The use of force and military term for removing or overthrowing a government is an insurgency. However, in reality many resistance movements have aimed to displace a particular ruler, especially if they consider that ruler to have gained or retained power illegally.

Of particular interest to us is the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria and which may actually have its roots outside the borders of Nigeria. It would be necessary to know the roots of Boko Haram into Nigeria, its demands, its weapon of war and sympathizers. This would suggest the type of weapons and strategies Nigeria needs to put together against them. Fighting an insurgent can be a task in the long term beyond the tenures of two or more regimes or indeed a life time war. Nigeria has missed the opportunity to have prevented the menace of Boko Haram at its appearing before it has grown this big where it is able to capture and keep over 200 captives going to three months. We read in the internet that Boko Haram has outlets to distribute its captives to buyers and members of its organization in need of sex partners. This is a dangerous dimension in the fight against terrorism and for a group taking inspiration from religion.

We are already suspecting that Boko Haram may have links with other international bodies of the same school of thoughts such as Al-Qaida, the groups operating in East Africa, and other Islamic sect freedom fighters around the world. A freedom fighter is another term for those engaged in a struggle to achieve a result for themselves or for others. In Nigeria context a freedom fighter would include anyone who fights for the agenda of Boko Haram in any form especially by providing ammunitions for them, food, and accommodation, pieces of advice or concealing information from state officials. We cannot restrict membership of Boko Haram to only those that are actively involved in an armed rebellion in Sambisa forest and other places; rather we must include all their sympathizers and those who campaign for them on the basis of their claim to be an Islamic sect. If we win the fight in the forest we must also win the same fight on our streets and in our minds. Every true adherent to Islam must be carried along in the fight because they have a stake in the victory and in the society. In general Boko Haram must be seen as a set of people who are using physical force in order to cause a change in the political and or social order. Unfortunately they fail to define their weapons of war and the targets they wish to hit. Meanwhile our primary concern is that innocent Nigerians, church worshipers, school children, travelers and people going for their normal daily bread are their cheap targets. This is making their course evil and unacceptable in the class of resistant movements. We wish they had remained disciplined as a resistant movement only and not to have entered the realm of terrorists.

The Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) calling for foreign assistance to solve all the complex equations written by Boko Haram without accompanying software has been receiving both acceptance and disapproval responses, depending on who is responding. We say categorically here that Nigeria has one of the best trained Police Force and Armed Forces worldwide. They know their job and they know what it takes to do the job. However every Nigerian in whatever profession has layers and multiple levels of allegiances. Some Nigerians believe that they are first Ijaw before they are Nigerians or Egba before they are Yoruba, or still that they are Muslims before they are Hausa, and so on. Hence Nigerians have ethnicity, regional or religious allegiances operating in our blood daily. The central national allegiance is weak or hardly existing. Therefore when a culprit is arrested the first thought is to assist the culprit according to the level of allegiance. This may have created alibi and sympathizers for Boko Haram culprits to the detriment of national duties.

Nigerian politicians are our first set of problems when it involves fighting the state enemies. They need to be able to distinguish between the state enemies and the enemies of their opponents; they need to know what would advance their campaign and what would only give them perhaps only a cheap victory that may end up in their ruin. Activists that are not in PDP (PDP has activists too) must fine tune their activities to win the hearts and minds of suffering Nigerians who need some words of consolation at this time. Governments’ promises have failed to materialized somewhat and activists’ alternative actions and suggestions should complement. Our expectation is that politicians would mature quickly to building the stable and viable two-party system we quest and stop shifting here and there every moment there is a small problem in one camp. A politician may never win an election in his life time but he or she should have a well defined purpose and mission all his life, including building our society in a robust way.

Similarly Boko Haram’s claim to be an Islamic sect must not be seen as a dividing factor or even a source of religious disharmony. In Christianity we have our differences which are big enough to create wars as we had between Roman Catholic and the Protestant Church in the early centuries leading to much martyrdom. In recent time (1970s and 1980s) some Christian sects here in Nigeria advocated that we should throw away anything viewed as articles of sin such as television sets, wearing of ear rings by women, wearing of trousers also by women and the like. The fight was contained within the Christian communities in Nigeria where the problem originated and probably at that time many Muslim students would have heard of those movements on campus. Today many of those sects are owners of television stations where they preach 24/7. We fought the war quietly just as our Muslim friends are supposed to fight their own wars too without letting out to the general public. Islamic leadership should be active to prevent the emergency of sects like Al-Qaida, Boko Haram or others through enforcing the true teaching as contained in the Holy Quran and administration of the Islamic faith. There may be no Pope or Archbishop but the Custodian of the two holy Mosques should not be a title without duty to enhance our common good. Days of religious misunderstanding, ignorance and self interests should have been over. Whatever good that you can offer a neighbor should be done heartily.

A government of the day has the major task either to forestall incessant strikes and civil resistance or a Boko Haram insurgency by acting promptly and decisively. Inaction, or inappropriate action, or any compromise by government can only result into more resistance from a movement that is determined to enforce its perceived change. Government’s defense is still to operate an open government policy, inclusive governance and rational appointments all the times and without shying away from its readiness to use full force as necessary. Any resistant movement must not be promised immunity from the wrath of the law of the land at anytime and this is why many resistant movements are nonviolent and law abiding. Fighting insurgencies and fascists of any class in a pluralistic society like Nigeria requires all the determination of government in order to remain focused and win the war that is otherwise capable to destroy the nation; whereas a resistant movement like Boko Haram has no positive interests of its people it claims it has come to liberate. How President Jonathan of Nigeria is able to maneuver through strikes by ASUU, ASUUP or other groups and overcome Boko Haram, and reduce youth unemployment in the land will go a long way to campaign for him in 2015. On the other hand no opposition party may take any comfort that the enemy of a state seems to have won a battle over a government or even the state because a defeat by any external aggressor is a defeat on every citizen in the State. Hence collectively we must fight all insurgencies, fascists and any negative resistant movements against our respective nations until we destroy them.

Prof. R.A. Ipinyomi,

ipinyomira@yahoo.co.uk or/and raipinyomi@unilorin.edu.ng


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