Many #BokoHaram Members “Have Never Read the Koran”


Great video featuring Dr Fatima Akilu, a psychologist, and the Director of Behavioural Analysis and Strategic Communication in the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA). Dr Akilu used to work as a psychologist for the UK’s National Health Service until she was hired by Nigeria’s National Security Adviser to assist in Nigeria’s battle with Boko Haram. Her role is to complement the military battle with Boko Haram with ‘soft power’ approaches aimed at socio-psychological approaches to countering Boko Haram.

Dr Akilu spoke in Washington DC, USA, at the Center For Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). In this video she made some eye raising revelations such as:

  • many Boko Haram members do not read, and have never read, the Koran. Their knowledge of orthodox Islam is poor.
  • contrary to popular belief, most Boko Haram members do not join the group due to poverty. Rather the group offers youths a sense of belonging and Boko Haram takes advantage of youths’ desire for belonging, and transition into adulthood to recruit.
  • Dr Akilu’s department focuses on a programme called Countering Violent Extremism (CVE). CVE has four elements: (1) de-radicalisation (de-radicalising Boko Haram members in prison or those exposed to their doctrine), (2) counter-radicalisation (preventing people from being radicalised to begin with, identifying at risk youths and and pre-empting them from being recruited by Boko Haram – at ‘centers of imagination’), (3) strategic communication (countering and challenging Boko Haram’s narrative, rendering alternate non-violent interpretations of the Koran), and (3) a framework for psychology.
  • Dr Akilu’s looked at battles against terrorism and insurgency in other countries such as Algeria, Australia, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, UK, USA, and spent a year researching other countries’ approaches to terrorism elsewhere.
  • Not all Boko Haram members are uneducated. Some have degrees and PhDs.
  • Many Boko Haram members have poor knowledge of the Koran and have never read it.
  • Boko Haram tends to oppose western secular education, music, and arts – areas that encourage critical thinking in young people. The obvious subtext is that exposure to such subjects makes people more resistant to Boko Haram’s message.

Start watching from around 50 minutes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0tLRRJQV4wQ

President Buhari of #Nigeria Speaks at U.S. Institute for Peace


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qRQUjPxIl8Q

What Really Happend to Abacha and Abiola?


Originally posted on Max Siollun's Website:

The Death of MKO Abiola: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02w68yg

The Death of General Abacha: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02vyxqq

How quickly we forget. Almost exactly 17 years ago, the political situation was as follows:

  • Nigeria was being ruled by a ruthless and reclusive military dictator called General Sani Abacha.
  • General Olusegun Obasanjo was in prison, along with over 50 other army officers were in jail (some awaiting execution) on charges of coup plotting.
  • Nigeria had become a pariah nation after being expelled from the Commonwealth for executing Ken Saro-Wiwa and other activists who were campaigning for a fairer share of Nigerian oil revenues and against the environmental damage caused to their lands by the drilling and spills of big oil companies.
  • Lt-General Oladipo Diya, Major-Generals Abdulkareem Adisa and Tajudeen Olanrewaju, and several other officers were on death row awaiting execution for their role in another coup plot.
  • The winner of the acclaimed June 12 1993 election Chief…

View original 509 more words

What Really Happend to Abacha and Abiola?


The Death of MKO Abiola: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02w68yg

The Death of General Abacha: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02vyxqq

How quickly we forget. Almost exactly 17 years ago, the political situation was as follows:

  • Nigeria was being ruled by a ruthless and reclusive military dictator called General Sani Abacha.
  • General Olusegun Obasanjo was in prison, along with over 50 other army officers were in jail (some awaiting execution) on charges of coup plotting.
  • Nigeria had become a pariah nation after being expelled from the Commonwealth for executing Ken Saro-Wiwa and other activists who were campaigning for a fairer share of Nigerian oil revenues and against the environmental damage caused to their lands by the drilling and spills of big oil companies.
  • Lt-General Oladipo Diya, Major-Generals Abdulkareem Adisa and Tajudeen Olanrewaju, and several other officers were on death row awaiting execution for their role in another coup plot.
  • The winner of the acclaimed June 12 1993 election Chief MKO Abiola had been in jail for 4 years, kept incommunicado from the outside world.
  • General Abacha was on the verge of transforming himself from a military ruler to civilian President having strong armed all the 5 political parties (“five fingers of the same leprous hand”) into adopting him as their presidential candidate.
  • Genuine democracy seemed far, far away.

abacha3.jpg

Plus a lot of the “pro democracy” activists shamelessly abandoned Abiola to join Abacha (Olu Onagoruwa, Baba Gana Kingibe). Even ministers in Abacha’s regime were not safe. The Guardian Newspapers (owned by Abacha’s minister Ibru) was proscribed by a newspaper proscription Decree and shut down after it criticised the government. It was the paper’s continual criticism of Abacha’s regime that led to the near fatal assassination attempt on Ibru.

The Abacha -v- Abiola power struggle was holding the entire country hostage (Abacha’s desire to remain in power and Abiola’s unrealised mandate). Even if Abacha was removed, what would the country do about Abiola who won a credible election five years earlier?

Then the following cataclysmic events happened in the space of 30 days:

  • On June 8 1998 Abacha dies of a heart attack and is hurriedly buried without an autopsy by the time the news filters through to most Nigerians. Nigerians publicly celebrate the death of a reviled leader with wild jubilation. General Abdulsalam Abubakar quickly replaces Abacha and announces that Abiola will be released but that he had to realise that his mandate had expired. A lot of chicanery was used to get Abiola to renounce but he refused. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan is sent to talk to him and explain that his “term of office” had expired since 5 years had passed since the June 12 1993 election. All to no avail.
  • Exactly one month after the death of Abacha, Abiola suddenly dies of a heart attack on July 7 1998.
  • With Abacha, Abiola and the June 12 issue out of the way, General Abubakar announces a swift 10 month programme for a return to civilian democratic rule. Just 10 months after Nigeria seemed doomed to perpetual military rule under General Abacha, the military steps down and a new democratic government is elected under President Obasanjo.
  • The speed with which Abacha’s infrastructure was dismantled just seemed too contrived. With Abacha alive and Abiola incarcerated, most people thought democracy was years away in Nigeria. Just 10 months after his death everything he did was undone: his killer squad was dismantled, coup convicts and pro democracy activists released, Nigeria back in the Commonwealth, democracy restored, and the army back in the barracks. Note that a lot of Abacha’s supporters survived in office and resurfaced in subsequent dispensations (Sarki Mukhtar – NSA, Jerry Gana etc).

Somehow exactly 30 days apart, both men die of heart attacks. Abacha is prevented from becoming a civilian ruler, from executing the condemned men like Diya, Adisa and Olanrewaju, and a recalcitrant Abiola (who refuses to renounce his mandate) also dies. Problem gone, debate over, fresh start. All rather convenient isn’t it?…. How easily we forget….

“The Day the Biafran War Came to My Village”


http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01rj50x

“It was the first time I saw my dad scared”

Professor Attahiru Jega: “Positive Things Will be Said About Jonathan’s Government”


The outgoing Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman Professor Attehiru Jega was recently a guest of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington DC. During a talk attended by Jega’s INEC Commissioners and Nigeria’s Ambassador to the United States of America Ambassador Adebowale Ibidapo Adefuye, Jega gave a very eye opening talk about Nigeria’s election landscape and the recently concluded 2015 elections.

Electoral Laws

Jega said that Nigeria’s electoral laws caused operational problems for INEC. If a presidential election is inconclusive with no clear winner, the Nigerian constitution requires a second run-off election to take place within 7 days of the original election. Prior to the election INEC had recommended that this provision of the constitution should be amended. In other countries the average time to prepare for a run-off is 6 weeks. Jega described the possibility of organizing a run off election in 7 days as “impossible”. A run-off could have caused “a constitutional crisis”. He said he prayed the election would not go to a run off!

INEC did what it could to prepare for the eventuality of a run-off; printing extra ballot papers just in case. Because of fear of being challenged in court, INEC printed extra run-off ballot papers for all parties (even though the law requires that the run-off should take place between only the two top parties).

INEC Key Steps

Giving semblance of impartiality.

Planning

Learning

Building key partnerships

The permanent voter cards (PVCs) that voters used to vote were made in China.

INEC met quarterly with party chairmen and representatives. Meetings became monthly in the run up to the election.

President Goodluck Jonathan’s Government

Jega said that “Time will come when positive things will be said about Jonathan’s government” – in terms of allowing INEC to be independent. Jega said none of the electoral malpractice or attempts to affect INEC’s independence could be attributed to Jonathan or the government in particular.

Election Postponement

The postponement of the presidential election from February to April allowed INEC more time to train more staff and allowed more people to collect their PVCs and vote. As at February 28, tens of millions of PVCs had not been collected.

In February INEC and Jega were invited to the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) Lt-Colonel Sambo Dasuki for a meeting. The meeting was also attended by the military service chiefs Air Chief Marshal Alex Sabundu Badeh (Chief of Defence Staff), Lt-General Kenneth Tobiah Minimah (Chief of Army Staff),  Air Marshall Adesola Amosu (Chief of Air Staff), Vice-Admiral Usman Jibrin (Chief of Naval Staff),  and the Inspector-General of Police Solomon Arase.

INEC were told that there were compelling reasons to postpone the election. The security chiefs told INEC there was “a window of opportunity” to fight Boko Haram and that their energies would be focused on that fight around the time the election was scheduled. They said that for the first time Nigeria’s neighbors Chad, Cameroon, and Niger were pressing Nigeria to join a Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF); whereas in the past it was Nigeria that was pressing them to join a military coalition, and they foot dragged.The security officers said that joint action against Boko Haram would rob it of the ability to flee for respite to Nigeria’s neighbours. The security chiefs said that the time was opportune because the military had just taken delivery of military weaponry they had ordered before. In conclusion the armed forces could not provide their customary level of security support for this election.

INEC were taken by surprise. Their position was that they were ready for the elections to go ahead as scheduled. INEC asked the service chiefs to undertake consultations and build consensus for their recommendations.

The following day the NSA Dasuki went to Chatham House and recommended a six-week postponement of the election; without consulting INEC. https://maxsiollun.wordpress.com/2015/01/26/nigeria-national-security-adviser-not-very-optimistic-about-chibok-girls/ In the words of Jega “we were shocked” by Dasuki’s speech and candor at Chatham House. Although Dasuki’s Chatham House speech took INEC by surprise, INEC could not publicly contradict the NSA.

The following week Jega and INEC were summoned to a National Council of States (NCS) meeting (also attended by the service chiefs) at which Jega briefed the NCS and told them about the situation (INEC was ready to go ahead with the election as scheduled, but had received security advice to the contrary). Jega also received a letter from the NSA Dasuki (signed by the Chief of Defence Staff Badeh) reiterating the earlier security advice given to INEC. The service chiefs and the NSA reiterated to the NCS that they could not provide security guarantees for the election.

The decision on whether to postpone was deferred to INEC since it was INEC that had the legal mandate to schedule the election. Jega said the discussion at the NCS “took a partisan divide” (with some parties for and against postponement depending on their assessment of whether or not it would benefit them).

INEC called a meeting of its commissioners. Jega considered the safety of its electoral staff and said he “would not put the lives of over 750,000 election workers at risk” by ignoring the security advice. INEC did not want to be blamed for bloodshed if it ignored the security advice and lives were lost. Postponement also offered INEC a silver lining by allowing more people to collect their PVCs and vote, giving them more preparation time, and offered the potential for a genuine and peaceful elections to take place in Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe States which had been wracked by the Boko Haram insurgency and which were so insecure that it was difficult to envisage how elections could take place in those states.

As at February, INEC had produced 68.95 million out of 69 million PVCs that were supposed to be produced. 67% of people had collected their PVCs. By the time the election took place 56 million PVCs had been collected out of a total of 69 million PVCs (81% of PVCs were collected).

Rivers State

INEC received petition to cancel Rivers State election results on the grounds that fake result sheets were being distributed and that no elections took place at all in certain polling units. Jega said these claims “were spurious”. INEC sent a three man team of its national commissioners to Rivers State to investigate. The commissioners were there for 12 hours and refuted the petition’s allegations.

Orubebe

The “Orubebe incident was unfortunate”. Jega said he has no evidence of further conspiracy regarding Orubebe’s outburst. http://uk.reuters.com/article/2015/04/16/uk-nigeria-election-exclusive-idUKKBN0N71KO20150416

All Jega said is that he “Hope we learned lessons from that and move on…statesmen should be statesmen…we need more role models”.

Jega said Nigerians should not spend so much time in euphoria of the election success, but should also focus on maintaining standards and preventing regression. Said Nigerians “shouldn’t just sit back and gloat about a wonderful election”.

INEC used NYSC cadets as ad-hoc staff. NYSC and security staff did not get to vote because of their election day duties. Jega said they had tried (after 2011 election) to arrange for ad-hoc staff to vote but INEC did not get around to implementing it. Jega said perhaps essential election staff could vote 1 day or 1 week in advance of the public.

Technology

INEC piloted an electronic results system in 2011 – using the governorship election in Rivers State as its test case. INEC worried that technology failure or manipulation would taint the election. Result technology had failed in Kenya. INEC felt they already had too much on their hands with the introduction of PVCs and biometric readers. He also said that using an electronic counting system required trust in the technology, and faith it would not be manipulated. Jega said that level of trust does not yet exist in Nigeria’s political system, and that the possibility of technology being manipulated or corrupted, led INEC to count results manually.

Jega gave credit to Jonathan’s government for giving INEC approval and money to implement PVCs and electronic card readers.

Readers Share Their Favourite Passages from Soldiers of Fortune


Many readers been posting images of themselves with their copies of my book Soldiers of Fortune. Others also sent in recordings of themselves reading their favourite passages from the book. Here is a selection of photos and readings by Munira Adama and Kingsley Ewetuya. Special thanks to Ewetuya who submitted a photo and audio reading on his wedding day!

https://youtu.be/nToCXds7XcU

Colonels Obasanjo and Effiong at the End of the #Nigeria -v- #Biafra Civil War


https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=990064637684742
Video showing the scenes following the end of the civil war between Biafra and Nigeria: between the respective representatives of the two armies: Colonels Obasanjo and Effiong.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: My Father’s Kidnapping (#Nigeria)


Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie wrote in the New York Times about the kidnap of her 83 year old father in the New York Times:

Full article: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/31/opinion/sunday/chimamanda-ngozi-adichie-my-fathers-kidnapping.html?_r=0

there was my own sad guilt: He was targeted because of me. “Ask your daughter the writer to bring the money,” the kidnappers told him, because to appear in newspapers in Nigeria, to be known, is to be assumed wealthy. The image of my father shut away in the rough darkness of a car boot haunted me. Who had done this? I needed to know.

The Full Story of the War between #Biafra and #Nigeria


This past weekend was the anniversary of the declaration of the republic of Biafra in May 1967. The surviving actors from the war spoke about the war in this excellent video series:

https://www.facebook.com/157457414278806/videos/1835372607783/?type=1&theater

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