By Harry C. Alford
Nigeria has the largest Black population in the world – 178 million. Within that population are 300 differing ethnic and culture groups. Traditionally, colonial powers such as England, would pit various ethnicities against one another to provide confusion and controversy. A confused populace was much easier to exploit and colonize. To call Nigeria confused is an understatement.
The largest group lives in the southwestern part of the nation and is known as the Yoruba. They have a control system managed mainly by monarchs and are successful politically. Another large group is the Igbo, which populates the southern Delta area known for its oil exploration. The third largest group is the Hausa – Fulani, which is basically Muslim and locally run by Emirs.
With the oil industry as its financial base, the Igbo decided in 1967 that they would go it alone and part from the government of Nigeria. Thus, the great Civil War of 1967 was begun. This became one of the bloodiest conflicts known to mankind. The Yoruba cut off the supply lines to Igbo country known as Biafra. At the end of the conflict, 1970, more than 1 million Igbo had died mostly from starvation during this time as the rest of the world ignored it all. The nation has kept in original formation but the tribal chasms remain.
In contrast to the Delta oil region, the northern Chad Lake Basin has discovered viable oil reserves and when the high price of oil returns, you will see an extreme amount of exploration. The Hausa – Fulani control this segment and they have plan of sharing it. Besides, the other major groups, the bordering nations of Chad, Niger and Cameroon, have their ideas about exploiting it. This is the major problem versus peace.
The Hausa – Fulani is becoming more and more Jihadist. The major negative activity is that of the Boko Haram whose mission is to form an Islamic state right over the Chad Lake Basin. They are starting a cleansing process through roving groups of murderers and ethnic cleansing. The Boko Haram is as lethal and as vicious as the ISIS organization in the Middle East.
This group was founded in 2002 by an educated, well-dressed gentleman named Mohamad Yusuf. After his death in 2009, Abubaker Shekau replaced him. In a sharp contrast, the new leader is a “butcher” with dreams of genocide. His funding is mysterious but one can bet it’s coming from the Middle East. With the oil revenue implications, it can also be coming from secretive corporate means or Intel Operandi such as the CIA, European and Middle Eastern counterparts and even the Israeli Mossud.
Boko Haram is growing and is unchecked by the Nigerian Army. This army is inept and corrupt. You don’t know what you get whenever the Army starts to move. There have been more than a few reports of atrocities committed by the Nigerian Army on its own people. Tribal rift and revenge often come into play.
Adding to an unreliable military is the political climate. For the first time in decades, President Goodluck Johnathan’s party is being seriously challenged in the upcoming elections. If the incumbent is defeated, there is a big question: Will he step aside? If not, major chaos throughout the nation will erupt.
At the same time, Boko Haram will reap massacre on the Chad Lake Basin area. That will invite the armies of Chad, Niger and Cameroon to step in and add to the carnage. If this develops into a major, long-term military/revolutionary struggle, I wonder which nation or group of nations can come in and settle the situation. The U.S. military is already strained with the debacles in the Middle East. Our European allies lack the backbone to get serious about a major war.
If there are religious and/or tribal implications, it will be an exhaustive experience. Financing it will be no problem for the “bad guys” and the bad guys could be on all sides of the struggle. No one will win and the world will suffer. The entire African Diaspora will become pre-occupied and current progressive projects will be put on hold.
Our State Department has shown no viable strategy in this above mess. The UN has provided token input or leadership. Right now, the situation reminds us of Iraq just before ISIS came storming through at the shock and dismay of President Obama. What we have is a large swath of land, well populated and about to boil over. The commercial activity of Nigeria may come to a big halt and it will take years and perhaps a few million deaths before some semblance of responsibility and good governance arrives. Is anyone listening?
Harry C. Alford is the co-founder, President/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce. Website: www.nationalbcc.org Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.