Nigeria's Boko Haram a holy war? Maybe not entirely
Nigerian Roman Catholic Archbishop John Onaiyekan, on a visit to Kenya, said the Islamist Boko Haram insurgency is as rooted in bad governance as much as in its push for Islamic sharia law.
Nairobi, Kenya; and Kano, Nigeria
But look beneath the surface, says Nigerian Roman Catholic Archbishop John Onaiyekan in a recent visit to Nairobi, and you find that the crisis is “not purely religious.”
In Nigeria’s “winner take all” political culture, the archbishop said, where the country’s political elites from a number of regions, religions, and ethnicities compete for power and the control of oil resources, militant groups serve as a kind of pressuring mechanism for achieving what cannot be achieved in elections, in parliament, or in backroom deals. Far from uplifting the entire populace, oil wealth has remained in the hands of a very powerful few, creating economic and social inequality for those regions – such as the Islamic north and the oil-producing but poor Niger Delta region – who are left out of the power balance.
So when Boko Haram targets Christian churches or Western-model schools, they aren’t doing so out of mere hatred of Christianity or the West. They are doing this for much more basic reasons, to protest the north’s feeling of being excluded from power.
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