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Boko Haram: APC’s Enduring Stigma


By Shola Oyeyipo

The ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) seems to have discovered a potent weapon to dislodge its main rival, the All Progressives Congress (APC) as it has continuously alleged that the activities of the Boko Haram terrorist group have political undertone orchestrated by the APC.

While the PDP has sustained this unconfirmed accusation against the APC, a growing international suspicion that indeed, the opposition party’s hand may not be clean, may also have negative impacts on the party’s reputation, except a conscious move is deployed to dispel the assertion.

The latest blow to the party’s image came last week with castigation by Mr. Alexander Nekrassov, Russian international political commentator and former Senior Advisor to the Kremlin, who tagged the APC and its leadership as “Muslim extremists.” He added that the concern in Russia is that “losing Nigeria to Muslim fundamentalists is simply a no go”. Nekrassov, who is also a Russian military analyst, did a critical editorial opinion, published by Al Jazeera News and in it, revealed that Russia is concerned that Boko Haram insurgency is politically motivated, with the APC identified as the main benefactors.

Though he did not comprehensively state how, he tacitly fingered America as a factor in the problem rocking the African giant. According to him, “the traditional view in the Kremlin on any conflict in different parts of the world, be it social unrest, a popular uprising, an overthrow of government or a rise in terrorist activity, has always come down to one question: What’s in it for the Yanks? Or, if we put it in the language of the statements that have been coming from Moscow in the past several months over Ukraine: What’s in it for our American partners?”

The premise of his argument was that Washington views the whole world as its backyard and pursues its agenda with remarkable determination and ruthlessness, especially when it comes to its economic and financial interests, including energy supply. As in, how this or that country is positioned strategically, whether it has substantial oil and gas and other resources, has important pipelines running through it or lies along major sea routes.

Concerning the Boko Haram menace, he said the question of “What is in it for our American partners?” is yet to provide any real answers for the Kremlin, but contended that the “view there is that had US First Lady Michelle Obama not lent her support to the very high profile “Bring Our Girls Back” hash tag campaign after Boko Haram kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls in the province of Borno, the US, and the West, would have probably remained indifferent to the crisis in Nigeria.”

The analyst underscored certain areas of confusion for the Russians and one of such is that Boko Haram, which is based in Northern Nigeria, is fighting to control part of the country without oil reserves, which to him, buttresses the belief that the problem is more political than religious.

“The interesting angle on the crisis in Nigeria is that it is seen in Moscow as political conflict rather than a religious one, even though the country is equally split between Muslims and Christians. As the thinking in Moscow goes, if it was a classic “religious war”, then Boko Haram would not have been indiscriminate in murdering both Muslims and Christians,” Nekrassov said. As it is with the PDP, he recalled that a prominent APC member, General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), had been accused of inciting a violent uprising after losing the 2011 presidential election.

There is also the economic consideration that Nigeria is the biggest oil producer in all of Africa and a big exporter of oil to the US whereas Russia’s trade at the moment with Nigeria amounts to only around $300m a year, a reason for which he said “the thinking in Moscow is that this situation has to change if Russia is to make a return to Africa.”

To him, the political gain to the incessant attacks by the sect lies in the fact that people are reminded that there is still no trace of the over 200 Chibok schoolgirls, while he is of the opinion that a kidnapping of such magnitude was obviously ordinarily intended to demean the President Jonathan-led government “because selling the girls for around $20 each was not really going to enrich Boko Haram. So this was more of a slap on the face of the government in power that could only benefit the opposition.”

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