Boko Haram Is Winning Propaganda War - by Ocherome Nnanna

Boko Haram is, perhaps, the luckiest insurgent group operating in the world right now. It has at its easy disposal, an array of foot soldiers and avenues for the dissemination of its propaganda; that mind game of war and politics which, when effectively deployed, wears down the enemy before the weapons of military destruction arrive to finish him off.

Though Boko Haram is clearly the most murderous and merciless Islamist group, comparable only to its Al Shabbab confederates in Somalia and East Africa and Islamic State (IS) in Syria and Iraq, it enjoys the unmerited advantage of its friends and foes offering themselves as witting and unwitting agents in its effort to create confusion and fear to facilitate its dream Islamic Caliphate in the Muslim North of Nigeria. Just take a look at these sample scenarios.

An unnamed source in the #Bring Back Our Girls (#BBOG) campaigning for the rescue of the over 200 Chibok school girls still languishing in the Boko Haram den, came out with the disclosure that the insurgents have no less than 50,000 members in their camp, and all of them are “desperate” to be deployed as suicide bombers.

The source did not tell us how it got the number of Boko Haram members desperate to die as suicide bombers, but the effect of this “disclosure” only serves to create fear in the average consumer of this unsubstantiated claim. Boko Haram couldn’t have done it better if they had pushed out this information as part of their arsenal of terror on the populace.

The biggest topic in town has to do with another, perhaps more dangerous disclosure by Australian Boko Haram negotiator, Stephen Davis, whose interview with Arise TV on Thursday, August 28th went wild on the Net. In a nutshell, Davis accused three major political players as being responsible for what Boko Haram has become.

The first person he mentioned was former Borno State Governor, Alhaji Nmodu Sheriff, whom he accused of setting up Boko Haram in order to win elections and suppress political opponents.

Sheriff’s case is already well documented. In fact, I have said so on this forum, and I voiced the same opinion when I met with Sheriff’s now estranged political godson, Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno in the presence of other journalists of mainly northern extraction in Abuja about two years ago.

When I said it, there was pin-drop silence, as if I had said something abominable, and the governor quickly defended Sheriff. I was dumbfounded when I noticed that most of my colleagues nodded at every word he uttered in Sheriff’s defence. I was truly an odd man out

Sheriff did what every governor elected in 1999 did in order to stay in power till 2007. It also happened in the Niger Delta, and resulted in the militancy over there that ended with the Amnesty programme. So, it is no news. What confounds me was the fact that Sheriff and other co-founders and backers of full-blown Boko Haram were allowed to roam free rather than being made to face the wrath of the law by the federal government under the watch of President Goodluck Jonathan.

To this end, I share the view that, for reasons best known to him, President Jonathan has been rather tepid in dealing with the insurgency. As the leader, he must share the blame, irrespective of the strategic reasons behind allowing Boko Haram to grow from a rag-tag band of Islamist agitators to become a potent military force able to seize portions of Nigeria’s territory and declare an Islamic Caliphate.

Dr. Davis got more controversial when he, surprisingly, accused a former Chief of Army Staff, Lt General Azubuike Ihejirika, of being one of the ”sponsors” of Boko Haram. I listened carefully through his interview and read the transcript of it in print. I could not see any convincing justification of that rather wild claim, except that battle plans against the insurgents were often called off at last minutes for no apparent reasons. He could not substantiate the claim that the former COAS was responsible for the alleged acquisition of Nigerian military hardware by Boko Haram.

Ihejirika ‘sponsoring’ Boko Haram

This accusation of Ihejirika “sponsoring” Boko Haram flies in the face of Nigeria’s history and Ihejirika’s personal cosmology. Ihejirika is an Igbo man and a Christian. He is an enemy of everything that Boko Haram stands for. If there is anyone who will like to finish Boko Haram today, it is someone in the cosmological mold of General Ihejirika. Just think of it: what will motivate an Ihejirika to empower Islamist Boko Haram with Nigeria’s military equipment under his care? Would he like to live under an Islamised Nigeria? Would he like to be forcibly converted to Islam? Definitely not.

Ihejirika comes from a part of Nigeria that is proud of their Christian/African background, but which is liberal enough to respect the rights of Muslims to their faith so long as they remain law abiding and peace-loving. One of the factors that sustained the Biafra war for 30 months was the Igbos’ fear of being islamised by the federal forces mistakenly thought to be a jihad being prosecuted by Hausa/Muslims.

Rather than helping the Islamists gain ground, the impression we were given before Davis’ toxic allegation, was that Ihejirika actually decimated the ranks of Boko Haram and drove them to the fringes of Lake Chad and Sambisa Forest, where, due to difficult terrain, it requires modern military equipment to flush them out. Not long ago, the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) actually accused Ihejirika of committing “war crimes” by permitting extra-judicial killing of captured Boko Haram fighters. They threatened to take him to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

It is obvious that the hitches in deploying troops to fight Boko Haram arose from internal sabotage in the army, perpetrated by northern Muslim elements that have sympathy for their “brother Muslims” in Boko Haram. It was through these people that Boko Haram gained inside information about troop deployments and easy access to our military armouries. This is also responsible for the frequent mutinies and protests in the army. It created a climate of difficulties for military campaigns to be carried out.

Boko Haram and its supporters and sympathisers among the politicians and those with easy access to the social media, added to their foreign paid agents such as Dr. Stephen Davis, are exploiting every opportunity to create confusion and diversions to give room for Boko Haram to expand. Unfortunately, we have a president who is unwilling to crack down on enemies of the nation, perhaps because of the mistaken belief that it will injure his 2015 re-election bid.

It is the steady growth of Boko Haram that will not only endanger the 2015 plans of politicians, but can easily truncate our democracy. Ask Mali’s former President Amadu Toumani Toure. Crush Boko Haram and its cohorts and 2015 becomes and easy ride. The military emasculated Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and today, the country has come back to normal. It is a lesson worth learning.


  1. Francis Banji Abayomi3 September 2014 at 19:37

    Yes indeed, Boko Haram is sure winning propaganda war through unsolicited; cheap advertorials by Nigerians who are always eager to celebrate or dance azonto anytime the bastards attack villages or carry out bombing in their usual cowardly manner


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