The Christian community in Nigeria was again the target of terrorist attacks planned by the Islamist group, Boko Haram. A spokesperson for the Islamist group also issued an ultimatum to Christians to leave the North of Nigeria, dominated by Muslims, or otherwise be killed. Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan already declared a state of emergency, whereas the Nigerian Ministry of Information stated that all Nigerians should unite to confront the "evil" of Boko Haram.
Nigerian authorities agree on saying that Boko Haram has a clear strategy, a well defined leadership and an increasing hoard of funds and technical support thanks to its recently established links with Al-Qaeda. Further, so far, any attempt of the Nigerian security forces to track down the leadership of Boko Haram has also been frustrated over easiness about crossing the borders it has with it neighbors, Niger, Chad and Cameroon where, allegedly, Boko Haram has training camps.
International analyst on Nigeria, Jean-Christophe Servant, points out that Boko Haram is composed of several elements of the Nigerian society. Among the militants are apparently not only Islamists, but desperate young people earning less than two dollars a month and who have no hope for the future; criminals who want to destabilize the central government, and dismissed personnel from the Nigerian army. According to Servant, the presence of Nigerian former soldiers would explain Boko Haram's use of sophisticated weaponry and explosives. Servant also states, however, that the Nigerian intelligence does not have any clear information about the leadership of the group or on its power structure.
The Nigerian paper Vanguard writes that so far, little is known about the group, or even its real name: evidently Boko Haram (literally, "Western Education is a Sin") has no specific name for itself, just many names attributed to it by local people. "If their name is uncertain, however, their mission appears clear enough: to overthrow the Nigerian state, impose an extreme interpretation of Islamic law and abolish what they term Western-style education," Vanguard wrote.
For what is concern about the group's leadership, the Nigerian paper mentions that after the death in 2009 of Boko Haram's historical leader, Mohammed Yusuf, the Islamist movement allegedly decentralized its leadership. Boko Haram, therefore, appears to have a loose structure, with its leaders regionalized. Boko Haram's main problem at the moment, according to Vanguard, is to find a charismatic leader. The group, however, is stronger than ever and it seems to have infiltrated Nigerian security agencies in the country in order to access difficult places.
Former Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi, is pessimistic about the Nigerian authority's ability to track down the group. He claims that the government does not even have a strategy. He believes that this generation of Nigerians will have to live under the threat of Boko Haram. "I do not know how to address the issue of Boko Haram," Akinyemi said, adding, "And anybody who tells you that he knows how to address the issue of Boko Haram does not know what he is saying. One of the things people do not realize is one of the three policemen, including an inspector, lost their lives in the Christmas Day bombing in church because the Police had the information that Boko Haram was going to strike on Christmas Day, but they did not know the specific church they were going to strike. So, the police ordered its personnel to form a security cordon around several churches, and this inspector did see this car. He tried to stop [the man driving car], but he would not stop. The civilian security guard of the church also tried to stop him; he would not stop until he detonated the bomb. The only way he could have stopped was when the inspector said stop.He didn't stop and they fired at him. Supposing it turned out that it was the man's breaks that were not functioning or [that] he was late for mass and he just wanted to get in, everybody, the whole Nigeria will come down on the head of that inspector for killing an innocent man. You are asking a man to make a split-second's judgment. So, the inspector was trying to be cautious. He paid with his life and the lives of 34 others. Is Nigeria ready for shoot-on-sight on the suspicion that somebody is a terrorist? Is the press ready for that? Are the civil societies ready for that? That is the question you should ask yourself, not government."
According to him, the Nigerian President should summon a meeting with political leaders from the majority and from the opposition to try to find national unity on a common strategy on how to defeat terrorism. The former Nigerian Minister says there should be a common understanding on the need to track down the leaders of Boko Haram to make sure that party officers and party agents will not attack the government over how to handle security issues. To find Nigerian national unity, the first step should be deciding how handle the Boko Haram problem. In the meantime, there is only Nigeria's media alert on the country's imminent descent into chaos and holy war - with massive oil riches as the prize.