Boko Haram terrorism in northern Nigeria is casting a pessimistic outlook on the fate of Nigeria as a country, and a similar level of violence may soon occur in other parts of the country according to Governor Rauf Aregbesola, Empowered Newswire has reported.
The governor warned that other parts of the country might soon be engulfed in similar crisis as it is now happening in the north because of what he described as Nigeria’s “indolent elite.”
According to him, “other parts of the country are embroiled in varying degrees of violence and will soon catch up with the North, except effective leadership emerges at the national and local levels.”
Speaking on Wednesday evening at the Harvard University, Aregbesola noted that while the “murderous activities” of Boko Haram continued to disturb the nation, and fueling pessimism, any interpretation of the terror group as a religious expression was a misreading of the crisis.
He said: “The report of the murderous activities of a religious group in the North, Boko Haram, has been disturbing, fuelling pessimism on the fate of the country.”
At the top US university, Aregbesola addressed scholars, students, diplomats, policy makers, and Nigerians in the Diaspora, while presenting a paper at the Nigeria in the World Seminar Series hosted by Harvard Professor of Religion, Nigerian-born, Professor Jacob Olupona.
In a paper entitled, Nigeria: The Challenge of Development, Aregbesola observed that projecting the religious face of Boko Haram ignored the political manipulation by a political elite.
To him, Boko Haram “is essentially the manipulation of religion to achieve certain political ends. Unfortunately, the politicisation of religion has been a persistent characteristic of our national existence, with its attendant challenge to our development effort.”
Aregbesola pounded hard on the Nigerian political leadership, hanging the essential blame for Nigeria’s lack of development on its set of leaders.
According to him, “Years of misrule has made religion a handy tool for the manipulation of the people by the ruling elite.”
To an audience of scholars, students, diplomats and policy makers at the world famous university, the governor stridently hammered the Nigerian set of leaders.
Said he: “For me, by far the most challenging dimension of our development problem is that of leadership. Our inability to overcome other identified obstacles to development in the country, including the historical tragedies of colonialism and the Slave Trade, are a function of leadership failure.”
“The Nigerian ruling elite, due to its own perverse socialisation and reinforced by the dysfunction of the colonial state, has tended to be smugly accustomed to maintaining a lifestyle that is disconnected from economic productivity, “ Aregbesola noted.
He added that such a lifestyle has in turn furthered the view of the state and public office as means of wealth acquisition.
Returning to the crux of his argument, the governot insisted that his main point “is that leadership crisis is the basis of the violent eruptions in the North and similar occurrences in other parts of the country. This is not peculiar to the North.”
He, therefore, advocated for visionary leadership, which he said is one “that is conscious of its mission; leaders whose convergence of interest and internal solidarity and cohesion would crosscut societal cleavages. Leaders who would be able to establish effective hegemony over the society and break the nation out of the vicious circle of misery and underdevelopment to the virtuous circle of development and progress.”
Besides Olupona who moderated the seminar, other promiment names at the seminar included, US former Ambassador to Nigeria, Ambassador Walter Carrington and his wife, top Nigerian Professor of Electrical Engineering at MIT, Prof Akintunde Akinwande, Prof Adebayo Williams, Senator Iyabo Obasanjo, Prof Wale Adebanwi of the University of California, and top government officials from the State of Osun, including Dr. Charles Akinola, Director-General of the Office of Economic Development and Partnerships.
Previous speakers at the Nigeria in the World Seminar Series at Harvard, under the aegis of the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs include the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, Niger State Governor, Aliyu Babangida, former US Ambassadors Walter Carrington and John Campbell, Prof Ade Adefuye, Nigeria’s current Envoy to the US, among others.