By George Onmonya Daniel
I have always argued that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was not radicalized in London but in Nigeria. He was recruited in London but not radicalized. This generation of Northern Nigerian leaders are radicalized from homes and the schools. We make the mistake of looking at the whole Boko Haram imbroglio as a lack of education and poverty thing. It is not. Recently I was priviledged to be invited by some research people from the European Union to talk about Boko Haram and Ansaru. One of the questions one of the European asked was how are youth radicalised? I told him radicalization starts from family, contrary to beliefs that people who are drug users, illiterates and homeless like the Almajiri are those susceptible to radicalisation. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab didn’t fit into that picture many would want us to believe of poverty, lack of proper education and all that.
On 7th July, 2005, bombs exploded in several places in London, including the London Tube killing many. Muslim leaders quickly rallied round to blame Al Qaeda for radicalizing their children. Tony Blair, the British Prime Minister later summoned the Muslim leaders and told them point that they must accept responsibility for the failure of their children. He told them that the process of what led to their children suicide bombings has to do with what they discuss in their houses and how they discuss it. In Nigeria we blame everything without blaming the family institution and religious institutions. What we discuss in our homes, the ideal we inculcate into our children, what we expose them to, can be dangerous and make them dangerous. The issue of radicalization in Nigeria start from home. When I was in the University we have the Wustaz, some radicalized students, who disrupt any programme or event they think is ‘haram’. These Wuztaz gangs are very militants and stopped students from organizing shows or parties on campus. They are violent and attack any group who went against their rules. There was an incident in University of Maiduguri where wustaz attacked students at a show organise by members of the English Department. My family friend was part of the show and she was injured.
Radicalization is encouraged in Northern Nigeria that’s why it is easy to become radicalised. It is beyond poverty, lack of education and all that. It is much more. It is more about indoctrination, lack of seriousness on the part of government to tackle issues pertaining security. What do you teach your children? Who are they mingling with? Be careful what you tell your chidren, watch what they do. In the long run the solution will be educating the people of the North and in this education and enlightenment, government must also get the teacher involved and educate them and I am talking about Clerics.