Nigeria: Defeat Boko Haram & ISWAP!


Down with the Sharia order and Islamic Hegemony in the North! Form Popular Militias for the Defense of the Northern People!


Statement of the Revolutionary Socialist Vanguard (Nigerian Section of the RCIT), 28 08.2020.




The Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP), a splinter from the Boko Haram, on 19th August, took hundreds of hostages in Kukuwa town, Borno State. This takes place during unabated killings by terrorist groups which have led to the death of more than 300 civilians in Southern Kaduna, since this year began. Just days ago another attack occurred in Chikun Local government, Kaduna state were some school children were abducted. This has in turn sparked protests in Southern Kaduna.[1] The Northern governors have manufactured many narratives to down play the significance of the situation by calling the attackers “bandits”. They again try to deny the organized nature of the killings by reducing it to inter-ethnic violence. However the facts show a high level of organization amongst the assailants that betray such narratives.


In all these, it seems like there is some sort of synchronization between the easing of restrictions and the resurgence of Boko Haram terrorists in Northern Nigeria, it is as though both events were triggered simultaneously. Like every other thing the global economic downturn reveals more clearly through the government imposed emergency measures to ‘prevent’ the spread of COVID-19, the strong connection, either deliberate or accidental, between the Nigerian bourgeoisie and the plague of armed insurgency that has afflicted the people for more than a decade since the return to ‘civilian rule’ in 1999. The whole COVID-19 restriction and lock down saga does not only reveal the cordiality between Boko Haram terrorists and the arch-reactionary Nigerian ruling elite but it also demonstrates the revolutionary nature of the period.


Since during and after the lock downs the state bonapartist apparatus intensified its attacks against the masses economically through wage cuts, mass retrenchments, evictions and evacuation of small businesses etc., the henchmen of this government must also step-up its attacks. Albeit, to understand how the increase in terrorist activity fits into this context one must first correctly characterize the Boko Haram and its many splinters and outfits such as ISWAP and the so-called Fulani herdsmen. Boko Haram started in 2009 under the leadership of Bashir Ahmed, as an Islamist force to overthrow the Nigerian government and establish an Islamic caliphate.


The persuasion for such armed insurrection was the same as the conditions of abject poverty which served as a breeding ground for the north eastern people who saw Bashir as a saviour and about 800 of them were willing to follow him into a failed rebellion. After the unsuccessful rebellion Boko Haram has been hijacked by different Northern power brokers which constitute a large section of the Nigerian ruling class to fight amongst themselves and to subjugate the Nigerian masses. Hence the Boko Haram and all its resulting splinters and outfits are at present only appendages of ruling class interests.


The recent mass killings may not give a very clear picture of why these terrorist attacks have not only resurfaced with greater tempo and frequency but are also counter-revolutionary. The indictments according to Sharia law which have risen in like manner, on the other hand, does. While the condemnations of the abduction of Bala Mubarak that was sanctioned by a Sharia court was still on-going, 22-year-old, Aminu Sharif, a secular musician was sentenced to death for blasphemy against the prophet Muhammad. Now the Supreme Council for Sharia in Nigeria has said the only way for peace to reign in Southern Kaduna is for the government to execute ex-Major General, Zamani Lekwot and other leaders sentenced to death over the Zango-Kataf riot in 1992.[2] We will not go into the details of the riot neither do we take the side of Zamani Lekwot as a progressive, rather we point to the fact that all of these are fight backs by the Northern power brokers against a northern mass that is awakening to the reality that in order for them to have better living standards they must break free from the tight grip of Islamic hegemony.


The northern liberals and masses alike recognize that the power given to the Islamic institutions are nothing but mechanisms to keep them subservient to the rule of the northern oligarchs, so the northern elite fight back to sustain their hegemony even with mass killings. Of a truth, some of these skirmishes begin as inter-ethnic violence since the Northern region has a great many ethnic minorities, yet the escalation of those skirmishes can only be at the behest of some organized local or local traditional authority which is often interwoven with religious strongholds. More so, these inter-ethnic or inter-religious conflicts are sharpened by a deepening economic crisis that at every instant prompts the subjugated party to seek liberation and the oppressing party to try to consolidate its position. Thus the whole pale of the massacre in the north still boils down to the will of the traditional/ethnic, local rulers, Islamic bureaucracies and the ruling elite to maintain their economic privilege, only now they face an immediate threat. This is further proven by the confession of the governor of Kaduna state, Nasir El-Rufai that Southern Kaduna (ethnic) leaders want “brown envelopes” that is why the killings have continued.[3]


Another factor that could have led to such an awakening not just of the northern people but of the whole Nigerian masses to the unholy alliance of the Nigerian government with organized terrorism is the so-called rehabilitation and re-integration of “repentant” terrorists. Some of these “repentant” or “captured” terrorists are even sent abroad for re-education.[4] Fortunately, an event like this occurs rather concomitantly with the release of Taliban prisoners by the Afghan government at the behest of the White House. This demonstrates to the world that some form of agreement must be reached with such armed groups before any prisoners or captured fighters can be released. Sure, Donald Trump is only pressurizing the Afghan government to release the remaining Taliban fighters because of his election bid in November, nevertheless, prisoner exchanges are but surface indications of more, would be, thorough going concessions/alliance between the negotiating parties.[5]


The Nigerian case is more than just agreements and concessions it is rather a decade long unholy alliance between the Boko Haram and the ruling elite/Nigerian government especially in the North. In any case the re-habilitation and release of repentant Boko Haram fighters happens because of the power shift to the North which finds its most effective agent in President Buhari who is a strong apologist of extreme Islamism or even the Islamic caliphate.


Although certain elements of the Northern ruling class do not want to continue extreme Islamism and Sharia as a means to subjugate the people, even though they are thoroughly bourgeois. They wish to rule the North through more liberal means, maybe because the failing economy makes it more difficult to continue to bribe the traditional/religious leaders, however they are handicapped as they form only a meagre number amongst the Northern ruling elite. To this camp belongs Nasir El-rufai, the governor of Kaduna state; the former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and deposed Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi; and now Mailafia, who was brought in for questioning by the Department of State Services (DSS) after he alleged that the leader of Boko Haram was one of the Northern governors.[6]


We are not against rehabilitation of prisoners, however for a force like Boko Haram without a thorough going war against respectively a defeat of the sect, any rehabilitation is just a scheme of the same ruling class which is in cahoots with the terrorists. More so, the specific conditions which engender the birth of the extremist group are still very much prevalent in Nigeria, the common Nigerian folk is bedeviled with incisive poverty, homelessness, unemployment etc. which is worsened now by the anti-people economic policies and attacks. The Internally Displaced Persons’ (IDP) camps are left deteriorating with shortages in food and other basic supplies. The rehabilitation is just a resting phase for the henchmen of the Nigerian mostly northern ruling caste.


This whole piece has no intention of implying any danger in the “spread of Islam” as many Islamophobic governments and organizations do. In contrast, we wish to show that all religious provisions in law and government are only stratagems for economic interests of capitalists respectively imperialist. This means it is very possible that armed insurgencies up to the scale of Boko Haram can emanate from any other part of the country since they have underlying economic factors. It would be a careless misplacement of facts and history to assume that these trend is peculiar to Northern Nigeria as the set of gang violence, and mob raids that occurred during the lock downs especially in Lagos should create a more convincing picture of the possibility of terrorism in any part of the country irrespective of religious predominance in that region. We advocate full right to religion as far as it is separated from the state.


For us the fight against Islamic hegemony and the Sharia institutions along with its offsprings in terrorism and insecurity is an integral part of the socialist struggle in Nigeria as it is impossible to end the insurgency without vanquishing Nigerian ruling class and state including all remnants of feudal rule. Hence the protests against the skirmishes in Southern Kaduna must be linked with the campaign against state bonapartist attacks of wage cuts, mass sackings, evictions, hikes in prices of social amenities like PMS and electricity; imposition of stamp duty; poor funding of the educational and health sectors etc. It goes without saying that this struggle must combined with an intransigent struggle against the corrupt and compromised trade union bureaucracy.


* For an end to Sharia Law! Release with immediate effect and without condition Bala Mubarak, Aminu Sharif and all persons arrested or detained by Sharia courts. Free all persons imprisoned & cancel all sentences imposed by Sharia Law! Drop all charges against El-Zakzaky and all detained Shi’ites!


* For a national/ethnic program in which all ethnic groups/nations will have the right to freedom of cultural expression through language and association.


* The popular masses must form with authentic revolutionaries, sincere progressives, trade unionists a publicly governed workers and peasant armed militia to defeat Boko Haram, ISWAP, Fulani herdsmen and all puppet hench men of the Nigerian state. Naturally this militia can work with existing national/ethnic associations Arewa Youth Forum based on concrete goals and ultimately defend the people against the uniformed hooligans of the Nigerian state— police and army.


* For a food and housing program for the poor, homeless and Internally Displaced Persons (IDP’s) in the North and all over Nigeria. This program must be funded with the taxes of the rich. Occupy all unused estates and edifices of the rich!


* Fund education and healthcare properly with at least 26% and 15% of the budgetary allocation. Expropriate the big private firms in the oil and energy industry. Put the commanding heights of the economy and the big banks under workers and popular control. For a democratically controlled nationwide employment program planned and determined by the workers and popular masses!


Onward to a socialist future!




Signed: Oladipupo Jimoh, International Liaison Personnel, Revolutionary Socialist Vanguard [RCIT Nigeria].