Sheikh Gumi Disputes Government’s Assertion of Boko Haram Defeat

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…says, Boko Haram is ideological

The popular but controversial Kaduna-based Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, has refuted the federal government’s claims of victory over the Boko Haram insurgency in the Northern parts of Nigeria, noting that the ongoing conflict is fundamentally ideological, which military efforts have not been able to exterminate.

Speaking via a telephone interview on a radio program “Frontline” on Eagle 102.5 FM, Ilese-Ijebu Ogun state, Gumi criticized the government for failing to accurately diagnose the root causes of insecurity in the North, citing a lack of local insights and attempts to exploit the nation’s plight. To him, this dissenting perspective underscores persistent challenges in Nigeria’s battle against terrorism.

Anchored by Olakunle Balogun, the Head of Station, Gumi said in the interview that nobody in the country is safe as insecurity has been left lingering for a long time, while urging the government to go back to the drawing board, and give the situation a local solution. He reiterated that the government needs to be holistic in its approach by engaging all stakeholders, including the bandits, as done with the Niger Delta militants.

According to him, “the military can kill as many as they can but the ideology is still remaining and persistent, and it has taken a different form. The issue is not just to defeat them physically but also to defeat the ideology”.

Gumi said the sect should be defeated ideologically to understand that “you cannot exist in a nation like Nigeria with this mindset that you are the only good people and every other people are not supposed to live. We don’t mind if you don’t want Western education, but you should live in peace with people and come out to select leaders democratically and not by barrels of gun or by kidnapping people.

“What I can say is that, truly speaking, the government has not really diagnosed the real cause of these issues for many reasons. One, or lack of local input. Let me give you an example, just recently, almost all the Northern governors went to Washington to see how they can tackle insecurity in the Northern states. This is a typical symptom of our problems here. The problem is local and now you see governors going abroad trying to look for a solution where they don’t have it. In the long run, the international intelligence agencies will just use these governors to extract more information about our country for their own benefits.

“Secondly, there are people who are exploiting the treasury, getting trillions of Naira in the name of fighting insecurity. So these people will definitely not like this problem to end quickly. Thirdly is the population; that is, the victim. These victims are looking at it like it’s an ethnic or religious or tribal issues depending on how you look at it. It is actually herders/farmers crisis that has degenerated into what we are seeing”, he said.

Speaking on the huge blow insecurity has dealt with the country, Gumi said: “the stage we are is the stage where cancer kills the patient. That is the stage we are now, regarding insecurity. When the problem is left unattended, nobody is safe. Anybody on the road, or at home or in some certain places is not safe of this problem which has been left, lingering for a long time without any plan to curb this problem.

“The government needs to come back to drawing board. Local problem needs local solution. We need to bring all stakeholders to the table and plan how to fight insecurity locally.”

On his constant call on government to negotiate with bandits, Gumi proposed that negotiation could lead to a safe return of captives without necessarily involving financial transactions, hinting at potential prisoner swaps. He portrayed the bandits as marginalized citizens deprived of basic social services like education, infrastructure and water.