A member of Presidential Committee on North East Initiative (PCNI), Mr Sidi Mohammed, yesterday said that members of the terrorist organisation Boko Haram are being paid $3,000 (N1 million) daily.
Mohammed spoke at the presentation of International Monetary Fund (IMF) Sub-Sahara Africa’s Economic Outlook Report in Abuja. According to him, the payment dwarfs the N1,000 daily allowance paid to Nigerian troops at the war front.
Mohammed, who is Head of the Humanitarian Assistance and Rehabilitation arm of PCNI, lamented that Boko Haram has been hijacked and operates like a cartel.
“I will give you an example. Nigerian military, for example, gets N1, 000 per day for being in the Northeast, at the war front, as an allowance. The same Northeast, where if you are a member of Boko Haram you get $3,000 per day, as allowance. So it is lucrative. Sometimes they even give you money upfront. So we must do something about the youths from where they are recruiting.”
His answer to the problem, he explained, is that while there is no one-solution to the Boko Haram conflict, various avenues that could guarantee peace should be explored.
Mohammed said: “If it is amnesty that will guarantee that peace, then we have to think of it. Most importantly, we need to deplete the army of youths on the streets and take them away from the streets so that Boko Haram does not recruit them. Don’t forget, they (Boko Haram members) are being killed on daily basis, but they are also recruiting on daily basis. They are getting people to recruit because it is lucrative.”
“Part of the reason why this problem has refused to go away is the abundant natural resources in the Lake Chad Region. We need to think outside the box. It is now more like a cartel. When you see the type of weapons they use, it is more sophisticated than the type of weapons that our military are using.”
“The Boko Haram menace “is like a guerilla warfare. As we are here discussing, if somebody here is a member of Boko Haram, he will not say anything. He goes out there to strategise and comes back. It, therefore, means that the conventional ways of fighting a warfare cannot work here. It, therefore, calls for thinking outside of the box.”
Another problem identified by the PCNI member is the rejection of repentant members of Boko Haram who had been de-radicalised by his committee, working with the military but are rejected by the communities, thus creating problems of re-integration.
Mohammed attributed the rise of the terrorist group to failure of governance. He said: “States and local governments are supposed to be closest to the people. Local governments are supposed be closest to the people but in all honesty, are they really there? For those of us that know the North very well, not only in the Northeast, even in the Northwest, the only time you go to the local government secretariat and you see people is 26th, 27th and 28th of the month to collect their salaries.”
“The moment they collect their salaries, they just disappear. 90% of local government chairmen, in the North, reside in their state capitals. So what do we see? That gap that has been created in terms of governance is what Boko Haram has taken advantage of. It might be news to you that Boko Haram are even collecting revenue from the people where they are operating. They collect taxes. They have government.”
He said that PCNI was making efforts to counter the Boko Haram narrative, as well as, remove the youths from the streets to deny Boko Haram recruitment targets.
IMF economist Mr. Siddharth Kothari, noted that “conflicts cause decline in investment, trade and productivity, and destruction of physical and human capital.”
The government he said, “has to prevent conflicts and mitigate the adverse consequences of conflicts through limiting the loss of human and physical capital, and trying to maintain well-functioning institutions.”