Even after the disappearance of the Islamist group Boko Haram, it is expected that the hatred and mistrust it has created in northern Nigeria will last for years.
According to Fides, this was the viewpoint that emerged following a seminar entitled “Religious Extremism and Its Challenges on Interfaith Dialogue in Western Africa.”
Aimed at finding concrete ways to counter the threat of religious extremism, the seminar was organized by the Catholic Bishops Regional Conference of West Africa (RECOWA), in conjunction with the Mission and Dialogue department of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN).
Among those in attendance were Cardinal John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan, Archbishop of Abuja, and Msgr. Mathew Hassan Kukah, Bishop of Sokoto, who organized it.
At the gathering, a Muslim scholar, Professor Kyari Mohammed of Modibo Adama University, strongly condemned the actions of Boko Haram which he defined as a local group with global ambitions.
The scholar stressed three factors as having led to the emergence of the group: impunity, bad governance and corruption of the Nigerian elite. The latter, he recalled, were termed by the extremists as an offshoot of western education.
“Educated people have not been good ambassadors of Western education,” he said.
“If Boko Haram ends today, the sub-region will be left with a violent and broken society,” he underscored, given how many have been victims of the insurgency and how many structures demolished.
“Many have lost their properties and as a result, many people have lost confidence in government,” Professor Mohammed said.
“Moreover, the presence of civilian self-defense groups (Joint Task Force- JTF) in the future is likely to be a source of new instability.”