Interview with the secretary of the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in France.

On Thursday, 12th of March, I had the pleasure to interview, through phone call, Mr. Sulaiman Bashir, the secretary of the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in France. I get this interview, thanks to a friend who knows him, and he put me in relation with him. Mr Sulaiman Bashir entered the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1980. He was appointed to work in the government of Nigeria, and now he is the first secretary of the ambassador of the Federal Republic of Nigeria based in France.

He kindly answered to all my questions, but of course he couldn’t go deeper on certain topics. We talked about a sensitive subject, which is the terrorism and in particular about Boko Haram.

The first point we focused on was the terrorism in general in Sub-Saharan Africa. I asked him why this region is she so exposed to all kinds of terrorism attacks. He said to me “ if you look deeper, you will see that there are a lot of forms of terrorism, and Sub-Saharan Africa area is not the only part of the world where there is terrorism, you can find it in America, as in Asia, or in Europe. But in fact you are not totally false, because the geographic position, the poverty and the lack of control in this area allow them to install some terrorist camp”.

Then I continued which the topics of Boko Haram, and he told me that before all he has to give me the background and explain to me that Boko Haram was a sect until 2009, the year of the death of its founder Muhammad Yussuf. Then, after a period of infighting for his succession, it’s his current leader Aboubacar Shekhau who did it as an Islamist terrorist group.

After the presentation, we talked about their strategy. Did they really have a “strategy of massacre”? Because last few weeks we saw that they had literally attacked around 16 villages in the same time. That means that they are prepared and that they have a military organization?

He explained me that there is undoubtedly a strategy in Boko Haram massacres and propaganda by the deed. Through this, his chief aims to maintain his leadership and influence over the other groups like Ansaru, and by the fact, recruit new fighters.

He said “In addition, like all terrorist groups, they want to hold the civilian population in hostage, by using the fear. But our work, it’s to protect them, and our aim is to stop boko haram in the few months going. We trust our president, and we know that he will fix this situation. This group can’t be compared to a military organization, but as a mercenary group because they use terrorist strategy and the handling of fear”.

Later we talked about the government. And what they did to resolve this situation. He told me that since May 2013, the Nigerian military has conducted operations in the northeast of the country where three states Borno, Yobe and Adamawa were placed in an emergency state. He said, “We had already taken some strategic towns, like the state of Baga. And now, we have some help from the African Union, and from the ONU”. I felt that he didn’t want to linger on this question, so we just go on.

In adequacy of what he told me about this organization at the beginning of the conversation, I told him that I want to know why did they really do that? This is for religious or for political reasons? Because through the media we don’t really know what are the reasons of this group. And what is the challenge for the government?

He responded to me with truth and told me that for sure, there is a big challenge for the government, because the electoral campaign is coming, but they are confident about it.

Concerning the aim of Boko Haram,” I think that the religious reason is unavailable because as a muslim I know that killing is forbidden by the divine law, so I can’t believe that their main reason is just religious. And about the political reasons, that’s not completely false because they want to destabilize our government to take the power, and establish a dictatorship.

Added to this there are the repeated attacks of Boko Haram in Cameroon, Niger and in Chad, the Islamist group tries to take strategic points to make their own law on their own territories, but it will never happen”.

So, you told me that this group was founded in 2002, and since 2009, they began to make serious attacks against the government and the civilians, so my next question is about their funding. How can they continue to fund a war like that? Because at this step we can call this a war.

“Yes, of course, it’s a war. And about the funding all that I can tell you is that they receive a lot of gifts of the faithful, and from some Nigerian businessman and wealth man against our President, so that’s why before I told you that for sure there is a political reason to their acts”. He also told me that Boko Haram now multiplies the bank robberies. But some movements as Ansaru, are also funded by other international terrorist organizations. I asked him if this is the Islamic state and if there is also some political man from the current Nigerian government who financially helps this organisation, he just laugh, so I can take is for a yes, but nothing is sure. So he told me that is why behind that, this is a question of power.

I finished the interview asking him about what did he think about all this situation, and about the fact of having a country divided by religions. Because in the North there are mostly muslim peoples, however in the south there are mostly Christian peoples. He just laughs again and told me that this is like this since a lot of years, and there are no explications, and that never made a problem for someone.

It was really interesting to interview him, because that’s a subject that affect the worldwide, and allowed me to learn more about it.

By Raphael.


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