The darkest part of the night comes just before the dawn, is a saying meant to illustrate the idea that the point when trials are most dire means that they are about to come to an end, perhaps because the person being tried has been stretched to their limit and has survived.
The seeming current ascendancy of the Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram, in which, seemingly flush with victory on their successful bombing of three churches on Christmas day, December 25, 2011, they are now reported as on 2nd January, 2012, giving a three day ultimatum for all Christians and Southerners to leave Northern Nigeria, and Muslims and Northerners to leave Southern Nigeria for the North, actually signals that the group is well on the way to the total exposure of its ultimate ineffectuality.
This is actually the beginning of the end for Boko Haram.
At this point in this essay, I will test myself by making the following predictions:
1. The Christians and Southerners in Northern Nigeria are going nowhere. Some people might travel to the South but there will be no exodus of Christians from the North to the South. The Boko Haram threat will prove ineffectual to create that kind of chaos and fear.
2. The Muslims and Northerners in Southern Nigeria are going nowhere.
The Boko Haram threat derives whatever effectiveness it demonstrate from the fear of those it tries to intimidate. Once that fear is not aroused, more than half of their power is gone.
3. The Boko Haram threat will be increasingly demonstrated as an ultimately marginal security disturbance as far as the security and integrity of Nigeria is concerned. They will increasingly be revealed to be toothless bulldogs who only bark without being able to active any strategic goals, any fundamental changes to Nigerian socio-political life. Yes, they may bomb and kill people, but being able to bomb and murder is not identical with achieving any significant social goals through sheer terror. They will not achieve any of the goals they have been described as aspiring to:
a. Release of their members from prison.
b. Stricter Sharia in the Sharia states
c. The division of Nigeria into Christian, Southern and Northern, Islamic enclaves.
d. Of course, the goal of Islamicising Nigeria credited to Boko Haram is sheer nonsense, anyway.
Why will none of these goals be achieved?
None of these gaol will be achieved because Boko Haram does not have the grassroots support or support among the political and reglious elite of Northern Nigeria to achieve any of these goals.
Boko Haram will also fail to achieve any of these gaols because they have succeeded in alienating much of whatever sympathy they might have had from some Muslims and Northerners by their earlier bombing of fellow Muslims and Northerners and the Christmas day bombing of the churches.
This latest initiative, calling for separation of the country into Chritian and Muslim blocs is clear case of overkill, that looks most ridiculous when seen in relation to the complexity of Nigeria.
One of the best things that happened in 2011 and in 2012 was the open denunciation of Boko Haram by the Islamic religious leaders in Northern Nigeria. In 2012 came the denunciation of the idea by Northern Islamic leaders of a Muslim vs Christian war in Nigeria.
So, who does Boko Haram represent? What is the scope of their firepower? Are they able to bomb Nigeria or Northern Nigeria into submission?
If they have backers among any Nigerians these failures will become increasingly embarrassing to these backers and lead to an appreciation of the self destructive character of the strategy of Boko Haram.
Perhaps Boko Haram thinks that widespread disaffection with the removal of fuel subsidy will be catalysed by their essentially inept action into creating widespread loss of confidence in the government and perhaps precipitating a coup or some other upheaval, but all that is wishful thinking at best.
On fuel subsidy, Nigerians have been there before, more than once. This so called subsidy is constantly being removed with little to show for the positive value of its removal in terms of the quality of life of the average Nigerian.
On coups, Nigerians have been there before. Right from the January 1966 coup that led the country into a civil war, to the dreadful Abacha years, Nigerians have had it beaten into their heads through repeated, painful disappointments, that coups are not saviours.
I expect the army knows very well that the years of military intervention being welcomed has come to an end. The military are no better than the politicians and everyone knows that.