Jean Herskovits, American woman employs half-truths to alter the Boko Haram narrative against Southerners *She is a ‘buddy’ of Danjuma
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By Sola Adewumi
Jean Herskovits is a professor of History at the State University of New York, Purchase College. She prides herself as a specialist on African History and Politics. Due to the typical Nigerian magic, she has held numerous ‘juicy’ and choice positions in Nigeria including being the Director of United Bank for Africa (yes, the same UBA) where she chaired the Board of trustees of the UBA Foundation. She is an associate of T.Y Danjuma (yes, the same Danjuma that murdered Fajuyi and Aguyi Ironsi and that recently made a profit of $500million from from selling ‘his’ oil blocks) and even serves on his board. The T.Y Danjuma Foundation describes her as having been the “head of the Nigeria reinvestment project of citizens energy corporation” and that she is “is a member of the Conoco Phillips, Nigeria advisory council and is currently working on a political history of contemporary Nigeria”. That is her.
Eagle eye Citizen Reporters today spotted her ill-conceived opinion published on the popular Sahara Reporters. The content of the report reveals her deep-seated hatred for the people of Southern part of Nigeria as well as her strong passion to get the American government and the world at large to overlook the maiming of Southerners and Christians in the Northern part of Nigeria. Citizen Reporters affirm that her intention is to give what she considers her ‘star’ power to sway the narrative against the victims and at the extreme get American foreign policy to eventually provide backing for Boko Haram’s goal of ethnic and religious cleansing, or at the minimum, look the other way.
Jean Herskovits laboured vainly to cite instances of Southern breeches while explaining away the horrendous instances of continuous mass killings of Christians and Southerners by the Islamic group in Northern Nigeria. She even went further to shamelessly adduce poverty in the north as the basis for Boko Haram’s killing of Christians as well as implying when she touched gingerly on the possibility that the killing of Christians in their churches ‘may not have even been caused by Boko Haram’s after-all – as they could have been caused by Southerners and Nigerian Christians!’ when she said 3 out of 4 groups parading fake Boko Haram sms were Southerners.
ALSO interestingly, while Herskovits cited the killing of Yusuf, late Boko Haram leader in troop’s custody as justification for Boko Haram’s continued hostilities (she implied this), it was strange that she offered no word, not even a recollection, of the thousands murdered by Yusuf and his group which led to troop’s intervention in the first instance. She sounded more like – it was okay for Yusuf to extra-judicially kill innocent people including children, women and members of the police! This writer believes that it was wrong if Yusuf was killed extra-judicially, but that would only come after a mention of the victims of the unprovoked massacre carried out by Yusus. This is the correct history.
Such is the level of Herskovits ‘s contempt for the people of Southern Nigeria. Jean Herskovits’s rants have been addressed in Jude Obi’s response to a similar narrative on the BBC HERE.
Few questions suffice:
- Why don’t youths of Southern Nigeria kill others of different faith or kill Northerners as a way of agitating against pain of poverty?
- Who is Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the diaper bomber? Is he not from Northern Nigeria?
- Who killed National Youth Corp members in Northern Nigeria in 2011? The videos and pictures were circulated on the same Saharareporters where Madam Jean Herskovits published her article.
- Of the 14 Heads of State of Nigeria, how many of these are Southerners? 2 and 1 half and a quarter. Jonathan, Obasanjo, Sonekan (3 months), and Aguyi Ironsi who was in office for six months before he was killed by a team commanded by Danjuma, Jean Herskovits’s Chairman.
- Of Nigeria’s 52 years since independence, how many years have the people from Northern Nigeria ruled the country? 39 years. The combined Jonathan, Obasanjo, Sonekan and Ironsi (all from the South) were in office for a total period of 13 years.
- Which part of Nigeria has the best roads? Northern Nigeria. The roads in Southern Nigeria are death traps.
- Which part of Nigeria get the highest allocation of national resources? The North. Abuja alone takes over 50% of annual budget as it is on record that the Federal Government of Nigeria only develop and continue to develop Abuja and its environ. As we write, the roads in Abuja are being awarded and re-awarded while the only road that connect Lagos (the indisputable largest and most populated city) to the rest of Nigeria is being experimented upon by the government using PPP.
The big question therefore is, which part of Nigeria should be genuinely aggrieved?
Citizen Reporters affirm that Jean Herskovits’s article is an aggregation of wicked lies garnished with half-truths to make her arguments sound genuine. Her association with the Danjumas and the UBA, a company that pushed millions of Nigerians into share purchase schemes that only made millions poor should be a subject of investigation by the FBI naturally.
A commentator, Hamiltonatlarge, in his response to Jean Herskovits said “Prof, you chronicled the problems the way you understood them. But it goes beyond poverty. They are not asking for free education, free healthcare, or religious freedom. They are not demanding good government or that government should come to their needs. They want government out of their life. That is the contradiction. The root cause is ignorance and poverty of ideas. In America where you are, children below certain age, are protected from religious indoctrination, so that they do not grow up attached to a set of beliefs. When the Missionaries came to the Eastern part of Nigeria, they came with the Bible in one hand and English language, Arithmetic, Social Studies, Civic, and and basic sciences in the other. In the North it was Koran, Koran, and Koran. However, the affluence and the enlightened members in the community sent their children to school, and where possible, they sent them to England and North America, while the majority poor were left at the mercy of local Imams.”
Another commentator said ‘This is a sponsored article from a northerner! How would someone say this!”Meanwhile, Boko Haram has evolved into a franchise that includes criminal groups claiming its identity. Revealingly, Nigeria’s State Security Services issued a statement on Nov. 30, identifying members of four “criminal syndicates” that send threatening text messages in the name of Boko Haram. Southern Nigerians — not northern Muslims — ran three of these four syndicates, including the one that led the American Embassy and other foreign missions to issue warnings that emptied Abuja’s high-end hotels. And last week, the security services arrested a Christian southerner wearing northern Muslim garb as he set fire to a church in the Niger Delta. In Nigeria, religious terrorism is not always what it seems.” This was never a true story,am from the n delta and this is a plain lie! God will judge you madam! And when their madness start they don’t have friends they will toast you along!’.
There is no doubt whatsoever that Jean Herskovits is not an impartial or objective analyst as far as the Nigerian case is concerned because of her obvious affiliation with one side of the divide, her close relationship with Danjuma and the Nigerian leadership cabal. The State Department in the United States and the entire US Government as well as the global Christian community should therefore ignore her warped explanation and over simplification of the Nigerian situation.
The root of the Nigerian problem rests with the marriage of strange bed fellows consumed by the British in 1960. The people being forced to live together have nothing in common. The national aspiration of the people of the Niger Delta, the Igbos, the Yorubas etc are fundamentally different from the fundamental aspiration of the people of the core north. Leaders who emerge in Nigeria know there is no Nigeria and simply take the leadership name-space as their opportunity to get as much as they can from the centre.
For the purpose of those who are yet to read the sophistry deployed by her to transfer blame away from Boko Haram and put culpability for the killings committed by Islamic group in the North on Southern Nigerians, her original article culled from Saharareporters is reproduced below:
Boko Haram Is Not the Problem By Jean Herskovits
By Jean Herskovits
GOVERNMENTS and newspapers around the world attributed the horrific Christmas Day bombings of churches in Nigeria to “Boko Haram” — a shadowy group that is routinely described as an extremist Islamist organization based in the northeast corner of Nigeria. Indeed, since the May inauguration of President Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian from the Niger Delta in the country’s south, Boko Haram has been blamed for virtually every outbreak of violence in Nigeria.
But the news media and American policy makers are chasing an elusive and ill-defined threat; there is no proof that a well-organized, ideologically coherent terrorist group called Boko Haram even exists today. Evidence suggests instead that, while the original core of the group remains active, criminal gangs have adopted the name Boko Haram to claim responsibility for attacks when it suits them.
The United States must not be drawn into a Nigerian “war on terror” — rhetorical or real — that would make us appear biased toward a Christian president. Getting involved in an escalating sectarian conflict that threatens the country’s unity could turn Nigerian Muslims against America without addressing any of the underlying problems that are fueling instability and sectarian strife in Nigeria.
Since August, when Gen. Carter F. Ham, the commander of the United States Africa Command, warned that Boko Haram had links to Al Qaeda affiliates, the perceived threat has grown. Shortly after General Ham’s warning, the United Nations’ headquarters in Abuja was bombed, and simplistic explanations blaming Boko Haram for Nigeria’s mounting security crisis became routine. Someone who claims to be a spokesman for Boko Haram — with a name no one recognizes and whom no one has been able to identify or meet with — has issued threats and statements claiming responsibility for attacks. Remarkably, the Nigerian government and the international news media have simply accepted what he says.
In late November, a subcommittee of the House Committee on Homeland Security issued a report with the provocative title: “Boko Haram: Emerging Threat to the U.S. Homeland.” The report makes no such case, but nevertheless proposes that the organization be added to America’s list of foreign terrorist organizations. The State Department’s Africa bureau disagrees, but pressure from Congress and several government agencies is mounting.
Boko Haram began in 2002 as a peaceful Islamic splinter group. Then politicians began exploiting it for electoral purposes. But it was not until 2009 that Boko Haram turned to violence, especially after its leader, a young Muslim cleric named Mohammed Yusuf, was killed while in police custody. Video footage of Mr. Yusuf’s interrogation soon went viral, but no one was tried and punished for the crime. Seeking revenge, Boko Haram targeted the police, the military and local politicians — all of them Muslims.
It was clear in 2009, as it is now, that the root cause of violence and anger in both the north and south of Nigeria is endemic poverty and hopelessness. Influential Nigerians from Maiduguri, where Boko Haram is centered, pleaded with Mr. Jonathan’s government in June and July not to respond to Boko Haram with force alone. Likewise, the American ambassador, Terence P. McCulley, has emphasized, both privately and publicly, that the government must address socio-economic deprivation, which is most severe in the north. No one seems to be listening.
Instead, approximately 25 percent of Nigeria’s budget for 2012 is allocaated for security, even though the military and police routinely respond to attacks with indiscriminate force and killing. Indeed, according to many Nigerians I’ve talked to from the northeast, the army is more feared than Boko Haram.
Meanwhile, Boko Haram has evolved into a franchise that includes criminal groups claiming its identity. Revealingly, Nigeria’s State Security Services issued a statement on Nov. 30, identifying members of four “criminal syndicates” that send threatening text messages in the name of Boko Haram. Southern Nigerians — not northern Muslims — ran three of these four syndicates, including the one that led the American Embassy and other foreign missions to issue warnings that emptied Abuja’s high-end hotels. And last week, the security services arrested a Christian southerner wearing northern Muslim garb as he set fire to a church in the Niger Delta. In Nigeria, religious terrorism is not always what it seems.
None of this excuses Boko Haram’s killing of innocents. But it does raise questions about a rush to judgment that obscures Nigeria’s complex reality.
Many Nigerians already believe that the United States unconditionally supports Mr. Jonathan’s government, despite its failings. They believe this because Washington praised the April elections that international observers found credible, but that many Nigerians, especially in the north, did not. Likewise, Washington’s financial support for Nigeria’s security forces, despite their documented human rights abuses, further inflames Muslim Nigerians in the north.
Mr. Jonathan’s recent actions have not helped matters. He told Nigerians last week, “The issue of bombing is one of the burdens we must live with.” On New Year’s Eve, he declared a state of emergency in parts of four northern states, leading to increased military activity there. And on New Year’s Day, he removed a subsidy on petroleum products, more than doubling the price of fuel. In a country where 90 percent of the population lives on $2 or less a day, anger is rising nationwide as the costs of transport and food increase dramatically.
Since Nigeria’s return to civilian rule in 1999, many politicians have used ethnic and regional differences and, most disastrously, religion for their own purposes. Northern Muslims — indeed, all Nigerians — are desperate for a government that responds to their most basic needs: personal security and hope for improvement in their lives. They are outraged over government policies and expenditures that undermine both.
The United States should not allow itself to be drawn into this quicksand by focusing on Boko Haram alone. Washington is already seen by many northern Muslims — including a large number of longtime admirers of America — as biased toward a Christian president from the south. The United States must work to avoid a self-fulfilling prophecy that makes us into their enemy. Placing Boko Haram on the foreign terrorist list would cement such views and make more Nigerians fear and distrust America.
Jean Herskovits, a professor of history at the State University of New York, Purchase, has written on Nigerian politics since 1970.