Attending to the problem of Boko Haram
-Masterweb Reports (Submission By Makanjuola Olaleye Ademola)
The movement, whose name in the Hausa language Boko Haram translates as “Western education is sacrilege” or “a sin”, is divided into three factions, and in 2011, was responsible for more than 450 killings in Nigeria.
Though the group first became known internationally following sectarian violence in Nigeria in 2009, it does not have a clear structure or evident chain of command. Moreover, it is still a matter of debate whether Boko Haram has links to terror outfits outside Nigeria and its fighters have frequently classed with Nigeria’s central government.
The group has adopted its official name to be People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad, which is the English translation of Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Liddaáwati wal-Jihad. The members of the group do not interact with the local Muslim population and have carried out assassinations in the past of anyone who who criticizes it, including Muslim clerics.
In the wake of the 2009 crackdown on its members and its subsequent reemergence, the growing frequency and geographical range of attacks attributed to Boko Haram have led some political and religious leaders in the north to the conclusion that the group has now expanded beyond its original religious composition to include not only Islamic militants, but criminal elements and disgruntled politicians as well.
What is responsible for this saga, and what are the lasting solutions to the current problem facing Nigeria as a whole. This takes us to the theory of structural functionalism.
According to Parsons, four functional imperatives are embedded in all systems of action: adaptation, goal attainment, integration, and latency (also known as pattern maintenance). Adaptation refers to the fact that a system must adjust or cope with its external environment, particularly when this environment is deemed threatening. In order for a system to function effectively, it must first define the goals it hopes to achieve. Parsons called this functional imperative goal attainment. Integration is also important to a system, because it needs to regulate the interrelationship of its component parts. Finally, a system needs to furnish, maintain, and renew motivation for individual participation, including the cultural patterns that create and sustain this motivation. Parsons referred to these functions as latency and pattern maintenance. Parsons further differentiated among four types of action systems: the cultural, the social, the personality, and the behavioural organism. Each of these systems compels actors to perform a specific functional imperative. The behavioural organism takes care of adaptation, the personality performs goal attainment, the social controls integration, and the cultural is responsible for the latency function."
Parsons argues that each individual occupies a status or position within a structure. "Status and role tend to go together in what Parsons calls the 'status-role bundle.'" (Grabb, p. 101). These are the ways in which individuals fill the structures of society. So long as roles are performed, the structures function smoothly, and it is individuals carrying out their functions and roles within these structures that make the structures work.
As old as this theory may be, it still has some elements of solution on what’s going on in Nigeria today.
In order for Nigeria to function effectively and end the violence that has caused several lives, it must first define the goals it hopes to achieve, adjust or cope with its environment, particularly when this environment is deemed threatening, regulate the interrelationship of its component parts. It must also furnish, maintain, and renew motivation for individual participation, including the cultural patterns that create and sustain this motivation. The government should endeavour to concentrate on Niger Delta, by building quality primary and secondary school, quality universities, good pipe borne water, creating job employment for the youths and creating quality libraries which is a good agent of social change so that people in the North could go to school and be educated instead of killing innocent souls.
Makanjuola Olaleye Ademola Department of Mass Communication University of Lagos, Akoka, Yaba, Lagos.