Time magazine recently released its TIME 100, a list of the 100 most influential people, and Nigeria's not-very-own Abubakar Shekau, the leader of the terrorist organisation, Jama'atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda'Awati Wal-Jihad, popularly called Boko Haram, made the list under the category he bests fits in, "Leaders".
Mixed reactions have followed his inclusion in the list with someone wondering why the "lunatic" would be on the same list with one of the people in the forefront of standing against what he's been most infamous for recently, Mrs Oby Ezekweseli.
Some think TIME is just being hilarious by adding him to the list. But pause for a moment, take away all your anger and sadness and all those emotions that might hinder you from seeing the clear picture. Ask yourself, is Shekau really influential or not?
After he returned "from the dead" after he was believed to have been killed in a 2009 crackdown, Shekau became the leader of the group, after the founder, his predecessor, Muhammad Yusuf, was killed in 2009.
Since his return to the scene, Boko Haram has staged more daring, deadly attacks, bringing casualty numbers to over 10,000 in only a few years.
On the question that you are still asking on why Shekau made the list, these are two answers:
- One Group vs Four Nations: Shekau is leading a group of mostly diehard militants, forced recruits, and guns-for-hire, in a war against four countries, Nigeria, Chad, Niger, and Cameroun. That puts Shekau in a four-sided box if we look at it, the only problem is that they haven’t really found the edge to this box. At least not yet. There have been rumours that Shekau has been killed severally, but somehow he keeps coming back. Others will argue that what exists today is a copy of Shekau. Whether or not the rumours are true, the Shekau brand remains. Nigeria has a track record of foreign peace-keeping missions, Niger has fought to Tuareg rebellions to the north of her country, Cameroun and Chad have never really even fought a major war before now. What Shekau has managed to do, is drag the armed forces of four nations out of their barracks.
- The Chibok Girls: Although Boko Haram has kidnapped over 500 hundred people, including women and children, the most famous of them are the over 200 Chibok girls who were kidnapped from their hostel April 14, 2014. This led to the viral #BringBackOurGirls campaign which saw many people all over the word condemning the kidnapping. From the White House #BringBackOurGirls Michelle Obama placard, to the placards that just went with the trend, or to put it more correctly, the fashion-statement placards, it got everyone asking who Shekau is. This was when Shekau arrived. He made lawmakers all over the world actually speak on the matter.
- The all-round "influential person": The Time 100 has five major categories; Titans, Pioneers, Artists, Leaders, and Icons. Its safe to say Shekau has bombed his way into all the categories. He is indisputably one of the terror Titans of the world, especially as the terror Alpha-male of West Africa. In Pioneers, Shekau is the first Nigerian, even surpassing his predecessor in this regard, to lead a terror guerrilla war against the Nigerian State. As an Artist, Shekau has obviously mastered the art as an architect of destruction. The Leader of Boko Haram has placed himself as an Icon of an Ideology which has put itself on reverse to its own doom.
- TIME verdict: Time makes it clear that entrants are recognized for changing the world, regardless of the consequences of their actions.
Shekau turned the eyes of the world to one place, a town called Chibok.