How TO End the Boko Haram Insurgency in Nigeria-Bello Olayemi S.

How TO End the Boko Haram Insurgency in Nigeria-Bello Olayemi S.

Bello Olayemi S. (Dlaw), A Political Analyst and Diplomat


In the theory of manmadisation of history, it is obvious that man makes history, as history does not make man. This is evident in the on-going terrorism of the ‘Nigerian Talibans’ from Northeastern Nigeria, popularly called  ‘Boko Haram’ (‘Western education is sin’), has been in existence since our independence. But became popular as a violent group under the leadership of former president Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. Both the logic of violence and particularistic forms of identity are evident in Nigeria where the state relies heavily on the use of violence to quell internal disputes and where disgruntled politicians and other sinister actors, far from building a coherent nation, adroitly cash in on religious or ethnic identity to incite wars. Nowhere is this more evident than in Northern Nigeria, a region that has been in the throes of escalating Boko Haram terrorism .

Since July 2009, Boko Haram from Northeastern Nigeria, has stepped up its violence against the Nigerian state and its citizens, unleashing a systematic campaign of bombings, kidnappings and drive-by shootings on diverse government and civilian targets. In May 2013, President Goodluck Jonathan declared a State of Emergency in the worst hit Northeastern states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe. But such emergency measures have failed emphatically and woefully to turn the tide of the insurgency, instead, they have strengthened the group resolve to impose its will on Africa’s most populous country (Nigeria). Of particular concern are the growing sophisticated arms and weapons used by Boko Haram fighters in recent attacks, as shown in the seizures made by state security forces in Northern Nigeria. Following an intensified state offensive against Boko Haram, thousands of Nigerians are fleeing into neighboring countries fearing retaliatory attacks and general insecurity. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) recently announced that up to 10,000 Nigerians have fled to Niger’s Diffa region. Cameroon is currently hosting some 44,000 Nigerian refugees; another 2,700 have fled to Chad. The vast majority of those fleeing are women and children. Meanwhile, some 650,000 people remain internally displaced in northeastern Nigeria due not only to Boko Haram’s acts of domestic terrorism but also the counter-terrorism and indiscriminate killings of the state-led Joint Military Task Force (JTF). In an October 2014 report, the Human Rights Watch noted that Boko Haram kidnapped over 592 persons (mostly girls, boys and women) in 2014.

Ways to End Boko Haram in Nigeria include;

 (i) Empowering the state governments in the North to lead the charge and be the faces of the fight against Boko Haram. This could, if anything, address the conspiracy theory in the north that President Muhammad Buhari’s administration is sponsoring Boko Haram for one political reason or the other . It is important to underline that the conspiracy theories have made it more difficult to mobilize collective anger against Boko Haram.

(ii) Creating a Ministry of Northern Affairs, just like the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, to help address the numerous challenges in the North, including the problems of poverty,unemployment, illiteracy and radical Islam. This establishment would be one way of winning the hearts and minds of the locals and cooling local grievances on which Boko Haram feeds.

(iii) Conducting speedy and fair trials, under Islamic laws, of those found to be Boko Haram activists or funders and letting the law have its full course. Having suspects stand for trial for months or even years creates a backlash, and often has a way of mobilizing sympathy for the suspects. It may also be strategic to try the suspects under Islamic laws since the sect members have openly rejected Western civilization, including its jurisprudence. Whatever punishment is meted to them under Islamic jurisprudence will not be seen as part of Western conspiracy against Islam.

(iv) Instituting a sort of Marshall Plan for the Northeast aimed at winning the hearts and minds of the local populace. The plan should aim at providing quality education, building local capacity and providing jobs.

(v) There is no quick fix to fighting terrorism anywhere in the world as the experiences in other coun have shown. However, if the above recommended strategies can be adopted by the government of  the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the threat of Boko Haram can eventually be eradicated.

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