Saturday, January 21, 2012

Boko Haram - the Answer to Terror Lies in Providing More Meaningful Human Security

African Arguments
19 January 2012

Olly Owen


Nigeria today faces a formidable combination of security challenges, which led President Goodluck Jonathan last week to declare the situation "even worse than the civil war". The situation, which combines communal clashes, civil unrest and a growing tide of almost daily violence by 'Boko Haram' militants puts the country's police under a spotlight.

The crisis points to whole issue of self-defence, human insecurity, faith in the power of the state to protect and the need for a wholesale reorientation of policing to reflect that.

It is clear that a variety of interests are sheltering under the umbrella labels 'Boko haram' and/or the more formal Jama'atu Ahlis-sunnah lidda'ati wal Jihad (claimed as its 'true' title by one faction of the group.) The August 2011 attack on UN headquarters in Abuja made it clear that there is an internationally networked aspect to the group, linking with wider jihadi worldviews and activities, but while it is this headline-grabbing set of activities which have caught the attention of the outside world - most recently, the US House of Representatives' Committee on Homeland Security's Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence - the picture in Nigeria is more complex.

Attacks in Kagoro, Kaduna state, in December, and more recently a massacre of (Christian) Igbo businesspeople holding a meeting in Adamawa State, put it beyond doubt that the aim of at least one tendency in Boko Haram is to escalate violence past the state's capacity to respond, and thereby to destabilize the country into ethno-religious war.

Meanwhile, there seem to be other aspects of the movement more focussed on perceived injustices in the group's original home of Borno State itself, and the local electoral and traditional political offices there. And other factions or actions of the insurgents seem to indicate deliberate political manipulation. In fact, there is no reason why the group should be more internally consistent than the militants of the Niger Delta, who span the range from the deeply ideological to the greedy opportunists. But it is clear that the longer the insurgency continues, the more the extreme tendencies with an interest in escalation seem to be gaining the upper hand.

It is equally clear that under all of these manifestations lie the same root cause - a persistent trajectory of underdevelopment and misgovernance in that corner of Nigeria,

No comments:

Post a Comment