Global Resources

Nigeria’s Boko Haram: beyond the rhetoric

Author: H. Solomon
Publisher: African Centre for Constructive Resolution of Disputes
Publication Date: Jan 2014

As the world remains focused on the fate of more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by members of the militant Islamist group Boko Haram from the town of Chibok, Borno State in mid-April, it is clear that this terrorist organisation is rapidly reinforcing its position as a regional menace. In late May, the group staged an attack in northern Cameroon where a Chinese worker was killed and 10 others kidnapped. Remaining unmoved by the opprobrium levelled against them via social media Boko Haram’s leader, Abubaker Shekau, and his followers staged more violent attacks across northern Nigeria that stretched into June 2014. This Policy & Practice Brief (PPB) examines who, or what, Boko Haram is, and offers suggestions on some important factors to be considered when designing and implementing interventions aimed at ending the group’s acts of terrorism.

Adopting quick-fix solutions to the scourge of BokoHaram will not provide lasting relief or alleviate the suffering of citizens in northern Nigeria. The success of any intervention largely depends on the presence of a more professional and efficient security service in Nigeria. It will take time before development initiatives and interventions start to deliver tangible benefits to the long-suffering people of Africa’s largest economy. However, adopting an approach that takes into consideration the multi-faceted reasons for the conflicts, factors influencing support for Boko Haram at community level and the changing nature of the attacks in Nigeria is the only sustainable approach to take when mounting a response capable of providing citizens with some relief from the scourge of militant Islamists.