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Boko Haram: Structural Challenges Beyond Jonathan’s Reach, Says Chatham House

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A UK-based policy think-tank, Chatham House, has stated that some of the major structural challenges required to contain the menacing insurgency in the country are beyond the reach of the present administration of President Goodluck Jonathan.

However, if Nigeria must effectively tame the festering menace of Boko Haram, the Nigerian government must reorder its priorities as well as its visible efforts since the use of force appears ineffective.

In the research report released by Chatham House yesterday and titled: ‘Nigeria’s Interminable Insurgency: Addressing the Boko Haram Crisis,’ it contended that opportunities to address the Boko Haram crisis had been missed and as such, the situation has become more entrenched, resulting in a seeming reduction in the policy options available.

But to combat the prevailing challenges, the Chatham House report suggested that the international community must continue to focus on improving the gathering and sharing of intelligence, training elite units and improving the coordination of security agencies, noting that corruption and elections threaten to limit the progress.

With this, the report stated that the Nigerian government must reassess the role and mandate of the armed forces in the North-east, while the international community must at the same time, encourage a mandate that prioritises the protection of civilians and witnesses, as well as professionalise its armed forces and in particular, its police force.

It however observed that “These are deep structural challenges beyond the reach of the current government,” noting that the National Security Adviser’ (NSA’s) soft approach to counterterrorism is only workable “when there is effective protection for those imams tasked with the work of deradicalising the youth.”

Continuing, the document noted that “Any effort to destroy Boko Haram without complementary strategies for negotiations and sufficient provisions for alternatives to membership of the movement will fail: the sect will simply adapt, move and continue.”

Yet, Chatham House was of the position that certain steps can be taken, primarily by the Nigerian state and the non-state actors alike, including Nigeria’s neighbours and her international partners in addressing the current situation.

“The purpose of the presence of the armed forces in the northeast needs to change: the only sustainable way to combat Boko Haram is to protect civilians. Without a reordering of priorities and visible efforts to regain the trust of communities, Nigeria’s military will be caught fighting an interminable insurgency.

“The inability of Nigeria’s armed forces to obstruct its onslaught combined with a higher international profile, have lent it a confidence and ambition that appear to have prompted increasingly strategic behaviour alongside its ongoing indiscriminate and widespread attacks against civilian and state targets,” the report stated.

According to the findings of the document, “Boko Haram is strongly rooted in its domestic context and grew out of confrontation with the Nigerian state: it is host to a multiplicity of domestic actors and interests and operates in a complex political environment. Any external actors seeking a more active engagement in the crisis, for whatever reason, risk becoming entangled in what is ultimately a Nigerian crisis.”

Given this scenario, the document added that “For those seeking to impede Boko Haram’s violent advance, Nigeria’s coming general election in 2015 is an important consideration. It will become more difficult to distinguish between ideologically or grievance-driven Boko Haram attacks, politically manipulated attacks and violent political militias that may or may not claim to be affiliates of the movement.”

In what looks like a corroboration of the report, President Jonathan yesterday admitted that the roads to defeating the dreaded Islamic terrorist group, Boko Haram, is still far from smooth.

According to him, the same observation is applicable to other terrorist groups on the African continent.

Jonathan, who made the observation in Nairobi, Kenya, at the opening ceremony of the 455th African Union Peace and Security Council meeting, bemoaned the increasing violent  activities of Boko Haram, al-Shabaab and the Lord Resistance Army (LRA) in parts of Africa.

He, however, gave kudos to the past efforts of African leaders to tackle insurgency in the continent.

“While both member states and the commission deserve to be commended for their commitment and efforts, nonetheless, much remains to be done.

“The atrocities that continue to be committed by the terrorist groups active in the Sahelo-Saharan region, Boko Haram, the LRA, al- Shabaab and other terrorist groups, bear testimony to the long road ahead of us” Jonathan said.

The theme of the meeting was, ‘terrorism and violent extremism in Africa.’ It was  held at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre, Nairobi, Kenya. Jonathan also said: “The first solution relates to the need for enhanced cooperation among member states and between the continent and the rest of the international community.

“Indeed the problem we are confronting is global in nature. Terrorist and organised crime syndicate operate in networks that can only be defeated through concerted action and cooperation. The African Union and its various instruments and mechanisms provide the framework within which we should combine our efforts and pull together our scarce resources.

“The second point pertains to the need for action-oriented approach. We are now well equipped in terms of legal, political and normative instruments. The tasks ahead of us is to ensure their effective implementation.

“The countries concerned should take the steps required to become parties to the relevant African and international instruments. We should as member states fulfill our commitments and obligations, particularly with respect to legal measures, border control, exchange of intelligence and other related measures.”

Article Credit: Thisdaylive

Updated 4 Years ago

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Tags:     President Goodluck Jonathan     Chatham House     Boko Haram