With a population of nearly 177 million within its borders, Nigeria also shares a common border of 770 km with the Republic of Benin, 1500 km with the Republic of Niger, more than 1700 km with Cameroon, 90 km with Chad, and 850 km of maritime border in the Atlantic ocean. Nigeria stands out as one of the largest and economically viable countries in sub Saharan Africa; yet, the nation is experiencing one of the bloodiest terrorist insurgencies in its history. Making bad matters worse, the benefits of its economic growth are concentrated to only a few, with an estimated 63 % of its population remaining in severe poverty. Since it independence in October 1960, the country has been at the torch light of constant civil wars and continuous terrorist attacks.
Recently classified as the deadliest terrorist group in the world, the Islamist group Jama’atu Ahl as-Sunnah li-Da’awati wal-Jihad–commonly referred to as Boko Haram–emerged as a violent challenge to the Nigerian government and population, making it difficult to maintain peace throughout the whole nation over the last decade. After a $3 million investment by the late Osama Bin Laden in northern Nigeria (where Muslims are the majority), with the aim of promoting his brand of Salafist Islamism, Muhammed Yusuf, the founded Boko Haram. He focused on da’wa and the creation of a micro-society, stating as the main goal the Islamization of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. According to this vision, the region will practice “pure” Islam and usher in the creation of other Muslim caliphates. Although most of the northern states and some middle belt states practice a version of Sharia governance, Boko Haram still claims that this version violates Islam and is too lenient. However, after the death of Muhammed Yusuf, Abubakar Shekau emerged as the new leader of the Islamic Sect and completely shifted its focus to Jihad and radical attacks throughout the country–including the abduction of the Chibok girls. In addition, there has been continued unrest and instability in major northern states of the country, perpetrated by Boko Haram whom have now pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (ISIS) along with Al-Qaeda.
The regime under the former president Goodluck Jonathan did everything possible to curb these terrorists’ efforts, but to no avail. The incumbent President, Muhammadu Buhari, embarked on the creation of a joint task force to totally eradicate the terrorists, with the participation of some neighboring countries. Prominent Nigerians such as General Abdulsalami Abubakar and former Benue state Governor Gabriel Suswan have called on the government to engage in dialogues with the group to resolve security challenges in the country. For them both political leaders and spiritual leaders in the north should work together to address the crisis in order to avert future catastrophes and bomb blasts.
On Wednesday March 16th, a suicide bombing by Boko Haram terrorists in a mosque in Maiduguri left 25 people dead and 18 others injured. The new Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, said on Sunday that Boko Haram would beg for peace or face the wrath of highly motivated soldiers. He also re-christened the operational code of the counter-insurgency effort from “Operation Zaman Lafiya” to “Operation Zaman Lafiya Dole”, which in Hausa means the quest for peace becomes a must. Hence, it is now clear that without the synergy of intelligence amongst all security forces, it will be difficult to defeat Boko Haram, whose insurgency has caused the death of over 20,000 people since 2009 and property damage at over $5.9 billion to date.
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