Home World News Reasons why Boko Haram have not been defeated

Reasons why Boko Haram have not been defeated

Boko Haram ambush

The phrase that Nigerian militant group Boko Haram had been “technically defeated” is ringing increasingly hollow.

Seven months into his first term in 2015 President Muhammadu Buhari coined the term, but the group and its offshoots have never gone away.

The military has managed to retake territory and dislodged the fighters from some of their hideouts. But a recent spike in deadly violence, focused in the north-east, where the Islamist group began its insurgency in 2009, has led many to ask what is at the root of the authorities’ failure.

Already this year there have been nearly 100 attacks, according to one estimate. A number of military bases as well as towns, including Geidam and Damasak, a hub for aid workers, have been overrun. Hundreds have been killed and weapons, food and medicines have all been looted.

There are six main reasons why Boko Haram has not been defeated despite the government claims, experts say.

An over-reliance on a military strategy to confront Boko Haram is at the heart of the state’s inability to deal with the threat, argues security analyst Kabiru Adamu from Beacon Consulting.

“That’s why, unfortunately, almost 11 or 12 years into the counter-insurgency operation, we are not seeing major successes,” he told the BBC.

“Yes, the military will dislodge the terrorists but then because they are still able to exercise influence, they’re able to recruit, they’re able to generate funding, they’re able to acquire weaponry, then they regroup.”

Experts say that it is not that people in the north-east sympathise with Boko Haram and its splinter group, the Islamic State’s West Africa Province, but that neglect from the authorities and desperation often drive people into the hands of the militants.

“The reality is that to address insurgency or terrorism, you need more than military operation. You need to address the root causes of the insurgency,” Mr Adamu says.

“Unfortunately we haven’t seen enough efforts in that regard.”

He points to a lack of good governance that leaves the population impoverished, frustrated and uneducated as “one huge root cause”.

There are major government initiatives that are meant to speed up development in the north-east, but little progress has been made.

There is also the National Counter-Terrorism Strategy which also involves economic development and counter-radicalisation, in addition to the deployment of troops. But Mr Adamu says it appears the strategy is not being fully implemented.

Others, like Security analyst at the Tony Blair Institute for Change, Bulama Bukarti, argue that along with deradicalisation there should be a huge surge in military activity similar to what was seen in Iraq and Syria when the Islamic State group’s so-called caliphate was dismantled.

The endemic poverty in parts of the region as well as the insurgents’ violent methods enable the continued recruitment of generation after generation of fighters, experts say.


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