Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

More than a military struggle

More than a military struggle Defeating Boko Haram is only the first step. The rest of the struggle will be even more difficult. Will Nigeria's government and leaders be up to the task? (i.e. Does the state have the capacity to save itself?)

Reclaiming Nigeria: After Boko Haram
THE marks of terrorist rule start to appear a couple of hundred kilometres north of Yola, capital of Nigeria’s Adamawa state. Bombed churches and burnt-out political offices sit decaying… Broken-down tanks adorned with the jihadists’ emblem litter the road…

Nigeria has made gains against the Islamic State-affiliated insurgency… Pushed out of most major settlements now, its fighters are hiding in the scrublands of the Sambisa forest and across the border in Cameroon. Morale among Nigeria’s soldiers has soared. They are better equipped, and better liked, than in years. Children smile and salute them in the streets…

In the safer reclaimed spots in this state, life is improving. Torched farms are being replanted, markets have reopened and cars have returned to the roads. Citizens are rebuilding bridges bombed by Boko Haram. Shattered banks are opening new branches in bigger settlements…

Non-profit organisations are worried, though. They complain that leaders have downplayed the scale of the humanitarian crisis. They also worry about sending displaced people back to unsecured towns. Militants still stage murderous raids on villages where vigilantes are more visible than the military, and suicide bombers attack markets or non-extremist mosques with terrifying regularity…

The north-east is among Nigeria’s poorest regions, and many returnees are afraid to go back to farming, which is the only work many can find. Instead, they rely on overburdened relief agencies for food. The most recent counts from the International Organisation for Migration suggest that people are still fleeing their homes in Nigeria’s north-east. A “conservative” tally put the number of displaced at 2.15m in August, and rising…

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