Some reasons Nigeria's Boko Haram militants have not been defeated

2021-05-17 21:08:29
Some reasons Nigeria's Boko Haram militants have not been defeated

The claim by Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari that the Boko Haram terrorist group had been "technically defeated" is sounding increasingly untrue. There are several main reasons why Boko Haram has not been defeated despite the government claims, experts say.

Seven months into his first term in 2015, Buhari coined the term "technically defeated", but the Daesh/ISIS-affiliated group and its offshoots have never gone away.

Nigeria’s military has managed to retake territory and remove the fighters from some of their safe houses. But a recent spike in violent crimes, focused in the north-east, where the extremist group began its attacks in 2009, has led many to ask what is at the root of the government's failure.

Already this year there have been nearly 100 attacks, according to one estimate.

Root causes not addressed

Kabiru Adamu, a security analyst from Beacon Consulting, argues that 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.

"That's why, unfortunately, almost 11 or 12 years into the counter-insurgency operation, we are not seeing major successes," he told British media.

"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."

Adamu said that to address insurgency or terrorism, military operations are insufficient and the government must address the root causes of the insurgency, including social and economic desperation.

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

Nigerian military is ill-equipped

Even when it comes to the fighting there is the problem of weaponry, according to Adamu, who says that the military is ill-equipped.

Research by his firm, Beacon Consulting, found that there were about 6.5 million small arms and light weapons in circulation in Nigeria but just 586,000 are in the hands of security forces.

It is not the case that all of the remainder are being used by the Islamist militants, but the figures highlight that there are a huge amount of weapons available that are not in the military's control.

Adamu also says that "what we are seeing based on evidence is that these [armed] groups have a higher calibre of weapons, unfortunately, than the military".

Boko Haram's ability to recruit

The long-standing 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.

"People are readily available for recruitment just to survive," security expert Abdullahi Yalwa said, citing the problems of joblessness and poor governance.

Bukarti highlights the "systematic campaign of forced recruitment of young people".

Borno state Governor, Babagana Zullum, recently told British media that the insurgents were even recruiting people who had previously been forced from their homes by the conflict itself.


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