Saturday 1 March 2014


There was a Stakeholders' Meeting on Rising Insecurity in North-East Nigeria convened by the Centre for Democracy & Development (CDD), Abuja, on February 26, 2014. I am a non resident Senior Fellow of CDD. The following are the highlights of the discussion at the meeting with theme:  "Towards an Effective Strategy on Counter Insurgency in Nigeria".

The current nation-based security architecture and structures need to be urgently re-examined. Terrorists, including Boko Haram (BH), usually do not have defined populations that could be attacked. They are invisible. This makes it more difficult to track them down. BH and Ansaru are said to be affiliated to Al-Queda.

Nigeria should spread her tentacles beyond national borders. Nigeria should explore signing bilateral/multilateral cooperation agreements with nation-states that have similar terrorism issues, with a view to engendering cross-fertilization of ideas cum strategies on counter-insurgency.

The concept of sovereignty could be a hindrance to Nigeria's engagement with the West African (ECOWAS) and African (AU) security platforms. Nigeria may need to key into these platforms for enhanced cooperation on counter-insurgency. It is not enough to latch on to the "sovereignty" of the country to the detriment of the sanctity of human life, which is being wasted on a daily basis, especially in north-east Nigeria. Article 4 of the Constitutive Act of the AU is relevant here. The implication of this article is that nation-states cannot hide under the 'umbrella' of 'sovereignty' to unleash untold hardship and atrocities on the citizens...

There should be a balance between military responses and political cum social responses when dealing with insurgents. For now, it appears Nigeria is concentrating more on military responses to insurgency. How far has this taken us? There is an urgent need to engage all non-state armed groups in constructive dialogue.

Besides, in spite of the violence in the north-east, a robust poverty alleviation strategy could be put in place, which could reduce the level of anomie of Nigerian citizens in this area vis-à-vis the state. The African method of raising children should be returned to: "It takes one person to give birth to a child, but it takes a village to raise a child". Programs should be put in place for socialization of children and youths to return to family values.

With many programs in place, in a few years the almajiri phenomenon could be reduced. This entails street kids being catered for through regulated channels supported by the state. The long-term implication of this is that such children would no longer be available as suicide bombers. Since it is in the hearts of men and women that violence begins, it follows that it is also in their hearts that peace through tolerance should begin (UNESCO).

The criminalization of the Nigerian state undermines counter-terror efforts. We note the growing nexus between organized crime syndicates and radical islamist groups like BH and Ansaru. Terrorists are exploiting the phenomenon of the criminalization of the state to expand their influence in state structures.

Preachers in all religions - Christianity, Islam and Traditional African Religion (TAR) should be licensed by the state. They should have a code of conduct, such that if any one of them is flouting any item in the said code, his/her license should be withdrawn. This, to a large extent, would curb the rise of radical preaching in any religion.

Nigeria's counter-terrorism strategy remains focused on non-state actors. There should be a coherent strategy to respond to state actors - both regional and extra-regional. The National Counter Terrorism Strategy (NCTS) needs to be reviewed with a view to making it comprehensive.

The contents of the recommendations of the Boko Haram Amnesty Committee need to be thoroughly interrogated by the Panel on the Implementation of the BH Amnesty Committee's Recommendations. Stakeholders should be allowed to participate in such a review...

Related Links

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*The state of peace-building in Africa: Lessons learned from policymakers & practitioners   https://www.palgrave,com/gp/book/9783030.../  #aboutbook
*Nation of strangers: Examining the rise of conflicts in Africa
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*A visit to a bandits' den by Abdul Fagge (Investigative Reporter)
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*Nigeria: New drums of secession
*Community Policing is a great idea to address security challenges in rural areas, but its implementation can be quite difficult - Prof. Paul Jackson
*Proactive peace-building: Exploring the alternatives to engendering community peace
*Handbook of terrorism prevention & preparedness
*State governments should take care of insecurity tactfully
*The Pentagon fears that deadly Microwave Weapons are undetectable

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