Nigeria: Boko Haram, ‘The Crisis Is National’


“Boko Haram is no longer just a regional problem”, said Comfort Ero, the program director of the African Studies Centre International Crisis Group to MISNA. According to the expert, political incompetence and military repression are fueling the fire of the most populous country in sub-Saharan Africa.

Ms. Ero I, the attacks and violence in northern Nigeria are the latest in a crisis unresolved, or is there something new?

“Boko Haram has gained strength and confidence in itself in recent times, especially in the past year. It is less inhibited. This was demonstrated in August the suicide attack against the headquarters of the UN offices in Abuja, which claimed more than 20 victims. The group’s strength is inversely proportional to the inability of the government. ”

Many denounce the absence of a development plan for the semi-arid regions of the North, where the Boko Haram is stronger …

“True, but we must not forget that the claims of the group also have a national dimension. Widespread poverty, lack of prospects and the habit of politicians to exploit religion for purposes of consent are problems all over Nigeria. Boko Haram reflects a widespread problem, which covers the north hit by the crisis in the textile sector but also other regions, including oil in the south”.

What is the government doing incorrectly?

“In principle, President Goodluck Jonathan said he was in favor of seeking a dialogue with Boko Haram. But his ability to start a negotiation is increasingly questioned. Then there are the excesses of the soldiers and special units. Entire communities are forced to live in tents. They have experienced violence and trauma from which it is difficult to recover. ”

What does Boko Haram want?

“The group was founded in 2002 by Mohammed Yusuf, a trickster calling for the application of Islamic law in northern Nigeria. He had before him the example of the local ruling classes, who are used to exploit religion for political purposes. In 2009, Yusuf was killed after he was arrested. Since then things have only gotten worse. ”

In September, a committee of government experts has suggested opening a dialogue with Boko Haram. It is still the way to go?

“I think the government will continue to use the heavy hand as it has done so far. The problem is that Boko Haram cannot be eliminated because it now has a military importance. And after the events of Friday and Saturday, such a deal would be even more difficult. ”

Would dialogue be worthwhile?

“The political dimension is crucial, it is the first step in any possible reconciliation. Recently, Boko Haram has challenged the appointment as mediator of the Government of the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, arguing that he is not a good Muslim. One more problem. “


MISNA, or the Missionary International Service News Agency, provides daily news ‘from, about and for’ the 'world’s Souths', not just in the geographical sense, since December 1997.

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