Economic Reforms, not Military Might, will finish Boko Haram
In a major opinion piece in NEWSWEEK (13 August 2016), Marshall Comins (a Russia-Africa expert and senior adviser to Zimbabwe’s ambassador to the Russian Federation) and Emmanuel Onwe (a Nigerian counter-terrorism expert and information commissioner in Nigeria’s Ebonyi State), argue that it will be economics that will ultimately defeat Boko Haram insurgents, not military might.
They state that the rise of the Islamist insurgency is bigger than politics whose roots are in socioeconomic deprivation. They quote General Martin Luther Agwai, former Nigerian Chief of Defence staff, who has told the Nigerian Government, “Until these issues are addressed, the military can never give you a solution.”
Comins and Onwe believe that Agwai’s claim is vindicated by the number of captured Boko Haram militants ‘who have shown a considerable lack of ideological fanaticism’ when subjected to interrogation. In fact, they state, ‘When officials from Nigeria’s Office of the National Security Adviser interviewed Boko Haram prisoners, it emerged that most of the group had reportedly never read the Koran.’
On this basis, Comins and Onwe argue, the primary motives for joining the militant group “are not ideological, but may include access to money, jobs and loot.”
They conclude: “economic reforms that seek to empower Nigeria’s historically neglected north and bring prosperity and inclusive growth will diminish the ability of Boko Haram to recruit locally.”
The full article can be read here