How to deal with Boko Haram?


“We must respond to those who feel they have a divine right to mess up our lives  says Nigerian Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka about our reaction towards Boko Haram. Dear World, your Hashtags won’tBringBackOurGirls“, argues Jumoke Balogun, co-founder and co-editor of Please, read two views on the same problem.

Does it help if Michele Obama expresses her solidarity from the White House and  foreign nations offer their help to the Nigerian army in another battle against terror? Is this well meaning empathy or a counterproductive intervention?

Last time we had #KONY2012, now it’s „BringBackOurGirls“. Raising awareness in Nigeria and all over the world? Or inviting the US-military to another part of Africa, as the Nigerian writer Teju Cole has twittered and warned?

How should the international  public respond to a phenomenon like Boko Haram is the first question we’d like you to discuss as part of this year’s Regional FES-Young Leaders Forum. As we’ve indicated in today’s roundmail to you, we would like to start using this blog for debating questions like this one posted by us, or others suggested by yourself. (please, send them to

Let’s try and start these debates now – and then hopefully act with consideration.






  1. ………….Thanks Amon for this Blog. I definitely belief that this platform will support us.

    Greeting from Kampala


  2. Finding the real root causes as to why such militia exists would be the first step in solving the problem of Boko Haram. I have always associated the name Boko Haram with the Niger Delta part of Nigeria, since I came to hear about the group under those circumstances – the oil question in that part of the world.

    However, in the current circumstance of kidnapping of school girls, the group seems to be evolving and taking new direction. I am no expert in that part of the world and as such I will stay clear of fully assessing the group. However, under the current circumstance, where school girls were kidnapped and there was no immediate action by local authorizes. It is in my concerted opinion that the social media reactions and trends initially generated were valid. However, as is always the case in Social Media world such reactions often result to a trend and once a trend is generated as is the case here #BringBackOurGirls there is no controlling it. Trends generally tend to have a life of their own as was the case of KONY 2012. This has resulted to what commentators and analysts call slacktivism which would require a whole debate to analyse the pros and cons of such actions in social media.

    How to deal with Boko Haram? I am pleased that a number of countries have offered help to assist find the girls and that the concerted global attention of this incident has forced the government to offer to negotiate with the group. The immediate attention therefore lies in finding the girls. Once the girls are found it will be up to the Nigerian Citizens and Government to consider addressing the problem of Boko Haram. If they wish to have international involvement on this matter, that will be entirely up to them.

    What I take from this incident is our countries need to take note of what is happening in Nigeria since we have similar problems albeit at an early stage in our backyards. In my opinion this might be compounded by the discovery if natural resources.

  3. A Note of Concern in What is Happening in Nigeria!
    (posted on

    The title of the online forum ‘How to deal with Boko Haram?’ depicts the group as alien and unwanted. That is exactly the spirit that created problems that persist all over now. And the query ‘How’ supposes the reader to list suggestions and at the same time involve him and/or her as actors. Who are we suggesting to? Are we involved? Are we aligned?

    I prefer to remain a witness and try to be objective. The problem in North Eastern Nigeria is a war between a powerful, corrupt and abusive government in Abuja – and – a rebel group with extreme political and religious views that uses very unorthodox strategies to do the business. Abduction, to the latter, is a good strategy in the asymmetric warfare it uses.

    Boko Haram’s inception dates back to early 2000. The group probably was inspired by the incidents of the 9/11 attacks. I don’t want to go to details here, but the Govt should have dealt with the group wisely before it run loose. It is now a decade old pain-in-the-a**.
    I see Abuja never winning this Abduction war. They will and must negotiate. This means, a change in the solid principle of ‘not negotiating with terrorists’. Well, the fact is, the ‘terrorists’ you choose to repel give you an inescapable ‘terror’ on your table to deal with. That is what it is in Nigeria. Abuja must take a brave step towards compromise. Bring the Group to table. Stop socioeconomic marginalization. Work on political inclusion. Even to the extent that Boko Haram getting a permission to civilly promote its ‘extreme’ religious agenda. It is doing it anyway. Why not try the civil way?

    Boko Haram on the other hard seems more comfortable with messing up with Abuja than setting a clear agenda and work towards achieving it. It mixes religion and politics. They recruit angry, suicidal soldiers than people with vision. This will only do harm to all and benefit only none.

    In an important note, The girls cannot be possessed by any party. When they are released,they are going back to their families. Abuja tries to act as a savior [though incapable], hijack the sympathy and possess the girls. Boko Haram only thinks the girls are cards of its ploy. The world with its all helplessness tries to cry a hash-tag. The International Terror Business venture of both ends are doing their thing behind closed doors. The news is hardly full picture but the innocent girls remain trapped in a constant insecurity.

    “Everyone’s worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there’s really an easy way: Stop participating in it.”
    ― Noam Chomsky

    Good day!


    As much as the Boko Haram has some reasonable arguments such as economic marginalization in support of their attacks, their means of seeking justice are not only uncivilized and barbaric but also inhuman. However, remember that the root cause of the problem is the widespread poverty in the north of the African economic giants. The leaders of the terrorist-group exploit this situation by appealing to the unemployed youth by offering them huge sums of money.
    As much as compromise cant be made with terrorists, war is not the best approach in such as scenario where the recruits fight in exchange for money.
    The only solution is for the world to focus on economically empowering northern Nigerians through improving the investment environment there.More schools, hospitals, markets, roads, railways among others should be built to empower people economically so that they will eventually shun war as source of income. UNTIL THEN, THE ATTACKS WILL RAGE ON.

    There has been a constant wave of insecurity and violence in Africa over the past decade. This has resulted into many states being instable and many citizens turning into refugees and internally displaced persons. It first begun with the xenophobic attacks in South Africa, then the Madagascar coup and thereafter the Arab uprising that saw Tunisia and Morocco experience a civil unrest that led to their respective governments to give in to the masses demand and initiate the constitution review process. Later the same wave endured to Libya and Egypt and it resulted to their respective presidents being ousted but for the case of Libya Gaddafi was assassinated by rebels aided by the NATTO forces in unclear circumstances. In the west, Nigeria is struggling to keep the Boko Haram at bay while all indicators show that it would only get worse if immediate intervention is not sought after. Mali, Chad, Ivory Coast, Central African Republic, Congo, Somalia and Southern Sudan have neither been exempted but rather they are also struggling to restore peace and stop the civilian war that are being carried out by organized gangs of armed militia.
    The threat to peace and insecurity in the 21st century include not only international war and conflict, but civil violence, organized crime and terrorism (KNHCR:2005) Within ‘non-conflict’ situations, crime and insecurity have gained recognition as development constraints (Ayeres 1994, Mollwaine 1999, Rogers 2003). This is supported by a United Nations Report (1992:6) which states that, among other things ‘crime impairs the overall development of nations, undermines spiritual and material wellbeing, compromises human dignity and creates a climate of fear and violence. This engenders personal security and erodes the quality of life. Increased incidences of crime thus disturbs security and creates and provokes a situation of insecurity.
    Kenya has also been caught up in the same paradox only that in its situation, there are fighting terrorism attacks from the neighboring country Somalia.

    Ever since the Kenyan government sent its troops to Somalia back in 2010 to fight the infamous Al Shaabab militia who had been kidnapping its foreign citizens and hijacking ships along the Indian Ocean coastal line than were headed to harbor in Kenyan ports, Kenya has been through many terror attacks. Most of these attacks have been experienced in the Muslim dominated regions majorly Mombasa in the coast province and Eastleigh in Nairobi. The worst attack took place in Nairobi Westland area in September 2013 when Westgate mall was held hostage for more than three days and a rough estimate of 69 lives were lost and several injured as recorded by the press statement that was issued by the office of the Internal Security Cabinet Secretary Ole Lenku. More than half of the victims were foreign nationalities and some were diplomats serving in various embassies. Through their twitter handle the leader of Al Shaabab claimed responsibility though it was later deleted. Though the reasons behind this attacks have never been clear, the only possibility linked to the attacks has been to put pressure on the Kenyan government to withdraw its defense forces from Somalia.

    But for the sake of the topic let me stick to Boko Haram in Nigeria.
    First let say that we must trend softly on issues of rebel groupings. We might be quick to label them with all negativity yet they might be a liberation movement, a good example was Mandela and ANC being labeled as terrorist back then in their struggle against apartheid.
    But for the Boko Haram we can’t be wrong! It is a Terrorist group and we condemn it using all manner and terms possible. Any grouping that fight for their rights by endangering the lives, freedom or safety of another group whether legal or must not be given a chance. Many are the avenues that one can use to express their discontentment other than terror.
    In quest to handle the Boko Haram was must rule out any form of negotiations unless they pull out and withdraw, and surrender. Negotiation with a terror group is always a compromise and the terror group in most cases win.
    The popularity of the Boko Haram is pegged on sympathy and base their action on religion and hence a serious campaign must be done to dissociate the religion and the terror groupings so as to reduce the number of sympathizers who fear to condemn it.
    Their struggle is far from fighting for the resources as claimed by most of their sympathizers.

    However it will be better if the Nigerian government enhance its security intelligence so as to uproot the menace by its roots. Understanding how this group organizes itself, where they get their funding, and their structures of communication, modes of enrollment and their choices of activity must be clearly understood so as to be in a position to counter their radicalization.
    Poor governance to some extend has been a contributing factor and hence structures must be enhanced to promote democracy let the marginalized join hands with Boko Haram.

    Nigeria needs Anti-terror Legislation that will combat terrorism alongside declaring it a national disaster. Rather than the knee jerk reactions that is currently being done. This will help them come up with mechanism of fighting terrorism. If you may note few African countries have strategies to counter terrorism not even anti-terror police.

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