Nigeria and Cost of Boko Haram Insurgency
By Abdulsalam Mahmud
Since 2009, Nigerian security forces, especially the military, have been waging a counter-insurgency battle against Boko Haram and the Islamic State of West African Province, ISWAP, terrorists.
No thanks to the marauding activities of the two terror groups, the North East region has become another Somalia. Fighters of the deadly sects have not persisted in promoting their ‘Education is Evil’ campaign’.
In September, acclaimed Global and International Terrorism Research/Analysis group which speciallizes in collating data on terrorist’s activities worldwide, Jihad Analytics disclosed that Nigeria is the second most attcked and terrorized country in the world, with only Iraq being the first and Syria being the third.
The disclosure which was made in its half year report spanning January to June 2022 stated that while Iraq recorded 337 terrorists attacks, Nigeria recorded 305 attacks with Syria coming third following 142 terrorist’s attack’s.
The disclosure by Jihad Analytics which employs global and cyber open-source intelligence and data, noted that the Boko Haram/ISWAP Terrorist group was mostly responsible for the attacks.
Nevertheless, the Nigerian military has, indeed, recorded significant milestones in ridding the country of terrorist elements as evidenced in the recent killing of a large number of ISWAP and Boko Haram prominent Commanders, together with the mass surrendering of terrorists, since last year.
But the combat feats attained by its troops were not at a zero cost. Already, massive havoc had been wrecked by the subversive elements.
Like many concerned Nigerians, Gen. Leo Irabor, recently lamented the huge human and monetary costs of Boko Haram insurgency to the country.
According to Irabor, the Chief of Defence Staff, CDS, Nigeria has lost 100,000 lives and spent $9 billion (about N3.24 trillion) since the insurgency began in 2009.
The General, who also put the number of persons displaced at over two million, however said that insurgency had been restricted to a corner of the Northeast.
The Defence boss also affirmed that the Armed Forces have received N2.5 trillion in seven years and have been able to “tremendously” increase security operations.
The N2.5 trillion, according to him, is just 35 percent of the requirements of the Armed Forces and below 0.5 percent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product, GDP.
The lingering Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorism have wrecked unprecedented havoc as alluded by Irabor. It is time for the security forces to up their game, looking at the gargantuan financial resources they have received in prosecuting the war.
In particular, they should device new and effective strategies towards containing attacks by terrorists, and bandits in the North East. It is equally imperative that they overhaul their intelligence gathering and sharing system, as part of efforts to foil planned attacks by terror groups.
“It is vital that substantial investment is made in northeast Nigeria, both to help rebuild the region for its inhabitants and to erode the underlying causes of the conflict.
“Moreover, rehabilitation programmes for former combatants and their families, including education, training, employment and homes, are needed to give them a stake in a peaceful future. Some are themselves victims of the violence, forced to join the group against their will, while others are more convinced adherents and still others lie in a grey zone somewhere between the two extremes.
“Another important means of calming the insurgency, whether in the form of Boko Haram, ISWAP or another Islamist group, is cutting off financial support.
“There have been a variety of claims about support for Boko Haram from within the establishment, including funding from hundreds of currency traders and other professionals, and intelligence information being passed on from the Nigerian security services and military to the group.
“Six Nigerians were convicted of financing Boko Haram in the United Arab Emirates in 2019 but the identities of those under investigation in Nigeria itself are generally not revealed despite official reports that large numbers of people are involved.
“Some sources claim it is financed by wealthy sympathisers, including religious leaders, and there have been repeated allegations that they have secured weapons as a result of either military incompetence or collusion.
“Organised terrorism is a hydra-headed monster – cut off one head and two appear in its place. The only way to kill it is to slay the heart of the beast which is usually to be found in poverty and hopelessness. If the fall of Afghanistan has any lasting lessons to teach us, then it is that bombs and bullets will not win against terrorism. Development and hope might,” Neil Ford, an international security expert, noted.
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