Nigeria: Boko Haram is alive and kicking

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President Muhammadu Buhari’s optimism after a few victories against Boko Haram rebels is not realistic. Atrocities in the village of Dalori, where jihadists set fire causing about 90 killed, including children, and the recent attack on a hamlet in Borno State, where three people died, report that the war in the North-East of the country is not over yet.

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Since his assignment in 2015, Buhari, in collaboration with Cameroon and Chad, defeated several times Boko Haram troops. Indeed, unlike his predecessor, the Christian Jonathan Goodluck, he’s Muslim and comes from northern Nigeria: so, it’s a crucial factor in the fight against Islamist organization.

However, there are many negative causes. These victories did not go with an improvement of Nigeria as State. Because of lack of funds, the homes, schools and churches restoration didn’t happen. Consequently, the reconstruction of social fabric failed.

All this in a context of permanent opposition between the South, Christian, richer and more developed; and the North, Muslim, poorer and with less infrastructure. A contrast worsened in the last year by the charges of human rights abuses against civilians to Nigerian army, while it was hunting down Boko Haram in Borno State.

A discontent used by Boko Haram, as Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, to recruit people.

Buhari’s optimism discloses an underestimation of the opponent. An opponent which took a specify military tactic in recent months. It disappears when it has difficulties and reappears when conditions allow. And it resorts more to raids than suicide attacks.

The tactics of Boko Haram combined with now long-standing war against the Nigerian state tell us about a real war. For this reason, as written by Financial Times, a few victories do not mean the end of this war.

As evidence of this, in an interview Vicenews on HBO, a Boko Haram commander told about more than 200 Chibok girls abducted on April 15, 2014: “I know where they are. You want to know where they are? They are not with us. If we can get what we want, we know where they are, we will get them.” Challenging words which explain how Boko Haram is alive and kicking.
Giacomo Pratali

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