Five Things Boko Haram Has Taught Us

1) Boko Haram is here to stay. Those who keep asking why the army is
not able to “finish off” Boko Haram overnight do not understand that
terrorism is a decades long problem. This is real life, not a Rambo or
Chuck Norris film. Look at the history of other violent militia around
the world and you will discover that it takes a very long time to
pacify them. From the IRA, ETA, PKK, LRA, to the Tamil Tigers. Even
the might of the United States and Israeli armies have not been able
to eliminate Al-Qaeda, Hamas, or Islamic Jihad. We are going to have to
deal with exploding markets and exploding cars for quite some time.

2) Southerners – stop kidding yourselves that Boko Haram is an
anti-southern movement. Boko Haram has killed far more northerners and
Muslims than southerners. So far Boko Haram has not attacked Lagos,
Ibadan, Benin, Enugu, or Port Harcourt. Not because it cannot; but
because it does not want to. If anyone should be terrified by Boko
Haram it is northerners, not southerners. Specifically – the northern
ELITE. When gunmen are trying drive by shootings on an esteemed symbol
of northern traditional authority like the Emir of Kano, you know
there is something seriously wrong in the north.

3) The government should be worried. For the first time in a long time
Nigerians are speaking with one voice and holding their government
accountable. Nigerians have taken out their bitterness at the impunity
of Boko Haram attacks on the government. The sympathy engendered by
the specter of young schoolgirls being kidnapped and taken to a forest
hideout by armed religious extremists, and the government’s failure to
bring the girls back, has created an emotional wave of soul searching
and finger pointing at the government. Nigerians have emotionally
“adopted” the faceless and nameless schoolgirls and their plight as
their own. This led to spontaneous mass action campaigns such as the
march in Abuja, marches by Nigerians in Diaspora to Nigeria’s foreign
embassies, and the #BringBackOurGirls campaigns on social media.

4) Nigeria’s security sector requires reform. Boko Haram are fighters,
not an “army” with uniforms, an identifiable battle doctrine or modus
operandi of combat. The Nigerian army is trained to fight other
armies. The army has to make a doctrinal shift and prepare to do
battle with irregular armed militia. Army cadets at the Nigerian
Defence Academy receive counter terrorism and counter-insurgency
training in their final year. The training takes place at the Center
for Counter Insurgency at the Nigeria Army School of Infantry in Jaji.
Over 900 soldiers completed the course at the center earlier this
year. This is a good start. However the army’s combat doctrine needs
to be re-oriented even further in the direction of counter-insurgency.
This can be done by creating autonomous special forces or paramilitary
units for internal security. At some stage Nigeria may need an entire
counter-insurgency trained army division.

5) For those of you southerners who keep dreaming of getting the
“parasitic north” out of Nigeria, Boko Haram may be carrying out your
fantasies for you. Boko Haram has done a fantastic job of alienating
the north from the south, and of making southerners even more
convinced that they do not want anything to do with the north.
Strangely southerners have been more outspoken about a northern based
insurgency than northerners who live in the affected areas. Perhaps
many northerners have been silent for reasons of self-preservation.

Written by
Max Siollun
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