Nigeria’s terror baby is biting and it is biting pretty hard. The explosion that occurred yesterday, 1st of May, in a bus station in Nyanya a suburb in Nigeria’s federal capital territory FCT barely two weeks after a first bomb blast in the same area is a slap in the face of the Nigerian government and security forces by the insurgent Islamic group Boko Haram. Clearly, whatever measures that have been taken are not effective and the death toll is proof enough.

So, what exactly is the problem? Well, to put it mildly, the answers would be porous borders, lax security and poor governance. According to the Nigeria immigration service NIS, Nigeria shares a border stretch of 773Km with Benin republic, 87Km with Chad, 1049Km with Niger and 1690Km with Cameroon. And between these four neighbors, there are about 1487 illegal routes through these porous borders.   It is therefore no surprise that the citizens of Niger, chad and Cameroon are participating in Boko haram attacks in Nigeria. This involvement implies that Nigeria’s neighboring countries provide a safe haven for training recruits, planning attacks and retreat for its members after any attack in Nigeria.

Niger in particular is a fertile ground for Boko haram terrorist intentions due to the country’s weak government, socio-economic challenges and marginalization of certain class of citizens within that society. Also, the existence of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in Niger and their salafist ideology, in which Boko haram is deeply rooted provides an ally should it ever need them. This further adds to the issues of national and regional insecurity currently plaguing this part of West Africa.

Though there have been efforts between the governments of Nigeria, Niger and Cameroon to strengthen border security and prevent the spread of terrorism, but according to a report by the US department of state published on Wednesday 2nd may, the federal government has failed in tackling the grievances among northern population. Up till now, the Nigerian government has not declared any of the terrorists it knows, wanted. Presently, there are no posters and flyers in Nigeria and neighboring countries or even a list of wanted persons.  This is clearly an indication of non-commitment.

The United States on the other hand, is not underestimating the threat that Boko haram poses to its homeland. For this reason the US came up with a number of policies some of which can serve as a model if the Nigerian government decides to get serious in tackling Boko haram. Part of the US policy is engaging Nigerian Muslims through USAID and providing support, training and funds for the Nigeria military. Though these may not have had profound effect on the fight against Boko haram, but they are still effective to an extent.

If Nigeria can adopt US strategy of reducing the flow of funds to Boko haram by pressuring their border connections in chad, Niger and Cameroon and also actively pursue regional cooperation and development, then maybe we can finally record a positive milestone in the fight against terror in Nigeria.


Written by O. Obaremi

Follow on twitter @oobaremi