The United Kingdom recently hosted a meeting on the Boko Haram threat. The power of the Islamist militia threatening Nigeria and potentially the region as a whole has been rising. The group, which has become more potent lately, has been at its audacious best after kidnapping more than 200 girls in Chibok in northeast Nigeria. Militants raided a school and led the girls at gunpoint into the wilderness. The administration of President Goodluck Jonathan took much time to sit up and take notice. It was noise created by activists and international media that goaded Jonathan and his troops into some action.
Boko Haram’s ideology stems from a hatred of western education and a revulsion for things linked to the West. The term Boko Haram means ‘western education is sin’ in the local Hausa language. Like all Islamist groups, the organisation uses a distorted version of the religion to meet its egregious ends. After spreading its reign of terror in the north of the country, the militant group has become emboldened even to target people watching football. Last Wednesday, they attacked one such centre in Nigeria being prepared for the World Cup in Brazil.
Nigeria has huge oil reserves but hasn’t been able to capitalise on its economic strengths. Along with a weak democratic polity, the nation suffers from poverty and crime. The administration is seen to be less accountable to the plight of the people. All this leads to entrenched corruption that eats into the fabric of the nation.
Boko Haram has become a leading terror group in Africa, which has recently seen a spike in the number of terror attacks. The militant group is not the only one keeping security forces on tenterhooks. Al Shabab, based in Somalia, is known for its reign of terror in east Africa.
Yesterday, suspected Shabab militants went on a gun and grenade rampage in a Kenyan town, killing 48 people. The site of the carnage near an island frequented by tourists is the worst terror attack in the country after Al Shabab raided the West Gate mall in Nairobi, killing 67 people. The curve of militancy in Africa is becoming steeper by the day. Besides endemic poverty, militancy has become another scourge with which nations will have to deal strongly. Given a perpetual lack of resources and frail governance structures, Africa has let militancy grow in various regions of the continent.
The West only shows intermittent alarm at the rising cases of carnages perpetrated by militant groups. Consumed as they are by insurgencies raging in the Middle East, western capitals are loathe to spread their resources thinly for stanching militant movements in Africa. However, slowly the realisation is dawning on western leaders that the approach to militancy has to be an all-inclusive one. They cannot concentrate their resources in one region at the expense of another.