Escalating attacks on communities in North West Nigeria by criminal gangs, including mass kidnappings of school children, exploit the limited security sector presence in the region.
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Boko Haram’s violent campaign for an Islamic state in northern Nigeria has led to the growing isolation of this region. As Boko Haram’s violent attacks have increased, fewer traders are crossing the border to take the risk. Internet and cell phone access have similarly been restricted due to Boko Haram’s bombing of 24 base transceiver stations belonging to at least six telecommunications companies in the northeast. Such isolation serves Boko Haram’s aims well. Ideologically, the sect claims it seeks a purified version of Islam. Severing the region’s links with the outside world curbs the influence of external ideas, technology, and resources – leaving more space for the group’s message.
The Africa Center’s analyses examine how navigating Nigeria's challenges go hand-in-hand with fortifying the country’s democratic organs, avenues for youth-engagement, and security sector reforms.
MINUSMA relies on diesel for to power its vehicles and its generators. This has implications beyond the security of its fuel supply convoys however, since the diesel trade plays an important part in the political economy of northern Mali. In that region, less than five percent of the population has access to reliable electricity and armed groups often control fuel supply chains. MINUSMA has begun piloting using renewable energy sources, including solar energy. Beyond reducing the exposure of its fuel convoys, such initiatives could also help to build peace by serving as an entry point to renewable energy in northern cities.
Most deaths in war are not the result of battlefield clashes, nor are fighters among the largest cohort of casualties. Rather, civilians suffer the most fatalities from conflict—a result of the damage to the infrastructure and livelihoods that provide food, water, shelter, and health care. UNDP estimates that for each death directly linked to the violence started by Boko Haram in 2009, nearly nine more have been killed due to lack of food and resources. This means that as of late 2020, the conflict has led to an estimated 350,000 fatalities and 1.8 million children unable to attend school. While northeastern Nigeria was unlikely to have achieved any SDGs even in the absence of conflict, the violence has halted progress and set back human and economic development in the region for decades.
Nigeria faces an array of security challenges beyond Boko Haram. Distinguishing these threats and understanding their socio-geographic contours is essential for adapting customized solutions.
Nigeria faces a plethora of security challenges ranging from violent extremism, to farmer-herder conflict, banditry, a revived secessionist movement, police repression, piracy, and attacks on oil infrastructure, among others. In this roundtable discussion, experts representing diplomatic, scholarly, and practitioner perspectives discuss the links between these security challenges and Nigeria’s patronage-based state institutions. Key themes were the need to rethink the structure of the Nigerian state, identify means of strengthening national identity, harness the aspirations of youth to advance governance reform, create more accountability within the security services, and avoid the militarization of every security challenge.
Escalating violence in Nigeria’s North West region requires applying lessons from the fight against Boko Haram, including the need for community outreach and adapting the use of the Joint Military Task Force to unique local threats.
A rise in highway ambushes by Boko Haram and the Islamic State in West Africa pose a growing threat of isolation for Borno State’s 4 million residents.
Nigeria’s largest protests in a generation are calling for police and governance reforms—and expose long-delayed initiatives to enhance professionalism and oversight of Nigeria’s police.
Development efforts to stabilize conflict-affected regions should focus on a wider geographic area than those that are most fragile. Strengthening the resilience of outlying regions can help prevent deterioration in these locations while providing a more solid base of support for areas affected by crisis. This may require intensifying agriculture and strengthening markets in peri-urban and rural areas where displaced persons are living. Private sector investments can also be encouraged in these areas by reducing the risks investors face. Development efforts must simultaneously amplify the voices of effective local leaders and institutions while improving public sector effectiveness.
From Boko Haram to farmer-herder conflicts, ethno-religious tensions, separatist movements, urban crime, and national identity, Nigeria experts size up the security priorities facing the Buhari government in its second term.