The Boko Haram Insurgency: From Short Term Gains to Long Term Solutions

Thousands of Nigerian civilians have lost their lives, since the beginning of Boko Haram’s insurgency in 2010, with millions more being both internally and externally displaced. The organization has also spread into the Lake Chad region, carrying out attacks in Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. Over the past year, under President Buhari, an overhaul of Nigeria’s counter-insurgency strategy and improved regional coordination through the Multinational Joint Task Force has severely diminished Boko Haram’s ability to hold territory and carry out cross-border attacks. However, while security forces may have put Boko Haram on the back foot, the social and political root causes of the insurgency remain largely unchanged. Short term military gains against violent extremism tends often to simply disguise its root causes and discourage long term solutions based on structural and economic reforms. Furthermore, the humanitarian crisis in the north of Nigeria, where an estimated 2 million people have been internally and externally displaced, may well serve to exacerbate these root causes and create new pathways to extremism. Under President Buhari, there has been improved regional relations with Nigeria’s neighboring state, an important step in dealing with a conflict which now effects much of the Lake Chad region. This report serves to outline some of the key challenges and opportunities to preventing and countering violent extremism in Nigeria.