Tuesday, August 18, 2020

How is Nigeria fighting Boko Haram

This article is by

Share this article

Niger's special forces prepare to fight Boko Haram in Diffa, March 26, 2015. | Source: VOA via Wikimedia

It was in the 2000s that Nigeria first faced the threat of Boko Haram, the affiliate of Islamic State in Africa. As President Muhammadu Buhari completes five years of being in power, which he got primarily for his plank of defeating Boko Haram, the battle still continues.

Buhari won the presidential election in 2015 against then President Goodluck Jonathan by touting his military background as an asset in defeating Boko Haram, which his predecessor was not able to do. While in his first few months as President he did show results by pushing Boko Haram out of some territories, the Nigerian military was unable to maintain the momentum as Boko Haram struck back with new tactics.

General Muhammadu Buhari, President, Nigeria | Source: Chatham House via Wikimedia

There is widespread distrust towards government officials and Buhari’s popularity has also eroded massively. The citizens are making their dissatisfaction known through anti government demonstrations. Meanwhile the administration seems busy playing blame games and guessing at where things are going wrong in the military’s efforts to contain the violence.

In June 2020, Nigeria saw one of its deadliest attacks in recent times, a hard turn from claims by the military in April that a Boko Haram leader appeared ready to surrender “based on body language.”

Boko Haram which means "Western education is prohibited" in the local Hausa dialect, first began in 2002 under Muhammad Yusuf. They called shunning the western influence in the social sphere and called  for the enforcement of sharia even among non-Muslims. Its leader Mohammad Yusuf was killed in police custody in 2009. However the government authorities failed to utilise this opportunity and showed slackness in rehabilitating the group members, who moved underground, regrouped under new leadership, and continuing to terrorise even larger areas.

Image of Boko Haram terrorists | AK Rockefeller via Flickr

Many factors have been considered in piecing together what led to the creation of Boko Haram and how its existence has been sustained, ranging from support from ISIS, ability to internationalize as a group, and possible assistance from Libya.

The US and Europe have been seen as reluctant to extend any real aid, perhaps due to Nigeria’s oil reserves and a desire to keep African countries destabilised to maintain their neo-colonial stronghold in the region. Internally, corruption and laxity in action of troops has often been cited as big hurdles in controlling the situation.

Two Boko Haram vehicles destroyed. | Source: M. Kindzeka via Wikimedia

As for solutions, many have turned their focus towards rebuilding communities in the aftermath of thousands of people being murdered and displaced due to the ongoing violence. Not just civilian casualties, but a disastrous lack of necessities such as food, water and electricity is leading to a humanitarian crisis in the area falling in the conflict zone between Boko Haram and the military.

President Buhari currently seems slow to admit that Boko Haram cannot be “defeated on the battlefield alone.” Apart from improving the military’s response he must also take measures for alleviating poverty, destroying corruption and ‘de-radicalisation’ of those recruited into Boko Haram.

Some localised efforts are being taken to stabilise the situation by empowering communities to resolve conflicts, improving civil infrastructure, and reintegrating reformed militants.

However, localised efforts are short-term in nature, and their stability and success is greatly determined by the government which understands that more than killing the attackers, trust and active participation of its citizens is needed to resolve this conflict

The impact of Boko Haram on the people of Nigeria has been multifold, and the arsenal to ‘defeat’ Boko Haram must be expanded and redefined.

Support us to bring the world closer

To keep our content accessible we don't charge anything from our readers and rely on donations to continue working. Your support is critical in keeping Global Views 360 independent and helps us to present a well-rounded world view on different international issues for you. Every contribution, however big or small, is valuable for us to keep on delivering in future as well.

Support Us

Share this article

Read More

October 18, 2020 6:46 PM

Bhagat Singh: The Man, The Life, And The Beliefs

Bhagat Singh is one of the ‘big names’ immortalised in the history of India’s freedom struggle and eternally cherished even after almost ninety years of his martyrdom. What makes him stand out is his popularity among the masses being almost on par with the likes of Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, despite his beliefs and actions being diametrically opposite to theirs.

Of the freedom fighters who remain mainstream in today’s India— a crowd predominantly made up of politicians with center or right of centre leanings, Bhagat Singh occupies a relatively lonely spot as a young, staunchly left-wing revolutionary who outrightly rejected Gandhi’s philosophy, and preferred direct action over politics.

Newspaper headline after Central Legislative Assembly non-lethal bombing

Bhagat Singh is most commonly and widely remembered in association with an incident where he, along with his friend and comrade B.K. Dutt dropped non-lethal smoke bombs into the Central Legislative Assembly from its balcony in 1929. They also scattered leaflets by the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA), which he was a major part of and was aided by in orchestrating the bombings. He is said to have been inspired by French anarchist Auguste Vaillant, who had bombed the Chamber of Deputies in Paris in 1893.

The bombing gathered widespread negative reaction due to the use of violence, especially from those who supported the Gandhian method. While Bhagat Singh and the HSRA wanted to protest exploitative legislatures such as the Public Safety Act and the Trades Disputes Bill, it is also widely accepted that they additionally intended to use the drama and public attention of the ensuing trial to garner attention to socialist and communist causes. Bhagat Singh and Dutt did not escape under the cover of panic and smoke despite the former carrying a pistol, and waited for the police to find and arrest them. During the trial Bhagat Singh frequently chanted a variety of slogans, such as ‘Inquilab Zindabad,’ which is even today often raised in protests across India.  

March 25th Newspaper carrying the news about execution of Bhagat Singh | Source: Tribune India

However, this was not the trial that ended in Bhagat Singh receiving his execution sentence. Before the Assembly bombings, Bhagat Singh had been involved in the shooting of police officer John Saunders, in connection to the death of freedom fighter Lala Lajpat Rai. At that time he and his associates had escaped, but after Bhagat Singh was awarded a life sentence for the Assembly bombing, a series of investigations led to his rearrest as part of the Saunders murder case. It was this trial— generally regarded as unjust— that led to his much protested execution sentence.

Bhagat Singh was hanged to death on the eve of March 23rd, 1931 and he was just twenty-three years old.

Despite the criticism he received for his actions, his execution sentence was widely opposed and many attempts were made to challenge it. In fact, his execution came on the eve of the Congress party’s annual convention, as protests against it worsened. He was memorialised nationwide as a martyr, and is often addressed with the honorific Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh.

Apart from being a socialist, Bhagat Singh was attracted to communist and anarchist causes as well. In ‘To Young Political Workers,’ his last testament before his death, he called for a “socialist order” and a reconstruction of society on a “new, i.e, Marxist basis.” He considered the government “a weapon in the hand of the ruling class”, which is reflected in his belief that Gandhian philosophy only meant the “replacement of one set of exploiters for another.” Additionally, he wrote a series of articles on anarchism, wanting to fight against mainstream miscontrusions of the word and explain his interest in anarchist ideology.

Bipin Chandra, who wrote the introduction to Why I am an Atheist by Bhagat Singh | Source: Wikimedia

While writing the introduction to Bhagat Singh’s remarkable essay Why I am an Atheist in 1979, Late Bipan Chandra described the Marxist leaning of Bhagat Singh and his associates in the following way;

Bhagat Singh was not only one of India’s greatest freedom fighters and revolutionary socialists, but also one of its early Marxist thinkers and ideologues. Unfortunately, this last aspect is relatively unknown with the result that all sorts of reactionaries, obscurantists and communalists have been wrongly and dishonestly trying to utilise for their own politics and ideologies the name and fame of Bhagat Singh and his comrades such as Chandra Shekhar Azad.”

Bhagat Singh is often admired and celebrated for his dedication to the cause of liberation. However his socialist, communist and anarchist beliefs were suppressed by the successive governments in Independent India. This in a way is the suppression of a revolutionary who has the potential to inspire, unite and motivate the growing population of a spectrum of activists all over India, in direct response to the fast-spreading divisiveness and intolerance in the country, often patronised by the groups and organizations professing the right-wing fascist ideology.

Bhagat Singh’s dreams of a new social order live on, not just in his writings, but also reflected in the hearts of every activist, protester, and dissenting citizen. The fight for freedom, revolution, Inquilab, may have changed in meaning, but it is far from over.

Read More