Some Nigerian researchers have called for more community participation if Boko Haram is to be defeated.
The researchers stated this while presenting a book titled ‘Community Resilience to Boko Haram Insurgency’ to the public on June 30.
The book, authored by Princess Hamman-Obels, was targeted at placing insurgency affected communities at the centre of interest. It was presented in Abuja by Kole Shettima, Director, Africa Office, MacArthur Foundation.
The lead research coordinator of the book, Jibrin Ibrahim, suggested key steps to tackling the insurgency in Nigeria.
The don, a civil society activist, said there was need to understand what has sustained the Boko Haram insurgency and how local communities can play a role in battling the insurgency.
“The use of security agencies to quell the insurgency will be a very important step, (but) is in itself not sufficient to solve it,” he said.
“This is because at the end of the day what we know is that this insurgency emanated from the community and it is the community that has both the responsibility but also and above all the capacity to end it,” he added.
Mr. Ibrahim also explained the reasons for the research that led to the book.
“I think the first important issue that led us the carry out this research was the seriousness of the insurgency itself,” he said. “We have not had such devastation in Nigeria since the civil war of 1967-1970.
“Over 20,000 people have been killed, at the height of the insurgency, over three million people have been displaced from their homes, their homes have been destroyed, their means of livelihoods taken away from them,” he said.
The researcher also highlighted some of the major findings of the research.
“The Borno State 2010 education census revealed that only 23 per cent of children of primary school age were going to primary school. This meant over 70 per cent of the children of primary school age were not going to school and that was already the lowest in the country.
“One of the things that struck us at the beginning of the research process was to try to understand the geography of what was going on. There was high level of insurgency attacks in certain areas and in certain communities than in other areas,” Mr. Ibrahim said.
The professor added that the researchers also observed different levels of attacks across the north-east and north-west states.
“We were interested from a research point of view, trying to understand the differential that explained why there were so much variation in what was going on. We found for example that Jigawa State had very low level of insurgency attacks while to its east in Yobe, there was high level and to its west in Kano, there was relatively high level.
“So why was it there were so little attacks in Jigawa and much more in the states surrounding it; and we thought it was interesting to follow the lead to see whether there was an objective to explain that differential”.
“The narratives of the Boko Haram insurgency have really been about the insurgents creating mayhem and the security forces, trying to contain that mayhem and in the process creating some mayhem of their own. There have been very little narratives about the people themselves. What is their narrative, how do they understand what happened to them and what most importantly were they doing or not doing in terms of the crisis they find themselves in?” Mr. Ibrahim said.
In his remark, Y.Z. Ya’u, the Executive Director, Centre for Information Technology and Development, CITAD, reiterated the relevance of the research to contemporary Nigeria.
“As illustrated, Nigeria is facing so many challenges: cattle rustling, community clashes, and ethno-religious complains, and so on.
“So, in general, the resilience of Nigerians as a community, is actually very weak and therefore what can we do to enhance the resilience of Nigeria as a community.
“But of course, we know Nigeria is a collection of communities, so our focus is what we can do to communities to enhance their own resilience,” Mr. Ya’u said.
Mr. Ya’u said no single community in Nigeria has zero resilience and no single community is excellently resilient.
He said resilience can be dormant in communities that are weak or be highly present in communities that are strong.
“The logic of our study was to study communities that are either strong in terms of resilience and those that are extremely weak,” he added.
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