The Nigerian military’s success in recent days and weeks recapturing territory from Boko Haram should give observers cause for relief. Complemented by regional intervention from Nigeria’s neighbours, the Nigerian army appears to be making significant gains in the north-east. We must hope this is the beginning of a reversal of Boko Haram’s fortunes over the last few months.
Much of the analysis over recent weeks has focused on President Jonathan’s decision to postpone the presidential election in order to give the army a chance to recapture territory. As ever, NSN’s own focus remains on the security situation. However, we remain concerned about the possibility that Boko Haram could destabilise Nigeria’s democracy and trigger considerable violence and unrest more broadly in the country.
This month’s analysis focuses on Boko Haram’s evolving media and public messaging strategy, Boko Haram’s threat to the elections, the insurgency’s geographic spread, and the response to the insurgency.
Boko Haram mimics Islamic State
This piece by Zacharias Pieri argues Boko Haram is learning from Islamic State, especially with respect to its media and public messaging strategy.
Blood and the Ballot Box: Boko Haram and Nigerian elections
Ryan Cummings examines the threat Boko Haram poses to Nigerian democracy and the upcoming elections. He assesses the risks across geographic areas and types of target, and analyses the political implications of Boko Haram’s violence.
The Boko Haram insurgency: separating fact from fiction
Ryan Cummings picks apart the various fact/fiction debates surrounding Boko Haram, including the group’s name, its relationship with Islamic State, and its hold over territory.
“The soldiers are less motivated than the insurgents”
In this interview, Nnamdi Obasi answers a series of questions about Boko Haram and the counter-insurgency, including whether the West should intervene military in Nigeria and what the best strategy for defeating the insurgency is.
Mindful of the Islamic State, Boko Haram Broadens Reach into Lake Chad Region
Jacob Zenn analyses Boko Haram’s expansion into the Lake Chad region. He concludes that the insurgency’s focus is still on Borno but is also expanding to neighbouring countries, including with respect to recruitment.
Has the tide turned against Boko Haram in Nigeria?
John Campbell argues that recent gains against Boko Haram by the Nigerian military may be enough to satisfy President Jonathan’s criteria for holding elections.
Key points from this briefing
- Boko Haram is learning from Islamic State and developing a more sophisticated media and public messaging strategy
- Boko Haram represents a clear threat to Nigerian democracy, particularly because their attacks have the potential to cause a political crisis
- Boko Haram does not hold territory in the traditional sense, often leaving captured areas undefended
- There must be no major Western military intervention in Nigeria because it would be resented by Nigerians and could be counter-productive
- There still remain problems in the Nigerian army with lack of resources, equipment, and poor motivation
- Boko Haram is still mostly focused on Borno but is extending its reach into countries in the Lake Chad region
- The Nigerian military’s successes in recent weeks may make elections possible