June 10, 2014
Nigeria is facing a grave security challenge with the ongoing insurgency in its North-Eastern region, perpetuated by the extremist group Boko Haram. As the violence escalates, there are divided opinions on the most effective strategy to tackle the crisis. Some advocate for a forceful, confrontational approach, while others emphasize the importance of peaceful negotiations. The key to finding a lasting solution lies in combining both hard and soft approaches to address the root causes and immediate factors driving the conflict.
Those in favor of using force argue that it is the only way to crush the insurgency and protect national sovereignty. They believe that negotiating with a seemingly faceless and violent group like Boko Haram is futile and may embolden them further. They cite examples from other countries’ conflicts, but it is essential to consider the unique context of Nigeria’s situation.
On the other hand, proponents of negotiations see violence as a temporary measure that can only contain the conflict temporarily. Instead, they advocate for peacekeeping efforts to mitigate violence while seeking a more lasting negotiated settlement. They argue that the use of force has, in some cases, intensified the insurgency as both parties engage in a destructive cycle.
In reality, Nigeria has been engaging in negotiations with Boko Haram despite its public stance against it. Past attempts at peace talks, such as the Amnesty Committee, have been sluggish and lacked concrete action. To find a way out of this crisis, the government must focus on constructive and objective discussions with the group, involving credible third-party mediators.
It is crucial to learn from the experiences of other nations fighting insurgencies, realizing that terrorism cannot be completely crushed by force alone. Engaging in peaceful dialogue is essential to address the underlying grievances that fuel extremism. Nigeria must adopt a diplomatic, non-violent approach to resolve the crisis, especially at its early stages when dialogue would have been more feasible.
The rising casualties, destruction of infrastructure, and overall insecurity in the North-East demand a comprehensive review of current strategies. Combining peacemaking efforts with peacekeeping actions is necessary to achieve sustainable peace. Instead of solely relying on force, Nigeria must demonstrate patience, understanding, and a commitment to open dialogue to find a lasting solution to the Boko Haram crisis.
In conclusion, Nigeria must adopt a balanced approach to address the Boko Haram insurgency. Combining the use of force to contain violence with genuine efforts for peaceful negotiations can pave the way for lasting peace. Embracing dialogue and understanding is the path to achieving peace, and it is time for all stakeholders to work together for the greater good of the nation.
Founder/Executive Director, CPPBI