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Looking Beyond the Bombs

Nextier SPD
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Looking beyond the bombs, bullets and the blood in the decade of Boko Haram insurgency are high levels of humanitarian crisis manifesting as hunger, inadequate shelter and exposure to diseases due to poor hygiene. Affected communities in the terror-troubled region still surviving the Jihadist carnage are now faced with a war that is not of bombs and bullets but of stinging desire to access necessities of life. The BAY states (Borno, Adamawa and Yobe), which have borne much of the insurgency, is one the world's top ten humanitarian crises area. In 2019, about 7.1 million people were in severe need of humanitarian assistance in Nigeria, with about 6.1 million targeted to receive aid.

Before the insurgency, the region could be regarded as the least developed area in Nigeria, contributing to a high level of illiteracy, poverty, dearth of human capital and millions of out-of-school children. Arguments are that these indices have helped to fuel the ongoing ideological conflict as insurgents have capitalised on this decay to enrich its recruitment base through the use of material inducements. From the foregoing, poverty levels and lack of human capital contributed to the Boko Haram crises, and the insurgency has worsened the crises, thereby causing a recycle of poverty and violence.

Combative state efforts have only tackled the ensuing melee of violence but have not solved the causes of the unending conflict. For instance, with the lack of human capital development in the region, the insurgents will continue to have a rich reserve for recruitment of new members that will keep waging war against the Nigerian state. For this reason, investing in human capital will make people in the region less vulnerable and susceptible to the brainwashing antics of terrorist gangs. When lives in the area have been rebuilt, with community members empowered to adequately create wealth for themselves, the risks of violent agitations and militancy will be significantly reduced. As such, it is pertinent to provide substantial investments targeted at improving the human capital in the region.

The area of focus should be on agricultural empowerment considering the high percentage of farmers (livestock farming inclusive), provision of skills empowerment programmes, take-off grants for small and medium scale entrepreneurs. Free and compulsory basic education that is synchronised with a reformed Almajiri school system (in order not to lose the Islamic content) should also be provided. Basic healthcare is also essential, considering the diseases and bodily harm people in the region have been exposed to in the cause of the ongoing war. These non-confrontational efforts will positively impact on the psyche of the locals about the position of the Nigerian state towards their welfare. It will also serve as a means of gaining a much-needed public support from the people while dissuading vulnerable population from joining violent armed groups.