December 02

Boko Haram Insurgency Gains Momentum: Jonathan Seeks to Extend State of Emergency

Boko Haram has continued to make strategic gains in the northern Nigerian states of Yobe, Adamawa and Borno, despite the government’s efforts to eliminate the insurgent group. Following the abduction of 200 Nigerian girls, international pressure led Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan to crack down on Boko Haram. However, these efforts appear to have done little to curb the insurgency’s ambitious efforts to carve out an Islamic state in northern Nigeria.

Recent attacks have demonstrated that Boko Haram is gaining momentum in the north. On December 1, 2014, the group attacked numerous targets in the northeast: In the Yobe state capital of Damaturu, an attack against a police station killed an estimated 39 people; in the Borno State capital of Maiduguri, two separate explosions killed an estimated five people and injured an estimated 43. On November 28, 2014, the two female suicide bombers killed 44 people in Maiduguri, and a bomb blast at a mosque in Kano state killed 100 people.

In response to the recent uptick in violence, Jonathan has requested that the national assembly extend the state of emergency in the northern states of Yobe, Borno, and Adamawa. The state of emergency was declared in May of 2013, and has been extended on two separate occasions. The current extension expired on November 20 of this year. While the proposed extension is yet to be approved, it likely will be, as conditions in northern Nigeria have begun to rapidly deteriorate.

While Jonathan has vowed to stomp out the insurgency – which this year has claimed the lives of over 1,500 people – it is obvious that Nigeria’s counterinsurgency efforts have yet to stymie Boko Haram. Should the Nigerian government undertake a tripartite approach to fight Boko Haram – targeting key leaders within the organization, investing oil revenue in the northern states, and integrating northern Muslims into mainstream Nigerian society – it is likely that the Nigerian government may be able to quell the violence which has ravaged the northern states for the past five years. However, if the Nigerian government continues to rely on heavy-handed tactics to eliminate Boko Haram, the insurgency is likely to continue to gain momentum.