NIGERIA – To beat terrorism in Nigeria, change the narrative

Washington Examiner | by Douglas Burton | Sept. 5, 2019


By all accounts, the wealthy and teeming nation of Nigeria is one of the most dangerous places on Earth.

Murders and kidnappings are a scourge even on the modern highways leading out of the capital of Abuja, where bandits kidnapped six hapless citizens on Aug. 26. The Islamic State’s affiliated Islamic State of West Africa overran a Nigerian military base in the northeast state of Borno Aug. 10, pushing the Nigerian army to relocate to safer areas. President Trump met with President Muhammadu Buhari at the White House on April 30 last year, congratulating him for making progress in the war on terror but urging him to do much more, especially for the nation’s Christians.

Yet remedies to Nigeria’s crises are all about the narrative. As one version would put it, murder-kidnappings in north central Nigeria are one front in Nigeria’s war with criminality. As another version runs, this is part of a war with Islamic State-affiliated terrorist armies. The ISIS terrorists have snuffed out more 37,000 Nigerian lives in the last 10 years. On the other hand, thousands of citizens, chiefly farmers, reportedly have been murdered by Fulani terrorists raiding villages under the shout of “Allahu Akbar!”

Are the two threats closely related? The policy wonks at Foggy Bottom say “no.” Advocates for persecuted minorities in Nigeria say “yes,” insisting that jihadism is the undercounted enemy of peace and security in Africa’s Sahel.

The consensus of State Department experts is that the thousands of murders by the so-called Fulani herders may be reduced to a battle between cattle herders and sedentary farmers due to desertification. “Clashes between farmer and herder communities can also take place across — or be perceived to be due to — religious and ethnic divide,” according to the State Department’s Religious Freedom Report for 2018. Translation: “It’s complicated.”

Department of State careerists simply downplay the explanation of religious hatred driving the displacement of Christian farmers, according to Dede Laugesen, executive director of the advocacy group, Save the Persecuted Christians. “The Department of State bends over backwards to show it is friendly to Muslims and often refuses to acknowledge the religious component of violence driven by Sharia-supremacists.”

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