Tackling Terrorism In Africa | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Tackling Terrorism In Africa

Posted: Jun 25, 2015 at 9:20 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Funmi Falobi – Lagos


President Muhammadu Buhari has again demonstrated commitment to the fight against Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria and the need for concerted efforts in Africa to tackle terrorism in the continent.

Buhari, who spoke at the just concluded 25th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union, AU, in Johannesburg, South Africa, told the leaders: “Our continent is currently bedeviled by the twin evils of terrorism and insecurity; poverty, youth unemployment, and underdevelopment”.

The Nigerian President urged African leaders to re-double efforts at economic development of the continent, as it is currently under the siege of political instability and insecurity.

“The destructive effects of the inhuman and criminal campaigns of the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria and neighbouring countries; the Al-Shabab attacks in East Africa, and the activities of the Al-Qaeda in the Maghreb, all bear testimony to a continent under siege.

“The images in the international mass media of African youths getting drowned in the Mediterranean sea on their illegal attempts, and often times illusory hope of attaining better life in Europe is not only an embarrassment to us as leaders, but dehumanises our persons.”

“We must re-double our efforts for economic development in the Continent and the issue of the deaths of migrants must be tackled effectively,” he stressed.

Undoubtedly, the world is faced with terrorism but Africa has been worst hit by the activities of terror groups. In West Africa where Nigeria belongs, Boko Haram insurgents continue to unleash terror on the citizens in the Northeastern part of the country where lives have been lost, people including women and children abducted and property destroyed. The climax was the abduction of over 200 Chibok school girls in Borno State. The Islamic sect, while pledging allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) has spread its tentacle to the neighbouring countries of Chad and Cameroun.

In East Africa, Al-Shabab continues to terrorise countries in the region. Kenya suffered a great deal when there was an attack at the West Gate and Garissa University College in the country where 147 people died out of which 143 were students.

The al-Qaeda dominates the Islamic Maghreb while the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or Islamic State of Iraq and Libya (ISIL) terrifies the Middle East.

The United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, reports an “alarming spike” in suicide bombings by girls and women used by Boko Haram in Northeastern Nigeria.

It said women and children carried out three-quarters of the 26 suicide attacks reported in 2014 and the 27 seen in just the first five months of this year.

UNICEF said that children are “being used intentionally by adults in the most horrific way.”

It is not known how many thousands of children and women Boko Haram, has kidnapped, with new abductions reported every week. UNICEF estimates 743,000 children have been uprooted by the nearly six-year-old Islamic uprising, with as many as 10,000 separated from their families in the chaos.

The agency is concerned, children would be perceived as potential threats and in danger of retaliation.

Indeed, Africa is under the siege of insecurity that is having adverse effect on the citizens and development of the continent. Investment and tourism have been hampered as a result of activities of terrorists, while citizens also live in fear. In extreme occasions, many have fled to neighbouring countries while the number of displaced people is increasingly growing.

As part of Nigeria’s contribution to curbing terrorism, President Buhari had directed that the sum of $21 million be released to the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF), which is a coalition of the military forces of Nigeria and its neighbouring countries of Chad, Cameroun and Niger, to help battle the Boko Haram insurgency.

Only recently, at the African summit in South Africa, the United States Government made a donation of $5 million.

U.S. Assistant Secretary, Bureau of African Affairs, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, announced the donation at a news briefing via telephone from the African Union summit in South Africa on the U.S. interests in Africa.

“We have been working with Nigeria as well as the African countries’ innovation to address their concerns about Boko Haram because we don’t see this as just a Nigerian problem. We are having discussions with President Buhari on how we might bolster our support. We have already been working with them and providing information.

“We are providing some training and support and we’ll love to work with the new administration to see how we might increase the level of support to Nigeria. At the same time, we’ve just announced at the venue of the AU, $5 billion contribution to the Multi-national Task Force,” she said.

The regional effort by African leaders to tackle terrorism is a welcome development. The leaders must however show resounding commitment and trust in order to achieve success in defeating the terror groups.

A Nigerian security expert, Patrick Agbambu, declared that coalition of nations would lead to success of the fight against terrorism.

He said the concerted effort of African leaders “is a welcome development. Curbing terrorism is not something a nation can fight; there is need for coalition of nations, that’s the only way it can succeed.

“There is need to identify if it is terrorism or insurgency we are fighting? The mode of operation may seem the same but ideology is different.”

He explained that Nigeria is in contact with neighbouring countries and so; Boko Haram insurgency would reduce describing what the citizens are witnessing right now as “last breath of action by insurgents.”

Agbambu said that while Kenya government has not been able to get support of neigbhouring countries to fight al-Shabab, he however declared that with the action plan by President Buhari, insurgency would soon reduce in the country adding that, the insurgents would know that Nigeria and neighbouring countries mean business.

But whether the destruction of the dreaded group would come soon is left to be seen.