Confronting Boko Haram

Nigeria is Africa’s largest oil producer, but the West African nation still struggles with poverty, widespread corruption and recurring ethnic and sectarian violence. Asked about the threat posed by the radical Islamic group Boko Haram, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of Sokoto in northern Nigeria, said that both the Western and local Nigerian media put “too much emphasis” on the sectarian aspect of the violence. At the same time, he said, the Nigerian government is using the wrong approach in efforts to resolve the confrontation with Boko Haram. “The Nigerian political class,” he said, “has hidden its incompetence by simply presenting the problem as a law and order issue. It’s not.” By calling out the military, “the government is diminishing democracy” in Nigeria and ignoring the need for dialogue to end the conflict. According to Bishop Kukah, ordinary Nigerians “are actually suffering more from the military than from Boko Haram.... It’s become like an army of occupation.”

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