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Boko haram fighter 3

After four years of military action against Boko Haram and Abuja’s declaration of a state of emergency in three states eight months ago, Boko Haram’s depredations continue. Just last week, Boko Haram claimed responsibility for killing nineteen in a Borno village.
Until now the Nigerian government’s  approach to Boko Haram has been to mount an anti-terrorism campaign  against it. Rather than use political methods to “win the hearts and  minds” of the northern population, it has relied on military force to  counter Boko Haram’s violence with violence. This “counter terrorism”  has not worked. Boko Haram’s human rights violations have been documented by credible human rights groups. More disturbing has been the extensive  documentation of human rights abuses committed by the Nigerian military  and other state agencies while engaging in their “counter terrorism”  policy. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and President Obama have raised the issue of human rights abuses with Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan.
There may be signs that the  government in Abuja is rethinking this strategy. Last week, President  Jonathan replaced all of his military service chiefs save one that he  shuffled to another post. The Nigerian media credibly speculates they  all had to go because of their failures against Boko Haram. After months  of internal struggle within the ruling People’s Democratic Party, there  is a new party chairman, Ahmadu Adamu Mu’Azu. Furthermore, President Jonathan sent twelve names for cabinet positions to the Senate for confirmation.
One of those names is Aliyu Mohammed  Gusau. A retired general and the long-time national security advisor  under President Olusegun Obasanjo, he is a northern Muslim with a power  base of his own. He is known to have first-class political and  administrative skills but he has been considered outside of Jonathan’s  inner circle.
The press speculates that if  confirmed Gusua will be named minister of defense. However, names sent  to the Senate for confirmation are not tied to specific cabinet posts.  Hence, Gusau could be appointed to any of the current cabinet vacancies.  According to the Nigerian media, some weeks ago, Gusau laid down conditions for his service as minister of defense that would seem to reduce the  president’s control over the military and security services. There are  therefore many unanswered questions. Has the president accepted Gusua’s  conditions? If not, will Gusua accept the position of minister of  defense? Will he even be offered it?
Nevertheless, these extensive  personnel changes may open the space for Abuja to pursue a more  effective policy toward Boko Haram.


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