Vanguard (Lagos)

Nigeria: Boko Haram - U.S., UK Advocate Non-Military Approach

Lagos — The governments of United States and the United Kingdom have advised the Federal Government to increase its use of non-military approach and regional collaboration to tackle the menace of Boko Haram in parts of Nigeria.

The United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr James Entwistle, and the British High Commissioner in Nigeria, Andrew Pocock, disclosed this separately in Lagos and Abuja, where they said the incidences of Boko Haram attacks in parts of the North required new thinking and approaches beyond military diplomacy.

The US Ambassador who was at a media roundtable in Lagos said: "The Federal Government must look at the social and economic conditions that gave rise to the insurgency in the Northern parts of the country.

"The Federal Government must look at why did it start in the first place? What drew people to this organisation in the first place? Was it lack of employment opportunity? Was it education system? I am not sure what the reasons might be. Sometimes it is hard to do but we need to ask why is it happening in our country and what can we do better in our country to make sure that this type of thing does not happen again.

Challenge of counter-terrorism

"Part of the challenge of counter-terrorism is that you are fighting an enemy who mixes with the population and one of the most difficult things for the military is to go into a mixed setting like that and figure out who is a terrorist and who are the innocent civilians."

"In my conversation with your government and military, I have expressed these points and I think there is a growing concern over finding an enemy who mixes with the civilian population.

"These are enormously difficult thing to do and that is why we are trying to help the Federal Government."

He also advised Nigeria to strengthen its regional diplomacy.

According to Entwistle,"there is the need for your government to work closely with Cameroun and Chad because these guys cross the borders. The only way to deal with these guys is to collaborate with your neigbours and relevant international organisations."

Britain to help with security challenges

In Abuja, the British High Commissioner, Mr. Andrew Pocock, who spoke in Abuja at the welcome ceremony for Nigerian Chevening scholars, said: "We have already been working closely with the Nigerian government on the security agenda. There is a lot that is going on and will continue to go on.

"The other thing we are doing is to help promote the view which I think the Nigerian government already has, that the conflict in the North-East, the kind that we see, is not going to be solved easily and purely by military means. There is need for a co-ordinated approach on the political and economic fronts.

"Our development programme is very much aimed in assisting in the two aspects in bringing new approaches to dealing with the drivers of conflict and secondly, by promoting some of the basic elements that people require, particularly in parts of the north, education, health care, sanitation, elements of infrastructure uplift, helping marginalised people to become small entrepreneurs and to have access to the form of financial systems in Nigeria."

Pocock explained further that his government had plans to assist Nigeria in dealing with its security challenges but noted that it was actively engaged in providing training for the Nigerian military on Command and Staff College.

Nigeria'll overcome B'Haram challenges -- Onaiyekan

Meanwhile, the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, however, expressed optimism that Nigeria would overcome the challenges of Boko Haram insurgents.

Onaiyekan expressed the optimism at a mass to conclude the 2014 Prayer Project of Catholic Charismatic Renewal of Nigeria, at Papal Ground, Kubwa, Abuja.

He said there was nothing like Boko Haram 10 years ago and it would soon become history by the grace of God.

He said: "Let us continue to pray that God will deliver us from this 'terrible infection' of Boko Haram. We do not know how God will do it, but as Christians, we need deep faith and believe that God will do it."

The cleric urged Christians to continue to pray for the peace and unity of the country.

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