from Africa in Transition

Richard Joseph on Nigeria and Insecurity

October 19, 2011

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Sub-Saharan Africa


Terrorism and Counterterrorism

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Undated handout image courtesy of the U.S. Air Force shows a MQ-1 Predator unmanned aircraft. (Ho New/Courtesy Reuters)

Richard Joseph, the John Evans professor of political science at Northwestern University and a distinguished Africanist, has an important oped on the Brookings website, “Nigeria and Global Insecurity.”

Professor Joseph’s theme is twofold--that “the lines between al-Qaeda, Islamic extremism in Africa, and wider insecurity in the continent’s most populous nation, Nigeria, are converging”; and despite this challenge, a purely military approach will not prevent this.

On the first point, he links Osama bin Laden’s interest in Nigeria to Umar Abdulmutallab’s attempted bombing of a Northwest plane to Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen.

He also recalls the UN headquarters bombing in Abuja by (allegedly) Boko Haram, but emphasizes the generally inward focused nature of that group, that “most Nigerians now acknowledge the intractability of the threats they face, fostered as much by material grievances as by the bludgeoning tactics of their own security forces in response to domestic upheavals.”

Concerned with the prospect of deep cuts in U.S. foreign aid and a Pentagon request for five billion dollars for drones, Joseph argues “This is not the time (for the United States) to slash foreign aid, but rather innovatively seek to promote transformative governance and job-producing economic growth.”

Read the article here.