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Social Fallout From Boko Haram Could Undo Nigeria’s Security Gains
World Politics Review
A series of bombings allegedly carried out by Boko Haram in northeastern Nigeria during the final weekend of May, just as newly elected President Muhammadu Buhari was being sworn into office, were a grim reminder of the pressing security challenge the jihadi group still poses to Nigeria and its neighbors.
Yet the attacks should not obscure the magnitude of Boko Haram’s recent defeats. Over the course of a few months, Boko Haram has reportedly lost nearly all of the over 18,000 square miles in northeastern Nigeria that it controlled in early January 2015. While reliable data on Boko Haram casualties continue to be elusive, anecdotal evidence suggests the group has experienced heavy losses in both men and material, even as Buhari has pledged not only to maintain but to step up military efforts against the group. Boko Haram will likely endure as a menace to northeastern Nigeria for months, if not years, to come, but its extremist aspirations to carve out a new polity in West Africa have suffered a seemingly irreparable blow.
However, Abuja should regard the successful destruction of Boko Haram’s nascent state as only the first phase in a much longer process to stabilize and reconstruct northeastern states like Borno, the epicenter of the group’s violence. Substantial resources will be needed to rebuild transportation infrastructure, farms, schools and health centers there devastated by Boko Haram’s insurgency. But far less attention has been directed toward another consequence of the Boko Haram conflict: the rending of northeastern Nigeria’s social fabric.
Tens of thousands of local youths have become militarized and, in many cases, alienated from their communities. What’s more, reported acts of violence against noncombatants perpetrated by both Boko Haram and Nigerian security forces seem to have inflamed intercommunal tensions throughout the northeast. If left unaddressed, these societal issues could plunge northeastern Nigeria into a new period of unrest, undoing recent security gains, threatening regional stability and undermining chances for economic development.
No one knows exactly how many young men currently fight under Boko Haram’s banner, with estimates from 6,000 prior to Nigeria’s counteroffensive at the beginning of this year to nearly 20,000. Even with the 2015 battlefield deaths, thousands of Boko Haram fighters likely remain active in the rural hinterlands of northeastern Nigeria, whose porous border with Chad, Niger and Cameroon has led these countries to join the fight. Many are committed ideologues who will fight Nigeria and its partners to the bitter end. However, many more seem to have joined Boko Haram under coercive circumstances or out of a desire for material gain.
The fact that members of these two subgroups have apparently not deserted Boko Haram en masse over the past several months likely reflects their widespread sense of social alienation. Fearful of being ostracized—or worse—if they return to their respective towns and villages, these youths probably believe their only option is to continue serving their jihadi commanders. Even if Buhari’s new government succeeds in decapitating Boko Haram’s leadership, many of the fighters, if left to their own devices, would in all likelihood join other violent nonstate actors, particularly criminal gangs.
To avoid that outcome, Buhari should heed the calls from some northern politicians and traditional leaders to offer amnesty to Boko Haram fighters willing to surrender their arms and participate in a counter-radicalization program. Indeed, Abuja should go even further and establish a comprehensive disarmament, demobilization and reintegration program that offers reformed Boko Haram members the opportunity to enroll in jobs-training classes. Such a move would likely spark an outcry from certain communities and individuals victimized by Boko Haram. It will fall upon Buhari’s government and its local allies to persuade these opponents that a successful amnesty would serve the collective good.
If Abuja does indeed set up a program to disarm, demobilize and reintegrate militants in northeastern Nigeria, it should seek to also include the anti-Boko Haram vigilante groups that have proliferated since 2013. While these militias, often collectively referred to as the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF), have come to form an integral part of the Nigerian armed forces’ counterinsurgency campaign, some of their members have allegedly committed armed robbery, rape, and extrajudicial killings. The CJTF may number as many as 30,000 youths, and some Nigeria analysts see it as a looming threat to peace in the northeast. Abuja would need to proceed carefully if it seeks to disband the vigilantes. As with Boko Haram fighters, it would do well to provide CJTF members with the skills needed to succeed economically in a postconflict environment.
The Buhari administration should also encourage reconciliation among northeastern Nigeria’s traumatized communities. Although Boko Haram failed at the national level to cast Nigeria into the abyss of internecine religious warfare, the violence it visited upon non-Muslim communities in the northeast could poison relations and stoke sectarianism long after the insurgency ends. Already, reports have emerged from northern Adamawa state of local Christians assaulting Muslim inhabitants accused of collaborating with Boko Haram. Meanwhile, despite their rejection of Boko Haram’s extremist ideology, some northeastern Muslims likely harbor resentment toward their Christian compatriots due to the heavy-handed tactics employed by a Nigerian military widely perceived to be dominated by non-Muslim southerners.
Healing these communal divides will require Abuja to encourage dialogue among both national and local religious figures. The Nigerian Interfaith Action Association (NIFAA), a national-level nongovernmental organization established by the Sultan of Sokoto and Catholic Cardinal John Onaiyekan, could help. NIFAA has previously spearheaded efforts to promote interreligious collaboration through public health initiatives; its widely accepted legitimacy would make it a valuable partner.
Full reconciliation, however, will only proceed to the degree that there is a legitimate attempt at real justice: At least some of those responsible for the past six years of carnage must be held accountable. Despite the potential security threats they could create, trials of captured Boko Haram leaders should be as transparent as possible in order to fully expose the depths of their crimes. The Buhari administration also needs to consider investigating Nigerian security officials implicated in gross human rights violations against civilians and Boko Haram suspects. Doing so would send a strong signal that no one in Nigeria stands above the law.
Decimated by Boko Haram’s bloody insurgency, northeastern Nigeria faces a long and arduous road to recovery. Rebuilding its shattered infrastructure should be a priority for Nigeria’s new president. Yet if Buhari ignores the social upheavals inflicted on the northeast, he runs the risk of having the region remain mired in violence for the foreseeable future. Despite the daunting challenges associated with reintegrating the northeast’s alienated youths and overcoming local inter-communal divisions, Nigeria should seize the opportunity to again prove its naysayers wrong.
Tom Woods is a former deputy assistant secretary of state for African affairs at the U.S. Department of State and president of Woods International LLC.
Michael W. Baca is an Africa analyst. He previously provided subject matter expertise on security, political and socioeconomic trends in the sub-Saharan region to senior U.S. Africa Command officials.
By: Tom Woods
Anybody who thinks that Africa is a region on the rise and important to the United States is bound to be glad that President Obama is heading back to the continent on Wednesday. What about the high cost of the trip that everybody is fussing over? It’s simply the cost of doing business, and well worth the expenditure when you realize the potential return on that investment. The real problem with the president’s trip is that he is going to the wrong places and dealing with the wrong issues.
African countries represent more than half of the world’s top 10 fastest-growing economies. More than 800 million consumers, including a quickly emerging middle class, are hungry for all kinds of global products and services. Any U.S. president who fails to include Africa on the global economic-outreach agenda would be downright negligent. However, African countries represent diverse interests and issues. You can no longer simply check the Africa box with a speech and a few photos.
Since President Carter made an Africa visit “the norm” for a sitting U.S. president back in 1978, Mr. Obama is the first president who has not visited Africa’s most populous country, Nigeria. Nigeria’s energy exports and contributions to regional security make it arguably the most important relationship the United States has on the African continent. The Islamic fundamentalists who terrorize many parts of the country’s north, killing Muslims and Christians alike, will certainly find it easier to recruit if a charismatic leader such as Mr. Obama does not bother to make the case for American ideals and friendship.
For a president fond of firsts, Mr. Obama might have considered Angola. No sitting president has visited the oil-rich southern African country. In 2002, Angola emerged from several decades of debilitating civil war to become one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. Rather than encourage countries such as Angola to orient toward our global trade competitors, the United States must invest in these relationships critical to our economic future. China certainly has.
If Mr. Obama would travel to Zambia, he might draw attention to growing wariness over Chinese neocolonialism. Leaders across the continent now recognize that the “no strings attached” Chinese way of bringing infrastructure and cash through its state-owned enterprises turns out to be a bad deal. The Chinese bring their own workers and are not interested in transferring skills and technology. The trade-offs of long-term concessions no longer sit well in many African countries. Mr. Obama should debunk the Chinese aid model and help U.S. businesses enter African markets with a level playing field.
The planned Obama family safari in Tanzania drew immediate fire. They should do the safari if only to show the world that Africa plays host to some of the most amazing vistas and wildlife imaginable. Its animals also happen to be under serious threat of extermination. Africa’s wildlife tourism, one of the continent’s largest foreign-currency earners, needs serious protection if it is meant to be around for future U.S. presidents, not to mention the rest of us.
In South Africa, one of the great icons of our era and a father of the liberation movement, Nelson Mandela, will be seen alongside the first black leader of the free world. That’s a photo worth having, but how about a swing through the Sahel region to countries such as Mali and Niger that continue to battle terrorist threats in the aftermath of the Arab Spring? How about a stop in Africa’s newest nation and a significant U.S. foreign-policy victory, South Sudan?
I commend the president for making another trip to Africa. Back in 2000, I helped manage then-President Clinton’s second Africa visit. The “deliverables” cobbled together were not a cynical repackaging of aid, but instead forced us to define how we wanted to see and be seen by our African partners. President George W. Bush took it further and created some of the most profound and lifesaving programs ever developed, including his HIV/AIDS and malaria initiatives. These efforts continue to pay big dividends in our relationships throughout Africa.
Critics who attack the cost of Mr. Obama’s upcoming Africa visit are missing the point. The real issue is what an American president should do to connect with the African people in a way that makes them aspire to cooperate with us in a world that is safe, economically vibrant and democratic. The United States is broadly held in high regard on the African continent, which makes engagement from an American president particularly effective. Mr. Obama should have given more thorough thought to this trip. Perhaps he will get it right on his third trip to Africa.
Tom Woods is the president of Woods International LLC and a former deputy assistant secretary of state for Africa under President George W. Bush.
Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/jun/24/obamas-opportunity-to-miss-an-opportunity-in-afric/#ixzz2X8xjqW7n
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Impacts of Malaria Interventions and their Potential Additional Humanitarian Benefits in Sub-Saharan Africa
By: David Carara - Brookings
Nigeria and Kenya: Potential Implications of Cross-Cultural Models
The potential effects of malaria and health MDG intervention on conflict mitigation and peacebuilding can be more pronounced where cross-cultural or interfaith interventions are undertaken. Nigeria is the nation with the
highest malaria burden coupled with recurring sectarian violence. Over 197,000 malaria-related deaths were reported in 2010 along with close to four million malaria cases.13
Over the past three years, an innovative malaria insecticide-treated mosquito net and educational partnership has been forged with the World Bank and the Nigeria National Malaria Control Program (NMCP) through
the Nigerian Interfaith Action Association (NIFAA). NIFAA is a Nigerian-based educational interfaith health organization co-chaired by the president of the Christian Association of Nigeria and the chairman of the Nigeria Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs, the Sultan of Sokoto. NIFAA reported that its Muslim and Christian professionals trained nearly 1,500 religious leaders who in turn trained over 15,000 local faith-based leaders to
address congregant families on malaria prevention techniques and mosquito net distribution.14
A national survey commissioned by NMCP and the World Bank indicated over 50 percent of children under age five were protected by bednets in Akwa Ibom State, where intensive NIFAA interfaith education and bednet
distribution occurred, compared to 25 percent protection in a comparable state without such intensive interventions.
This promising collaboration across sectarian divides warrants further assessment on the buildup of cross-cultural
trust and social capital.
The Race to Track and Trace
By: Gabriella Capone
June 27, 2012
Last week the Senate and House of Representatives passed the reconciled reauthorization of the Pharmaceutical Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA V). It passed unanimously – an encouraging feat in the age of a frustratingly polarized Senate and House. This is because since its 1992 inception PDUFA is one of the few health acts that actually works. It’s slated for a final vote by the House and then will be passed to Obama before becoming a law – well ahead of its September deadline.
Changes are made to PDUFA each time it’s reauthorized but its premise remains the same: when a pharmaceutical company wants the FDA to approve its new drug, PDUFA requires it to pay an application fee which funds a timely and efficient FDA review process. An inevitable change made in PDUFA V is an increase in application fees, but what people are discussing are the proposed provisions that were shot down. Specifically, industry watchers have noted the exclusion of a suggested track and trace provision.
Track and trace is a method of ensuring the authenticity of a drug through the supply-chain at the unit level. PDUFA is an apt federal channel to establish a standard track and trace mechanism given that the FDA sets the standards for and reviews all drugs. Media coverage cites that track and trace was cut out of PDUFA V because of stakeholders’ disagreement. The FDA is expected to post track and trace guidelines by the end of the year, but excluding it from this act suggests that pharmaceutical companies are keen on seeing the PDUFA take their concerns into account. But the need for a track and trace mechanism is gaining recognition and support, leaving room for optimism.
As of now, California has led the way in establishing and setting a deadline for track and trace requirements. Although this is a good first step, the changing of guidelines in a single state does not leave enough incentive for the pharmaceutical industry to make such drastic, yet necessary, changes to how they ensure supply chain quality. National standards must be set by the FDA to clearly define expectations of pharmaceutical companies. Thus the main issue stalling the track and trace provision is that the burden of implementation would fall on pharmaceutical companies; but with each brand’s reputation and reliability being compromised every time a counterfeit drug is discovered, it may be time for them to address the problem once and for all.
The fact that life-threatening counterfeits are distributed as life-saving solutions should be impetus for the FDA to take action. It also presents a chance to encourage innovation, new partnerships and new solutions. PDUFA could have been a great opportunity for the government to prioritize this problem. Fortunately, this is not the last time we will hear about track and trace; counterfeit pharmaceuticals are leaving no government or organization untouched, and endangering the lives of countless individuals, making us all stakeholders in this mechanism.
Fighting Falsified Drugs Fights Drug Resistant Disease
By: Tom Woods
February 1, 2012
The recent study conducted by the Wellcome Trust (released January 2012) on the growing threat of drug resistant malaria is like the proverbial canary in the coalmine. It tells us something is dreadfully wrong but it does not offer the escape plan. Criminals who undermine drug effectiveness by using trace amounts of key active ingredients in their fake medicines could eventually put us all in the path of drug resistant disease. Tuberculosis, like malaria, is already heading in that direction. As criminals counterfeit our medicines at an ever-increasing rate, we need solutions that offer us protection from these pharmaceutical terrorists. If malaria, a disease that kills more than 700,000 people each year, becomes untreatable, as with the canary in the mine, we will know that greater dangers loom.
Drug resistant malaria draws our attention to the problem, but this is not just another sad developing world story. In fact, the increase in falsified pharmaceutical products has skyrocketed globally, including in the United States where fake drug seizures by US Customs more than tripled in 2011! Because of the ubiquitous nature of the threat – everybody takes a pharmaceutical product at some point – we need an equally ubiquitous solution. The cell phone offers a tool to fight fake medicines, and it is already in the hands of over 5 billion subscribers worldwide by recent counts. Imagine if these billions of phone users were able to protect themselves and their families from fake drugs, and in the process help authorities track down the criminals threatening our health. In India, many cell phone users can already text a code to authenticate the drugs they are buying. This type of consumer level protection is expanding rapidly and will soon link major pharmaceutical producer nations, like India, with consumers around the world, including in Africa.
In Nigeria, Dr. Paul Orhii of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has even gone as far as to mandate that pharmaceutical producers provide consumers a text message authentication option on all of their products sold in Nigeria. Cell phone use has exploded in Nigeria in recent years, making it an ideal tool for mobile authentication. Not surprisingly they will start with anti-malarial drugs both because some 300,000 Nigerians die of malaria each year and the market is flooded with a dizzying array of brands. Dr. Orhii recently told us “as the country with the highest number of malaria cases in the world, it is NAFDAC’s duty to ensure that we provide our people with safe and reliable treatment for this curable disease.” Nigeria is on the front line of the drug resistant disease problem, so the chief regulator’s text messaging plan should make an impact.
In order to really get at the falsified medicine problem and its public health consequences like drug resistant disease, we need a solution that hits criminals where they produce and where they sell. India’s Director General of Foreign Trade is rolling out a far-reaching effort to track and trace the country’s pharmaceutical exports through the use of serialization. This is a welcome show of leadership from a country that exports its drugs all around the world, including a high percentage of the drugs shipped to Africa.
Ultimately, some form of authentication must accompany tracking a drug through the supply chain. We are working to help Indian companies meet their regulatory requirements for serialization and link them to their customers in places like Nigeria. Closing the loop by helping a patient in Lagos, Nigeria authenticate an anti-malaria drug made in India will put a bunch of criminals out of work. It will also help restore public trust in the global pharmaceutical supply chain. The good news is that we are already on our way, as we will label over a billion drug packets in India over the coming months. The cost can be held to a fraction of a cent per packet with such massive volume.
Last month, the World Health Organization released its malaria report. Despite some progress, there were still 216 million cases of malaria worldwide. Virtually all of those cases were treatable, for now. Failure to curb the drug counterfeiting racket seriously imperils the best efforts of international aid agencies to reduce malaria deaths. While hundreds of millions of dollars are spent each year on medicines, the whole project unravels if fake drugs continue to pollute the system. Artemisinin-based combination therapies or ACTs save hundreds of thousands of lives as the treatment of choice against malaria infection. A simple text message could help make sure that malaria sufferers gain access to safe and authentic ACTs. Aid agencies would do well to support such consumer protection programs in order to protect their investments in the battle against malaria.
It is a sad fact that we still have preventable and curable diseases that kill people. Malaria is a powerful example. Add to it, however, a preventable and curable disease that may lose its cure due to a preventable spreak of fake medicines and you have a global calamity. We are working to make sure that a solution as simple as sending a text message can stop criminals from destroying our essential drugs. This is not a problem impacting people far away. It might be happening in your own pharmacy, and the solution just may be in the palm of your hand.
Woods International, LLC. All rights reserved 2008.