This morning, a brief discussion was had with a neighbor who is Nigerian. For one reason or another, the discussion went to politics and the impact of religion on politics in Niger. This man has a PhD and apparently studies the effects of politics at some level or another during his studies. An extremely interesting perspective that he shared was on Boko Haram. To him, they are a tribal military of the Muslim tribe of Niger.
He interestingly stated that Boko Haram is easy to manage, and it all has to do with the president. He stated that there is no separation of church and state in that part of the world, rather, religion drives politics. He stated that the Muslims vote for the Muslim candidates, and likewise for any Christian candidates. He noted that a significant change has occurred in recent politics in that the current president is Muslim and the vice president is Christian.
Based on his cultural understanding of Boko Haram, this is the reason why so many young woman were released recently; because the president made a strategic political move to bolster the reputation of the Muslim tribe.
Another interesting thing this man said was that the tribe that Boko Haram comes from practices sharia law. His reason for mentioning this was to indicate the level of importance Islam plays in their culture. These people, like other cultures that practice sharia law will do anything for their religion (though the same is true for other religions as well).
A final comment was made that it’s easy and safe to go into the tribal areas of Boko Haram. He said all you need is a Muslim escort and relationships with the Muslim people.
In the end, perspective matters folks. Having conversations with people different from you better enables you to make decisions when working in a country other than you home country. Diversity in thought changes things and gives you the ability to make a better choice (because there is no right choice most of the time) when the problem is hard and stakes are high. Risk is measurable, but that doesn’t mean that a given person is capable of measuring that risk adequately. Sanctuary International is made up of professionals with more than 80 years of combined security expertise. Check out our services tab for more information on what we provide and give us the opportunity to service your security needs.