A recent study bysome non-governmental Organisatons, Mercy Corps and Ford Foundation has revealed the recruitment strategies of Boko Haram in the North-Eastern part of the country.
The research, which was tagged ‘Motivations and Empty Promises: Voices of Former Boko Haram Combatants and Nigerian youth”, explored in detail how Boko Haram use financial services for recruitment and support of locals.
The research The Nation gathered also revealed that the financial support offered to them presented an alternative set of services for community members, highlighting government and private sector deficiencies.
The financial support also provided an immediate pathway for the vulnerable ones to expand their businesses, an affiliation that has provided Boko Haram with leverage to persuade potential recruits and community members to help with its operations
Speaking on the importance of the research in the fight against Boko Haram, Director of Conflict Management at Mercy Corps, Rebecca Wolfe, claimed that conflict is one of the leading causes of poverty in the country and the aim of the presentation is to understand how Boko Haram recruits young people so that conflict can be reduced in the North-East.
She said: “They recruit members in a number of ways. Not only unemployed young people, but employed, educated and uneducated, religious and non-religious people also join. The lack of services has created feelings of injustice, dissatisfaction and grievances predominantly in the North-East. Boko Haram has used this to effectively gain community acceptance. We have also found that business relationships and financial incentives are used to lure people into the group. Also, the deep-seated frustration with government paved way for Boko Haram to garner recruits.”
Meanwhile, Dabesaki Mac-Ikemenjima, Program Officer of Ford Foundation noted that what the research found was the cause of the recruitment of individuals.
He said: “It is partly because they lack economic resources, because they are excluded from political discussions, and also because their education system is weak. They are not trained to think that they can create opportunities for radicalisation and indoctrination by religious groups.”
On whether some of the recommendations made would help in solving the issue of Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria, he gave recommendations, that focus on economic livelihood for young people, if integrated with economic and social support, would be useful in addressing the challenge of youth involvement in the insurgency.
A researcher and civil society practitioner in Maiduguri, Mustafa Ballama, explained that the research tried to explore the business and financial aspect of the insurgency.
He also noted that according to the findings, in 2009 people joined because it was a new sect and they were curious to learn, and they wanted to look more religious.
He said: “Then the violence came, and as a result of the findings, we know that the others joined because of either money or other issues around power or even politics – it’s an advantage. To a certain extent, finances or business were used as incentives to lure these youths to the sect.”