Africa Blog Roundup: Algeria, Somalia, Michel Djotodia, South Sudan, and More

The Moor Next Door: “Comments on Algeria.”

Baobab has a video analysis of the London conference on Somalia.

Missed this during my hiatus in April, but it’s still relevant: Louisa Lombard‘s biography of Michel Djotodia, the rebel-turned-leader of the Central African Republic.

Amb. John Campbell: “What Next for Nigeria’s Oil Patch?”

Dibussi Tande: “President [Paul] Biya [of Cameroon] Appoints Thirty Senators.”

Roving Bandit: “So What Exactly Just Happened to the Economy of South Sudan?”

Via Amb. David Shinn, the Spring 2013 bulletin of the Sudan Studies Association (.pdf).

Oil Thieves and a Political Vacuum in the Niger Delta

A lot of oil gets stolen in the Niger Delta – as much as 150,000 barrels, every day. That represents a significant portion of Nigeria’s total daily production of around 2.7 million barrels.

Where does the stolen oil go? Some goes into hidden, illegal, “home-made” oil refineries in the Delta, which produce diesel for local consumption. Some goes overseas. One source told the BBC that “about 10% of the snatched oil was being refined locally by gangs operating in the delta’s creeks and swamps. The rest is mainly going to criminal networks in Ukraine, Serbia and Bulgaria, or to Singapore, which is the world’s top refiner.” Some oil also leaks into local waters, adding to the environmental devastation in the Delta.

Where do the profits from illegal oil sales go? The criminal networks involved in oil theft are reportedly quite sophisticated, and allegedly include government officials.

In one indication of how institutionalized such networks are becoming, some of the profits also reportedly go back into local communities:

Another critical development that is said to be frustrating efforts to rid the Niger Delta of criminal oil thieves is the tactical support of communities along the waterways where these illegal operations are being carried out. According to sources, these oil thieves now engaged in community development projects.

“It will interest you to know that these oil thieves now build roads, hospitals and engage in other activities in communities where they carry out their illegal operations.

“So, members of the communities don’t even cooperate with officials of government, as they see these criminals as their benefactors,” a source explained.

The thieves are becoming politicians, or even state-builders, if you like. If true, these reports of community development projects point to the existence of several vacuums in the Delta – a security vacuum, a political vacuum, and a development vacuum. While violence has decreased in the Delta since the government-sponsored amnesty program for militants began in 2009, the extent of the criminality – and the political dimensions it seems to be taking on – shows the extent of the challenges that remain for the state to confront in this region. A naval force is reportedly being deployed to pursue thieves, but military force alone seems insufficient for addressing the interlocking problems that allow criminality to flourish.

Africa Blog Roundup: Mauritania’s “Arab Spring,” Kenyan Foreign Policy, Boko Haram, Elections in Lesotho, and More

At The Guardian‘s Comment is Free, Sharif Nashashibi says that the international media have overlooked the protest movement in Mauritania. He argues:

There is…the possibility, or perhaps even the probability, that the protests in Mauritania will intensify, mainly because the government seems not to have learned from the mistakes of other Arab regimes that are under threat. It has used a combination of repression and pledges of reform that have left Mauritanians unconvinced and more frustrated.

Demonstrations have thus far been peaceful and centred around reforms. However, as in other Arab states, if protesters feel they are being indefinitely ignored or oppressed, not only might calls for reform become demands for regime change, but violence may become a means to advance those demands – a particularly dangerous development given Mauritania’s ethnic fault lines.

By the way, for those who read Arabic, Twitter user Mint Mauritanie is a great resource for news on Mauritanian politics and the protests.

Amb. David Shinn flags a discussion by Kenyan scholars of Kenyan foreign policy.

Two pieces on Boko Haram: G. Pascal Zachary parses a recent Financial Times piece’s language on Boko Haram’s alleged ties to Al Qaida, and wonders whether the US will start taking a more hands-on approach to the rebel sect. Andrew Walker compares two views on Boko Haram that are “almost diametrically opposite…except they both agree that journalists (people like me) have it wrong.” What do you think the international media has done well in its coverage of Boko Haram, and what has it done poorly?

And two others on Nigeria: Attempting Denouement on oil bunkering in the Niger Delta, and Laura Dimon on the social effects of desertification in the Lake Chad area.

Bruce Whitehouse on a sermon he heard on Friday in Bamako:

A few minutes into today’s wajilu I heard the imam utter the word CEDEAO (“sedeyawu“), the French acronym for the Economic Community of West African States.

Now I was interested. Why was the imam talking about ECOWAS in his sermon? This is a preacher who often urges parishioners in general terms to join together and work for unity, and to overcome petty differences. But I had never heard him venture into such explicitly political territory before. It soon became clear that he was coming out in full support of the agreement signed last weekend between ECOWAS and Mali’s military junta, the CNRDRE. Mali’s leaders and ECOWAS would never advocate anything that was against the nation’s interests, he said. He condemned the recent disturbances in Bamako and admonished us not to follow those who seek to destabilize the country.

[...]

From the international news media one often hears about firebrand imams throughout the Muslim world using their pulpits to whip their congregations into a political frenzy. In Bamako, however, I rarely hear imams address overtly political topics in Friday sermons. Which made the Badalabougou imam’s message this afternoon all the more powerful.

Royal Africa Society Director Richard Dowden posts excerpts from an interview with Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.

Zachary Rosen on the elections in Lesotho.

This year’s National Assembly contest has been marked by massive voter engagement with an especially strong showing for young and first time voters. Rallies, famo musicperformances and to a lesser extent, social media, have been used to generate support for parties and candidates. Key issues that affect the majority of Basotho include: employment, agricultural investment, union wage negotiations, access to education and labor mobility to and from South Africa. Because no party wants to resort to forming a coalition government with their rivals, competition for voters’ allegiance has been rather intense.

While each party is representing itself as the one that can best be trusted by Basotho factory workers, farmers, civil servants and students, it’s evident that other, more clandestine constituents are being courted as well. The incumbent Prime Minister Mosisili in particular has realized the value of partnerships with foreign investors, especially South Africans and Chinese. Kenny Kunene, South Africa’s infamous “Sushi King” (who also invests in mining) has reportedly been acontributor to Mosisili’s political campaign at a time when Lesotho’s diamond mines are exhuming some of the largest stones in the world. Lesotho’s mountainous highlands have long been of strategic interest to the South African government as well, with giant dams supplying essential water to the Johannesburg area for domestic and industrial use. Chinese investors, who operate many of Lesotho’s textile factories, have benefited from being able to keep wages low on Mosisili’s watch, to the vexation of Basotho factory workers. Chinese contractors have been busy with projects across Maseru. Notably, the recently opened Ying Tao restaurant in one of Lesotho’s nicer hotels, the Lesotho Sun, has quickly become a popular meeting place for Basotho elite and Chinese businessmen.

What are you reading today? Any new bloggers out there I should be reading?

Nigeria: Oil Bunkering, Government Revenue, and Allegations of Corruption in the Niger Delta

A report from This Day (via Reuters) leads us into the complex terrain of Nigeria’s Niger Delta. Stolen oil, the government says, is depriving the country of needed revenue, but other reports suggest government actors may be complicit in the theft.

Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has expressed concern over the spate of oil theft in the country, saying it would impact negatively on the nation’s revenue profile.

The minister, who spoke with THISDAY in Abuja, said a recent media report that vessels loaded with about 1.2 million barrels of oil were seized from illegal bunkerers was a disturbing signal, and must be tackled headlong.

[...]

“Bunkering is an activity we just have to stop. This is one thing we just have to stop. The [Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation] reported that 17 per cent of oil production was lost in April, and this is about one fifth of the revenue,” the minister lamented.

As Reuters (link above) says, “The 2009 amnesty sharply reduced militancy in the Niger Delta…but bunkering has continued.” Analysts (including me) and journalists wonder from time to time whether a resurgence of armed groups like the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) is in the cards, but the cumulative effects of bunkering appears to be doing significant damage even if violence remains relatively low.

But who does or enables the bunkering? Nigeria’s Tribune points a finger at the police:

A new dimension to the illegal activities is the involvement of security agencies, which give cover to the criminals, on the payment of certain agreed percentage running into millions of dollars and naira.

The Nigerian Tribune gathered authoritatively that these illegal bunkerers had been given assurances by senior police officers in Abuja that nothing would happen to them even if they were arrested.

It was reliably gathered that the bunkerers, who now resort to breaking pipelines, carry out their illegal activities accompanied by siren-blaring escorts thereby scaring people away and creating the impression that they were government officials on assignment.

An example was a cartel known as Tekeena Oil, that loaded two foreign ships in the Niger Delta last week at the Mobil Oil filed in Eket, Akwa Ibom State.

The illegal vessels, containing about 200,000 metric tonnes of AGO and crude oil, was loaded within 24 hours before they could sail off.

Nigerian Tribune was told exclusively that before the ships could be loaded with the crude, the sum of N50 million was paid to senior police officers to give them protection.

A columnist from the Niger Delta, discussing the region’s broader problems, points a finger at local and state government:

Leaders in the region such as ministers, governors, development agency (NDDC) executives, and local council chairmen [,it is believed,] are simply interested in looting and stealing, to make themselves and their future generations comfortable for ever.
There are cases of LGA chairmen who collect allocations and simply retire into hotel suites and squander the funds till the next allocation. They would have handed-down the share of their godfathers, touts, and hangers-on before swallowing the rest. A governor in one of the Niger Delta states has shown anger against this attitude and caused an assessment to be done by an independent body, which found only five out of 23 to have excelled. So far, two LGA bosses have been overthrown by their people. Now that the EFCC is toothless, the politicians are simply on the rampage.

If one believes such charges, they are a serious condemnation of the way power works in the region. They imply that fixing the bunkering problem – and the region’s other challenges – will require major governmental reforms. If one disbelieves the charges, the fact that they circulate so widely is still significant, as it indicates a pervasive distrust of the government and its claims.

Africa Blog Roundup: Two-Round Electoral Systems, War in Mali, Media in Somalia, and More

Dibussi Tande on the difference having a two-round election system can make, and why Cameroon (for historical reasons) does not have one:

The Republic of Senegal has a new president following run-off elections which resulted in the defeat of outgoing President Abdoulaye Wade by Macky Sall, his one-time protégé and former Prime Minister. One of the main reasons for Macky’s victory is Senegal’s two-round electoral system, which calls for a second round of voting if no candidate obtains more that 50% of votes cast. This is unlike countries such as Cameroon which have a one-round/first-past-the-post electoral system.

In the first round of voting, President Wade obtained 34.81% of votes cast while Sall obtained 26.58%. If this had been the first-past-the-post system practiced in Cameroon, Wade would still be President of Senegal…

The two-round system is a potent tool for dislodging sit-tight incumbents, especially in the face of a splintered opposition (there were 14 candidates in the first round of elections in Senegal).

Erin in Juba provides a snarky perspective on life in South Sudan during the oil shutdown.

Mali continues to grapple with war and the aftermath of the recent coup. Dr. Gregory Mann says Mali’s democracy is “Down But Not Out.” Lesley Warner looks at the trajectory of the war with a post entitled, “After the Loss of Kidal and Gao, What Next for the MNLA and CNRDR” – the MNLA being the rebels in the north (The National Movement for the Liberation of the Azawad) and the CNRDR being the military junta in Bamako (the National Committee for the Restoration of Democracy and the State).

Peter Dorrie continues his series on the Sahelian food crisis with a look at Burkina Faso. He writes,

Burkina will be one of the least impacted countries of this year’s hunger crisis. This is due to its geographical advantages, but also the early and relatively comprehensive reaction by the government and NGOs. Still, many people will be off worse after the crisis than they were before. Lets hope that they won’t be forgotten as soon as the crisis is declared over.

Carmen McCain, “The Strange Poisonous Fruit of Hate: South Africa, Nigeria, and the World.”

Laine Strutton reflects on the way her interlocutors in the Niger Delta talk about the 1990s, and what implications this case has for larger questions of  security and/vs. freedom.

Amb. John Cambell argues, “Africa Unlikely to Win World Bank Presidency.”

And Amb. David Shinn flags a new report on the Somali media landscape.

Been a lot of news this week. What’s on your mind?

Nigeria: PDP Wins Bayelsa, Rumblings of Renewed Militancy Continue

Few were surprised to see that Nigeria’s ruling party, the People’s Democratic Party or PDP, won Saturday’s gubernatorial election in Bayelsa State. The PDP controls not only the presidency but also a super-majority of the nation’s governors’ seats, and it has dominated Bayelsa politics since Nigeria’s Fourth Republic began in 1999. The victor in Bayelsa, Henry Seriake Dickson, had the strong support of President Goodluck Jonathan.

As I wrote last week, Bayelsa, which lies in the Niger Delta, has faced not only political tension but also renewed violence, some of which is electoral, some of which targets the oil industry, and all of which is in some sense or another political. The election is now over,  but that does not settle questions about where the politics of the region are headed.

For one thing, there are signs of discontent with the electoral process. Turnout was low. Minor clashes have occurred between rival partisans. And the deposed former governor of Bayelsa State, Timipre Sylva, is still awaiting a court date in April to determine whether or not he was unfairly prevented from running in this election. Somehow I doubt that Sylva will win the legal victory he seeks – but the wait for the hearing means that in some ways the election is not completely over, a feeling that could cast something over a shadow over the first two months of Dickson’s tenure.

More important still are the rumblings concerning the possibility of renewed militancy in the Delta. Fears focus in particular on the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), whose attacks disrupted oil production in the region before some militants agreed to an amnesty deal with the Federal Government in 2009. MEND has claimed a recent pipeline attack as a well as the bombing of the home of the Minister of Niger-Delta, Elder Peter Godsday Orubebe.

According to MEND’s recent statements, the fresh attacks have come about for a number of reasons, including the alleged incompetence of President Jonathan, the alleged corruption of the government, and what MEND sees as the misguided use of amnesty funds. One of MEND’s communications reads in part, “Rather than address serious issues facing the nation and its citizens, Goodluck Jonathan squanders public funds on tribalistic sycophants and thugs calling themselves ex-militants.”

The discontent surrounding the question of who has benefited from the amnesty and who has not is critical. One analysis of the potential for renewed violence in the Delta elaborates:

The Presidency and security agents may have underrated the capacity of a group of ex-militants who claim that they were not included in the ‘largesse’, coming from the amnesty programme.

Their colleagues, enlisted in the programme, collect moneys from the federal government; each gets at least N65, 000 monthly (these are juniors); many others get far more than N65,000 monthly, depending on their closeness to ex-militant leaders and politicians across the Niger Delta region.

Some have received training abroad; some have been sent to schools abroad. Ex-militant leaders are those who commanded ‘troops’ and called themselves ‘Generals’ during the militancy era.

Many of them are millionaires now. They have access to the Presidency, top government officials and high profile establishments. The presidency pacifies the ex-militant leaders to sustain stability in the Niger Delta since the leaders are thought to have control over their foot soldiers.

Indeed, many of the ex-militant leaders like Asari Dokubo (from Rivers State) Ateke Tom (from Rivers) and Tom Polo (from Delta) as well as some others have significant influence over their ex-militant members. To welcome Ateke Tom who had stayed long in Abuja, his boys staged a big party recently in Rivers State.

The ex-militant leaders are however the envy of many youths now threatening fresh militancy. Some of them feel unsafe, that some of their boys could harm them. This is mainly because the leaders have become so rich, leaving behind some of their members in anguish.

The boys insist that they fought the wars while the leaders argue that they took higher risks of providing arms and being the main persons hunted by security men prior to the amnesty regime. Some of the youths (called boys by the ‘generals’), simply cannot feed now, others want to go to school, some want to be rich, some want to drive posh cars and fly on business class seats in airlines as most ex-militants do on domestic and international trips.

The whole piece is worth reading. If the diagnosis this and other analyses make is correct – namely, that there exists a class of former footsoldiers who received little or not benefit from the amnesty, and are angry enough over their exclusion to contemplate picking up weapons again – the violence seen in the lead-up to the gubernatorial election in Bayelsa could be just the beginning of another round of problems for the Delta.

Africa News Roundup: Fallout from Rebellion in North Mali, Campaigning in Senegal, Education in Ethiopia, Somalia’s al Shabab and Al Qaeda, and More

The Tuareg rebellion in northern Mali has sent refugees into a number of nearby countries, including Mauritania, Burkina Faso, and Niger. UNHCR is attempting to increase its aid to refugees in all of these places.

For military news about the rebellion, check out Reuters’ piece “Arms and men out of Libya fortify Mali rebellion.” Another noteworthy item is that the rebellion has caused Washington to postpone a joint military exercise in Mali.

The above-listed countries are also facing severe food shortages. AFP reports on the World Food Programme’s forecast that “a food crisis in Mauritania as a result of drought is expected to be three times worse that in 2010, when the Sahel was crippled by food shortages.”

The World Bank will provide Niger with over $60 million to fight the effects of climate change.

Campaigning is underway in Senegal in advance of presidential elections to be held later this month. President Abdoulaye Wade’s convoy was recently stoned in the city of Thies (the home base of his rival Idrissa Seck), but Wade (audio) shows no signs of quitting.

VOA writes, “Ethiopia, one of Africa’s poorest countries, is among the few on track to achieve the goal of universal primary education by 2015.  Our correspondent in Addis Ababa, reports on how, according to analysts, an otherwise repressive government is winning praise for its campaign to bring learning to the people.”

On Thursday, Somalia’s al Shabab formally joined Al Qaeda.

Meanwhile in Somaliland:

The breakaway territory of Somaliland is battling its own secessionists in a dispute that has raised tensions with neighbouring Puntland, in an area of Somalia usually more peaceful than the rest of the country.

The fighting first erupted in January after the leaders of the northern regions of Sool, Sanaag and Cayn decided to band together into a new state called Khaatumo and declared they wanted to be an independent region within Somalia.

Somaliland’s troops have since clashed with militia fighters loyal to Khaatumo, with reports of dozens of casualties. Puntland’s President Abdirahman Mohamud Farole stepped into the row on Wednesday, accusing Somaliland of creating chaos.

Finally, Nigeria’s Daily Trust looks at the possibility of renewed militancy in the Niger Delta.

Nigeria: Controversy Over Revenue Allocation

Earlier this week, an article in the Daily Trust occasioned some angry commentary in Northern Nigeria, as the piece raised critical issues about regional favoritism. The article details how federal project spending is allocated to the countries six geopolitical zones:

The Niger Delta region is home to at least 86 per cent of projects approved by the Federal Executive Council between March and August, amounting to over N760 billion out of N883 billion contracts awarded during the period, according to documents published by the Bureau for Public Procurement.

But the entire North, minus the FCT, has projects worth only N16.4 billion, as follows: Northwest N15 billion and Northeast N1.4 billion. There is no project specifically located in any of the six states of the North Central.

Four projects worth N12 billion were approved to be sited in the Southwest.

The issue is more than just financial; it bears on people’s perceptions of the federal government, and it bears on the prospects for development and security in different crisis areas. Many people recognize that the Niger Delta is in desperate need of assistance, but many people will also feel that the numbers have skewed too far in favor of one region. Assuming the figures are correct, this report could contribute to major resentment of the administration throughout much of the country.

Africa Blog Roundup: Sam Childers, al Shabab, Niger Delta, Twitter in Uganda, and More

Brett Keller has done fascinating research on Sam Childers aka “the Machine Gun Preacher,” whose complicated story involves hunting Joseph Kony, working with PR firms, and cultivating a strange relationship with violence and Christianity.

Loomnie: “How a Chinese Syndicate Is Screwing Africa”

Amb. David Shinn comments on al Shabab’s withdrawal from Mogadishu. The Economist’s Baobab blog looks at how civil war complicates aid delivery.

Amb. John Campbell on environmental degradation in the Niger Delta:

It is easy to blame the international oil companies for degradation of the Niger Delta environment, all the more so when Exxon is reporting that its profits world-wide increased by 69 percent during this year’s first quarter while Shell’s are up 30 percent. But, the real story does not lend itself to a morality tale. “Bush refining” (illegal mom-and-pop refining operations) supplied by “bunkering” (oil theft by puncturing pipelines) substantially contributes to the pollution, as the UNEP study acknowledges. More importantly, the Nigerian government is deeply involved with all elements of Delta oil and gas production through the state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), and all oil and gas is the property of the Nigerian state, and provides the state with about 65 percent of its total revenue and 95 percent of export earnings. NNPC owns a majority interest in the assets operated by Shell under a joint operating agreement, for example. Such partnership agreements require NNPC to fund its share of petroleum production, including pollution abatement efforts, making the federal government at least partially complicit in the degradation of the Delta environment. But the Abuja government too often fails to appropriate the funds necessary for the NNPC to fulfill its partnership obligations because of politicians’ other priorities.

Rosebell Kagumire looks at a Ugandan minister’s claim that activists are using Twitter to prepare an insurgency.

No doubt the Uganda opposition uses social media much better than the government. We have seen top opposition leaders updating their facebook and twitter accounts as they are in running battles with the police. But government’s reaction to social media has been slow ad hence they see the opposition having some good advantage in the race to put out information. I remember in April when the protests were on high, the presidential press secretary told the Guardian that they were not bothered about the impact of social media because “farmers in Uganda don’t know what it is.” Today we see the government waking up to accept the power of social media-in a disguised way- on the youth in the country. Social media use in Uganda has been steadily increasing since end of last year.

Check out my friend Kristi’s new blog on lived religion.

What are you reading today? Any new blogs on your radar?

Nigeria: Boko Haram Through the Lens of the Niger Delta

“If our dear late President Umaru Yar’Adua can restore peace to a more volatile area like the Niger Delta by extending Amnesty to the militants of the region and dialogue with them by resolving most of their grievances amicably, I don’t see why we can’t do the same to the Boko Haram.”

- Governor-elect (now Governor) Kashim Shettima of Borno State, Nigeria, May 2011

In 2009, President Umaru Yar’Adua launched an amnesty program that aimed to disarm, reintegrate, and employ militants in the Niger Delta. Prior to this, local anger over the failure of oil revenues to substantially benefit communities gave rise to armed movements that disrupted oil production. The government had deployed soldiers (the Joint Task Force or JTF) and militants, but only the amnesty seemed to offer a chance of lasting peace. The government’s two-pronged approach to the Delta – crackdown, then amnesty – helped tamp down the conflict there, though rumblings of discontent in the Delta, along with new threats from militants, indicate that it could resume.

Policymakers at both the federal and the state level largely see the problem of Boko Haram, the Muslim rebel group that is spreading violence outward from its stronghold in the Northeastern city of Maiduguri, Borno State, through the lens of the Niger Delta. The precedent of the Niger Delta force-then-amnesty policy, the perception of its at least partial success, and the existence of groups with significant experience in dialogue with militants, helps explain why some officials urge the application of the same formula in the Northeast. The military is already in Maiduguri, and force has long been an element of the state response to Boko Haram. The persistence with which the idea of amnesty returns in government circles, though – even when Boko Haram rejects it time after time – shows how strongly the example of the Delta has shaped Nigerian policy responses to violent groups.

The analogy with the Delta also shapes an understanding of what the root causes of Boko Haram’s emergence are. Figures like Governor Shettima, along with virtually every analyst, believes that Northern Nigeria’s problems – poverty, feelings of political isolation, deficient infrastructure, lack of broad access to higher Western-style education, etc – play some role in sustaining Boko Haram.

The challenge lies in moving from a general understanding of factors at work in Boko Haram’s existence to a specific understanding of the movement’s grievances and, finally, to nuanced policy tools that could reintegrate members of the movement into society or undercut its grassroots support.

The analogy with the Delta is helpful in the sense that it encourages examination of root causes of violence; it becomes less helpful if policymakers stop at the level of generalities (e.g., “we need more schools”) instead of thinking about what factors make Boko Haram, and Northeastern Nigeria, unique.

One place where a general analogy between the Niger Delta and Northeastern Nigeria breaks down is in the differences between groups like the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) and Boko Haram. It would be a mistake to say that religion (Christianity, local religions, and even Islam) is not a force in the Niger Delta, but the grievances of MEND have to do with the distribution of wealth resulting from one natural resource, oil. The grievances Boko Haram expresses are more diverse, less material, and are explicitly articulated as religious politics: Boko Haram wants stronger shari’a, it wants a purification of society, etc.

If the grievances are different, the solutions to address them must of necessity be at least somewhat different. More schools could help reduce feelings of marginalization in the North. But to reach a group whose very name connotes a rejection of Western education, not only as a phenomenon but also as a symbol of “un-Islamic” governance in Nigeria, an educational initiative would have to be introduced carefully indeed.

Shettima, who has shown substantial political courage, recognizes this, of course. Shettima has been the foremost proponent of an amnesty for Boko Haram, but he has also begun putting forward religious arguments against violence, invoking Islam as both theology and as a historical way of life in the Northeast:

According to him, targeting innocent souls for attacks irrespective of religion and ethnicity, among others, was alien to Islam.”The targeting of innocent and unarmed civilians regardless of their ethnicity, race and or religious beliefs is alien not only to our norms and culture, but alien to the fundamental doctrines of Islam.”

He said Borno, as a home of Islam over the years, had enjoyed great harmony among the different tribes and religious groups.

“In over the 1,000 years that Islam has taken roots in Borno, it has indeed affected the lives of our people positively, and has through its doctrines guided our daily lives.

“It also guided our interpersonal relations ranging from social to economic interactions.”

These arguments underscore the historical, cultural, and political differences between the Niger Delta and the Northeast.

There are certainly lessons that policymakers can take from the former conflict and apply to the latter. But past a certain point, general similarities end. The problem of Boko Haram will require its own solutions.