U.S.-Nigeria policy should…

  1. Increase humanitarian support.

Congress and the administration should increase foreign assistance for humanitarian and development programs. This includes investments in food security, clean water, education and health. Poverty-focused development assistance should address the needs of internally displaced persons and refugees, as well as their host communities. Congress should also make clear that development programs must be kept distinct from militarized “counter-terrorism” efforts.


  1. Tackle root causes of violence.

A militarized approach to “counter violent extremism” has produced overwhelmingly negative results in the northeastern part of Nigeria. The U.S. should instead support nonviolent peacebuilding programs. Conflict-sensitive approaches and psychosocial trauma programs can help tackle the socioeconomic, political and ideological causes of conflicts, transforming relationships and building trust.


  1. Strengthen oversight of military assistance.

Particularly considering the administration’s effort to loosen restrictions on arms sales, Congress must strengthen its oversight role. It must ensure strong enforcement of “the Leahy law,” which prohibits sending U.S. military assistance to a foreign military unit that has committed a gross human rights violation. Congress and the administration should also urge greater transparency and accountability in Nigeria’s security sector.


  1. Support local reintegration initiatives.

When neighbors join Boko Haram or vigilante groups, voluntarily or not, the result is broken communal relationships. To help communities move toward reconciliation and stability, the U.S. government can provide support for locally-owned processes that help ex-combatants reintegrate back into their communities.



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A Common Place magazine, Winter 2018


“My neighbor, Boko Haram”

Sojourners, March 2017