In Print: ‘Motivations and Empty Promises’: Voices of Former Boko Haram Combatants and Nigerian Youth

‘Before you assume, learn the facts, before you judge, understand why’. This popular saying has been justified in this short but succinct report by Mercy Corps; a leading global organization helping people triumph over adversity and building stronger communities from within.

In an effort to contribute to the fight against the violence of Boko Haram in Nigeria and the neighbouring country of Lake Chad and ending the destructive activities of the sect, Mercy Corps through this report identify the reasons for youth involvement in Boko Haram violence in Northern Nigeria. Furthermore, in order to decipher the vulnerability, protection, and forced recruitment into the sect, the report also gives an insight to reasons some youth resisted joining the deadly sect.

In capturing this report, Mercy Corps, in the space of three months interviewed forty seven (47) former youth Boko Haram members, twenty six (26) other youth who refused to succumb to the pressure to join the sect, and forty six (46) family and friends of current Boko Haram members in the vulnerable states of Borno, Yobe, and Gombe.

Peer and social influences, the hope for better standards of living, and broad frustrations are some of the major reasons identified in the report as the incentives for joining Boko Haram in the surveyed states. Moreover, the results of the interviews expose the economic, educational, and ethnic diversity of members of the sect as against the widespread belief that the sect is dominated by people from a particular background.

A high point in the report is the fact that it refutes three (3) myths about members who constitute the sect as the report educates both Nigerians and the International community on the true situation of insurgency in the North Eastern Region. A damning conclusion, from authoritative respondents and empirical data from both male and females members, who were either forced to join or joined of their own volition are the three (3) major reasons for the refusal of some youth to join the sect. The difficulties of readjusting, rehabilitation challenges, dangers, risks, uncertainties, and displacement of former members after their exit also give an insight to the pain, regret, and the vanity inherent in joining the sect as testified by the respondents.
Finally, the publishers of the report, Mercy Corps offer short, medium, and long term recommendations to the governments, policy makers, stakeholders, young people, and the entire citizenry across the region, in the bid to completely eradicate this deadly sect.

This report is an eye opener to the often-misconceived opinions about how Boko Haram members are successfully recruited. More importantly, it will serve as a reference material for studies of similar situations and provide insight on how to engage vulnerable Nigerians. If widely spread and translated into all Nigerian languages, particularly the languages of the North, it is capable of educating, informing, and preventing the spread and grip of Boko Haram in Nigeria and in West Africa; it should be read by all.

Publisher: Mercy Corps
Date of Publication: April 2016

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