This article compares the contradictory effect of governmental victories over the Boko Haram in Nigeria – retaking territory, arresting, and killing fighters for the group – which should be universally beneficial, and the reality of normal citizens’ day to day lives.
Even while governments make these victories, it isn’t always a full victory. Citizens fear going to get groceries to feed their families. They fear doctors appointments – who could be sitting next to them, and are they safe? They fear leaving their homes, to do things necessary for survival. They might be alive, but they still are afraid to truly LIVE. The victories have not necessarily decreased the amount of suicide bombings; instead, these bombings may have increased. This only contributes to the palpable fear; who is hiding a “suicide belt?” Time and time again, these people live in constant fear, even amidst the government’s triumphs.
This is an important realization, not only for Nigeria and the Boko Haram, but for all conflict. There may be some victories, here or there, but what is the cost? And is that victory celebrated by all? Should it be called a victory, or is that just a hopeful word? How can the effects of what, when viewed from a governmental standpoint, is called a victory be felt by all citizens? How can this environment of fear be quelled?
It’s a significant point; looking at Richard Holbrooke’s example, one cannot really understand the whole problem until they are on the ground, living and seeing with their own eyes the full impact. We can’t just look at one case from one perspective. How can governments be better about this? And how can WE be better about this as well?