As Africans, and Nigerians in particular, grapple with the various manifestations of growing pains – population overflow, dwindling natural resources, bureaucratic corruption, and burdensome bureaucracy, the debilitating sectarian violence and insurgencies of recent years make these growing pains even more painful. From West Africa to East Africa, Boko Haram and al-Shabab remind Africans and the global community that all is not well in the African continent; that ethnic divide, religious tensions, cultural differences, bad governance, and the scramble for Africa’s natural resources by foreign interests have brought about immense transformational impulses and pressures that are beyond the institutional capacities of constituent states. As a consequence, disaffected groups deprived of access to modern existence, effective public service, essential social infrastructure, and functional educational facilities have chosen to take up arms against their fellow Africans.

The atrocities of Boko Haram in northern Nigeria remain unspeakable as it is despicable; the total disregard for human life and the social institutions that define Nigeria as a nation-state makes the group a scourge that must be contained and neutralized either through diplomacy or muscular intervention. In the midst of a rapidly contracting economy, unsustainable high unemployment, and an inflation rate that threatens the economic viability of the average citizen, the existential threats of terrorism from competing groups in northern and southern Nigeria properly engage and offend our collective sensibilities. And because the territorial integrity of the Chad Basin nation-states has been breached by foreign fighters sympathetic to the claims and grievances of their religious and cultural affiliates in Nigeria, the regional and potential global reach of Boko Haram is no longer speculative.

The global community is at risk from the likes of Boko Haram; to curb this risk, a responsible and effective set of policy measures must be deployed with proper care to protect the innocent and basic human rights. These insurgents, in as much as their acts against humanity are despicable, have grievances that must be addressed; and the sooner the better. This summit is designed to find means to redress their grievances, and to end all forms terroristic acts against civilized polities through humane and expedient means. Sometimes the use of force to subdue those bent on destabilizing societies is unavoidable, but first, peacefully engage and listen.

Welcome to the summit!

Professor John O. Ifediora
Director and Editor-in-chief
Council on African Security And Development