A new research has found that street begging, drug abuse and early marriage are the most common activities victims of Boko Haram insurgency engage in due to low government support, particularly in the North-east.
The research titled “Entrenching Peace: Assessing community resilience and peace building initiatives in North-east Nigeria” was conducted by Nextier SPD (Security, Peace, and Development), and sponsored by the European Union (EU) and British Council.
At the presentation of the research findings yesterday in Abuja, Haruna Dlakwa, a professor at the University of Maiduguri, said the protracted insurgency had significantly disrupted social and economic life with many residents now living in abject poverty and displaced from their homes.
He noted government’s assistance did not reach a number of the victims, “Street begging is one of the major coping strategy the people developed. This is not to say the government assistance was not there but it was not going round.”
Group eating, campaign and enlightenment on the need for them to have forgiving spirit was also adopted as a survival mechanism.
“Also, the rate of marriage has been very high among the people. The women see it as a means of survival. They also resorted to the use of herbs and charm to protect themselves. Criminal activities such as bribery and theft are now very prominent as some residents became a link between Boko Haram and contrabands such as petrol. The disgruntled elders who have lost control of their family also adopted indiscriminate use of drugs as survival strategy,” he stated.
The report, however, explained that some residents of the communities also relied on menial jobs and learned new skills to make a living.
“Women made efforts to provide for their families by venturing into various businesses including – knitting, hair making, clothmaking, amongst others.
Chris Kwaja, Member U.S working group on the use of mercenaries, while presenting the recommendations of the report, noted efforts made by government to deradicalise and reintegrate repentant Boko Haram terrorists into the society.
Kwaja, therefore, urged government to seek the buy-in of the people and ensure their views are incorporated in the demobilisation, disarmament, rehabilitation and reintegration (DDRR) programme for ex-Boko Haram members, for credible reintegration of the ex-terrorists into the communities.
In the same vein, Ndu Nwokolo, Partner/Chief Executive Nextier SPD, said every strategy the government wants to adopt to achieve peace at this moment must be community based and they must have the people’s buy-in.
“The conflict in the North-east has to do with the heart and soul of the people. For them to give you information, they must love you, they must believe in what you want to do. Remember, they are battling Boko Haram as well, if they ever think that Boko Haram offers good dynamics for them, they would go with them. So, government has to continue to work with them,” he said.