Mike Smith joined a panel of experts on Wednesday 4 February at the Frontline Club to discuss the impact of Boko Haram in Nigeria, and West Africa, in the lead up to Nigeria’s general election on 28 March.
Chaired by BBC’s Peter Okwoche, alongside Mike Smith, author of our new book Boko Haram: Inside Nigeria’s Unholy War, the panel included Bala Mohammed Liman, a doctoral candidate at SOAS; Funmi Iyanda, a Nigerian producer, journalist and talk show host; and Alex Perry, a contributing editor at Newsweek‘s international edition.
Beginning the discussion as to why Boko Haram has reached such prominence under Goodluck Jonathan’s presidency, Smith explained: ‘This is absolutely a national issue now, maybe a regional issue. We don’t want to exaggerate though, Jonathan called it the ‘Al Qaeda of West Africa’, but it is absolutely not that.’
Responding to a question about our lack of understanding of Boko Haram’s hierarchy, Smith said “my best definition of what we have now, is that Boko Haram… is just a good name to call all the things going on in the insurgency. Some of it may be different cells, or it may be one dominant cell – it gets quite complicated.”
Catch up and listen to the discussion below. ■