DESPITE the successes recorded through military might, the war against Boko Haram will not be won without sound economic policies in place to discourage citizens from joining terrorist gangs.
This is the view of Dr Ibrahim Mayaki, Head of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and former Prime Minister of Niger Republic.
Speaking to Nigerian Tribune in New York, he also regretted that Africa was losing $80 billion annually to illicit capital outflows.
Mayaki observed that the military coordination among Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon in the war against Boko Haram had yielded good dividends, which should be complemented with good economic policies to revitalise the region.
He said: “The military response is a well-coordinated response between Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon. And you know the security forces of all these countries cooperate on a daily basis in order to tackle Boko Haram. This is the military response.
“But you need, and the governments of these countries have also understood that you need an economic response. For example, to revitalise the Lake Chad region and not let Lake Chad die out of climate change, you have to create conditions for rural transformation.
“So, you have the military response but you also need the policy response in terms of developing the area so that these youngsters that go to Boko Haram will see that it’s more useful for them to get into sane activities in their areas where they are than to engage in terrorism.
“You have to have a two-pronged approach – the military response but the development approach is equally, if not more important than the military response.”
The one time Niger’s Minister in charge of African Integration and Cooperation and Minister of Foreign Affairs, who also supervises the Programme of Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA), said the agency’s role in the implementation of projects across the continent would assist in creating the enabling environment for economic revival in the region.
He pointed out that the Great Green Wall project, which goes from Senegal through Mali, Bourkina Faso, Niger, Chad, up to Djibouti, is part of NEPAD projects, which had segments dedicated to reforestation, roads and rail that would enhance trade in the region.
“Whenever you enhance trade, you also enhance quality of life and then you have an advantage fighting terrorism. So, it is not only the military response, it has to also be a development response,” Mayaki added.
On corruption, the NEPAD chief praised President Muhammadu Buhari for strengthening anti-corruption agencies in Nigeria.
He regretted that Africa had continue to suffer from the menace which has seen an annual illicit capital outflow of about $80 billion according facts arrived at by the President Thambo Mbeki report.
This is in spite of the fact that Africa has a total annual income of $25 billion, he said.
According to him, “75 per cent of this illicit financial flow is linked to extractive industry not paying their taxes. So, it is tax avoidance linked to corruption, which allows these illicit transactions to take place.
“In order to put the house in order, you have to recuperate these flows. And where is the money going? The money is going to Europe, the US, etc.
“The money is not staying in Africa. The difference with Asia where you have a high level of corruption too is that in Asia, the Asians reinvest the product of corruption in their countries.
“We don’t reinvest, we take it out. So, we are penalized doubly, on a double basis. So, what we need to do, just as President (Muhammadu) Buhari has done, is to reinforce the capacities of the supervising bodies, show examples that will really reframe the processes.
“But most of all, at the end of the day, it’s a long term battle where you need sound institutions, you need policy makers who are accountable.
“It is the creation of a noble culture to allow the fight in the long term to be really effective. But you need to take that way if you want to succeed knowing that the results will come on a progressive basis.”