Boko Haram was an avoidable mistake waiting to happen

Over the last year, an esoteric Islamist extremist group has propelled Nigeria to the brink of religious conflict, killed some 500 people in bomb and other attacks, and set off alarm bells worldwide that Africa's most populous country could soon become a terrorist haven.

Boko Haram, as the group has come to be known, has only a few hundred members, and before 2009, they were clustered almost exclusively in one mosque in the small, dusty city of Maiduguri.

But if Boko Haram was the push, Nigeria was close to the edge.

The truth is, Boko Haram could have been anyone. The trouble in Northern Nigeria - and across the country for that matter - has been brewing below the surface for so long that it was bound to boil over.

Nigeria is Africa's largest oil producer and a major supplier of crude to the US. Yet despite its vast wealth, enormously diverse population, impressive economic elite and political dominance in the region, Nigeria fails at doing the one thing it needs to do: delivering any semblance of government, justice, and security for huge sweeps of its 150 million people. The country ranks an abysmal 156th out of 187 countries on the United Nation's Human Development Index despite having the world's 32nd largest GDP.

Material suffering alone doesn't build rebellions, though. What has built Boko Haram - and other movements in the past - is injustice at the hands of arbitrary governance. Boko Haram has won influence and converts by resisting the indignity of encounters with the state. The movement won't go away until the indignities do too.

In the dusty capitals of the country's north, the grievances are not hard to see. Police wrestle young men off to prison in hopes of winning bribes from their families for their release. Jobs from the state are portioned off to cronies and family members. Corruption is on display; while most people walk or take motorbike taxis where they need to go, roaring convoys of new SUVs shuttle even the most insignificant political office-holders around in freshly pressed suits. The people are useful only when elections roll around - and politicians can buy their votes.

Responding to these degradations, many in the country's north supported a movement at the turn of the century to impose Sharia law there - an attempt to bring true justice to a system that lacked any semblance of such. Sharia was implemented, but the abuses went on. The more extreme supporters of Islamic law retrenched, arguing that the problem was that Sharia hadn't been implemented completely enough.

So emerged Boko Haram, a movement about which the world still knows remarkably little, other than its promises to shatter the status quo.

Boko Haram's aims - to establish a stricter form of Islamic governance - are understood only in the broadest of terms. Rumours of links to Al Qaeda and other international terrorist groups abound, but whether those ties are aspirational or operational is largely conjecture. Even the name Boko Haram (which translates to mean "Western education is banned") is a best guess at the group's intentions; the sect's members call themselves by another name, Jama'atul Alhul Sunnah Lidda'wati wal jihad, or "people committed to the propagation of the Prophet's teachings and jihad."

What transformed Boko Haram from accident to inevitability was simple: the government's response to it, particularly that of the army and the police.

For years, the security forces responded to threats of extremism by rounding up anyone who they thought might possibly be connected. Usually that meant tens or hundreds of innocents would be jailed for every few guilty. When Boko Haram first struck in 2009, the police reacted by raiding their compound and summarily executing the group's leaders.

Since that day, Boko Haram has waged war on the Nigerian police in retaliation. In the middle of last year they took their battle to the Nigerian state and anyone who associates with it. They have bombed the police headquarters and the United Nations compound in Abuja. And most recently, Boko Haram has turned its gaze toward Christians, bombing several churches on Christmas day. The government's response to this has been, predictably, to clamp down.

But what the Nigerian government has done more than anything is score goals on its own side. The hard-handed crackdown has only pushed more and more sympathisers into Boko Haram's camp.

As the extremist group enters its third year in the spotlight, religious and political ambitions have been irreversibly grafted onto it. Boko Haram's grievances have come to symbolise the historical competition between the country's majority-Muslim north and Christian south over the capital Abuja - and all its oil wealth. Countless elites have piled into that competition for control, and some are even thought to be behind the high-profile bombings.

The question in all this is just how long Nigerians will put up with it. And by every indication this week, patience is running thin. Thousands have taken to the streets in a national strike against the end of a petrol subsidy - the only benefit many Nigerians received from their state's vast resource wealth. What's striking is that they aren't holding placards only about the pain of the rising gas prices; Nigerians are also denouncing corruption and mismanagement. They know that no extremist group—however despicable—is to blame for pushing Nigeria to the brink. That was Nigeria's doing.

Elizabeth Dickinson is a freelance journalist and a former Nigeria correspondent for the Economist.

Company profile

Company name: Fasset
Started: 2019
Founders: Mohammad Raafi Hossain, Daniel Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: $2.45 million
Current number of staff: 86
Investment stage: Pre-series B
Investors: Investcorp, Liberty City Ventures, Fatima Gobi Ventures, Primal Capital, Wealthwell Ventures, FHS Capital, VN2 Capital, local family offices

Where can I submit a sample?

Volunteers can now submit DNA samples at a number of centres across Abu Dhabi. The programme is open to all ages.

Collection centres in Abu Dhabi include:

  • Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC)
  • Biogenix Labs in Masdar City
  • Al Towayya in Al Ain
  • NMC Royal Hospital in Khalifa City
  • Bareen International Hospital
  • NMC Specialty Hospital, Al Ain
  • NMC Royal Medical Centre - Abu Dhabi
  • NMC Royal Women’s Hospital.
World Cup warm-up fixtures

Friday, May 24:

  • Pakistan v Afghanistan (Bristol)
  • Sri Lanka v South Africa (Cardiff)

Saturday, May 25

  • England v Australia (Southampton)
  • India v New Zealand (The Oval, London)

Sunday, May 26

  • South Africa v West Indies (Bristol)
  • Pakistan v Bangladesh (Cardiff)

Monday, May 27

  • Australia v Sri Lanka (Southampton)
  • England v Afghanistan (The Oval, London)

Tuesday, May 28

  • West Indies v New Zealand (Bristol)
  • Bangladesh v India (Cardiff)
The Greatest Royal Rumble card

50-man Royal Rumble - names entered so far include Braun Strowman, Daniel Bryan, Kurt Angle, Big Show, Kane, Chris Jericho, The New Day and Elias

Universal Championship Brock Lesnar (champion) v Roman Reigns in a steel cage match

WWE World Heavyweight ChampionshipAJ Styles (champion) v Shinsuke Nakamura

Intercontinental Championship Seth Rollins (champion) v The Miz v Finn Balor v Samoa Joe

United States Championship Jeff Hardy (champion) v Jinder Mahal

SmackDown Tag Team Championship The Bludgeon Brothers (champions) v The Usos

Raw Tag Team Championship (currently vacant) Cesaro and Sheamus v Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt

Casket match The Undertaker v Rusev

Singles match John Cena v Triple H

Cruiserweight Championship Cedric Alexander v Kalisto


Company name: Almouneer
Started: 2017
Founders: Dr Noha Khater and Rania Kadry
Based: Egypt
Number of staff: 120
Investment: Bootstrapped, with support from Insead and Egyptian government, seed round of
$3.6 million led by Global Ventures

World ranking (at month’s end)
Jan - 257
Feb - 198
Mar - 159
Apr - 161
May - 159
Jun – 162
Currently: 88

Year-end rank since turning pro
2016 - 279
2015 - 185
2014 - 143
2013 - 63
2012 - 384
2011 - 883

Duterte Harry: Fire and Fury in the Philippines
Jonathan Miller, Scribe Publications


Director: Sudha Kongara Prasad

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5


Burnley 0

Man City 3

Raheem Sterling 35', 49'

Ferran Torres 65'



Tonight's Chat on The National

Tonight's Chat is a series of online conversations on The National. The series features a diverse range of celebrities, politicians and business leaders from around the Arab world.

Tonight’s Chat host Ricardo Karam is a renowned author and broadcaster who has previously interviewed Bill Gates, Carlos Ghosn, Andre Agassi and the late Zaha Hadid, among others.

Intellectually curious and thought-provoking, Tonight’s Chat moves the conversation forward.

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At Everton Appearances: 77; Goals: 17

At Manchester United Appearances: 559; Goals: 253


France 4
Griezmann (13' pen), Pavard (57'), Mbappe (64', 68')

Argentina 3
Di Maria (41'), Mercado (48'), Aguero (90+3')

While you're here
Living in...

This article is part of a guide on where to live in the UAE. Our reporters will profile some of the country’s most desirable districts, provide an estimate of rental prices and introduce you to some of the residents who call each area home.


Manchester City 3
Danilo (16'), Bernardo Silva (34'), Fernandinho (72')

Brighton & Hove Albion 1
Ulloa (20')


Director: Nikhil Nagesh Bhat

Starring: Lakshya, Tanya Maniktala, Ashish Vidyarthi, Harsh Chhaya, Raghav Juyal

Rating: 4.5/5


Display: 6.1" Super Retina XDR OLED, 2532 x 1170, 460ppi, HDR, True Tone, P3, 1200 nits

Processor: A15 Bionic, 6-core CPU, 5-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine 

Memory: 6GB

Capacity: 128/256/512GB

Platform: iOS 16

Main camera: Dual 12MP main (f/1.5) + 12MP ultra-wide (f/2.4); 2x optical, 5x digital; Photonic Engine, Deep Fusion, Smart HDR 4, Portrait Lighting

Main camera video: 4K @ 24/25/3060fps, full-HD @ 25/30/60fps, HD @ 30fps; HD slo-mo @ 120/240fps; night, time lapse, cinematic, action modes; Dolby Vision, 4K HDR

Front camera: 12MP TrueDepth (f/1.9), Photonic Engine, Deep Fusion, Smart HDR 4; Animoji, Memoji; Portrait Lighting

Front camera video: 4K @ 24/25/3060fps, full-HD @ 25/30/60fps, HD slo-mo @ 120fps; night, time lapse, cinematic, action modes; Dolby Vision, 4K HDR

Battery: 3279 mAh, up to 20h video, 16h streaming video, 80h audio; fast charge to 50% in 30m; MagSafe, Qi wireless charging

Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.3, NFC (Apple Pay)

Biometrics: Face ID

I/O: Lightning

Cards: Dual eSIM / eSIM + SIM (US models use eSIMs only)

Colours: Blue, midnight, purple, starlight, Product Red

In the box: iPhone 14, USB-C-to-Lightning cable, one Apple sticker

Price: Dh3,399 / Dh3,799 / Dh4,649

Crime Wave

Heavyweight boxer Fury revealed on Sunday his cousin had been “stabbed in the neck” and called on the courts to address the wave of more sentencing of offenders.

Rico Burton, 31, was found with stab wounds at around 3am on Sunday in Goose Green, Altrincham and subsequently died of his injuries.

“My cousin was murdered last night, stabbed in the neck this is becoming ridiculous … idiots carry knives. This needs to stop,” Fury said. “Asap, UK government needs to bring higher sentencing for knife crime, it’s a pandemic & you don’t know how bad it is until [it’s] 1 of your own!


Director: Jay Roach

Stars: Nicole Kidman, Charlize Theron, Margot Robbie 

Four out of five stars 

UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets
Profile of Whizkey

Date founded: 04 November 2017

Founders: Abdulaziz AlBlooshi and Harsh Hirani

Based: Dubai, UAE

Number of employees: 10+

Sector: AI, software

Cashflow: Dh2.5 Million+ 

Funding stage: Series A


5pm: Watha Stallions Cup Handicap (PA) Dh 70,000 (Dirt) 2,000m

Winner: Dalil De Carrere, Bernardo Pinheiro (jockey), Mohamed Daggash (trainer)

5.30pm: Maiden (TB) Dh 70,000 (D) 2,000m

Winner: Miracle Maker, Xavier Ziani, Salem bin Ghadayer

6pm: Maiden (PA) Dh 70,000 (D) 1,600m

Winner: Pharitz Al Denari, Bernardo Pinheiro, Mahmood Hussain

6.30pm: Maiden (PA) Dh 70,000 (D) 1,600m

Winner: Oss, Jesus Rosales, Abdallah Al Hammadi

7pm: Handicap (PA) Dh 70,000 (D) 1,400m

Winner: ES Nahawand, Fernando Jara, Mohamed Daggash

7.30pm: Maiden (PA) Dh 70,000 (D) 1,000m

Winner: AF Almajhaz, Abdul Aziz Al Balushi, Khalifa Al Neyadi

8pm: Maiden (PA) Dh 70,000 (D) 1,000m

Winner: AF Lewaa, Bernardo Pinheiro, Qaiss Aboud.


Started: 2023
Co-founders: Arto Bendiken and Talal Thabet
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: AI
Number of employees: 41
Funding: About $1.7 million
Investors: Self, family and friends

Our legal consultants

Name: Hassan Mohsen Elhais

Position: legal consultant with Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultants.

South Africa World Cup squad

South Africa: Faf du Plessis (c), Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock (w), JP Duminy, Imran Tahir, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Dale Steyn, Rassie van der Dussen.

The Specs

Engine: 1.6-litre 4-cylinder petrol
Power: 118hp
Torque: 149Nm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Price: From Dh61,500
On sale: Now


Western Clubs Champions League
Winners: Abu Dhabi Harlequins
Runners up: Bahrain

Dubai Rugby Sevens
Winners: Dubai Exiles
Runners up: Jebel Ali Dragons

West Asia Premiership
Winners: Jebel Ali Dragons
Runners up: Abu Dhabi Harlequins

UAE Premiership Cup
Winners: Abu Dhabi Harlequins
Runners up: Dubai Exiles

UAE Premiership
Winners: Dubai Exiles
Runners up: Abu Dhabi Harlequins

Six tips to secure your smart home

Most smart home devices are controlled via the owner's smartphone. Therefore, if you are using public wi-fi on your phone, always use a VPN (virtual private network) that offers strong security features and anonymises your internet connection.

Keep your smart home devices’ software up-to-date. Device makers often send regular updates - follow them without fail as they could provide protection from a new security risk.

Use two-factor authentication so that in addition to a password, your identity is authenticated by a second sign-in step like a code sent to your mobile number.

Set up a separate guest network for acquaintances and visitors to ensure the privacy of your IoT devices’ network.

Change the default privacy and security settings of your IoT devices to take extra steps to secure yourself and your home.

Always give your router a unique name, replacing the one generated by the manufacturer, to ensure a hacker cannot ascertain its make or model number.


Name: Xpanceo

Started: 2018

Founders: Roman Axelrod, Valentyn Volkov

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Smart contact lenses, augmented/virtual reality

Funding: $40 million

Investor: Opportunity Venture (Asia)


Name: Kinetic 7
Started: 2018
Founder: Rick Parish
Based: Abu Dhabi, UAE
Industry: Clean cooking
Funding: $10 million
Investors: Self-funded