THE Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP), a splinter of Boko Haram, is growing in power and influence, the International Crisis Group says in a new report. “By filling gaps in governance and service delivery, it has cultivated a level of support among local civilians that Boko Haram never enjoyed and has turned neglected communities in the area and islands in Lake Chad into a source of economic support.”
It points out that Nigeria and its neighbours not only need to win militarily – which Nigeria is so far largely failing to do – but also politically. ISWAP digs wells, provides some basic healthcare, has a judicial system in place and a tax regime that’s generally accepted – creating an environment where people can do business “and compare its governance favourably to that of the Nigerian state.”
Also worth adding is a religious dimension of support from people committed to ISWAP’s ideological message. All in all, displacing ISWAP will not be easy.
–The New Humanitarian (formerly IRIN News)