“[T]o stop a terror cell from developing and launching attacks, you need to go undercover and gather that information. That is the challenge for the Nigerian government at the moment,” Raveh adds.
One problem is that security expertise is limited in a country where this level of terrorism is a relatively new phenomenon, Leonard says. And training and resources for building that type of intelligence gathering capability is lacking.
Another problem was highlighted by Jonathan in a January 9 address. He noted that part of the difficulty in defeating Boko Haram is that the group has infiltrated both the government and the military. Another problem may be corruption. Close to 95 percent of the populace believe their government is corrupt, according to a Gallup survey released in January.
The U.S.-Nigeria Bi-National Commission, a working group focused on strengthening Nigeria’s security, met at the end of January to discuss strategy. The United States has also pledged support in locating members of Boko Haram.
But it is hard to tell to what degree the government will accept that help. Among the comments made publicly by Ambassador Adefuye is that not all recent threats from Boko Haram have actually been Boko Haram. He has said that criminal groups have begun to commit acts of violence using the name. Moreover, he has said, “I want to assure you that our security services are very well equipped and are of sufficient competence to deal [with] and contain the dangers posed by Boko Haram.”
Will the combination of a fragile government, continued civil unrest, and existing militias, combined with a stronger, more determined Boko Haram be the factor that tips Nigeria into destabilization? Experts say it’s still too early to tell what the long-term effects of Nigeria’s mix of threats might be.
Raveh doesn’t see Nigeria collapsing in the near future. “Nigeria is a fairly strong country,” but if the situation goes unchecked, the potential for destabilization could rise, he says.