The Boko Haram insurgency entered its seventh year at the beginning of 2016, and a number of important factors have had a substantial effect on developments on this front. In May 2015, Muhammadu Buhari was sworn in as President of Nigeria on an electoral platform that included taking a tougher stance on security issues. Before the elections, a troop surge belatedly approved by the Goodluck Jonathan administration led to marked improvements on the ground in Nigeria’s North East.
Buhari pledged to increase troop numbers, facilitate the availability of arms and ammunition, improve troop welfare and engage in dialogue where necessary, as part of a holistic security strategy. Through the year, substantial gains were recorded as the sect was forced to transition from arrogantly perpetrating acts of mass terror – bombing civilian and military infrastructure, wholesale sacking of towns, territorial acquisition and in its most infamous case, the kidnapping of 273 girls from their school dormitory in Chibok, Borno State in April 2014 – to a more minimalist strategy of targeted attacks at the formations and stations of the Nigerian military as well as the joint task force assembled by Nigeria’s neighbours – Cameroon, Chad and Niger as well as raids on the villages, towns and cities that dot the vastness of Nigeria’s North East.