Sir, William Wallis’s excellent report on Nigeria’s soft power at work (“Prison project helps loosen grip of Boko Haram”, June 26) must rank as one of the most hopeful signs in the increasingly turbulent “Africa Rising” story. However, the de-radicalisation process, unlike Mr Wallis’s article, does not end with a game of volleyball (forbidden by Boko Haram). The challenges facing these former militants — and millions more young African men and women who are “disenfranchised, often illiterate . . . desperate to escape the tedium of rural poverty . . . thirsting for knowledge” and without a job — are still there when the game is over. Climate change, ecological degradation and population pressures are rapidly making those challenges worse.
Jobs in co-ordinated, sustainable development projects could be the next phase in the deradicalisation programme, and together they could be the key to northern Nigeria’s and indeed the greater region’s security issues. For leadership there could not be a better time.
Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria’s president, is a northerner and a reformer with a solid mandate and enough zeal to put the country back on the right track.
Akinwumi Adesina, the incoming president of the African Development Bank, was Nigeria’s agriculture minister who raised food production, fought corruption and created millions of jobs. The Emir of Kano, the most influential Islamic leader in the north, is Lamido Sanusi, former governor of Nigeria’s central bank who played a major role in exposing state corruption and transforming the nation’s banking and financial systems.
Enough work on integrated, sustainable development in Africa has been done over the past 20 years by the UN, the World Bank, WWF, FAO, OECD and countless other organisations to make this possible. The African Development Bank, under the leadership of outgoing president Donald Kaberuka, has arguably done more than any other institution to show how Africa can and must expand green growth and accelerate the transition to a green economy where economic, social and environmental interests are balanced.
The need for radical action is growing more urgent every day. If enough former militants are involved not even Boko Haram can prevent this happening.
Noto, Sicily, Italy