Strategic communications is gaining traction as a potent tool of countering insurgency. State and non-state actors—including insurgent groups—are increasingly turning to it in pursuit of their goals. This article offers a comparative study of the use of strategic communications by both the Nigerian Armed Forces and the jihadi group they seek to obliterate: Boko Haram. It also assesses their impact on the media coverage of their activities. The jihadists deployed both their communications skills and their infamies to put their insurgency onto the global scene. The Army employed a range of tools—some effective, some less so—to counter them. The media’s obsession with jihadi stories gave the insurgents an edge, but the Army managed to disrupt most of their strategies. Extraneous factors do influence strategic communications campaigns, but honesty—or the perception of it—is a necessary condition for their long-term efficacy. 

Keywords: Boko Haram, counter-insurgency, jihadists, militants, Nigerian Army, strategic communication, strategic communications 

About the author 

Dr Abdullahi Tasiu Abubakar is a Lecturer in the Department of Journalism at City University of London. His current research interests are media audiences, public diplomacy, media in Africa, and international broadcasting. 


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