from Africa in Transition

Nigeria: "This State Has Failed"

April 24, 2014

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Terrorism and Counterterrorism

Holy Week was rough in Nigeria. On Saturday, April 12 “Boko Haram” invaded two villages in Borno, and killed thirty-eight people. On April 14, “Boko Haram” claimed responsibility for the bombing at the Nyana bus park in suburban Abuja that killed seventy people (official figures) or 500 (estimates from observers).

A few hours later “Boko Haram” kidnapped over 200 girls from a school in Borno (the exact number is disputed). It also killed a policeman and a soldier during that operation. As of April 24, the majority of the girls have still not been found. On April 15, “Boko Haram” killed twenty in attacks on two villages in Borno; one of the victims was a traditional ruler. The same day “Fulani” herdsmen killed seven in the Middle Belt. The victims are likely to have been Christians. That incident was followed by the retaliatory killing of an additional eight (likely Muslims). On April 17, “thugs” attacked a Nigerian party congress, resulting in numerous hospitalizations but, apparently, no deaths.

This carnage is the backdrop to a well-reasoned editorial in the Abuja quality newspaper, Leadership, “Our Stand-This State has Failed.” The editorial notes, inter alia, that a third of the Nigeria’s land mass has been under emergency rule for a year, and also in at least another third of the country there have been “…mass murders, kidnappings for ransom, daylight armed robberies, breakdown of law and order, and unrestrained stealing of public funds.” Leadership cites the Fund for Peace’s 2013 “Failed State Index,” which ranks the country 16th out of 178 countries. Nigeria’s ranking is slightly better than Somalia, Congo, the Sudans, Chad, and Afghanistan. “But, even in these other countries, innocent people and children don’t get killed with the reckless abandon we have seen lately in the country. And school girls don’t get kidnaped in the numbers we have been witnessing in Nigeria.”

Leadership concludes, “the Jonathan regime has demonstrated a frightening incompetence in the handling of the state’s affairs. It is now beyond doubt that the regime is incapable of protecting the people.”

Leadership is a respected newspaper published in Abuja but with a national audience. This editorial is another sign of the popular Nigerian loss of confidence in the Jonathan government.