News / Africa

Boko Haram Adds Heat to Nigeria 2015 Vote

A boy searches the ground next to a burnt-out vehicle, caused by an attack from Boko Haram militants, in Bama, Borno State, Nigeria, Feb. 20, 2014.
A boy searches the ground next to a burnt-out vehicle, caused by an attack from Boko Haram militants, in Bama, Borno State, Nigeria, Feb. 20, 2014.
Heather Murdock
The deadly Boko Haram insurgency gripping northeastern Nigeria has intensified in recent months, and some Nigerians say it could destroy the ruling party’s chance of winning next year’s elections.  But some analysts say the insurgency is being used as a political weapon for both sides. 

No candidates have announced that they are running for president, but Nigeria’s 2015 elections are already expected to be the most hotly-contested in the country’s history.

Major attacks blamed on Nigeria's Boko Haram
 
2009
  • July - Attacks prompt government crackdown in Bauchi and Maiduguri; 800 people killed
 
2010
  • December - Bombings in central Nigeria and church attacks in the northeast kill 86
 
2011
  • June - Attack on a bar in Maiduguri kills 25
  • August - Suicide bomber kills 23 at U.N. building in Abuja
  • November - Bombings in Damaturu and Potiskum kill 65
  • December - Christmas Day bombings across Nigeria kill 39
 
2012
  • January -- Gun and bomb attacks in Kano kill up to 200
  • February - Maiduguri market attack kills 30
  • June - Suicide car bombings at three churches kill 21
  • July - Attacks in Plateau state kill dozens, including two politicians at a funeral for the victims
 
2013
  • February - French family kidnapped in Cameroon, held hostage for two months
  • April - Fighting with troops in Baga kills up to 200; residents say troops set deadly fires
  • May - Attacks in Bama kill more than 50
  • July - Gunmen kill 30 at a school in Yobe
  • August - Gunmen kill 44 at a mosque outside Maiduguri
  • September - Gunmen kill 40 students a dorm in Yobe
  • October - Attack Yobe state capital Damaturu, clash with military in Borno state
In the northern states, where attacks blamed on Boko Haram continue to grow more frequent and more vicious, some leaders say if the region is not secured, President Goodluck Jonathan cannot win. 

More than 700 people have been killed this year alone, and nearly 500,000 are displaced from their homes.  Schools across the region were closed this week after a series of massacres and school burnings.

“Some of the most fundamental mandates of each government is to provide security," noted Khalid Aliyu Abubakar, secretary-general of Jama'atu Nasril Islam, a prominent Islamic organization in Nigeria. "And there’s no excuse this country or this leadership can give of not being able to provide security."

Others say in the past 10 months, military rule in three northeastern states has prevented the insurgency from spreading. 

In the oil-rich Niger Delta region -  the heart of Jonathan’s support base - Gabriel Osakene, a member of the ruling People’s Democratic Party, or PDP, says violence in only 3 of Nigeria’s 36 states will not change the outcome of the elections.

“How many states are we talking about [with] this Boko Haram issue?  If you think about this issue of Boko Haram we have only just three major states that are talking about this Boko Haram,” said Osakene.

Nigeria’s ruling PDP has won every election since the country became a democracy in 1999.  The 2015 elections, however, could be different.  For the first time, opposition parties have merged, forming a single powerful bloc called the All Progressive Congress, or APC, bent on ousting the PDP.

Thomas Hansen, a senior analyst for Africa at Control Risks, said both the PDP and the APC were already using the insurgency as a political tool.

“The APC are likely to claim that the continuation of the Boko Haram insurgency in the north demonstrates that the government lacks control of its security situation.  Then, on the other hand, supporters of the ruling PDP are likely to claim that Boko Haram are being tacitly supported or sponsored by elements in order to undermine the image of the government,” he said.

Hansen said the security crisis could also impact the voting itself in the north, especially in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, the three states under emergency rule.

“It’s still very unclear if the security situation will improve enough for the elections to be held there.  I think elsewhere in northern Nigeria there are also likely to be security issues that will deter some voters from going to the poling stations,” he said.

Even without the Boko Haram issue, Nigerian elections are notoriously tense, with political divisions falling along the same lines as religious and ethnic divisions.  

Nigeria’s electoral commission says it is working with security agencies to prepare for next year’s vote.  In 2011, more than 800 people were killed in post-election violence in northern Nigeria.

(Hilary Uguru contributed to this report from the Niger Delta. Ibrahima Yakubu contributed from Kaduna.)

You May Like

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs