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

Disappointing Report on China's Economy Shakes Markets

In London and New York shares lost 3 percent, while Paris and Germany dropped around 2.4 percent More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs