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
  • July - Attacks prompt government crackdown in Bauchi and Maiduguri; 800 people killed
  • December - Bombings in central Nigeria and church attacks in the northeast kill 86
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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

Video Russia’s Syrian Escalation Tests Obama’s Crisis Response

Critics once again question whether president has been slow to act on Syrian conflict, thus creating opening for powers like Russia More

Ancient African DNA Shows Mass Migration Back Into Africa

First genetic analysis of ancient human remains in Africa suggests massive migration from north around time of Egyptian empire More

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs