News / Africa

    Is Nigeria Losing War Against Boko Haram?

    A victim of latest bomb explosion at a bus park gets a visit from his brother at the Asokoro hospital in Abuja, Nigeria, April 16, 2014.
    A victim of latest bomb explosion at a bus park gets a visit from his brother at the Asokoro hospital in Abuja, Nigeria, April 16, 2014.
    Anne Look
    The Nigerian militant sect Boko Haram says it carried out the deadly bombing in the capital, Abuja, last week that killed at least 71 people.  Nigerians' confidence in the government and the military's ability to deal with Boko Haram has reached a new low.

    In his new video, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau waved a stick and addressed Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan.

    "You are just too small," he said. "You are just too small for us."

    Shekau taunted Nigerian authorities who have repeatedly pledged to put down the now five-year-old insurgency in a matter of months.

    The Nyanya bus station bombing was Boko Haram's first major attack in the capital in two years, something regional analysts say show its capabilities remain intact despite the almost year-long military offensive against the rebels.  Most of Boko Haram's attacks take place in the far northeast.

    Analysts also say the size and sophistication of the blast suggest the militants have strengthened their connections abroad.

    Visiting the bomb site last week, Jonathan tried to downplay the seriousness of the threat.  The Boko Haram problem is "temporary," he said.  

    But Nigerians in the most violence-prone areas of the north tell VOA they aren't reassured.

    "Honestly, my brother, we are not safe in this country.  If Abuja could experience that, then any other part of the state, it's just a child's play to them," said one.

    Three northeastern states have been under a state of emergency for almost a year, but the violence has intensified.

    "Nigerians are afraid.  Nigerians are scared.  The security [forces] say they are in control but from the look of things, I doubt if they are," said another person.

    Amnesty International says 1,500 people have been killed this year in the conflict between Boko Haram insurgents and Nigerian security forces, more than half of them civilians.

    Analysts say the military's heavy-handed tactics since the insurgency began in 2009 have alienated the population.

    Some people living in the northeast say soldiers are overwhelmed and outgunned, others say that security forces are just dysfunctional.

    "Truly I have the confidence in them but there are factors that have to be addressed.  The cooperation in between the forces.  There are a lot of lapses," said one Nigerian.

    Others are growing more cynical.

    "They should go back to the drawing board," one person said. "They should look inwards, those who are behind it, because Nigerians begin to believe that some army officers have hands in these dirty things that are going on in the northeast."

    The military's credibility took a hit last week when Defense Headquarters had to retract its claim that all but eight of the more than 100 schoolgirls kidnapped in Borno state had been freed.

    Most of the girls are still missing after armed men raided their school last Tuesday.  At least 32 girls have escaped on their own.

    The defense spokesman said the false claim was an honest mistake but that hasn't stopped the criticism.

    "They just by the end of the week discover that it was all a lie, so tell me how do we trust our security agency," asked a Nigerian.

    A local newspaper columnist called the communications debacle, along with the ease with which the girls appear to have been abducted, a "smoking gun," and proof that authorities are not being honest about the situation in the northeast.  

    The government and security forces say they are doing what they can but with each new attack, frustration mounts.

    Kareem Haruna contributed reporting from Maiduguri, Nigeria, Ardo Hazzad contributed reporting from Bauchi, Nigeria, Ibrahima Ku contributed reporting from Kaduna, Nigeria.

    You May Like

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora