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

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally Draws Thousands in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' More

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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs