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

    Water Scarcity Could Push Conflict, Migration by 2050

    Warning comes in a new report from the World Bank titled "High and Dry: Climate Change, Water and the Economy"

    What Your First Name Says About Who You Support for President

    Bobby, Betty and Curtis tend to support Donald Trump while people named Juan, Liz or Mohammad are more likely to lean toward Hillary Clinton

    South Pole Diary: In Round-the-clock Darkness, Radiant Moon Shines Like the Sun

    You hear more and see more when the moon first comes out; it’s your senses in overdrive, tuning into a new world.

    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.
    Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroadi
    X
    May 02, 2016 1:36 PM
    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora