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

Sambisa Forest Stands Between Nigeria, Victory Over Boko Haram

Military takes back nearly all towns, villages in northeast, except for massive expanse of forest that spreads thousands of square kilometers over several states More

Islamic State Recruiting Stokes Fears for Parents in Georgia

Chechens are a notable part of Islamic State's gains in Syria and Iraq, and analysts fear what might happen if those fighters return to the Caucasus More

Yarmouk Camp Becomes Distant Memory for Palestinian Diaspora

Once thriving capital of Palestinian diaspora, after siege by Syrian government forces and Islamic State group, camp becomes 'deepest circle of hell' 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.
Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'i
X
Sharon Behn
April 21, 2015 9:18 PM
A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten. Sharon Behn reports on the politics of the word genocide on the 100th anniversary of the events.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video German Program Helps Migrants Overcome Traumatic Experience at Sea

Migrants fleeing poverty and violence in parts of Africa, the Middle East and Asia risk life and limb to reach safety in Europe. Those who have made it to European shores are traumatized by the experience. A program in Germany helps survivors overcome the trauma by giving a new perspective to their catastrophic experience. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video New Test Set to Be Game Changer in Eradicating Malaria

The World Health Organization estimates 3.4 billion people are at risk of malaria, with children under the age of five and pregnant women being the most vulnerable. As World Malaria Day approaches (April 25), mortality rates are falling, and a new test -- well into the last stage of trials -- is having positive results in Kenya. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA from Nairobi.
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 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 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 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.

VOA Blogs