News / Africa

    Nigeria Moving to Confront Boko Haram Terrorism

    A Nigerian soldier secures the area at the United Nation's office following a suicide car bomb attack in Abuja, Nigeria, Aug. 27, 2011. (file photo)
    A Nigerian soldier secures the area at the United Nation's office following a suicide car bomb attack in Abuja, Nigeria, Aug. 27, 2011. (file photo)

    Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan says the military is moving to fight and defeat what he calls the evil of the militant Islamist sect Boko Haram.  The sect is being blamed for more than 100 deaths across the northern states of the country this month. A presidential committee named to open talks with the group says there should be less confrontation and more dialogue.

    President Jonathan says Boko Haram attacks are a “temporary setback” testing the nation's character and should deter neither Nigerians nor foreign investors.

    "Anybody who does not want to come and invest in Nigeria now because of this instance of Boko Haram will really regret it," he said.

    The president told foreign investors in Abuja that he is initiating a "rapid and robust" military response to combat the Boko Haram threat.

    "Let me reassure Nigerians and indeed the world in general that even with the limited technology we have, the Nigerian security services are doing fairly well," he said.

    Nigeria's military says Boko Haram carried out coordinated attacks on police stations, churches, and an army base in small towns across the north earlier this month.  The group claims responsibility for bombing United Nations headquarters in Abuja in August.

    The militants say they are fighting for the creation of a Sharia-led nation in the north, and do not recognize the authority of Nigeria's constitution or President Jonathan.

    A special security fund for joint military task forces to put down the violence moves the government away from the recommendations of a committee the president established to consider opening talks with Boko Haram.

    Borno State Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume was on that committee. He says the problem can not be solved militarily.

    "As far as the use of force is now going, it is just like guesswork.  You don't even know who is your enemy.  So you don't know who you are even attacking.  So the military is just, they thought that the presence of the military can bring law and order.  But it has not succeeded," he said.

    Ndume says the violence will continue as long as Boko Haram feels it is not being heard.

    "Dialogue in this case is very necessary, especially when you are dealing with a group that you can not easily identify.  So first we say there should be the initiation of dialogue.  First to identify the leadership of that group.  Two, to know what they want and then see if there is possibility of negotiation because we know historically that insurgencies can not be solved by force.  It can only be solved by dialogue," he said.

    Ndume says part of addressing the Boko Haram threat is addressing the underlying social weaknesses of poverty and unemployment that have fueled its growth.  Photographer John Oku says there are longstanding grievances.

    "The government should look into the remote cause of the problem rather than the proximate cause because the group actually did not start today.  The agitation has been there all along, just like the Niger Delta.  They have been there protesting, agitating.  The government will not do anything about it until they took to violence," he said.

    President Jonathan says there are no "sacred cows" in the drive to expose those behind Boko Haram, no matter how highly-placed those sponsors might be.  Economist Prince Ohini believes the group's backers include northern politicians opposed to Nigeria's southern president.

    "This group we are talking about is masterminded by political powers, those who are in power. They sponsored these children, gave them guns to fight for their political interests," said Ohini.

    Unlike the fighting over resources in the oil-rich Niger Delta, businessman Andrew Adebisi says most Nigerians do not understand what Boko Haram wants.

    "Boko themselves, I think, they are not sincere," he said. "They should come out and tell us what their fight is.  When the people in the Niger Delta fought, we knew what they were fighting for, and we understood their plight.  But for Boko Haram, we don't understand their plight."

    Senator Ndume says that makes it all the more important to open talks with the group because he believes Nigerians will not support a sustained military operation unless they believe the government has exhausted all other efforts to resolve the conflict.

    You May Like

    US Lawmakers Vow to Continue Immigrant Program for Afghan Interpreters

    Congressional inaction threatens funding for effort which began in 2008 and has allowed more than 20,000 interpreters, their family members to immigrate to US

    Brexit's Impact on Russia Stirs Concern

    Some analysts see Brexit aiding Putin's plans to destabilize European politics; others note that an economically unstable Europe is not in Moscow's interests

    US to Train Cambodian Government on Combating Cybercrime

    Concerns raised over drafting of law, as critics fear cybercrime regulations could be used to restrict freedom of expression and stifle political dissent

    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.
    Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roari
    X
    June 28, 2016 10:33 AM
    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora