News / Africa

    Nigerian Police Continue Search for Minister’s Kidnapped Mother

    Nigeria's Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala speaks during an interview with Reuters in her office in Abuja, August 24, 2012.
    Nigeria's Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala speaks during an interview with Reuters in her office in Abuja, August 24, 2012.
    Heather Murdock
    Nigerian police are searching for the mother of Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala after armed men abducted her Sunday.  Analysts say, even if the crime is apolitical, it could have a political fallout. 

    In addition to being a professor and the mother of one of Nigeria’s most prominent ministers, 82-year-old Kamene Okonjo is royalty, married to a traditional ruler in the oil rich Niger Delta.

    Authorities say she was snatched from the palace on Sunday and all state security forces were quickly mobilized to find the Okonjo matriarch.

    John Campbell, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a former U.S. ambassador to Nigeria, says the kidnappers were most likely seeking cash.

    "I would suspect that it’s part of the pattern of kidnapping that goes on in the Delta essentially for mercenary purposes-that it’s a criminal act," he said.

    However, in this case Campbell says the kidnapers could have political designs, given the minister's fame.  Early this year, Okonjo-Iweala was blamed when the fuel subsidy was cut, doubling and tripling prices of fuel and food and sparking nationwide protests.  Months later, she was called the "daughter of Africa" as a World Bank presidential contender. 

    Nigeria is often called one of the worst countries for kidnapping in the world, with the business worth millions of dollars yearly.

    Campbell says he cannot quantify kidnapping in Nigeria, but says it is a “major problem” that does not appear to be going away.  He says, if Okonjo’s kidnappers have no political motive, the fact that she was taken will bolster critics who say President Goodluck Jonathan has failed to stop a breakdown in security nationwide.

    "It could be taken by some as a successful effort to embarrass the Jonathan administration by kidnapping the elderly mother of a very prominent figure in his administration," he said. 

    The Finance Ministry says it has recently received threats, but does not know if they are connected to the kidnapping.

    You May Like

    Video Obama Remembers Fallen Troops for Memorial Day

    President urges Americans this holiday weekend to 'take a moment and offer a silent word of prayer or public word of thanks' to country's veterans

    Upsurge of Migratory Traffic Across Sahara From West to North Africa

    A report by the International Organization for Migration finds more than 60,000 migrants have transited through the Agadez region of Niger between February and April

    UN Blocks Access to Journalist Advocacy Group

    United Nations has rejected bid from nonprofit journalist advocacy group that wanted 'consultative status,' ranking that would have given them greater access to UN meetings

    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.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora