News / Africa

In Nigeria, a Political War Behind the War on Boko Haram

FILE - Abubakar Shekau, who claims to be the leader Boko Haram, is seen in a video screen grab, at an unknown location, Sept. 25, 2013.
FILE - Abubakar Shekau, who claims to be the leader Boko Haram, is seen in a video screen grab, at an unknown location, Sept. 25, 2013.
Heather Murdock
Politicians worldwide often vilify their opponents, and those in Nigeria are no different. As the 2015 elections approach, Nigeria’s two main political parties are blaming each other for the violent Boko Haram insurgency in the north.

In the past five years Boko Haram militants have killed thousands of people, and the insurgency appears only to be growing as 2015 elections draw near.

More than 2,000 people have been killed this year alone in attacks on markets, military bases, bus stations and even football viewing centers. In April, the Islamist radical group kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls.

At his home in the Niger Delta, Ovie Joseph, a local leader within the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) says the opposition funds the violence, trying to make the country “ungovernable.”

“When problems of kidnapping ... occur, it’s a style of destabilizing the ruling party," he said. "It’s the opposition [doing this].”

The opposition he speaks of is the All Progressive Congress, or APC, a mega-party formed last year when several opposition parties merged.

Joseph says Boko Haram’s increasing strength is evidence that wealthy politicians must be supporting the group.

Analysts say if the party can stand behind a single candidate next year, it could prove to be a formidable opponent to the PDP, which has governed Nigeria since 1999.  

Christian Onodjacha, assistant secretary of APC in Delta State, blames the ruling party for failing to stop the insurgency.

“What they are now trying to do is to trade the blame on us, that we are involved," he said. "But we are not involved. We are not in charge of the federal security apparatus. They are in charge.”

The ruling party, Onodjacha says, is wasting time “pointing fingers” when it should be fighting the insurgency. He concedes that individual politicians may be involved, but he thinks they are from the ruling party.

“Our members are clean," he said. "They are people that we know can salvage this nation from the quagmire that it is in currently.”

But some analysts say that, on this issue, both parties are correct and both are wrong.

Yan St-Pierre, the CEO of Berlin-based security consulting firm MOSECON, says Nigerian politicians often hire thugs to intimidate their opposition.

“Both sides use them," he said. "Depending on how greedy or ambitious the local politician was, they would sometimes use more of their services, sometimes less, but both sides. All parties are involved.”

St-Pierre says the politicians may not be interested in Boko Haram’s goals, but in northeastern Nigeria the Boko Haram members happen to be the guys with the guns.

The group is believed to be controlling villages along the Chad and Cameroon borders, he says, and in those areas even conducting an election will require support from Boko Haram.

“They intimidate, they terrorize and, when possible, they actually provide goods and services which gives them the legitimacy, that sometimes despite everything they’re doing, that the government doesn’t seem to have,” St-Pierre said.

Boko Haram's name means “Western education is sinful” and the group has threatened President Goodluck Jonathan by name. However, St-Pierre says while Boko Haram may be partially supported by a corrupt political system, the insurgents probably do not care who wins. 

Hilary Uguru contributed to this report from the Niger Delta.

You May Like

Video Positive Messaging Helps Revamp Ethiopia's Image

In country once connected with war, poverty, famine, headlines now focus on fast-growing economy, diplomatic reputation More

Russian Activist Thinks Kremlin Ordered Nemtsov's Death

Alexei Navalny says comments of Russian liberals who think government wasn't involved are 'nonsense.' More

Video Land Disputes Rise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Sampson Atsu from: Accra
June 28, 2014 10:59 AM
Nadeco and opc helped Obj to power,the niger delta militants helped Gj to power. Now it seems some people are employing the same tactics in the power shift syndrom. If Jonathan steps down the bakassi boys will rise up for an igbo president employing the same tactics. Buhari is seriously against govt action on bh. Why,is it cos.................?

by: josh from: maidugiri
June 21, 2014 12:57 PM
the best way to combat book haram in this country is to hold those top officials exterminate them so that we have peace.

by: Joseph Effiong from: Calabar - Nigeria
June 20, 2014 10:07 PM
Former president buhari made it claer that he will make nigeria ungovernable for president Jonathan if he loss the presidential election. And he did it. When boko haram started, nigeria police arrested and detained some of them wihile some dead. Human right and opposition were blaming the police why should they be detained more 48 hours and why some are killed. They caused the dismissal of those officers for the good work they have done and today nobody talks about those policemen and look at what boko haram is causing. Lamentation, tears , destruction, killing in thousands but nobody asked what of those officers dismissed because of islamist terrorists. And someone. Is saying Jonathan should not contest so that peace will reign because of hausas. If Jonathan is not contesting so that hausa take back the sit, within a week nobody will hear about this terrorists. Let be watching.

by: meanbill from: USA
June 20, 2014 5:49 PM
CRAZY isn't it? -- Shouting Allahu Akbar, "God is Great" the Muslims kill the Christians and Jews like Muhammad did, when he spread his Muslim religion by the sword.....
In Response

by: AHMED from: INDIA
June 21, 2014 12:54 AM
PROPHET MUHAMMED SALLAM WAS THE VICTIM OF VIOLENCE AND HE TOOK SWORD ONLY TO DEFEND AND HE MADE SO MANY TREATIES WHICH THE HISTORY IS HIDING . HE WAS A PEACE LOVING AND SINCE YOU DONOT KNOW THE REAL HISTORY AND YOU HAVE BEEN TAUGHT ONLY AGAINST ISLAM SO YOU PEOPLE SPEAK ONLY AGAINST HIM AND ISLAM .MUSLIMS ARE FIGHTING IN THEIR HOME TOWN ONLY TO LIBERATE THEIR LAND.

by: Nwanguma Emmanuel O. from: Nsukka, Enugu state
June 20, 2014 4:16 PM
Take it or you leave it, the most peaceful way of solving this problem of insecurity in Nigeria is for the president to abstain from any near-presidential election activity including declaration of such interest, please, just for the interest of the poor and helpless Nigerians. We are tired of constant government's void strategies to combat Boko Haram, please, enough of the experiment.
In Response

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
June 21, 2014 3:00 PM
Shut up, Emmanuel, if you don't know what to say. Nigerian is beyond begging anyone to do what is right. It is not to ask Jonathan not to run if he wants to be president again. What we are asking him to do is to be proactive and stop being reactionary where this trouble is concerned. He is too dull for a president, and he has no brain at all when it comes to ruling a vast nation like Nigeria. He should not step down because of boko haram - it is every Nigerian's right to vie for that post - but he should sit up and be president if he wants to rule again, face boko haram squarely and defeat the sharia incursion. It is the failure of the sharia states to achieve the fulani dominance over the country that gave birth to boko haram. If Jonathan can neutralize the sharia states - it's his business how he wants to do it - then he can rule the country. No one should run away because of boko haram or the scheming of the islamists. God forbid!

by: Nwanguma Emmanuel O. from: Nsukka, Enugu state
June 20, 2014 3:55 PM
With referrence to St. Pierre content, it is not even certain that Nigerian government does not need the assistance of Boko Haram to conduct free and fair elections in all the states of Nigeria considering the growing security concerns and increasing rumours of its expansion outside northern states.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Imagei
X
Marthe van der Wolf
March 03, 2015 9:03 PM
Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More