News

    US: Nigeria's Islamic Militants Are Capitalizing on Discontent

    US Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson (file photo)
    US Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson (file photo)

    The Obama administration says Islamic militants in northern Nigeria are capitalizing on popular discontent with the government, and officials need to tackle economic problems if they are to stop the violence. An Easter Sunday bombing thought to have been carried out by Boko Haram killed at least 36 people.

    U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson says the threat from Boko Haram grows as Nigeria's standard of living declines.

    Desperation in northern states

    In a country where nearly 100 million people live on less than one dollar a day, Carson says that desperation is especially felt in northern states where Muslims are the majority and the group is most active.

    "Nigerians are hungry for progress and improvement in their lives, but northern Nigerians feel this need most acutely," he said. "Life in Nigeria may be tough for many, but life in the north is grim for almost all."

    The United Nations says poverty in Nigeria's 12 most-northern states is nearly twice the rate of the rest of the country. Northern children are more likely to be malnourished and illiterate.

    "Public opinion polls and news reports suggest there is a strong sentiment throughout the country - but especially in the north - that government is not on the side of the people and their poverty is a result of government neglect, corruption, and abuse," he said.

    Carson says that is a popular narrative ripe for insurgents to hijack for their own purposes.

    "Although Boko Haram is reviled throughout Nigeria and offers no practical solutions to the country's problems, a growing minority of certain northern ethnic groups, however, regard them favorably," he said. "Boko Haram capitalizes on popular frustrations with the nation's leaders."

    Boko Haram

    Boko Haram says it is fighting for a separate nation under Sharia law and recognizes neither Nigeria's constitution nor last year's election of President Goodluck Jonathan.

    Human Rights Watch says Boko Haram has killed more than 1,000 people since it re-emerged following the death of its leader in police custody in 2009. Carson says it is a far harder problem to tackle now because it is no longer one group controlled by a single charismatic leader.

    Carson told Washington's Center for Strategic and International Studies that Boko Haram is now both a larger group focused on discrediting Nigeria's government and a smaller, increasingly sophisticated and lethal group with a broader anti-Western Jihadist agenda and links to al-Qaida.

    Carson says complicating the situation further is the tendency of some Nigerian officials to blame Boko Haram for all bank robberies and local vendettas in the north when some are clearly the work of common criminals and political thugs.

    Countering Boko Haram

    Carson says President Jonathan's government needs a new social compact with northern citizens, local non-governmental organizations, civil society, and religious leaders. He says Abuja needs an economic recovery strategy that compliments its security strategy.

    "Northern populations are currently trapped between violent extremists on the one hand and heavy-handed government responses on the other. They need to know that their president is going to go to extraordinary lengths to fix their problems," he said.

    The Jonathan government has struggled to put a stop to attacks, with joint military task forces accused by some local leaders of attacking civilians. Attempts at indirect peace talks with Boko Haram collapsed in March.

    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.
    Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labori
    X
    May 05, 2016 6:44 PM
    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labor

    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Troops Recount Firefight Which Killed US Navy SEAL

    A U.S. Navy SEAL killed Tuesday, when Islamic State fighters punched through Kurdish lines in northern Iraq, was part of a quick reaction force sent to extract other U.S. troops trapped by the surprise offensive. VOA's Kawa Omar spoke with Kurdish troops in the town of Telskuf -- the scene of what U.S. officials called a "dynamic firefight."
    Video

    Video British Lawmakers Warn EU Exit Talks Could Last A Decade

    Leaving the European Union would mean difficult negotiations that could take years to complete, according to a bipartisan group of British lawmakers. While the group did not recommend a vote either way, the lawmakers noted trade deals between the EU and non-EU states take between four and nine years on average. Henry Ridgwell reports on the mounting debate over whether Britain should stay or exit the EU as the June vote approaches.
    Video

    Video NASA Astronauts Train for Commercial Space Flights

    Since the last Shuttle flight in 2011, the United States has been relying on Russian rockets to launch fresh crews to the International Space Station. But that may change in the next few years. NASA and several private space companies are developing advanced capsules capable of taking humans into low orbit and beyond. As VOA's George Putic reports, astronauts are already training for commercial spacecraft in flight simulators.
    Video

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    The White House is expressing concern about rising political chaos in Iraq and the impact it could have on the fight against the Islamic State. The U.S. says Iraq needs a stable, central government to help push back the group. But some say Baghdad may not have a unified government any time soon. VOA's White House correspondent Mary Alice Salinas reports.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    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.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora