Nigeria: The Wasteland

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July 25, 2014: So far this year Boko Haram has made about a hundred attacks and killed over 2,500 people, most of them unarmed civilians. As long as Boko Haram can escape the security forces by crossing the border the security forces will not be able to deal with the constant raids. The Boko Haram violence actually has a goal, and that is to terrorize civilians, officials and security forces in the region sufficiently so that no one will oppose whatever the Islamic terrorists want to do. As a result many civilians are fleeing the region rather than submit to Boko Haram rule. Most people stay where they are but the Boko Haram terror makes it easier to the Islamic terrorists to extort cash, goods and services from the locals. Boko Haram loots at will and takes what they want. Boko Haram does not have competent people to actually administer the territories they control meaning that these areas will become zones of chaos and violence as Islamic terrorists, armed militias and criminal gangs do whatever they want and battle each other for scarce resources.  Tribal leaders have militias they can arm and deploy to provide some security, as can politicians who tend to keep lots of gangsters on the payroll to ensure winning the next election. Just because the government fails does not mean total failure. Many will organize to defend themselves, but without the relative security a government provides travel will be difficult and things like electricity and cell phone service will be difficult to maintain.

There is already one area approaching this degree of disorganization. In the northeast, the northern half of Borno state, an area that borders Cameroon, Chad and Niger, has largely come under Boko Haram control. The main road to the north is now blocked by Boko Haram. This was accomplished two weeks ago when a Boko Haram activity on the road and a raid on the town of Damboa, which is on this highway, drove out soldiers and police and most government officials. Since then Boko Haram has controlled Damboa and easy access to the northern half of Borno state. The army says it is preparing to clear Boko Haram out of Damboa and open the road but so far nothing has happened. Nearly 20,000 civilians have (so far) fled Damboa and points north, not willing to live under such Boko Haram created chaos.

As much as the government would like the issue to disappear the families of the more than two hundred girls still held captive by Boko Haram will not go away or stop publicizing the plight of their daughters and the inability of the government to do anything about it. Since April 14th, when the first Boko Haram raid in the northeast took nearly 300 girls from a boarding school the security forces have been unable or unwilling to find and rescue the girls. More girls have been taken since then but overall about a third of them have escaped. Boko Haram demanded that the government release all imprisoned Boko Haram in exchange for the release of the girls. The government refused and the Islamic terrorists threaten to sell the girls into slavery. Since April eleven parents of missing girls have died in the dozens of Boko Haram raids in the same area of the northeast where most of the kidnappings took place. Many parents continue to get media attention as they press the government to do something. The parents make no secret of why the government has not rescued the girls. Corruption and incompetence have been the only constants in Nigerian politics since independence was achieved in the 1960s. It’s a national shame despite continuing efforts to curb the corruption and encourage honest and competent Nigerians to get themselves elected and turn the country around.

Just across the border the six million people of northern Cameroon are also suffering an economic and foreign aid disaster because of Boko Haram. The Islamic terrorists operate in areas where three million people are losing most of their foreign aid and economic development projects. Aid workers, both locals and foreigners, are fleeing the area along with a lot of the people they are serving. The Islamic terrorists have disrupted foreign aid projects there and economic activity in general. Investors are leaving and large scale projects are being suspended until security can be improved. Many projects are not just suspended but heavily damaged by looters and neglect. Until the governments on both sides of the borders can get sufficient security forces into the area, coordinate their operations and deal with the Islamic terrorists, the situation will continue to get worse. This is fine with Boko Haram, whose strategy involves destroying all Western influences and then building a new authentically (7th century) Islamic society out of the wreckage. Most people in the area want no part of this, but when the proponents of this catastrophic policy are homicidal maniacs, effective resistance is useless.

July 24, 2014: In the northeast (Kano state) a Boko Haram bomb killed five people.

July 23, 2014: In the northeast (Kaduna state) Boko Haram set off two bombs, one in Kaduna city and the other in the town of Kawu, which killed nearly a hundred people. The targets of these two attacks were a prominent anti-Boko Haram religious leader and a powerful local politician. Both of these men escaped injury.

Elsewhere in the northeast (Borno state) gunmen attacked a remote village killing the head of the village, his bodyguard and ten others.

July 18, 2014: Across the border in Cameroon Boko Haram attacked a police checkpoint killing a policeman and wounding another.

July 17, 2014: In the northeast (Borno state) Boko Haram gunman began moving on the key town of Damboa. Located 53 kilometers north of Maiduguri (the state capital) it sits astride the main road to the north. Over the next few days Boko Haram killed over a hundred people in and around Damboa and drove security forces out. Many civilians fled as well.

The government is now asking for nearly $2 billion in loans from foreign countries in order to improve the security forces. President Goodluck Johnson’s loan request was turned down, with potential lenders citing the rampant corruption and fears that most of the money would be stolen. Privately Johnathan was told that the main problem is not corruption but incompetence along with politicians and government officials more concerned with getting rich than doing their jobs. Johnathan was reminded that over the last year or so he had allowed competent officials to be removed when they threatened to halt the corrupt practices of senior officials. Johnathan has been getting this from foreign politicians and diplomats for a long time and despite assurances he would deal with the problem, nothing ever happens. Johnathan is running for reelection and there does not appear to be any rivals clean and competent enough to win and replace him.

Meanwhile military and police commanders resist letting a lot of foreign advisors into the country for fear that they will publicize the corruption and incompetence in the military and police. These shortcomings are no secret inside Nigeria but the police and military commanders don’t want a lot of international attention to their shortcomings. President Jonathan has recently replaced many senior army and police commanders but it remains to be seen if the replacements are any more competent, or less corrupt, than their predecessors.

July 15, 2014: In the northeast (Bauchi state) a much sought Boko Haram commander was captured. The Islamic terrorist, known by the nickname “Chief Butcher” was noted for his eagerness to slaughter women and children.

 

 

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