Nigeria: Tribes The More Terrible Terror

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August 4, 2020: Coronavirus (covid19) has not been a major event in Nigeria where there are far more deaths from tribal and Islamic terrorist violence, at least in the north. In central Nigeria, where the capital is, and the south covid19 is more of a concern. The south has the oil and major port cities.

Covid19 was first detected in Nigeria during March and so far there have been 44,200 confirmed cases and 900 confirmed deaths. There are probably more of both because Nigeria does not have a national health system capable of widespread testing for covid19 or treatment of all those found to have it. Most of the cases detected so far have been down south in the port city of Lagos or the capital of Abuja.

A densely populated and relatively prosperous place, Lagos gets lots of foreign visitors and it was expected that this was where covid19 would first show up in Nigeria. For most of the country the virus will probably not show up at all and, if it does, will cause some additional “fever” related deaths. There are a lot of afflictions in Nigeria that result in a fever and eventual death. Government efforts to deal with covid19 were based on efforts in industrialized and urban nations, but those quarantine and hospitalization methods were quickly abandoned in most of the country because there were so few identified covid19 victims. The most useful advice was warning people to stay away from anyone who appears to be infected. This resulted in some mistaken identity incidents but without widespread testing it will never be known how many were infected and died from this virus. That is what happened with earlier pandemics which passed through and were hardly noticed. So far Nigeria has had 214 confirmed cases per million people and four deaths per million. Neighboring Niger has had 47 and three while Chad has 57 and 5, Cameroon 649 and 15. The global numbers are 2,368 cases per million and 90 deaths per million.

Nigeria has largely lifted quarantine restrictions and reopened schools. The quarantine only applied in a few urban areas and. because so many people violated the quarantine, that effort did more damage to the economy that it did to the spread of the virus. There are also genetic factors found in most Africans as well as the strains of covid19 that have evolved in Africa and cause most of the infections. What is comes down to is covid19 has had far less impact in African than in other parts of the world. The worst aspect of covid19 in Nigeria is the low world oil prices. Reduced GDP growth means more Nigerians fall back into extreme poverty and increases death rates.

In addition to the ailing economy, there is also the growing anti-corruption effort. President Buhari got elected mainly on the promise of some real reform. Buhari delivered enough on that to get reelected in 2019. As a retired army general, Buhari know how thoroughly the military is corrupted and it has been slow going cleaning up that mess. A large portion (perhaps as many as half) of all officers and many NCOs have to be replaced. But first you must identify them and there is no way to speed that up. Many of the state governors are still corrupt but many of the corrupt officials who deal with the oil industry have been identified and replaced or prosecuted. Nigeria is still a very corrupt place but the economy is expected to improve as corruption levels decline.

August 2, 2020: In the northeast (Borno State) across the border in Niger, Boko Haram gunmen attacked a refugee camp and kidnapped some Nigerian women and children who had fled the violence in Borno State.

Further south, across the border in Cameroon, Boko Haram used grenades to attack a refugee camp near the Borno border, killing fifteen and wounding five. Residents of northern Cameroon complain that their government has reduced the number of troops assigned to northern Cameroon. The Boko Haram violence has caused nearly 300,000 Nigerians to apply for asylum in Cameroon, Chad and Niger. There are still over two million internal refugees from Islamic terrorist and tribal violence in northern Nigeria. Boko Haram is turning into a permanent presence in northern Borno State and able to regularly carry out attacks in Cameroon and Niger. Cameroon is the hardest hit, with 87 Boko Haram attacks Nigeria so far in 2020. In 2019 this Boko Haram caused nearly a thousand casualties in northern Cameroon. But so far this year the casualties in Cameroon will probably be lower.

In many of Cameroon and Niger attacks Boko Haram men crossed the border from Nigeria and the governor of Borno State is openly criticizing the army for being unable to eliminate known Boko Haram bases near the borders of Cameroon and Niger.

July 30, 2020: In the northeast (Borno State) Boko Haram fired four rockets into the state capital, killing seven and wounding 26 others at a crowded marketplace.

July 29, 2020: In the northeast (Borno State) someone fired on a convoy carrying the state governor, aid workers and supplies. Fifteen people were sounded. This took place in the far north outside the town of Baga (near Lake Chad) and close to a major army base. After collecting witness reports from people in the convoy it appeared that the attackers were soldiers in a nearby outpost. The army had been told of the progress of the convoy to avoid “friendly fire” incidents like this. The governor also criticized the army for its inability to eliminate Boko Haram from the vicinity of Baga and Lake Chad despite the large number of troops who had been stationed up there for years.

July 28, 2020: Foreign cash reserves continued shrinking and are now $33.6 billion. These reserves were at their highest ($60 billion) just before the 2008 financial crises. The latest decline began in 2019 when the reserves were at $45 billion. This decline was accelerated by the covid19 recession.

GDP has also declined because of the sharp drop in oil prices after 2014. Because of that GDP fell from $568 billion in 2014 to $376 billion in 2017. Then came growth, to $448 billion in 2019. Population had also grown so GDP per capital fell from $3,222 in 2014 to $2,230 in 2019, a 32 percent decline. It may be a decade or more before GDP returns to 2014 levels.

One bright spot has been remittances from Nigerians living abroad. This has grown from about three billion dollars in 2013 to over $25 billion in 2019. Since 2013 Nigerians living abroad has sent back over $100 billion. Nigerian migrants to the West do particularly well. The average family income for Nigerian-Americans surpasses that of the population as a whole and most other immigrant groups.

July 26, 2020: In the northeast (Borno State) the new leader of ISWAP (Islamic State West Africa Province) had one of his senior commanders, in charge of operations along the Lake Chad coast. executed, along with two of his subordinates. The ISWAP leader had just removed the executed commander from a job he had held since 2016. The executed commander was accused of several crimes, including embezzlement and insubordination. The real reason may have been fear that the deceased commander would conspire against the new ISWAP leader. ISWAP was once a faction of Boko Haram Islamic that declared its allegiance to ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) in 2016. Many of these new ISIL members had been with Boko Haram since 2004. ISWAP personnel are mostly in northeastern Nigeria as well as smaller numbers in Chad, Niger and northern Cameroon.

July 25, 2020: In the northeast (Borno State) Boko Haram gunmen ambushed soldiers near Damboa. Ten soldiers died and several others were missing. Damboa in in the northern half of Borno state, an area that borders Cameroon, Chad and Niger. The main road to this area has been contested by Boko Haram since 2013. Whoever controls Damboa has easy access to the northern half of Borno state. Boko Haram activity has always been heaviest around Damboa and points north. Those areas have lost most of their population, who fled to refugee camps or other parts of Nigeria. The local economy is largely gone but the Islamic terrorists remain. The army is constantly fighting with groups of Boko Haram who frequently attack traffic on the road.

July 24, 2020: In the northeast (Kaduna State) Fulani raiders attacked a Christian village, killing ten people, including a clergyman.

July 23, 2020: In the northeast (Borno State) ISWAP released a video of five aid workers being murdered. The five victims had been kidnapped in June and efforts to negotiate their release were unsuccessful.

In the north (Borno, Benue and Katsina States) six days of army raids led to the death of eight Boko Haram and 17 bandits. Large quantities of weapons and ammo were also seized along with other equipment.

July 17, 2020: In the northeast (Bauchi state) the continuing violence between nomadic Fulani herders and local farmers has led to several rounds of negotiations to stop the growing number of clashes. One Fulani peace proposal involved four percent of Bauchi state being designated pastureland for the use of Fulani. In return all the Fulani violence would cease. It was unclear how long this peace would last and who would enforce it.

These tribal feuds, mainly between Fulani and a variety of Moslem and Christian farmers have become a greater source of death and destruction than the Boko Haram and ISIL mayhem. Since 2017 the Fulani were responsible for about 655 attacks, nearly 2,600 killed, over 250 kidnapped and over 7.600 structures (including 24 churches) destroyed, usually by fire. Nearly all this violence takes place in the states west of Borno. President Buhari took power in early 2015 as a reformer who is a Moslem from the north, as well as a Fulani and a retired general. Since then he has been accused of reluctance to take on the Fulani violence and related problems with slavery. Moslem politicians lose a lot of support among Moslem voters when they attack “Islamic traditions”. The current situation is made worse because it’s not just the Islamic terrorists who are reviving slavery. The ongoing (before Boko Haram showed up in 2004) violence by Fulani herders against Christian farmers in Nigeria now involves incidences of slavery.

In 2014 there were major battles between Hausa and Fulani, two major Moslem tribes in the north. In response the army sent several thousand troops to north central Nigeria (Benue, Nasarawa and Plateau States) in an effort to shut down the tribal gunmen who had been raiding each other’s villages for most of 2014 and causing over a thousand casualties and much property damage. The army task force has been ordered to find and destroy several large armed groups responsible for most of the mayhem. Most of these marauders were Fulani. The Moslem nomadic Fulani have been fighting with Christian and pagan farmers in central and southeastern Nigeria for years and raiding rival Moslem tribes in the north. There are fifteen million Fulani in Nigeria, most of them in the north. The violence has gotten worse and sending in thousands of additional police did not halt the fighting. The Fulani have long claimed that the government was sending Christian police to persecute them because of their religion (not because they were constantly attacking Christian farmers). The settled (farming) tribes have been there a long time and in the last few decades more Fulani have come south looking for pasturage and water for their herds and have increasingly used force to get what they want. Christian militias fight back, but the Fulani are doing most of the damage. Government effort to shut down the Fulani raiders brought forth accusations from mainstream Moslem groups that the army was picking on Moslems by concentrating on the Fulani raiders and not the Christians self-defense groups and tribal militias the Fulani raiders often run into. The Moslem leaders want attention paid to the growing tribal feuds between Moslem tribes, like the 2014 battles between Fulani and Hausa. Attacks on Christians gets more attention because half the population of Nigeria is Christian and Boko Haram has declared war on all Christians, especially the shrinking Christian minority in the largely Moslem north.

July 7, 2020: In the northeast (Borno State) soldiers killed 17 ISWAP gunmen and wounded several others along the main road near Damboa. Two soldiers were killed and four wounded during these operations.

July 6, 2020: Outside of Damaturu, the capital of Yobe State in the north Boko Haram used a roadside bomb against an army vehicle, killing one soldier and wounding two others. Boko Haram activity returned to Yobe state in 2019, where there had been none since 2014.

July 4, 2020: In the northeast (Borno State) Boko Haram gunmen fired on a UN helicopter carrying civilian patients. Two of the civilians on board were killed.

July 3, 2020: In the northeast (Borno State) the army reported that operations against Boko Haram in the northern part of the state during June led to 75 ISWAP and Boko Haram members killed and 35 kidnapped civilians freed. Large quantities of weapons and other equipment were captured. Some ISWAP and Boko Haram members surrendered, which is not all that common.

July 2, 2020: In the northeast (Borno State) ISWAP attacked an army base near Damasak and were repulsed. Three soldiers and seven Islamic terrorists died. Damasak was one of the last Boko Haram strongholds liberated in 2016. The town continues to be attacked because defeated Boko Haram men would flee across the border into Niger and rebuild their strength. Eventually ISWAP was strong enough to cross the border and threaten government control of Damasak and the surrounding area.

 

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