US: Nigeria’s Islamic Militants Are Capitalizing On Discontent

US Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson

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.
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 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.
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.



I am somewhat of a geek!

One comment

  1. Mr. Jon Carson doesn’t quite understand what is happening in Nigeria and you cannot blame him – I don’t know when he first got to deal with political and social problems about Nigeria, folks? He needs a bit of an insight to what is the real causes of both the political and economic problems in Nigeria – trying to condemn what is happening based on the face value or what is happening now (what one may term spasmodic reactions) will not help us in the matter particularly when you come to realize that the North has been in total control of the leadership for Nigeria for over 40 of our 50 years since Independence! The trouble with Nigeria is that solutions for these kinds of problems were handed out to the authorities long before now but for that ‘Nigerian factor’ we have remained in the DOLDRUMS this far! The question is and I continue to pose it; Who do you complain to in Nigeria and he/she is ready or willing to take your solutions and try them out in whatever small scale possible! We even suggested to the Federal Government to use some of the solutions as models to be tried out in remote zones in Nigeria and then decide to treat such as acceptable solutions for the entire country but to no avail, folks! What I noticed is that they start worrying when it comes to a hitch by which time it has become late if not too late to do something to checkmate the issues complained about! I am saying in truth and fairness that looking into my solutions handed to their prominent representatives, you’ll see what I am saying and if I get an invitation to publish these I shall do so without any shred of fears!

    Accepted that we can’t all be in the corridors of power yet where it is necessary for such compatible solutions to be applied or tried out for goodness sake they should try them!

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