Nigeria Political Tensions Part 1

Various socio-political areas of tension mean that in Nigeria there are repeated – often violent – conflicts:

  • Regional division

The regional divisions of the country (north, east, west and Lagos) from the colonial era as well as more recent geopolitical divisions in six regions are the main causes of the ongoing conflicts in Nigeria. The regions of conflict include the minority areas of the north – the so-called “Middle Belt” and the “Former Midwest” (the area between the Yoruba and Igbo populated by minorities). All of these areas play a decisive role in the distribution of oil income and positions within the state apparatus or in the filling of party hierarchies, including the presidential candidates. There are rivalries over claims to power and the distribution of the proceeds from the oil business, mainly between the three main ethnic groups Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo.

  • Religious Conflicts

According to constructmaterials, the conflicts between Muslims and Christians in several northern states since the introduction of Sharia law show how strongly Nigeria is divided along the line of religion. A focal point of these conflicts is the state of Plateau in central Nigeria with its capital Jos, where several hundred people were killed in bloody unrest between January and March 2010. Due to the increasing persecution of Christians in the northeast of the country by the radical Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram, Nigeria is 12th out of 50 positions on the 2020 World Persecution Index.

  • Terrorist attacks in Boko Haram

Since 2010, attacks by the radical Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram have increased in Nigeria, leaving many dead and injured. So for example

  • the October 2010 bomb attack
  • the attack on the police headquarters in Abuja in June 2011
  • the suicide bombing of the United Nations building in Abuja in August 2011
  • the attacks on Christian churches at Christmas 2011 and 2012.

“Boko Haram” was founded in 2001 and banned in 2009. According to their own statements, their attacks are aimed at promoting the introduction of the Islamic Sharia law, which was introduced in twelve northern states in 1999, across the country. According to political analysts, the primary goal of introducing Sharia law across the country is more about the efforts of Muslim politicians from the north to (re) take power in the country. This also explains why Boko Haram is believed to be supported by some Nigerian parliamentarians from the north, which makes fighting the group difficult. For the Nigerian government, the group has long become a nightmare. Due to the tense situation, a state of emergency was declared in the northern states of Yobe, Borno and Adamawa in May 2013. The military launched an offensive to defeat Boko Haram and bring the situation under control, especially in the north of the country. Although the army has been particularly tough since then, it has so far not been able to contain the terror.

On April 14, 2014, Boko Haram set off a car bomb at a bus station in the capital, Abuja, killing at least 75 people and injuring 140 people. On the same day, 230 students between the ages of 16 and 18 were kidnapped from their school in the northeastern state of Borno and have since disappeared. It is now suspected that the students in neighboring countries were forcibly married. The US has sent military experts to Nigeria to help find the students. France has also decided on an action plan for the fight against Islamist terror with Nigeria and the neighboring states of Benin, Niger, Chad and Cameroon. The BBC news channel has compiled a chronological outline of the kidnapping story.

On May 1, 2014, another bomb exploded close to the bus station in the Nigerian capital Abuja. 19 people died and another 60 were injured. At the moment, public demands for greater security from the government are growing louder. The spiral of violence is not allowing Nigeria to calm down. The terror has meanwhile traumatized many families in the northeast of the country. Numerous children grow up without their parents, as they were killed by Boko Haram – partly in front of the children. According to an analysis by Deutschlandfunk, Boko Haram has a close relationship with Al Qaeda.

After the radical Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram carried out an increasing number of attacks in northeastern Nigeria and northern Cameroon in January 2015, the Multinational Joint Task Force, which includes Nigeria’s neighboring states Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Benin, was increasingly involved in the fight against Boko Haram affected areas. In this way, a regional expansion of the conflict and thus the destabilization of the region should be prevented.

According to a report by Amnesty International, the terrorist militia has abducted at least 2,000 girls and women since 2014 and abused them as fighters or sex slaves. The situation of children in the north-east of the country has worsened dramatically recently. More than 800,000 children are traumatized and are on the run from the terror group.

Despite the successes of the Nigerian army and the troops from neighboring countries, who joined forces in March and April 2015 to fight the Islamist terrorist group, the majority of the kidnapped schoolgirls are still missing. On April 14, 2015, the anniversary of the kidnapping, the protest group “Bring Back Our Girls” organized a silent march in the capital Abujato commemorate the kidnapping and increase public pressure. The activists and relatives of the students accused the then incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan of having done too little for the release of the students and expressed their hope that the new President Muhammadu Buhari, who took office on May 29, 2015, More involved in the fight for the release of the Chibok girls. In an interview, Buhari promised to do everything in his power to bring back the kidnapped schoolgirls. However, since the whereabouts of the girls are still unknown, he cannot guarantee that the girls will be liberated from the power of the Islamists.

Since Buhari took office in May 2015, the terrorist attacks in Boko Haram have increased again. More than 1,000 people have fallen victim to the terror group since he was sworn in as president. The kidnapped girls are increasingly being used as suicide bombers by the terrorist militia with the aim of killing as many people as possible with them. In December 2015, Buhari agreed to negotiate with representatives of the Boko Haram terrorist militia about the release of the girls.

In May 2016, two of the 219 girls kidnapped and held by Boko Haram reappeared. One of the girls was met and interviewed personally by President Buhari. Both girls unanimously report that the majority of the kidnapped girls are still being held captive by the terrorists in the Sambisa forest in northeastern Nigeria (on the border with Cameroon). The forest is considered to be the last refuge for the Boko Haram, who have come under heavy military pressure. The hope of the relatives that the girls could be saved alive has now risen again.

Nigeria Political Tensions

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