The Nigerian army has intensified its offensive against Boko Haram. The latest reports are that the security forces suspended mobile telephone networks, to allow them to attack with stealth and hinder Boko Haram’s communications.
The army raids have destroyed lots of Boko Haram’s equipment, and revealed the sophistication of Boko Haram’s weapon inventory – such as vehicles mounted with machine guns, rocket propelled grenades, and anti-aircraft artillery.
After President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in the north-eastern states of Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe, army troop reinforcements have begun arriving in northern cities such as Maiduguri and Yola.
It is a long overdue move and I am surprised it took the President this long to declare a state of emergency. The state of emergency means that the army can take greater responsibility for security in those three states. Troops can occupy city centers, take over buildings, and arrest and detain suspects without trial. Two incidents seemed to have tipped the balance in favour of the state of emergency:
1) Boko Haram nonchalantly dismissed the President’s offer of an amnesty. By doing so, Boko Haram seemed to declare its intention to settle its scores with the government on the battlefield, rather than via dialogue. It seems that President dialogue is now ready to meet them on a battlefield rather than in a conference room.
2) The recent Baga attacks which left hundreds of people dead marked a new deadly escalation in the conflict with Boko Haram.
Although Boko Haram has launched attacks across the north and as far south as the capital in Abuja, the three north-eastern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe in the Kanuri heartland, represent Boko Haram’s support base. It has taken over at least one-third of the local government areas in Borno state. Losing control of its own territory to a terrorist organisation seems to have been the last straw for the government. President Jonathan accused Boko Haram of declaring war against Nigeria.
Excerpts from the President’s national broadcast announcing the state of emergency:
Innocent civilians are likely to be caught in the inevitable shoot-outs between the army and Boko Haram. There are reports that Boko Haram has been forcefully conscripting new members, and threatening them with death if they do not kill in the group’s name within weeks of joining.
Nonetheless the state of emergency will be popular among the general Nigerian population. Many have accused the President of being weak and of treating Boko Haram with kid gloves. This state of emergency will boost his security credentials and demonstrate a willingness to forcefully confront Boko Haram.
Even if the troop surge proves successful, it would offer only temporary respite. Boko Haram can easily slip across the border into neighbouring countries, regroup, and return. Only a long term political and economic solution can permanently end Boko Haram’s violent insurgency.
Good video documentary by Al-Jazeera on the Nigerian government’s war against Boko Haram. It interviews Wole Soyinka, Yvonne Ndege and features a classic moment when presidential spokesman Doyin Okupe tells a fellow guest to shut up. Never a dull moment when Nigerians are around.
A lot of Nigerians who left to live in Europe and the USA are returning to Nigeria. Do the “repats” help or hinder Nigeria? Nigerians give their views…
The Redeemed Christian Church of God has turned into something of a phenomenon. It has grown massively and has churches in 160 countries. Its leader pastor Enoch Adeboye is a near celebrity, extremely wealthy and has a private jet. An inside look at one of their sermons…
Al-Jazeera feature article on the prohibitively high cost of housing in Nigeria. With demand high, and construction levels not enough to meet demand, houses are priced at $600,000 (US) in cities, and require prospective buyers to pay a 30% deposit…putting affordable housing out of the reach of many.
Good video about the rebuilding of Nigeria’s railway lines between the north and south. There are (to be) three main north-south railway lines:
*Lagos-Kano (already re-opened).
*Port Harcourt in the south-east to Maiduguri in the north-east.
*Another line to be reconstructed by Chinese civil engineers to run from the former capital Lagos, to new capital Abuja, to Kano in the far north.
Great radio broadcast chronicling Chinua Achebe’s 2009 visit to Nigeria. That was his first visit to Nigeria in several years. Achebe was interviewed by the Royal African Society’s Richard Dowden. Achebe’s son Chidi was also interviewed.
The programme discusses Achebe’s horror road accident that left him paralysed from the waist down.
The legendary Nigerian author Chinua Achebe has died aged, 82. Achebe is most well known for his book “Things Fall Apart”. He died in Boston in the USA. Achebe’s death comes shortly after he wrote his memoirs on the Biafran war.
Sincerest condolences to his family. May he RIP.