Is Nigeria a failed state

Is Nigeria becoming a failed state?

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Divine warriors from the Boko Haram group have killed more than 1,500 people since the beginning of the year

By Markus Schönherr, Cape Town *

Thousands of Nigerians have fallen victim to the terror of the Boko Haram group in the past five years, which wants to establish an Islamic state of God in northern Nigeria.

According to media reports, Nigeria's military has only recently repelled an attack by suspected Boko Haram fighters on an army base in the north of the country. At least 50 extremists and six soldiers are said to have died. The attack occurred on Friday night. The newspaper »Vanguard« put the number of attackers at around 200.

The situation in Nigeria reminds some of other long-term trouble spots like Afghanistan or Iraq. The state is barely able to protect its citizens. This became evident again these days when a bomb in a market in the northern city of Maiduguri killed dozens of people. In the north of the country, neighborhood guards are increasingly taking over the task of the army. Is Nigeria about to fail as a state?

You have to be prepared for the worst, warns William Assanvo, researcher at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS). The think tank with offices in four African countries analyzes conflicts on the continent. “We fear that the conflict will escalate in the coming months with more attacks and bombings. Cities and villages in the north will be hardest hit. But the attacks presumably also go beyond the traditional retreats of the terrorists, like the bombing in the capital Abuja a few months ago. "

The violence, combined with the government's weak response, is said to be an acid test for Nigeria. According to Assanvo, those in power have for years ignored the real strength of Boko Haram and "inappropriately" reacted to the danger. Since the beginning of the year alone, the self-proclaimed holy warriors have killed more than 1,500 people.

In addition to the government, the Nigerian military recently shone with perplexity in the fight against Boko Haram: two months after the kidnapping from the northern city of Chibok, there is no trace of more than 200 schoolgirls. "Freeing the girls would be an enormous challenge even for the army of a western country," confesses Assanvo. Nevertheless, the Nigerian army's chances of freeing the girls alive are particularly slim. "Corruption, a lack of equipment, bad morals and fear of the Boko Haram fighters - all of this undermines the skills and expertise of the armed forces."

Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan had long resisted international aid before giving in to pressure and flying in military advisers from China, the US, Great Britain and France. However, many doubt that foreign troops will be a solution to terrorism. "In fact, there is concern in the Muslim north that the landing of US anti-terrorist units is just the beginning and that Nigeria's 'Afghanisation' or 'Pakistaniisation' will occur," reports the monthly magazine "The Africa Report". "Nigerians should tackle the problem themselves," says Assanvo, "because outside intervention would only make the situation more complex."

President Jonathan has come under increasing pressure in recent weeks. Some observers believe the kidnapping of the schoolgirls and his weak reaction could end his career with presidential elections coming up next year. "Jonathan's leadership style and his ability to eradicate anarchy are being seriously questioned," explains Assanvo. However, the recent mass protests to free the kidnapped girls are no guarantee that Jonathan's People's Democratic Party (PDP) will fail. "Sure, there are few positive signs for Jonathan, but it will all depend on how united the opposition is."

The “Africa Report” viewed the recent regional elections in Ekiti Province as a “test” for the 2015 elections. Jonathan's candidate Ayodele Fayose was confronted with allegations of murder and corruption. Still he won.

* From new Germany, Monday, July 7th, 2014

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