Special Issue: Nigeria, the giant against the ropes (II)

Nigeria is a 923,768 km2, 36-state-federation plus Abuya district (the capital). This model of territorial organization attempts to overcome ethnic, regional and religious tensions in a complex country.

The North has 250 ethnic groups and 512 different languages (English is the common one). Hausas and Fulanis, both Muslims, populate the region. The South is dominated by the Yorubas (half protestant Christians and 25 % Muslims) and in the Southeast live the Igbos and Calabares, mostly Catholics and Animists.

The nation’s chronic instability broke out in a cruel civil war (1967-1970) that brought about more than 3 million deaths basically due to hunger and illness and four million refugees and displaced. In the first 33 years of independence Nigeria experienced ten military coups and long periods of repressive regimes.

Another consequence of political chaos in Nigeria is social instability. Increasing revenues from energetic resource exploitation enabled a quick reconstruction of southern areas devastated in Biafra war (a region full of oil plants and refineries) but local populations claim a fairer distribution of profits and usually demonstrate against environmental impact of multinationals’ activity.

Since 2002, terrorist attacks by Boko Haram take place nearly every day  in Nigeria, with tens or even hundreds of deaths. The Islamist fundamentalist movement’s name  (“pretentiousness is anatema” in Hausa language) shows its goals: to fight the westernization of the country.

Founded by Ustaz Mohammed Yusuf and currently led by Abubakar Shekan, they want to establish the sharia in Nigeria, not just in the North. Yet the southern states refuse to do it. Due to terrorist escalation, Nigeria is under a state of emergency declared in 2011 in four states and extended to others later.

In 2013, radicals spread and focused their attacks on schools, namely Christian centres. The well-known Chibok girls case was the harshest one. Worldwide mobilization didn’t  to be very effective. Cameroon, Benin, Niger and Chad – neighbours that sometimes suffer the effects – agreed in May to declare the war to Boko Haram. The USA, UK, France, Canada, China and the EU also committed themselves to help to release the little prisoners in the Summit in held in Paris by French President François Hollande.

Huge logistical, economic and human resources were devoted to help Nigerian authorities from specialized organisms like the FBI, without results so far. On the contrary, President Jonathan has come under the spotlight for wrong crisis management. His government forbid all peaceful demonstrations against terrorism to then reduce it to advice, according to a release by Abuya police. He is accused of travelling to Paris even before visiting the city where the hostages were held.

In this atmosphere, Nigeria is getting ready for the upcoming legislative and presidential elections scheduled in February 2015. Although President Jonathan has not commented on his running again, analysts expect him to do it for a new 4-year term. It won’t be easy, as he doesn’t rely on most of the relevant members of his own party, the Democrat Party (PDP), included his mentor, the respected former President Olusegum Obasandjo. The PDP is experiencing a severe crisis, divided about Jonathan leadership, vice president until 2011, when he took office after his predecesor’s death.

About the Author

Donato Ndongo
Donato Ndongo-Bidyogo was born in Niefang, Equatorial Guinea, in 1950. Writer, journalist and political exile. He was correspondent and delegate of Spanish EFE agency in central Africa (1987-1995). Director of the Center for African Studies at the University of Murcia (2000-2004). Visiting Professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia (United States, 2005-2008). Regular lecturer on American, African and European universities. He is the author of the essays "History and tragedy of Equatorial Guinea" (1977), "Anthology of Guinean literature" (1984) and co-author of "Spain in Guinea" (1998) as well as of three novels translated into several languages. Mr Ndongo is a regular contributor for Spanish media such as El País, ABC, Mundo Negro and The Corner’s print magazine Consejeros, among others.

Be the first to comment on "Special Issue: Nigeria, the giant against the ropes (II)"

Leave a comment