Can Nigeria ever be a great nation?

Nigeria and Boko HaramA state in the terror trap

"Bring Back Our Girls!" - "Bring our girls back!" Since the terrorist group Boko Haram kidnapped over 200 schoolgirls in mid-April, the call of the demonstrators in Nigeria's capital, Abuja, has never stopped. Parents and relatives of the girls no longer come to the rallies - after more than 100 days they no longer have the strength to answer questions from the media. Now people like human rights activist Jibrin Ibrahim are doing that.

"I come here because I cannot accept that nothing or not enough has been done to free these girls. Up to 250 schoolgirls at the hands of terrorists - this thought is simply unbearable for me. Everything has to be done, but everything will be tried to get them free. "

Dozens of people still gather in Nigeria's capital almost every day, singing, praying and holding up signs. It is clear to them that since this hostage drama at the latest, the country has been living in an untenable state. And even if the government wants to prevent negative headlines: Nobody should forget what happened in Chibok, in the state of Borno, in the north-east of the country. On the night of April 15th, Boko Haram fighters attacked a school building. Almost 300 girls, between 16 and 18 years old, are currently sleeping there; during the day they want to write their final exams here. The men, heavily armed and disguised as soldiers, drag the girls out of the dormitories and force them onto truck beds. Only a few girls manage to escape. Nigeria holds its breath.

No negotiations with Boko Haram

A video soon appeared on the Internet in which Boko Haram boss Abubakar Shekau confessed to the kidnapping and threatened to sell the victims. Soon afterwards, Boko Haram demands: The girls would only be released if imprisoned comrades in arms were released in return. But the government does not respond to this to this day. Apparently President Goodluck Jonathan personally called off an almost perfect deal in May. Reason: There will be no negotiations with Boko Haram. Incredible, says Rotimi Olawale, media coordinator for BringBackOurGirls activists:

People all over the world were calling for "Bring our girls back." (dpa / picture alliance / © francois Lafite / Wostok Press) "A few months ago, Boko Haram had attacked a school in the north and murdered over 50 boys in a dormitory in the middle of the night. Some children were shot, others have been Throats cut. And then the kidnapping of the girls. Enough is enough! There is panic in northern Nigeria! Hardly anyone sends their children to school for fear of new attacks. This is a catastrophe for our country! Of all people, education want are in danger! "

Nigeria's president is up to his neck

The international pressure is increasing, a storm of indignation sweeps through the social networks on the Internet, politicians and celebrities all over the world join the demonstrators' demand: "Bring Back Our Girls". Nigeria's President is up to his neck. He wants to be re-elected next year, and his crisis management team will help decide whether he will continue to lead Nigeria. Jonathan reluctantly accepts help - the USA, Great Britain, France and other nations send military experts and drones are used to search for the girls. Allegedly, the government now knows where the students are being held - she cannot or does not want to do anything in order not to endanger their lives. Instead, Nigeria's authorities harass the demonstrators, arrest angry citizens at gatherings, and intimidate critics who complain about the delaying tactic.

Leading politicians are buying time again and again, trying to raise hope that the girls from Chibok will be freed soon. After a meeting with President Jonathan in mid-July, it was said that there would be "good news" soon. The victims' families are fed up with empty promises. They want to see action and they want the truth.

Nowhere more secure

It has long been about much more than the dramatic kidnapping of the girls. People want to know why such a powerful state as Nigeria has allowed itself to be demonstrated by the Islamists for years.

This year alone, more than two thousand people in Nigeria have died as a result of the terror of radical Islamists. In total, more than ten thousand victims are now likely to be attributed to Boko Haram. There is no end in sight, fears Bukky Shonibare from the BringBackOurgirls organization:

"One would assume that after everything that has happened in the north, some calm will return, after all, the government has sent 20,000 troops there to fight against Boko Haram. In addition, the worst-hit state of Borno is one of the three in who are in a state of emergency. But there is no peace, on the contrary, there are always new attacks. And if this part of the Nigerian state cannot be protected - how can we be safe in the rest of the country? "

Terror is everywhere

Boko Haram continues to draw his blood through the country, carrying out new attacks with so many dead that they are hardly noticed. Bombs explode not only in the north, in Kano, Bauchi, Jos or Maiduguri. But also in the center of the country, in Kaduna, in the capital Abuja - and even in the port city of Lagos in the south. Terror is everywhere, now even Nigerian women are blowing themselves up in the name of Allah. Experts warn that Boko Haram could soon attack oil drilling platforms or pipelines. Nigeria's terrorist meltdown has become a realistic scenario.

And that's why more and more Nigerians are settling accounts with their government. Accuse their complete failure. They see their own country failed, exposed, humiliated - by an Islamist group that is still played down by some and used by others for political power games.

"Nigeria is a great nation! We should be the giants of Africa - but now we are called the weaklings of Africa!"

Boko Haram is the symptom of an essentially sick state

Africa's giant: he stumbles. Sure - Nigeria is Africa's number one economic power, says blogger Rutimi Olawa. With over 170 million people, it is the most populous, also the most oil-rich, but also the most contradicting and corrupt country on the continent. The oil billions divide a small caste among themselves. The state is weak and leaves the people in the lurch - at all levels.

"The girls are still not saved, a sign of poverty. And to be honest - there can be attacks again at any time here in Abuja. In Nigeria everyone fights for themselves, on all fronts of everyday life. I organize my own electricity, my own water , and also my own safety. But: The many attacks recently, alone in our capital. Boko Haram is everywhere, who should still feel safe there? "

Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan is under criticism (dpa picture alliance / Benedikt Von Loebell) Boko Haram is the symptom of a state that is essentially sick. A state that has always been divided into a relatively stable south and an impoverished north where the oil wealth from the Niger Delta never reached - or where it sank into corruption and mismanagement. This is exactly what Boko Haram has always criticized. The name "Boko Haram" is often translated as "Western education is a sin". But the then still locally limited and numerically manageable Islamist sect was not just about establishing a nationwide state of God or abolishing Western education in Nigeria. Translated differently, the name of Boko Haram also means: "Deception is forbidden".

A bloodbath marks the birth of the terror monster

In doing so, the group targeted the fraudulent machinations of corrupt politicians. In the state of Borno, Boko Haram was instrumentalized by local politicians. In 2007 and 2008 in particular, they gave Boko Haram a lot of money, which the group should use to mobilize young voters. The governor and his entourage assured Boko Haram that they would work for their goal of a godly state. After the election, they broke their promise. Partners became bitter opponents. Boko Haram denounced the corruption of their alleged patrons and thus earned wide approval. Until the late Nigerian President Yar Adua, a Muslim, executed Mohamed Yusuf, the leader of an Islamic sect, in 2009. The bloodbath - carried out by Nigeria's military and police - was the hour of birth of the terror monster named Boko Haram.

At that time you should have recognized what was brewing, says Nigeria's most famous son, the writer and Nobel Prize winner for literature Wole Soyinka.

"In the beginning, Boko Haram could have been controlled with honest political measures, development initiatives for the impoverished north. But the government did not manage to cut off all the heads of this terrorist hydra right at the beginning. That is why we are now in a military scenario We can't get out of it. People preferred to look the other way. They looked the other way, even though there was clear evidence from the start that Nigeria was dealing with insane murderers who are abusing a major world religion to radicalize themselves. "

Islamists on a campaign of revenge

Over a thousand members of Boko Haram were killed by Nigerian troops in 2009 - at that time the sect became a terrorist group, and since then the Islamists have been on a campaign of revenge. But they have long since linked their religious fanaticism with purely secular, terrorist profiteering. Boko Haram should now be worth many millions of dollars and have several thousand highly trained and equipped fighters, nobody knows the exact numbers. Apparently they are so well organized that no secret service has yet succeeded in infiltrating them. To this day, the Islamists are supported by parts of the regional establishment and the security apparatus who want to weaken the central government. Wole Soyinka has long suspected that part of the power elite has no interest in the terror ever ending.

"Some politicians have cultivated relations with Boko Haram from the beginning - not to say: They were one of the masterminds. They distorted, abused, and used the Muslim religion for their political goals."

It has long been a thorn in the side of many functionaries in the north that a Christian leads Nigeria with Yar Adua's successor, Goodluck Jonathan, even though it would actually be a Muslim's turn. In order to torpedo the central government, these people financed the terror against their own state, says the French terror expert Mathieu Guidère - with money, with weapons, with secret information.

"We are experiencing a situation in which everything seems blocked and paralyzed, on a political, military and social level. Politics is instrumentalized, as is religion. If you don't get the population on board and build trust, then you could Something is developing in northern Nigeria that we know from Colombia: at times the guerrilla group FARC was all-powerful there, the state no longer played a role at all. "

When the state no longer plays a role

Apparently, the state no longer plays a role in northern Nigeria either. Citizens there practice vigilante justice with axes and machetes because no one is protecting them any longer. Because Nigerian soldiers are fleeing, or because they are already shooting at their own commanders out of frustration and fear. In some places the remnants of state order seem to be dissolving into nothing. And yet: President Goodluck Jonathan still believes in a military victory.

Women and children in Nigeria on the run. (AFP / STR)

"I am determined to protect our democracy, our national unity and our political stability. That is why I declare an all-out war on terrorism in our country. I have instructed the chiefs of staff of the army to mobilize nationwide to prevent terrorism on our soil to be exterminated once and for all. The war on terror will be difficult. But the days of peace will come again. Terror has not lasted long in any place on earth - and I am sure - it will soon come to an end in our country too. "

Close contacts between Boko Haram and the military?

Nigeria's army has been waging war against Boko Haram for more than a year - so far with little success. Apparently Boko Haram is well informed about the strategy of the Nigerian army, according to Hussaini Abdu from the Action Aid organization in Abuja. There is no other explanation for the fact that Boko Haram always strikes when the army is not around, or that the army did not react even after information about the imminent kidnapping of the girls. It is very likely that there are close contacts between Boko Haram and some officers.

"When I see these videos of Boko Haram leader Shekau on Youtube, I ask myself: How does Boko Haram get the weapons, the machine guns, these brand new roller tanks, in front of which Shekau can be filmed? These are slow vehicles that can you can't just get from A to B without it being noticed. So if all this war equipment doesn't come from Libya or from other terrorist groups like Al Shabab in Somalia - which would be a long way - then only the Nigerian army remains! "

Contacts between the army and terrorists are lucrative

The fact is: the army simply cannot cope with the terrorist group. Perhaps, so many fear now, it shouldn't be. In fact, there are many indications that without the continuous threat from Boko Haram, billions of naira would not be spent on armaments, apparently one fifth of the entire national budget. Meat pots that arouse desire - contacts between the army and terrorists are lucrative - for both sides. Politicians and the military make their pockets full of bribes. Thousands of victims of the Boko Haram terror play just as little a role in this calculation as the fate of the kidnapped girls from Chibok.

Boko Haram is working to spread the terror to southern Nigeria - and at the same time to internationalize the conflict: This is proven by the group's latest known Internet video from mid-July. Boko Haram attacks many villages in northern Nigeria unscathed, and the group also strikes in the south: For the first time, a Boko Haram attacker detonated a bomb in the megacity of Lagos.

No stop at national borders

In addition, the terrorists no longer care about national borders: the north of neighboring Cameroon is now also regarded as a refuge for the Islamists, with battles there too - and dozens of deaths. Boko Haram has long been said to have links to terrorist networks such as Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and Al Shabab in Somalia. Boko Haram fighters are said to have been trained in training camps in Somalia. In his video message, Boko Haram boss Shekau makes it clear: spiritually, there is always this alliance.

"We are responsible for the attacks in Abuja, in Kano, in Plateau State, also in Lagos. Lagos was not a fire accident as you always want to portray it in the media - we were, and Allah knows it! My brothers , Mullah Omar in Afghanistan; Aiman ​​al Zawahiri, leader of the mujahideen of Al Qaeda; Abu Bazeer, commander of the brigades in Yemen, my blood brothers in Pakistan, Syria, Somalia, my brother Abubakar Al Bagdhadi in Iraq - we are by your side. Allah protect yourself! "

Soldiers carry out vigilante justice

Nigeria's soldiers, especially from the Joint Task Force, keep making headlines - with blatant human rights violations. Because they practice vigilante justice, arbitrarily arrest, torture and kill people, because they burn entire villages. The terror sect Boko Haram plays all of this into the cards, says Imam Muhamad Ashafa from Kaduna.

"We have to find a way, a way out of the crisis, a way for dialogue, including with Boko Haram. If we continue to fight the group and kill its members, new terrorists will come and operate underground. We have to be wise, we have to learn to forgive - and for that we have to be very, very courageous.

"Nigeria is a country that sleeps with one eye open" - is a saying that is often heard in Nigeria. A sentence that gives an idea of ​​how the most important country in Africa is doing.