Increasingly impatient with the rapid growth of jihadist terrorist group Boko Haram, some local political officials are denouncing Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan for not doing enough to contain the threat.
Speaking to a local television station in Benin, Nigeria, Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso of Kano State– a north-central province– accused President Jonathan of “lacking the political will” to fight Boko Haram, according to Nigeria’s Vanguard newspaper. “Mr. President has perfected plans to witch-hunt All Progressives Congress, APC, governors due to his presidential ambition,” Kwankwaso said, referring to opposition parties.
The President’s political ambitions, Kwankwaso argued, had confused the priorities of the president to the point that he was “busy beaming searchlight on opposition governors and APC leaders to accuse them of corruption just because he wants to become President for a second term while our children are dying in the North as insecurity and poverty have become the order of the day.”
The frustration follows weeks of advances in northern Borno and Adamawa states for the terrorist group. While Vanguard reports some small victories, like the arrest of seven suspected Boko Haram members in Borno this week, Boko Haram are now believed to control a territory within Nigeria the size of Ireland, and have surrounded the capital of Borno, Maiduguri, according to elders in neighboring villages. Capturing Maiduguri, after ravaging the Borno countryside and killing or kidnapping much of its Christian population, would be devastating to Nigeria.
Maiduguri’s Christians are already under siege. Bishop Doeme Oliver Dashe, who runs the Diocese of Maiduguri, has confirmed that Boko Haram has killed 2,500 of his peregrines, while thousands more have fled with him to the capital of Adamawa state, the state directly south of Borno. Other Christian sects, like the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria, also report persecution, with 250 Christians believed to have been killed in the first week of September.
Boko Haram declared the lands it has captured their own African “Caliphate” in August, modeling the process after the attacks by the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq. The change in tactic, including also claiming they have arrived to help build infrastructure in towns they have destroyed, has many speculating that Boko Haram is either “inspired” by the Islamic State or in direct talks with some of its leaders, coordinating efforts to commit genocide against non-Muslims and Muslims who do not conform to their extremist version of Sharia Law.
Boko Haram rose to international prominence after years of terrorizing the Nigerian countryside in April 2014, when they stormed the town of Chibok and kidnapped more than 200 girls taking a physics final exam at a local school. While many of the girls escaped, the fate of most is unknown, though many are believed to have been forced to marry Boko Haram terrorists or sold into slavery.