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Africa's God Wars
Boko Haram Escalates

Hundreds of motorcycle-riding, gun-toting Boko Haram fighters launched a brazen daytime attack on Maiduguri, one of northern Nigeria’s biggest cities today. The attackers split into small groups and assaulted a military barracks, a university, and an area popular with civil servants, the BBC reports. The attack is remarkable for its scale and boldness. It defies assertions by the Nigerian government that it is crushing the uprising.

President Goodluck Jonathan has failed in his efforts to deal with Boko Haram and the underlying issues that give it grievances and recruits. Jonathan fired his top military officers en masse earlier this year. Their replacements have, if anything, watched the problem fester. UN human rights chief Navi Pillay was visiting Nigeria when the Maiduguri attack took place. She blamed the security services for exacerbating the Boko Haram problem: “many Nigerians openly acknowledge human rights violations have been committed by the security forces. These have served to alienate communities, and create fertile ground for Boko Haram to cultivate new recruits.”

Boko Haram is not the only challenge facing Nigeria’s government in the northern part of the country. According to reports, dozens of armed attackers rode on motorcycles through villages in Katsina state, murdering anyone they found. The attackers seem to be ethnic Fulani cattle herders “who have a history of tension with local farmers,” as the BBC put it.

As if rampant cattle herders and a vicious Islamist uprising weren’t enough, Nigeria’s government has reportedly “misplaced” $20 billion in oil money. Where that has gone, only a few people in the government know, and with an election coming up no one is likely to talk soon.

With Ukrainian invasions and Syrian catastrophes dominating the news, it’s easy to forget Africa’s problems. But poor governance in Africa has real consequences for global terrorism, and is one of the greatest challenges to international security of our time. In Nigeria, the God War with Boko Haram is clearly far from settled.

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