Boko Haram killed over 10,000 people last year, perpetuating a reign of terror that still hasn’t managed to break through the tough outer crust of the American media’s attention. (Don’t talk to me about #BringBackOurGirls…that was a trend that was abandoned at the very moment it became obvious that terrorists don’t give a damn about your hashtagged agenda.)
BH may be a motley rebel force (an Uber driver from Nigeria once told me that a few decently-trained American platoons could wipe them out in an afternoon) but that doesn’t mean they haven’t managed to put the fear of God into the people of Nigeria—especially those in the northeastern sector. Back in February the group managed to force a six week delay in the upcoming presidential elections as officials from Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, Niger, and Benin began formulating a plan to eliminate BH, and only recently has that coalition force begun to gain ground in preventing BH from targeting both strategically important as well as “soft targets.”
Nigeria has a big “top down” problem when it comes to governance, and the tension created by the disparity between the “haves” and the “have nots” is reflected in what we know so far about the contest between current President Goodluck Jonathan, and former military dictator Muhammadu Buhari.
Boko Haram managed to sabotage Sunday’s elections, demonstrating just how adept they still are at terrorizing those “soft targets.”
On Sunday, gunmen in a convoy of 10 pickup trucks believed to be members of Boko Haram stormed polling stations in two districts of northeastern Bauchi state—destroying electoral materials and sending residents fleeing, said state police spokesman Haruna Mohammed. They also attacked police outposts, but were pushed back, he said.
“The police and the army forced the gunmen to abandon their mission and escape into the bush,” Mr. Mohammed said. He didn’t have information on casualties.
The state governor an imposed dusk-to-dawn curfew following the assault, Mr. Mohammed said.
Habu Umaru was among just 80 of 650 eligible voters from who made it hundreds of miles to cast his vote in the northeastern city of Yola because Boko Haram has made it too dangerous to stage a poll in his hometown.
“We can’t trust this government to do anything for us,” he said.
On Saturday, Boko Haram killed at least 41 people during attacks on three additional polling stations in northeastern Nigeria.
At this moment, votes are being counted in spite of the fact that protesters claim fraud and intimidation have corrupted the long-awaited results. We may know tonight who won the election, or end up faced with the prospect of a contentious runoff. The results of this election are important not only because they will help determine the future of Africa’s largest economy, but because they have the potential to dramatically affect—for better or for worse—the efficacy of the resistance against Boko Haram.
Whoever comes out on top runs the risk of losing the popular support of the other candidate’s voting base. If Nigeria dissolves into sectarian violence (Jonathan’s Christians vs. Buhari’s Muslims) it could fuel the fire that currently allows Boko Haram to exploit the poor and disenfranchised people clawing their way through life in the northeast.
Both candidates have called for calm and patience, but keep in mind that the last time Nigeria was faced with election results deemed “illegitimate,” over 800 people died.
It’s chum in the water for terrorists who thrive by convincing their victims that they can provide an alternate government infrastructure.
We’ll keep you updated on the vote count.DONATE
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