Postponing the Nigerian Election – A Postscript

Postponing the Nigerian Election – A Postscript


Howard Adelman

The Nigerian conflict with Boko Haram has become a regional war. Two days ago, BH hijacked a bus in Cameroon near Koza, 18 km from the Nigerian border. BH kidnapped 20-30 Cameroonian civilians. At the same time, in a firefight between Cameroonian soldiers and BH, when militants attacked Kerawa, several BH fighters were killed and 10 Cameroon soldiers were injured. A third attack took place in the town of Kolofata.

Complementing the spread of the war to Chad and Cameroon, Benin and now Niger have joined the coalition to wipe out BH after Niger’s parliament unanimously approved sending troops to northern Nigeria, provoked in part when a BH suicide bomber heading towards a military base was shot dead by Niger soldiers after militants bombed Diffa, killing five, the third attack in four days. Little Niger alone massed three thousand soldiers in Diffa as part of the new initiative, though only a small part of those troops will enter Nigeria. A joint regional force of 8,700 troops has now been assembled to launch a direct assault against BH strongholds. As you will see, I suggest this as a partial explanation for the six-week postponement of Nigeria’s election. Military success will benefit Goodluck Jonathan, whose support has been declining according to some recent polls.

The day before yesterday morning, I had written that the Independent Electoral National Commission (INEC) and President Goodluck Jonathan were determined to go ahead with elections in Nigeria in spite of enormous pressures to postpone. The very same day, the same INEC announced that the scheduled 14 February elections in Nigeria will be postponed until 18 March. I had written that I had not expected this to happen.

The postponement was not illegal. Section 135 (3) of the 1999 Constitution, provides that if the federation is at war (my italics) in which the territory of Nigeria is physically involved, and, further if the President (my italics) considers that it is not practicable to hold elections, the National Assembly (my italics) may, by resolution, extend the period of four years mentioned in sub-section (2) of this section from time to time; but no such extension shall exceed a period of six months at any one time.

The grounds for postponement is war on Nigerian territory. The initiative to postpone must come from the President. The legislation to legalize the postponement must be passed by the National Assembly. Yet INEC made the announcement. On 14 May 2013, President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in the three northeastern states on the grounds that, “These actions (of BH) amount to a declaration of war (my italics) and a deliberate attempt to undermine the authority of the Nigerian state and threaten its territorial integrity.” Clearly the precondition for declaring a state of war has existed for almost two years.

The Commission resisted pressure from many quarters that had arisen in January. The founding Pastor of a large Lagos evangelical Christian congregation, the Latter Rain Assembly, and former vice presidential candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Tunde Bakare, had urged the federal government to postpone the election. For him, the terrorism in the northeastern states was not even a civil war but an “invasion and annexation of Nigerian territory by insurgents launching attacks from our borders and neighbouring countries.”

Secular human rights organizations had joined the chorus. But instead of appealing to the president and/or the National Assembly, Citizens Advocacy for Social and Economic Rights (CASER) approached the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice to request a suspension of the February 14, 2015 general elections in Nigeria. The Executive Director, Frank Tiete, based the organization’s support for postponement on the early warning system that I had helped set up for ECOWAS that indicated that the situation was getting worse. The ECOWAS Protocol relating to the mechanism for conflict prevention, management, resolution, peace keeping and security permitted ECOWAS to “disseminate the report of the Threat Assessment of the Security Situation in Nigeria.” However, ECOWAS had no power to order a postponement of the Nigerian election. But, based on the deteriorating human rights situation in the three northeastern states, ECOWAS certainly had not only a right but a duty to publish its findings. ECOWAS could put pressure on the Nigerian government on the grounds that such a suspension was needed to protect and preserve a Nigerian citizen’s fundamental human right to life.

Based on security reports and on the actual situation on the ground, in January, prominent politicians had also been pressuring the president to postpone the election. Governor Bala Ngilari of Adamawa State in the third week of January joined the chorus pushing for a postponement of the elections. At the end of October 2014, Ngilari had issued the request to widespread derision after Mubi, the second largest metropolis in Adamawa, had been captured by BH. The Emir had been forced to flee. BH shot and wounded the son of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, a Lieutenant Colonel, when the army tried to recapture the town. The outcome: six Nigerian commanding officers were put under arrest for neglect of duty. The situation was dire then. It had grown much worse since.

Some parties went to court urging postponement. The anti-February 14 group threatened to boycott the election should their demands be ignored. A week ago, leaders of a wide variety of parties, which had previously pooh-poohed any postponement, now threatened to boycott the election if there was not a postponement. 16 out of 28 registered political parties and five presidential candidates joined the campaign to postpone the election. They did not call on the President but on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to seriously consider shifting the date of elections to March or April.

(Although the presidential candidate of the United Progressive Party (UPP), Chief Chekwas Okorie, opposed postponement, the parties favouring were: United Democratic Party (UDP), Citizen Peoples Party (CPP), Peoples Party of Nigeria (PPN), Action Alliance (AA), Peoples Democratic Congress (PDC), Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), Labour Party (LP), Mega Progressive Peoples Party (MPPP), United Party of Nigeria (UPN), Alliance for Democracy (AD), African Democratic Congress (ADC), Advanced Congress Of Democrats (ACD), Democratic Peoples Party (DPP), New Nigerian Peoples Party (NNPP) Peoples Party of Nigeria (PPN) and Independent Democrat (ID). The five presidential candidates who were present at a press conference in Abuja where the demand was made were Godson Okoye (UDP), Chief Sam Okoye (CPP), Prince C.O Allagoe (PPN), Tunde Anifowose (AA) and Ganiu Galadima (ACPN).)

Colonel Sambo Dasuki (rtd), President Goodluck Jonathan’s National Security Adviser (NSA), now advocated postponement in view of the poor distribution of Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs), the biometric registry and machine-readable permanent voter cards designed to curb fraud and duplicate registrations. (Some critics challenged the legality of the PVCs because they were not authorized by current legislation.) INEC would then have enough time to distribute the remaining PVCs so that more than 98% of registered voters would have collected their PVCs. At the time, 80% had been distributed and the expectation was that 90% would be distributed by the time of the election.

Further, the problem was not only the terrible security situation in the northeastern states, but the anticipation of violence following the election however it turned out. After all, 800 died in post-2011 election violence and there was enormous property destruction even though, relatively speaking, the 2011 election had been the best thus far. INEC created and co-chairs the “Interagency Consultative Committee on Election Security” (ICCES), to ensure security before, during and immediately after the elections. Further, these efforts had been supplemented by a non-violence campaign, voter education, citizen monitoring NGOs, and the Abuja Accord among the political parties to desist from incendiary attacks, inflammatory speaches and violent acts, and to focus on issues. Various religious leaders, such as the Sultan of Sokoto and the Cardinal of Abuja, formed the Nigeria Inter-Faith Initiative for Peace to counteract religious divisions during elections.

Nevertheless, Rev. Bakare saw the postponement as only an interim measure to allow the country to create a grand coalition that could decisively counter the enemy. As he foresaw the results of the election, whomever won, “it is certain the country will erupt in crisis.” The president should “commit himself to building a non-partisan coalition comprised of major stakeholders and competent statesmen from each geo-political zone.” In fact, the controversy over the postponement issue itself had grown so heated that the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Suleiman Abba, ordered the Special Protection Unit (SPU) and Counter Terrorism Unit (CTU) to be deployed around INEC officials and to guard election materials.

Commentators have blamed pressure from the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), claiming the party fears losing the election to former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC). John Kerry, U.S. Secretary of State, urged that the election not be postponed. It did not help that, upon his visit to Nigeria, he only chose to speak to two presidential candidates. Talk about foreign political eminences interfering in domestic politics! Nevertheless, Buhari urged calm, insisting that the presidential elections now scheduled for 28 March and the state elections scheduled for 11 April must be sacrosanct. “Any act of violence can only complicate the security challenges in the country and provide further justification to those who would want to exploit every situation to frustrate the democratic process.” President Goodluck Jonathan committed himself to finishing his term of office on 29 May. Though, thus far, this had been a hotly contested election in a very close-fought contest, at least there had been no open hostility over the postponement decision by the two leading candidates.

Other foreign eminences than John Kerry had weighed in and may have influenced the decision. Dr. Princeton Nathan Lyman, a former U.S. ambassador to Nigeria (1986-1989) and former Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs (1996–1998), currently an Adjunct Senior Fellow for Africa Policy Studies with the Council on Foreign Relations, not only supported postponement by pointing to the fragility of the electoral process, the inadequate preparations for the election and the disruption caused by BH terrorism in the context of a Nigerian army enormously incapacitated by corruption, but also cited a much deeper structural flaw: “a breakdown of the informal consensus on power sharing between the Muslim north and the Christian south that had guided Nigerian politics for decades.” Falling oil prices did not help. The impact on the Nigerian economy will exacerbate the competition for political patronage. In spite of his membership on the board of the National Endowment for Democracy, Lyman urged postponement.

Six-weeks will not enable the deep corruption of Nigerian society and the weaknesses of democratic protections, even within political parties in selecting candidates, to be overcome or even significantly mitigated. The use of public resources by government officials and the allocation of public funds and services to favour ethnic and religious cohorts in extended patronage networks are bound to continue. So why postpone? No one disputes the enormity of the security and political challenges, but what is gained by a six- week postponement?

The very recent intervention of the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute, which sent a special high-level delegation to report on the electoral process, also recommended postponement in January, pointing to the insecurity in the northeast and the lack of adequate election preparations with the consequence of enormous opportunities for fraud as well as contention and violence following the election. That pre-election assessment mission included Robert Lloyd (Blanche E. Seaver Professor of International Studies and Languages and Professor of International Relations at Pepperdine University), Gretchen Birkle (Regional Director, Africa International at the International Republican Institute), George Moose (a former ambassador and Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs), Christopher Fomunyoh (Senior Associate for Africa and Regional Director at the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs), Brigalia Bam (former chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa), Hon. Patrick Muyaya (MP, the Democratic Republic of Congo), Pauline Baker (former president of the Fund for Peace) and Michael Bratton (University Distinguished Professor of Political Science and African Studies at Michigan State University). Yet, despite the eminence of the delegation, John Kerry and Barack Obama chose to ignore their advice of their 20 January statement in Abuja.

Recognizing the increasing protections for democratic election processes in the four elections since the end of military rule in 1999, particularly the 2011 election, and conscious of the growing and often expressed determination of Nigerians to ensure that the election is peaceful and credible through all phases of the process, including during the campaign period, on election day and in the post-election period after the release of final election results, and in spite of the failure to create an Electoral Offences Commission as long recommended, the goals of the mission of eminent persons were to:

  • assess  the current political  and  electoral  environment in the lead-up to the 14 February presidential election;
  • assess preparations for the presidential election and offer recommendations to enhance citizen confidence in the process and mitigate violence; and
  • demonstrate international support for Nigeria’s democratization process.

A delay certainly will not solve the deeper political, structural and economic problems, but will, as Nigeria’s National Security Advisor Sambo Dasuki pointed out, give time to resolve the short term administrative problems that could be catalysts of much more violence. Lyman went further and echoed Rev. Tunde Bakare’s call for a government of national unity to include representatives from business and religious groups as well as political leaders and raise the battle against Boko Haram above party politics, given widespread accusations of both complacency and complicity by each party against the other. The national unity government would then be able to deal with the issue of underdevelopment of the northeast that Lyman viewed as the deep cause of the insurgency. The government of national unity would also offer time to deal with the problems plaguing the security forces in Nigeria.

Fat chance of a government of national unity! (But recall that I was wrong in anticipating that the election would go ahead as planned.) Election postponement does not even have the support of the Obama administration let alone creating a consensus national unity government. Six weeks cannot deal with the enormous fall off in confidence in a fair electoral process. In 2011, 51% had confidence the elections would be fair; in 2014, that number had declined to 13% percent for the scheduled 2015 election. Lyman is well aware and articulated all the weaknesses of most governments of national unity but, nevertheless, saw this as the only option for the salvation of Nigeria. Aside from what I regard as this forlorn possibility, six more weeks may offer some time for administrative improvements in the election, but will also have a negative impact, giving more time for the fall in oil prices to have an effect. Hope for administrative improvement offers the sugar coating on deep pessimism.

These interim efforts would include developing a much better communication strategy and voter education strategy by INEC as election preparations proceed and many of the technical problems plaguing that process are ironed out. The interim period would be used to offer a concerted effort to ensure that PVCs are in the hands of as much as 98% of voters rather than the current expectation of 90%. But will the security forces be able to protect polling stations, especially in the northeastern states? And, given the legislation, there are no plans underway to re-enfranchise IDP voters who now constitute almost 20% of the 4.5 million registered voters in the three northeastern states (Adamawa 1.5, Borno 1.9 and Yobe 1.1 million). The key variable, however, will be the regional military initiative that will take the war into BH home ground.

It may also determine the outcome of the election.

Boko Haram Atrocities 2012 – August 2014

Boko Haram Atrocities 2012 – August 2014


Howard Adelman

As the 14 February elections approach in Nigeria, Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, a city with a population of at least two million, is once again under siege for the third time in four weeks. The last assault was on 24 January. As in the last two attacks, BH fighters first arrive in the night wearing full-face turbans showing only their eyes, each time from a different direction, but each time on motorcycles and pickup trucks as they shoot their way into the city and shout, “Allahu akbar.” They lock the girls and young women in several houses so they may later choose “wives” from among them instead of kidnapping them all as in April 2013. They also start their campaign of terror by beheading any they consider to be apostates and shoot young men who refuse to join their cause. As you will see from the documentation of the atrocities in 2012, as bad as the situation was then, the targeting of civilian populations has grown enormously since.

Even though BH makes some effort at proselytizing and redistributes some of the food BH fighters have looted, BH is not primarily out to win hearts and minds, just accomplices in its politics of fear and intimidation. Maiduguri is already packed with tens of thousands of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) who fled the surrounding countryside overrun by BH primarily in 2014 and its version of terror in the name of justice and faith. The IDPs either live with relatives or are scattered among the 16 IDP camps which bear no resemblance to UNHCR relatively well-ordered camps and, at least, minimally fed refugees.

I expect that BH will be pushed back once again from Maiduguru by the Nigerian Army by soldiers who can only expect execution if they fall into the hands of BH. The armies of Chad and Cameroon have won decisive victories when BH tried to expand in those countries last week. If Chad and Cameroon can do it, why not Nigeria which has the third largest army in Africa and certainly the biggest in West Africa? In 2014, Nigeria ranked 21 among economies in the world and currently beats South Africa for first place in Africa with a GDP of $500 billion.

Whereas Nigerian peacekeeping forces were among the most effective in the world in 1990s, this is no longer true. The operations under ECOWAS authority in Sierra Leone and Liberia that began in 1990 could not be duplicated today. Nigerian forces were almost useless in fighting al-Qaeda-linked forces in Mali in 2013. Yet the army absorbed almost six billion n US dollarsof the 2014 Nigerian budget. The strategy of starving the army by tolerating and even enhancing corruption to prevent a military coup has backfired. The army suffers from a lack of and poorly maintained equipment, low operational readiness, inadequate training, and low military morale, all made worse by poor salaries and conditions for the regular grunts, quite aside from the ethnic divisions and regional loyalties that plague Nigeria’s constant efforts to maintain an army loyal to the federal government.

How does one explain the military deterioration in Nigeria? The simple answer is corruption. The ships of its navy and the aircraft of its air force are, for the most part, inoperative. Most of their ground troops have little capacity to launch offensive operations, though that has significantly improved in the last 20 months. This also explains the decline in American cooperation with the Nigerian armed forces. On the other hand, it is very difficult to deal with an enemy that can launch attacks from many locations across a very large country, for the attacks are not limited to the three northern states. One noticeable pattern after 2012 was the increasing capability of the police and the military to bring the war back to Boko Haram. There have been startling successes in one area – far fewer police stations and army barracks have been attacked – but more civilians have been targeted and territory has been captured and held.

It is not clear whether the reason lay in BH strategy or is to found in far greater intimidation and exclusive targeting of civilians with the clear intent of holding and capturing villages and towns in Borno State. Thus, although military attacks against the police initially escalated in 2012, by 2014 they had fallen off drastically. The police and security forces began aggressively to fight and take the war into BH enclaves and so-called safe houses. Select political leaders were assassinated by BH, but fewer of them and hardly any in 2013 and 2014. Increased numbers of churches continued to be attacked in 2012, but these attacks fell off as BH focused its militancy against whole villages and used suicide bombers and explosives to cause many more casualties.

Far fewer Muslim clerics are now being killed, and BH explicitly announced that it had not been responsible for the attack on the mosque in Kano in June of 2012. The attacks on churches had a double effect, not only killing parishioners of what BH regards as an apostate faith, but provoking mob retaliatory attacks in several cases against Muslim bystanders, thereby deepening the rift between Muslims and Christians even further. But these types of attacks decreased considerably by 2014. Police stations were always attacked in conjunction with an effort to rob a bank, but BH seems to have acquired more sophisticated military equipment and explosives from the spate of attacks on the police and the military in 2012 so that by mid-July they could concentrate on attacking and capturing villages in Borno State. Attacks on civilians continued, primarily against targets seen to be bringing western values into northern Nigeria – pubs, construction sites, schools and even the newspaper, The Day in April 2012. 2                                                                                                                                                                                  Though the military counter-attacks against BH have significantly improved, the prognosis remains depressing as the military failed to capture a few key bases that BH had captured. The advance of BH over the last three years began with the coordinated 2012 attack in Kano against 8 different security facilities (the regional police headquarters, 2 police stations, local headquarters of state security, home of a police official, state police command headquarters), even though the strength of BH is also its greatest weakness. For BH is very decentralized and lacks a forceful unified command structure. However, BH has demonstrated that it is very capable of coordinated assaults. In 2014, it has also shown that it can concentrate sufficient forces to capture towns and villages, especially in Borno State with a highly increased lethality of civilians. Since 2012, the Nigerian army, police and security forces made a concerted effort to take the battle into the warrens where BH murderers and bombers take refuge in the cities. However, the Nigerian security forces have been unable to launch a consistent assault to retake territory captured by BH.

There has been a countervailing interpretation that the primary issue is not military but political. The political issue is not the gain in popular support for BH – which has undoubtedly lost ground. The growing strength and horror of BH has become a prime election issue in this election year in 2015 for a number of very different reasons, quite aside from the likelihood that the recent increase in the number of attacks, their main targets and heightened lethality seem to indicate that disrupting the election and delegitimizing the results may be the main strategy in the recent pattern of BH attacks.

Note the following:

  • Of the 174 million population (Lagos alone has an estimated population of 25 million), and the estimated expected vote of over 40 million, of the 5.6 million population in the three northeastern states, 1.5 million eligible voters reside in Borno, Yobe and Adanowa
  • Of those,18% have been displaced, and Nigerian law requires that voters must cast their ballots in their home constituencies
  • Thus, even though the Independent National Election Commission insists that the vote will go ahead in the northeast as planned, and even assuming that they are true to their word in spite of the increasing rate of BH assaults, to get elected, a presidential candidate must win 25% of the votes in at least two-thirds (12) states to be declared a winner;
  • This suggests that the violence is intended to delegitimize the election, assuming Goodluck Jonathan can win more votes than his rival, Muhammadu Buhani;
  • Further, if the election is contested afterwards over a protracted period, BH will be the only winner.

Below, please find the tables of atrocities for 2012, 2013 and until the end of July 2014. I am grateful to Ioannis Mantzikos, a PhD candidate at the University of Free State in South Africa, who compiled the original uncategorized list and published the compilation in the December issue of Perspectives on Terrorism Volume 8, Issue 6. The categorization and interpretation of trends is solely my responsibility.




22 June Kano Mosque – aborted 4 arrested
2 July Maiduguri Mosque under construction Construction workers killed 9

POLITICAL TARGETS: attacks against politicians, traditional leaders and civil servants

7 Feb. Kaduna Hon. Auwalu Ali Tafoki, former Chairman of the Kaduna South Local Area Bomb discovered and dismantled
9 March Gombe State Traditional ruler Shot 1
12 April Abuja Threat by BH to overthrow government in 3 months U.S. State Department travel alert
21 June U.S. Abubakar Shekau, Abubakar

Adam Kambar, & Khalid al-Barnawi

Declared specially designated global terrorists
Habib Bama (Mamman) Shot when arrested 1
3 August Potiskum Muslim traditional leader Escapes suicide bomber 0

Military and Police Targets

2012 Dead
17 Jan. Maiduguri Military checkpoint Assault 2 soldiers + 2 BH
Army outpost 2
Borno State BH hideout 6 arrested
20 Jan. Kano 8 government security buildings 5 suicide bomber; 20 explosions ???
24 Jan Kano Response to above by JTF 158 arrests 10 cars of explosives 300 IEDs
28 Jan Maiduguri 11 BH
15 Feb Koton-Karle, Kogi State Prison attack by 20 gunmen 119 freed inmates 14
3 March In prison Tiemkenfa Francis Osvwo fumigation 1 BH
7 March Ashaka, Gombe State Police station 7
10 March Bulabilin Ngaura, Borno Police station Gunmen 1
Maidiguri Repelled assault 11 arrested 1 BH
12 March Military patrol Gunmen 5
21 March Tudun Wala 100 km from Abuja Divisional Police Office Explosives failed
31 March Kogi Raid of bomb factory shootout 10
25 April Kano State Raid on bomb factory
30 April Taraba State Senior Police official convoy – survived Suicide bomber 11
4 May Borno State Prison 2 guards
6 May Kano Shootout 4 BH
11 May Kano Suleiman Mohammed + wife + 5 kids Arrest of BH Kano head
12 May Borno State Police station Burned 2 police
13 May Kano Shootout 6 officers
19 May Jos BH enclave destroyed ???
22 May Abuja Security officials foil police station & radio
5 June Kano Abubakar Saleh Ningi, former department chief MC 3 incl. driver & bodyguard
5 -6 June Maiduguri JTF operation 16 BH
8 June Borno State JTF operation Car with explosives 4 + 7
23 June Kano BH hideout Shootout 4 BH
24 June Yobe Prison 40 inmates freed 2 BH
26 June Wukari, Taraba State Regional police headquarters Gunmen 3 police
26-27 June Kano Dalo police division 30 BH with guns 10 BH; I police
30 June Damaturu, Yobe Pre-emptive offensive by police 10 BH       1 police
30 July Sokoto Two police stations Suicide bomber 2
19 Aug. Damagun, Yobe Police station Blown up ???


22 Jan. Tafawa Balewa Bank – foiled
2 March Trader and tailor Knife attack 2
8 March Birnin Kebbi

BH denies it attacked

Italian and British engineer kidnapped 2
21 March 100 km from Abuja Bank – foiled 2 arrested 9 BH
30 March Maiduguri Police station + bank 4
7 Nov. Benishek outside Maiduguri Chinese construction workers attack 2


2012 Dead Inj.
Gombe State Church Parishioners Assault 3-6
6 Jan Yola Church Parishioners Assault 8
26 Feb Jos, Plateau State Church Parishioners Suicide bomber 6
11 March Jos Church Parishioners Suicide bomber 3
Reprisal attacks 10
8 April Kaduna Churh Easter parishioners Explosives 38
3 June Yelwa, Bauchi State Church Parishioners Suicide bomber 12
10 June Jos Church Suicide bomber 0 41
bystanders Retaliation Mob 2
Biu 5 gunmen 1 3
17 June Zaire & Kaduna

Kaduna State

3 churches Car bombs
19 Aug. Damagun, Yobe Church building Blown up ???
23 Sept. Bauchi Church Female worshipper Suicide bomber 1
28 Oct. Kaduna Church parishioners Suicide bomber 10 145

Note that in 2012, the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) ran an ad campaign on 100 buses in New York publicizing the savagery of BH and the targeting of Christians specifically. “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support the Nigerian Christians. Defeat jihad.” Mostly because of the phrasing, the ads were criticized as “anti-Muslim” “hate” ads.


4 Jan. Dalla, Maiduguri Teacher & son Home 2 + 2BH
10 Jan Damaturu, Yobe State Beergarden 8
13 Jan Yola, Adamawa State Pub 2 + 1
Gombe, Gombe State Pub 2 + 1
1 Feb. Maiduguri 30 so-called informers Targeted 7
2 March 4:mother son + 2
4 April Maiduguri Market Gunmen 7
26 April Abuja Off ices of newspaper The Day Suicide attack 4
Kaduna Housing complex with Damugun offices Car bomb
25 June Baluchi Cluster of bars IED Explosive 0 + 9
4 July Abuja Shopping mall explosion 0
19 Aug. Damagun, Yobe School Blown up
16 Sept. Bauchi Ludo game players Shot 6 + 9
18 Oct Potiskum Guns + bomb 23

2013 Charts of Boko Haram atrocities

Military and Police Targets

15 March Gwoza Prison – 170 inmates freed assault 1 civilian
22 March Ganye, Adamawa State Jail, police stn. & bank 127 inmates freed assault 25
11 April Babban Gida, Yobe State Police station shootout 4 police       5 BH
12-16 Baga JTF operation vs BH firefight 187
7 May Bama Security forces –       105 inmates freed assault 55
13 May Borno & Yobe “massive” troop deployment State of emergency Phone signals shut
11 Sept. Ga’anda Village, Adamawa State Police stations Rocket grenades 2 police + 1
24 Oct. Damaturu, Yobe Military barracks and police facilities assault 21 in total 21-70 BH
23 Nov. Gwoza BH hideouts N. military 40 BH
2 Dec. Maiduguru Air force base, military barracks 200 gunmen ???



15 March Kano Senior judicial figure
3 May Maiduguri Ali Monguno, former Nigerian oil minister kidnap



13 Nov Nguetchéwé, Cameroon French Catholic priest kidnap Dead Inj.



22-24 Jan. Maiduguri Many ???
8 Feb. Kano 2 polio clinics gunmen 10 workers
10 Feb. Potiskum, Yobe doctors North Korean assassinys 3
16 Feb Jama’are Construction workers kidnap 7
19 Feb. Cameroon French family of 7 kidnap Video 25 February
5 March Video beheading Alleged informant beheading 1
18 March Kano Bus station Suicide bomber 41
17 June Damaturu Student dormitory attack 7 students 2 teachers
6 July Mamudo, Yobe Secondary school dormitories set on fire attack 41 students 1 teacher
31 Aug. Yaguwa Village, Damboa, Borno BH hideout by nomadic herders in revenge attack 12 nomads + original 2
17 Sept. Benisheik, Borno Town attack 142
29 Sept. Gujba, Yobe school dorm College of Agriculture attack 40 students
4 Nov. Bama, Borno 300 homes burned assault 27
23 Nov. Sandiya Village 85km from Maiduguru Some homes burned assault 12


27 July Dawashe near Baga, Borno Fishers & traders Reprisal attack 20 +

2014 Boko Haram Atrocities

Military and Police Targets

14 March Maiduguru Giwa Military barracks & state security hdqt. 200 BH assault fails
8 July Damboa Military base N. army assault BH counterattack 15 soldiers
24 July Cameroon military Cross-border raid 2 soldiers



23 April Blabili, Borno State politicians ambush 2
25 July Garabula, Borno Alhaji Ibrahim Dawi District leader 13
27 July Kolofata, Cameroon Wife of V-Pres. kidnap 3



30 July Kwajaffa, Tashan Alade 5 churches



26 Jan. Borno & Adamawa 2 markets assaults 78
11 Feb. Kanduga Burn homes assault 23
15 Feb. Northeastern Nigeria dozens
26 Feb. Buni Yadi Federal college assault 29
14 April Abuja Bus station Suicide bomber 75 +
17 April BH mass weddings on 29 April School dorm kidnap 276 girls
20 April Yana Government school fire 5-year-old
5 May BH video Girls kidnapped To be sold
20 May Jos market Car bombs 118 + 56
1 June Mubi Football stadium bomb 40
14 June Borno 4 villages assault 500
17 June Damaturu Football viewing centre World Cup bomb 21
24 June Borno Systematic abductions Kidnap 60 women 30
3 July Konduga, Borno bomb 5
4 July Maiduguri-Mafa-Dikwa Road motorway ambush 15
6 July Krenuwa Village, border Cameroon Dressed in military uniforms assault 7
11 July Maidugurio Damboa Madafuma Biu Rd Main bridge destroyed
14 July Dille Village Torch houses & 3 churches assault 26
Madafuma Village, Biu, Borno capture assault 9
15 July Damboa, Borno Sambon Gari Village assault 27
17 July Gambou Ngala, Borno Bridge to Cameroon Blown up
18 July Damboa, Borno Burn homes 80
23 July Kaduna Suicide bombers 82
29 July Potiskum 2 bombs Suicide bombers 55


27 July Dawashe near Baga, Borno Fishers & traders Reprisal attack 20 +
16 July Gombi, Adamawa German Kidnap

Boko Haram Terrorism: 2003-2011

Boko Haram Terrorism: 2003-2011


Howard Adelman

Look at the news from Nigeria yesterday. One person was killed and 18 injured by a female suicide bomber at a campaign rally for Goodluck Jonathan on Monday near a stadium in the northern city of Gombe. This analysis of Boko Haram violence covers the so-called early one year of violence (December 2003-October 2004), the second stage of non-violence between 2005-mid-2009, the turning point in the summer of 2009 when 800 were killed, the fourth stage in the development of the lethal character of Boko Haram from mid-2009 to mid-2010 when Boko Haram consolidated, trained and developed a more systematic strategy. The bulk of the material covers the fifth phase in the development of Boko Haram from mid-2010 to the end of 2011. Tomorrow I will provide an analysis of Boko Haram violence for 2012-2014.

Stage 1   2002- October 2004 Founding until death of Mohammed Yusuf

Priority violence for recruitment and action vs just teaching; violence incidental

Stage 2 November 2004 until mid-2009 period of non-violence

Stage 3   Turning point in the summer of 2009 when Yusuf killed in police custody and 800 killed in subsequent violence

Stage 4   Summer 2009-summer 2010: consolidation and strategizing

Stage 5   August 2010 to December 2011

  • Internationalization of conflict with attack on UN compound in Abuja & links with al-Qaeda
  • More sophisticated use of more powerful explosives
  • Increasingly more direct attacks on soldiers and not just police
  • Increasing number of attacks on military targets with more sophisticated coordination over this period
  • Attacks on banks to fund purchase of more sophisticated explosives & arms and on businessmen who do not pay into their protection racket; note that the attacks on banks were linked with simultaneous attacks on police stations to foil any attempt to prevent the robberies; I have included such attacks under Financial
  • Individual attacks on political figures average 1 per month
  • Individual attacks on moderate Muslim clerics who denounce BH; average 1 per 2 months
  • A primary method of assassinating individuals is drive-by shootings from a motorcycle which becomes a rite-of-passage for new recruits
  • Near the end of this period, the attacks on civilian targets increase in frequency
  • Though attacks on Christians begin in January 2011, they really only get up to speed in the latter part of the year, culminating in attacks on churches throughout Nigeria on Christmas Day in 2011

The most significant attack is probably the one on 26 August 2011 when the UN compound in Abuja was attacked by an explosive-laden Honda sport vehicle driven at high speed through the exit gates of the compound by 27-year-old Mohammed Abdul Barra in which an estimated 200 were killed (Nigeria government declared 23 died) and hundreds more injured (the Nigerian government declared 80 injured). The attack, masterminded by Mamman Nur (an alias used by Osama bin Laden’s bomb maker), an al-Qaeda-linked member of Boko Haram, was rationalized because the UN was labelled as the “forum of all global evil” and a partner “in the oppression of believers.” This attack also marked an escalation both in the sophistication of the explosives used, the planning of the attack and the internationalization of the conflict. Prior to that date, the only attack on a non-Nigerian target had been the 2 May 2011 bombing in Bwari of the Peace Corps offices in which 3 were killed.

There was one slim hope of a turning point. Babakura Alhaji Fugu, the son of late Alhaji Baba Fugu, the father-in-law to Mohammed Yussuf, founder of Boko Haram, had entered into discussions of a possible peace with former Nigerian President Oluṣẹgun Obasanjo. Two days later, and just before an appearance on Sahara TV, on 17 September 2011, Fugu was assassinated by Boko Haram.

Until the end of 2011, media had not been targeted, with the exception of the 16 October 2011 assassination of the reporter Zakariyya Isa in front of his house, but the evidence suggests that he was not murdered because he was a reporter but because he was believed to be passing information that he gathered on Boko Haram to the Nigerian security services. Finally, at the end of December 2011, President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in Borno, Yobe, Niger and the Plateau States. (I believed I made a typo the day before yesterday and put in 2013.) He also closed the borders to Chad and Niger. Finally, he authorized his security officials to create a special counter-terrorism unit to fight Boko Haram.

I am grateful to Perspectives on Terrorism 8:6 for compiling the collection of attacks, but I take full responsibility for the classification used below and the trend interpretation I have offered. In doing so, I use several short forms which I believe are obvious. For example, BH refers to Boko Haram members killed and not Boko Haram in general. MC refers to drive-by killings from a motorcycle. Most politicians and religious leaders were murdered in front of their own homes. One important caution: some killings blamed on Boko Haram may be by political opponents or other agents. At the same time, some assassinations could either be based on rumour or on learning, or believing one had learned, that one person was a double agent. For example, on 3 November 2011, Ali Sanda Umar Konduga (alias: Usman al-Zawahiri), a member of Boko Haram, was slain. Konduga claimed to have been working in Borno for the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).a2

[I do not know how to copy the charts so if you want the information in proper chart form, write


24-31 Dec. 2003 Kanamma & Geldam, Yobo State 200 frontal ???
January 2004 Damboa Police Station
June 2004 Damaturu, capital of Yobe State Prison break 4 BH
23 Sept. 2004 Gwoza & Bama Police stations

Police patrols

4 police

2 civilians

24 attackers

10 October 2004 Kala Balge, Lake Chad Police convoy 15 officers

30 JUNE 2009 TO DECEMBER 2011


2009 Killed Injured
26 July Maiduguri BH Guns 17 BH
9 July Maiduguri




22 BH

2 police

50 civilians

3 July 800 deaths incl.

28 police

5 wardens

5 Sept. MC 1 police
7 Sept. Baluchi jail 100 BH

Freed +

600 others

23 Oct. aborted Police Station Fire 1 BH
13 Nov. Bashir Mohammed MC 1 soldier
24 Nov. Ramat Mohammat

Salisu Jibrin



1 police

1 soldier

4 Dec. Abuja BH-army clash 2 BH

3 civilians

29 Dec. Police patrol 7-8 police
3 Jan Corporal James MC 1 police
9 Jan. Church guard Amos Tangurda MC 1 police
23 Jan. Borno MC 1 soldier
26 Jan. Bauchi MC 1 police
27 Jan. Gasua Zamfara Police MC
2 Feb. Police Dep. Super. gunfight 1 six-year-old
20 Feb. Financier gunfight 5 BH
24 Feb. Maiduguri Police inspector MC 1 police
28 Feb. Home invasion Mustapha Sandamu gun 1 police

1 civilian

26 March Soldier on patrol MC 1 soldier 16 civ.
15 April Maiduguri Soldiers MC 2 soldiers

2 civilians

16 April Elis Dawa, police insp. Gun duel 1 police
30 April Prison warder 1 warder
5 May Maiduguri Prison warders 2 warders
17 May Police mosque guard MC 1 police
18 May Maiduguri Police station Assault 10 police
27 May Damboa Borno Police station

Soldiers barracks


70 BH

4 police
30 May Bauchi Military beer garden 13 soldiers 33
1 Sept. Biu Operation Tsaro

Military rampage

2 BH

Military officer

3 civilians

13 Sept. Maiduguri Ambush following BH

Arrests of 15 BH

4 soldiers
16 Oct. Mopol Base 15 vehicles destroyed

Base burned

Assault 1 police

3 BH

25 Oct. Damaturu, Yobe 1 police
4 Nov. Maiduguri Military base many
15 Nov. JTF firefight with BH 2 soldiers

1 child

21 Nov. JTF firefight with BH 3 soldiers

3 BH

26-27 Nov. Bomb attacks 4 police
13 Dec. Soldiers crossfire 10 civilians
17 Dec. Maiduguri


Bomber’s bomb



4 BH 3 police

19 Dec. Kano,





3 police

3 BH

21 Dec. Military convoy bomber 53 killed (BH,

Soldiers, police,


23 Dec. Maiduguri 6 simultaneous attacks 10,000 IDPs

Scores killed

24 Dec. Port Harcourt Military barracks

Bouganvillea Hotel

Shell oil facility

26 Dec. Kano Air Force School Assault 4 air force

2 BH

30 Dec. Maiduguri Military check point Assault 4 passer-bys

POLITICAL TARGETS: attacks against politicians, traditional leaders and civil servants

2010 How No.
21 Sept. Maiduguri Local chief MC 1
6 Oct. Maiduguri Awana Ali Ngala VP All Nigerian Peoples Party 1
20 Oct. Kashim Bukar Police Inspector Shot 1
29 Dec. Maiduguri 8
28 Jan. Modu Fannami Godio Gubernatorial opposition candidate All Nigeria Peoples Party MC 1
27 March Gwange Alhaji Fannami Gana Makanike Ward 2 chair ANPP MC 1
29 March Maiduguri ANPP election rally Foiled
12 May Abba Anas bin ‘Umar

Modu Fannami Godio

17 Sept. Babakura Alhaji Fugu Brother-in-law of Yusuf By BH
15 Oct. Maiduguri Ali Banga Leader Borno State Vigilante Assoc. MC 1
16 Oct. Zakariyya Isa Reporter (informer?) MC 1
16 Oct. Modu Bintube Borno State House rep. MC 1
3 Nov. Sanda Umar Konduga BH MC 1
15 Nov. Maiduguri State Gov. Shettima MC 1


9 Oct. Outside home Sheik Bashir Mustapha

Bashir Kasara

Muslim scholar

Eminent Wahabi personage





19 Nov. Mosque during Juam‘at prayer MC 3
12 March Outside home Ahmad Abdullahi Bolori Cleric vs violence MC 1


11 May Outside home Sheik Goni Tijjani

Mallam Alhaji Abur

Cleric critical of BH MC 1


6 June Outside home Ibrahim Birkuti Cleric critical of BH MC 1
4 Sept. Outside home Malam Dal Cleric critical of BH MC 1
29 Oct. Outside home Sheikh Ali Jana’a Cleric critical of BH MC 1


19 Jan. Deeper Life Christian Church Pastor & 3 neighbours MC 4
7 June Maduguri Church and 2 police posts bomb 14
4 Nov, churches bombs 63
25 Dec. Nigeria churches bombs Very many


2010 Dead Injured
10 Oct. Traditional Islamic school beheaded 10-yr.-old
24 Dec. Abuja



9 bombs



29 Dec. Abuja Teaching Hospital 1 police

2 civilians

29 Dec. Abuja RelaxationCentre bomb 8
30 Jan. Maiduguri Police guarding dam firefight 2 BH
7 March Dogo Nachawa Villages – Zot & Tatsat Frontal assault 200
4 April Babaji & Sadi Babaji prevented killing of police Revenge MC 2 7 children
8 April Yahaya Premature explosion bomb bomber
9 April Maiduguri Unguwar Doki polling station

Ind. Nat’l Electoral polling tn.




21 April Kaduna 1 3 bombers
22 April Kaduna Bomb-making factory
2. May Bwari Peace corps offices bomb 3
1 June Kaduna Gonin Gora Market bomb foiled
26 Aug. Abuja UN compound Car bomb 200 (?) hundreds
6 Oct Mob 2 BH
10 Oct. bomb 1
3 Dec. Maiduguri 2
6 Dec Kaduna Block of shops & apartments bomb 8
28 Dec. Mubi beer parlour 15


13 Feb.
botched 1 BH
30 April trader MC 1
12 Sept. Misau Bauchi State bank assault 4 police

3 civilians

2 Oct. 3 traders MC 3
10 Oct. Police guarding bank 1
4 Dec. Bauchi state 2 banks + 2 police stns, 3

Tomorrow 2012-2014

Nigeria and the Obama Administration

Nigeria and the Obama Administration           


Howard Adelman

This past Sunday, John Kerry traveled to Abuja, the capital of Nigeria, to meet President Goodluck Jonathan and show solidarity in Nigeria’s fight against Boko Haram, the radical Nigerian Islamist movement that developed a highly militant program in 2009 since Obama took office. The visit comes just after Islamist Boko Haram fighters captured the north-eastern Nigerian town of Monguno 146 km north of the strategically-located northeastern Nigerian city of Maiduguri. Boko Haram then attacked Maiduguri itself, the capital of Borno State, its population already swollen by thousands of IDPs who had fled to the city. Boko Haram had failed to capture the city in its last assault in December 2013. This latest attack was repelled by a mixture of Nigerian troops and “volunteers,” reinforced by air strikes against Boko Haram positions.

In his press conference, Kerry stressed the importance of the scheduled February national elections being peaceful and setting “a new standard.” He elaborated: “We are prepared to do more [to counter the threat of Boko Haram], but our ability to do more will depend to some degree on the full measure of credibility, accountability, transparency and peacefulness of this election.” Though America has been supplying not only advice, but military training and equipment to help the Nigerian government in its fight against Boko Haram to “professionalize the response of its security forces, including to respond to crime and terrorism,” it has always been with a caveat emphasizing “human rights, civilian protection and adherence to rule of law at all levels.” No such qualifications seemed to have accompanied the supply of Navy Seals to fight the Lord’s Resistance Army.

I am puzzled. Truly puzzled. America has 150 special forces Naval Seals in landlocked Central African Republic (CAR) and has authorized the deployment of 150 more to try to eliminate Joseph Kony when Kony has only 200 followers left and when he is cornered by four African armies. Though America also insists it is fully in support of Nigeria’s fight against Boko Haram in north-eastern Nigeria, the U.S. cut off the resale by Israel of helicopters to Nigeria, helicopters ostensibly crucial to the fight against Boko Haram. Boko Haram, though not directly involved in any war against the West and has no official relationship with other militant Islamicists, openly identifies with Al Qaeda and Islamic State, sometimes imitating their tactics. Boko Haram is part of the loose international network of radical Islamic forces at war against the U.S. and the West. In contrast, Kony is the leader of an exhausted idiosyncratic and isolated Christian militant sect that poses no danger to the U.S. Further, Boko Haram is estimated to have 9,000 fighters, not 200.

I need your help in puzzling through this seeming paradox, but I will make an initial stab at it, first by elaborating on American policy towards Nigeria in its fight against terrorism. Sunday, I will provide some background on Boko Haram itself and recent developments in Nigerian history. Only then will I attempt to answer more fully my initial puzzle.

America’s vetoing of the helicopter sale was explained in terms of “consistency with U.S. policy interests.” Further, the veto was procedurally correct since “requests for one country to transfer U.S.-origin defense items to another country” require American approval in accordance with the U.S. Conventional Arms Transfer Policy and American norms are stricter than the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms to which Israel, de facto, subscribes that restricts transfers “where there is imminent risk that arms might be internally diverted, illegally proliferated and re-transferred, or fall into the hands of terrorists or entities and states that support or sponsor them.”

Third, there were allegations of human rights abuses committed by Nigerian troops. Amnesty International in its August 2014 report claimed to have both video footage and testimonials that suggest that the Nigerian military has been involved in war crimes. American aid is dependent upon and emphasizes “human rights, civilian protection and adherence to the rule of law.” The regulations on arms transfers forbid them when retransfer is to a recipient “who would [not could] commit human rights abuses or serious violations of international humanitarian law.” However, well-founded allegations of human rights abuses by the Ugandan army did not prevent the U.S. from supplying the Ugandan army with equipment, training and seconded training forces.

But what were the policy interests? Human rights? U.S. ambassador to Nigeria, James F. Entwistle, had signaled last October that American was concerned that arms transfers could affect “the human situation.” The U.S. requires that, for the sale of military equipment, such as the Boeing CH-47 Chinook helicopters at $40 million each, “the risk that significant change in the political or security situation of the recipient country” must be taken into account lest the sale result in “inappropriate end-use.”

Is the American State Department worried that the government of Nigeria is so precarious that there is a danger of a takeover by Boko Haram, at least of the three northeastern states of Nigeria? Then, the helicopters could fall into Boko Haram’s hands. But this merely replaces one paradox with another. That is, we can supply Uganda with arms because the government is strong and the LRA is now so weakened that it poses no real challenge to Kampala. On the other hand, the government of Goodluck Jonathan in Nigeria is apparently so weak, militarily at least, that giving Nigerian troops helicopters is too risky. Or is the veto of the Chinook helicopter sale a shot across the bow to signal Israel that such cancellations are at the President’s discretion? Is Obama signaling that he could stop military transfers to Israel itself?

In other words, if your country is strong and your enemy is very weak, the U.S. will supply weapons. But if the government is at all precarious and the enemy is strong – the very reason the government desperately needs the weapons – then that is a situation where America cannot and will not risk supplying weapons. This Catch-22 on the surface seems so absurd as not to be plausible. But is it?

America has a large training program for Nigerian forces in its fight against Boko Haram. However, Barak Obama in his address to the United Nations on the threat of Islamicism stressed education and enlightenment rather than the use of force. “The ideology of ISIL [Islamic State] or al-Qaida or Boko Haram will wilt and die if it is consistently exposed and confronted and refuted in the light of day.” Without asking how exposing, confronting and refuting Islamicist ideology can help or even be critical in the fight against radical Islam, in particular, and against Boko Haram in northeastern Nigeria, does such a policy square with the military support the U.S. does provide Nigeria for its fight against Boko Haram and this emphasis on enlightenment?

A partial explanation may be economic not humanitarian or military. In 2008, America imported almost a million barrels of Nigerian crude per day, 44% of Nigeria’s oil exports. Nigeria was the fifth largest supplier of oil for the U.S. market, slightly down from the over a million barrels average per day imported between 2004 and 2007. Because of the shale revolution and the move back to self-sufficiency in oil for the U.S., the U.S. now produces almost 10 million b/d with a large portion from its Bakken, Eagle Ford and Permian Basin fields. This has totally upended the 2001 Cheney report which defined Nigeria as a core national security interest because of its production of oil and American reliance on those oil imports. In the first quarter of 2014, imports of Nigerian crude by the U.S. continued to decline from the old norm of 90 million barrels per quarter to just over 25 million. Then they fell off the cliff altogether. For six weeks, between July and mid-August of 2014, the U.S. did not import a single barrel of Nigerian crude. There was a similar story between mid-October and 7 November. The oil trade between Nigeria and the U.S. is no longer one of “follow the money,” but the reality that there is NO money to follow.

Just recall that in December 2000, the U.S. National Intelligence Council of the CIA predicted that Africa would be supplying 25% of America’s total oil imports by 2015. What a transformed situation! Asian imports have picked up some of the slack, but only some, and at a much lower per barrel price. And the economic drop has not only come from the fall-off in oil exports, but also from the rapid decline in national receipts for bids for exploration blocks and the drop in large sums traditionally invested in oil infrastructure – drilling platforms, pipelines, loading facilities, production machinery, transportation, etc. Instead of West Africa replacing the Middle East as the number one exporter of oil to the world as predicted ten and even five years ago, instead of posting significant production increases, West Africa, and Nigeria in particular, has posted production declines. This has meant not only a significant decrease in income to the federal Nigerian government, but also that the U.S. has lost the ability to strong arm Nigeria using the oil import card. As a result, the U.S. may have had to fall back on the military export card.

But that too has a back side. In the 1990s, when American policymakers foresaw increased dependence on oil from Africa, and, therefore, demarcated Africa as a primary national security interest, the U.S. dramatically increased its military involvement in Africa. As the need for African oil – though not necessarily other resources – has declined precipitously in the last five years, America has been preaching African military self-sufficiency. More particularly, whereas the U.S. provided military support to undemocratic and repressive regimes in Nigeria, the U.S. now declines to do so unconditionally. Just when its economic leverage is lowest, America has increasingly used its 2004 expansion of its 1997 Africa Crisis Response Initiative (ACRI), renamed as African Contingency Operations Training and Assistance (ACOTA), as leverage. However, the U.S. no longer has the same justification that U.S. military aid was needed to secure its oil supply.

However, U.S. security assistance is also provided to Nigeria through ACOTA, the Anti-Terrorism Assistance program. Is this not sufficient incentive for the U.S. and its war on terror, particularly against radical and militant Islam?

In the beginning of the Obama administration, the emphasis was on the Niger Delta, the source of Nigeria’s oil. The U.S. was concerned with the rise of terrorist and separatist forces there. On 12 August 2009, during her trip to Africa, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Nigerian Foreign Minister Ojo Maduekwe that the U.S. supports the efforts of the “Nigerian Government’s comprehensive political framework approach toward resolving the conflict in the Niger Delta.” Since that was the source of oil, this was understandable. But even then, military cooperation was totally proportionate to Nigerian efforts.

However, the new threat that has been developed since then has been from the northeast sector. The incentive to continue military support for Nigeria raises its head because of the threat of radical Islamic terrorism. So why all the qualms and conditions? Without the issue of protection of the oil interests, direct U.S. military intervention was never on the table. Instead, the policy required the smallest U.S. signature in any initiative. The stress was on capacity building and thickening intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance related to national cooperation, but now conjoined with democratic and human rights improvements.

Thus, even though Obama retained Defense Secretary Robert Gates as well as Army Chief of Staff, General George Casey, their efforts focused on security assistance, even to repressive and undemocratic governments, provided the countries were either direct U.S. allies (Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya and Ethiopia) or rich in resources needed by the U.S. such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo. How does this impact on the increasing threat of Boko Haram to Nigerian stability?

A CNN commentator, satirized in the Nigerian media, was responding to Maj. General James “Spider” Marks clarification on why there was zero (not just reduced) military aid to Nigeria in its fight against Boko Haram. Black West Africa is not a priority, the commentator suggested. Not West Africa! Not Nigeria! But BLACK West Africa. Yet BLACK Uganda was a priority? The commentator said that, although the U.S. has the means and capability to help us combat/possibly rid us of Boko Haram, the U.S. was committed elsewhere.

In a long term effort, the U.S. could, even unilaterally, do almost anything needed to rout Boko Haram. But Nigeria is not a priority. Defeating militant Islamic terrorism is not a priority. Defeating international militant Islam is, though Obama is always careful to dub it terrorism and not Islamic or religious terrorism. It is not because Nigeria is black or the terrorists are black. Racism is not the differentiating factor. The reduction of Nigeria as an economic and, hence, national security priority, conjoined with the Obama priority on human rights and democracy as conditions for military assistance, except where the countries are explicit allies, are key factors.

Kerry at Davos, before he left for Abuja, spoke at length on the threat to the world from Islamist extremist groups, including Boko Haram. But upon his arrival, he did not focus on the insurgency in the northeast, but of ensuring fair presidential and parliamentary elections in the lead up and on 14 February. The United States has even pressed for the elections to proceed despite the raging violence in northeastern Nigeria, even though Nigeria’s national security adviser, Sambo Dasuki, recommended that polling be delayed, especially in the northeast where tens of thousands have been displaced and three million live in fear.

Perhaps Boko Haram had learned its lesson when it brought the wrath of the U.S. down upon itself when it planned a terror attack on U.S.-bound Northwest Airlines flight on 25 December 2009. Don’t threaten America – just Nigerian schoolgirls, the public, the police, the army, politicians, moderate Muslim clerics, and even businessmen and Christians. America’s involvement in anti-terror programs had not evolved in proportion to the increased threat in the northeast because the terrorist threat in the Niger Delta from the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND) significantly diminished.

The decline seems to have had no relationship to the efforts of the Nigerian legislature to pass anti-terrorism legislation between 2006 and 2009. Besides, MEND was always been classified as simply a militant not a terrorist threat. But the anti-terrorism legislation clearly had no impact on a real and growing terrorist threat in the northeast. Nevertheless, critical arms were denied to Nigeria. Boko Haram could wreck all the havoc it wanted as long as Nigeria was not allied with the U.S., was of no overt economic prime interest to the U.S., and the insurgents were not engaged in ‘international’ terrorism. In fact, even as the lethality ratcheted up, military aid could decline.

Bright and promising young security professionals were increasingly sent to Western-sponsored seminars to improve local capacity for effectively countering terrorist threats, but, at the same time, stressing the need for them to protect human rights and enhance democracy. The U.S. Department of Defense’s Counterterrorism Fellowship Program built relationships and developed networks of cooperation. Technology and infrastructure were supplied for detection and recording (early warning), but the supply of lethal force has been inadequate, though aid has been forthcoming to develop appropriate legal frameworks and institutional capacity to counter terrorism.

Ambassador Samantha Power, the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, addressed the Security Council on action to sanction Boko Haram and hold its leaders accountable by adding Boko Haram to the UN’s 1267 sanctions list. The Security Council helped close off funding sources, travel and weapons supplies for Boko Haram. But demonstrations of world unity and such measures, however beneficial, do little to mitigate Boko Haram’s growing strength unless sufficient military supplies of the right type and training are forthcoming.

Samantha Power said, “Last weekend in Paris, the United States and our partners agreed to assist Nigeria in developing a comprehensive strategy to address Boko Haram’s threat to the region by strengthening regional cooperation on counterterrorism, including intelligence sharing and border security. Today’s listing also supports and facilitates regional cooperation in confronting Boko Haram. The United States has been working with Nigeria to provide critical tools and support for confronting Boko Haram, like helping professionalize its military; working on law enforcement so that they can better investigate and assist in hostage situations; and providing economic assistance, including education and job training programs, to help lift people out of poverty and provide an alternative to extremist ideologies.” But one would have to wait eons and arms supplies would not be mentioned. The U.S. is not, counter to what Samantha Power said, “doing everything we can to help the people of Nigeria bring back their girls and…eliminate Boko Haram,” though it will increase its efforts to refute Boko Haram’s “backwards and bloodthirsty ideology,” as if this was an ideological debate. After 17 April 2013, Obama did send “military experts to help track down more than 200 girls seized in a ‘heartbreaking’ kidnapping,” but not the helicopters crucial to freeing them. Outrage and saying NO are just milquetoast.

When the threat is adequately described and analyzed on Sunday, this pusillanimous response will be seen as totally inadequate.