Surge in violence

Surge in violence

Violence in Nigeria touched unprecedented levels last week.

A bomb ripped through a bus at a busy bus station in the capital Abuja killing 75 people and seriously wounding twice that number.

A few hours later, around 130 teenage girls were abducted in the north-eastern town of Chibok.

Boko Haram, an Islamist militant group has claimed responsibility for the bus attack. It has been silent on the abduction so far but many Nigerians believe it to have masterminded this as well.

While some of the abducted girls have managed to escape, the fate of the majority is still unknown.

The twin attacks have triggered immense insecurity and anxiety across Nigeria, especially since the Boko Haram has described the bus station attack as a prelude to more bloodletting.

The terror group has been striking with increasing frequency and ferocity in recent months.

In the provinces of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, where Boko Haram operates with ease, some 1,500 people were killed by the militant group over the past three months while in other parts of the country, where their writ is supposedly weak, they killed around 300 people.

With the bomb attack in the Abuja, they have announced capacity to strike not just at the capital but very near the seat of power.

Boko Haram, which means ‘Western education is sinful’ in the local Hausa language, is of the view that only Islamic law can save Nigeria from endemic corruption.

It seeks to overthrow the government and impose Islamic law on all Nigerians.

This could trigger a civil war as Nigeria’s population is multi-religious with almost equal numbers adhering to Islam and Christianity.

The Nigerian government has carried out massive military operations against Boko Haram.

Yet the group has displayed enormous resilience.

This is because Boko Haram’s rhetoric targeting Nigeria’s rampant corruption strikes a chord among a section of the people.

The government must tackle corruption and improve opportunities for the masses.

There are regional differences too.

The south is far more developed than the north and within the south, while it is the south east that is oil rich, it is Abuja and Lagos that have benefited from the oil wealth.

These stark differences fuel support for Boko Haram.

So long as inequality persists, Boko Haram’s promises will draw Nigeria’s poor and  unemployed to join its fighting forces.