Enough Already. Where are Nigeria's Stolen Daughters?

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Jessamy Nichols, Africa CorrespondentLast Modified: 12:30 p.m. DST, 29 May 2014

"Female faces" Photo by: DFID - UK Department For International Development

BORNO, Nigeria -- Six very long weeks ago, Boko Haram militants stormed a school in northern Nigeria and abducted over 200 girls in the night. This terrifying incident, that lead a Boko Haram leader to announce they would “sell them [the girls] in the market,” sparked a massive social media campaign with the trending hashtag #BringBackOurGirls.

Thousands of social media posts and hundreds of minutes of news coverage later, almost the entirety of the group of these young, innocent girls is still being held captive without rescue or hope.

What’s the most frustrating aspect of this? The lack of willpower and resolve from Nigerian politicians.

Nigeria, a country with a booming economy (recently surpassing South Africa), recently hosted a World Economic Forum meeting, bringing together high-profile businessmen and political figureheads from across the world to showcase Nigeria’s newfound economic success. But wait. What does economic growth matter if a country is not even willing to defend itself from terrorists and humanitarian crises?

This miscalculation essentially equates to Nigerian politicians taking home big, fat checks while they wait weeks to fulfill their duties to even just respond to this abduction. Visiting the site of the attack and speaking with families there? That took even longer for President Goodluck Jonathan to do.

What good are democratic elections if the elected officials feel no responsibility to protect their own citizens and defend those who can’t defend themselves? A key factor that people are forgetting to talk about here is that Nigeria actually has an incredibly powerful, i.e. capable, military arm, ranked 47th in the world in Global Firepower’s Power Index score. The organization uses 50 factors to determine a nation's potential conventional military strength. Nigeria’s ranking puts it ahead of many developed or developing, stable nations, including Finland, Azerbaijan, Romania, Portugal, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Hungary, Kenya, Kuwait, Jordan and Lithuania.

In summary, Nigeria’s leaders are not sitting there with their hands completely tied. Yes, now that they claim to have found the location of the girls (with international help, I might add), they want to avoid firefights and risk harming the girls, which is sensible. However, why did the issue ever get this far? Nigeria has several hundred thousand personnel in its armed forces, yet they are doing an atrociously feeble job of defending the nation against Boko Haram, which according to Borno governor, Kashim Shettima, makes up a “minuscule” proportion of the population.

Why did this internal mess get this far? If Nigeria has a robust, proficient military arm, coupled with a growing economy, how is a group of terrorists still wreaking such effective havoc across the nation?

The matter truly comes down to a matter of resolve, because while Boko Haram is well organized and has been successful in carrying out suicide bombings, they are not using high-tech, profound strategies that Nigeria is helpless against. Diverting some of this newfound economic wealth to the underdeveloped portions of the country, along with military postings and increased surveillance, could cripple Boko Haram’s capabilities and weaken them to a point where abductions and weekly bombings would be impossible.

Alternatively, if President Jonathan truly felt helpless in leading this terrorist situation, he could have also asked for international help a long time ago, considering most Western countries are committed to fighting terrorism. His qualms about doing so, though, are likely influenced by the upcoming presidential election where he doesn’t want to look weak. Who’s paying the price for his political battles? These hundreds of abducted girls and their families, who are left to live under a government that sits in Abuja while a terrorist network continues to wreak havoc throughout the country.

Follow Jessamy on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Africa Correspondent: @JessamyNichols

Nigeria Mourns Plane Crash & Suicide Bomber Victims

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 13:04 PM EDT, 4 June 2012

Nigeria Airline, Photo by Rick SchlampLAGOS, Nigeria - A Dana Airlines plane in route from Nigeria’s capital city, Abuja to Lagos State crashed in the Agege suburban as it made its final approach into Murtala Muhammed Airport. The death toll has not been confirmed, however, thus far 146 passengers, 7 crew members and 10 people on the ground have been identified as deceased.

This was the second tragedy to hit Nigeria on Sunday, 3 June 2012. Christians attending services in the Northern Bauchi State, which has previously been terrorized by the extreme Islamist group Boko Haram, were attacked by a suicide bomber who drove his car into the church killing 15 attendees and himself. (Source: ABS-CBN News)

This smaller tragedy has been eclipsed by the Lagos plane crash which still has an unknown number of casualties on the ground because of the wide swathe of carnage the plane crashed left in its wake. The pilot who is reported to be a U.S. citizen and the copilot an Indian, both died in the crash, despite the fact that stunned witnesses said the sky was clear and the weather sunny.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CJ3I7lhTjyk]

This plane crash was foreboded by a crash on Saturday involving another Nigerian aircraft which departed Lagos for its neighboring country, Ghana, where it overshot the runway and crashed at the International Airport in Accra. In that incident, 10 people on the ground are confirmed dead.

According to sources, a representative from the Nigeria's Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) said that they are still trying to locate the black box to determine what occurred in the minutes before the crash, however, with endemic corruption and two plane crashes in as many days, stringent investigations into the maintenance of the planes and certifications of the pilots should be vigorously pursued.

Additionally, an investigation into the role, if any that air traffic controllers may have played in this tragedy needs to be investigated. Intermittent power outages across the country, as well as failures of redundant Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS) which are often powered by the state's electrical power grid or diesel have a history of going off-line thereby causing significant problems.

Some report that these failures have often resulted in radar tracking being unavailable for the duration of these outages.

Nigeria's aviation industry, which had one of the world's worst safety records before 2006, worked to improve it after an ADC Airlines plane crashed that year near Abuja, killing 97 people, Harro Ranter, president of the Flight Safety Foundation's Aviation Safety Network, said in a telephone interview from Roosendaal, Netherlands. (Source: SF Gate)

Fires continue to erupt around the crash site, as jet fuel burns throughout the decimated suburb where rubble continues to smolder. Firefighters and locals are working feverishly to locate any on the ground survivors.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan declared three days of national mourning on Sunday night for all who lost their lives in the Dana plane crash.

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Twitter: @nahmias_report Editor: @ayannanahmias

Africa's Christians Under Attack

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 22:05 PM EDT, 30 April 2012

NAIROBI, Kenya - In recent months, across Africa, Christian sects have been under attack from extremist. On Sunday, 29 April 2012, a church in Ngara was bombed leaving one person confirmed dead and 16 others seriously injured.

Although the US embassy warned of an imminent threat of terrorist attacks in the country, specific targets were not identified. The lone attacker is said to have entered God’s House of Miracles International Church with other worshipers, at which point he hurled a grenade toward the front pews before hastily retreating toward the exit.

Police immediately launched an investigation while many of the victims were taken to be treated at the Guru Nanak and Kenyatta National hospitals. Unlike the conflict between radical Islamists and Christians in northern Nigeria, the terrorist’s attacks in Kenya are primarily a reaction to Kenya’s incursion into Somalia in October 2011 when troops were dispatched to fight al-Shabab fighter.

Terrorist attacks like the Sunday church bombings in Kenya and Nigeria seem to be the favored method of expressing dissatisfaction with the government. Prior to the Ngara bombing, there was a grenade attack on a church service in Mtwapa, Mombasa that left one person dead and ten others seriously injured.

From East Africa to West Africa, the incidence of sectarian violence is escalating. Previously, we reported on the rising conflict between Christians and extremist Islamic factions in northern Nigeria’s Kano State. The radical Islamic sect known as Boko Haram has in recent months unleashed bloody attacks on Christians and other non-Islamic sects as they seek to impose Sharia law in Nigeria.

Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, is widely believed to be Boko Haram's base of operations and has the highest number of incidents of violence against Christians, police, and the military. Thus, the Monday 30 April 2012, Kano church attack by Boko Haram, a day after the Nairobi bombing was surprising.

The Nigerian attack was carried out by gunmen on motorcycles who hurled small homemade bombs into a university lecture hall where church services were being conducted. A total of 19 people were injured or killed in Boko Haram attacks on Christians in Maiduguri and Kano on both Sunday and Monday.

According to an official presidential statement, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan condemned the murderous terrorist attack on the Bayero University Campus in Kano yesterday and the "brutal killing of innocent worshipers by vicious assailants." However, many Nigerians believe that Goodluck has not been forceful enough in his efforts to eradicate Boko Haram and restore peace in the North.

The Vatican has also condemned the incidents. “The new terrorist attacks in Kenya and Nigeria at Christian celebrations are horrible and despicable acts,” Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said.

“We must be close to victims and communities that suffer just as they are peacefully celebrating a faith that wants love and peace for all,” he said. “We must encourage the whole population.... not to give in to the temptation to fall into the vicious circle of homicidal hatred,” he added. (Source: Independent Catholic News)

Nigeria Mourns Pres. Umaru Yar'Adua

Nigeria Mourns Pres. Umaru Yar'Adua

Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua, whose election marked the country's first peaceful transition of power from one civilian to another, has died with his wife Turai at his side following a debilitating illness that sparked a leadership crisis in Africa's most populous country.

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