Campbell discusses the upcoming January election in Nigeria, which may threaten the country’s stability due to a shaky power-sharing agreement between the Muslim North and Christian South. In the past, religio-ethnic tensions have been inflamed by elites’ political maneuvering, and–as Campbell points out–there is an unfortunately high chance of this occurring again.
I’d like to add another reason to worry: terrorism. As most will remember, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab–the failed “Christmas Day bomber”–is from Nigeria, indicating some al-Qaeda ties in the country. Of more concern, though, is Boko Haram (also known as the “Nigerian Taliban”) a hard-line Islamic militant group that left hundreds dead in an offensive last year. The government disrupted the group’s activities, but remaining members launched a raid on a prison in Bauchi yesterday, resulting in the release of numerous Boko Haram members. If violence breaks out again in Nigeria, this group will likely be either causing or exploiting it.
There are some ways the United States can hold off turmoil in the country; Campbell mentions support for civil-society and election assistance. The United States could also tie its official assistance programs with Nigeria to a power-sharing deal among elites, giving them an incentive to cooperate. Or we could try to resolve the environmental and social problems connected to the country’s oil production, which would minimize the threat of renewed violence from terrorist groups motivated by oil-related grievances.
Whatever US officials do, they need to act quickly; January is only a few months away.
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