John Campbell

Africa in Transition

Campbell tracks political and security developments across sub-Saharan Africa.

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Nigeria: “This State Has Failed”

by John Campbell
April 24, 2014

A bystander reacts as she sees victims of a bomb blast arriving at the Asokoro General Hospital in Abuja, April 14, 2014. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)


Holy Week was rough in Nigeria. On Saturday, April 12 “Boko Haram” invaded two villages in Borno, and killed thirty-eight people. On April 14, “Boko Haram” claimed responsibility for the bombing at the Nyana bus park in suburban Abuja that killed seventy people (official figures) or 500 (estimates from observers).

A few hours later “Boko Haram” kidnapped over 200 girls from a school in Borno (the exact number is disputed). It also killed a policeman and a soldier during that operation. As of April 24, the majority of the girls have still not been found. On April 15, “Boko Haram” killed twenty in attacks on two villages in Borno; one of the victims was a traditional ruler. The same day “Fulani” herdsmen killed seven in the Middle Belt. The victims are likely to have been Christians. That incident was followed by the retaliatory killing of an additional eight (likely Muslims). On April 17, “thugs” attacked a Nigerian party congress, resulting in numerous hospitalizations but, apparently, no deaths.

This carnage is the backdrop to a well-reasoned editorial in the Abuja quality newspaper, Leadership, “Our Stand-This State has Failed.” The editorial notes, inter alia, that a third of the Nigeria’s land mass has been under emergency rule for a year, and also in at least another third of the country there have been “…mass murders, kidnappings for ransom, daylight armed robberies, breakdown of law and order, and unrestrained stealing of public funds.” Leadership cites the Fund for Peace’s 2013 “Failed State Index,” which ranks the country 16th out of 178 countries. Nigeria’s ranking is slightly better than Somalia, Congo, the Sudans, Chad, and Afghanistan. “But, even in these other countries, innocent people and children don’t get killed with the reckless abandon we have seen lately in the country. And school girls don’t get kidnaped in the numbers we have been witnessing in Nigeria.”

Leadership concludes, “the Jonathan regime has demonstrated a frightening incompetence in the handling of the state’s affairs. It is now beyond doubt that the regime is incapable of protecting the people.”

Leadership is a respected newspaper published in Abuja but with a national audience. This editorial is another sign of the popular Nigerian loss of confidence in the Jonathan government.

Post a Comment 4 Comments

  • Posted by Charles Emejulu

    Dear Sir. You forgot to educate your distinguish readers that the LEADERSHIP NEWS PAPER Publisher is Sam Nda-Isaiah. And that he is a chieftains of the Maine opposition political party and a top contestant for his party ticket for the presidential election.
    I am not saying all is well in Nigeria. Neither I am saying that FGN is on top of the security challenges facing Nigeria. But I know that we have competent and hard working men and women doing what is necessary to move Nigeria forward. They should be supported.
    Thank you.

  • Posted by John

    The Government has failed us. No one is safe in this country

  • Posted by George

    As the first commentor noted, and while few would dispute there are concerns about the government’s ability to manage the many challenges it faces, Leadership’s publisher has a pretty clear political agenda (one which feature’s prominently on the publication’s main webpage) which should be noted in the blog.

  • Posted by TA

    Dear Mr. Campbell,

    Do you think that the Nigerian President can solve corruption in Nigeria even if he wanted to? It seems to me that his life would be in grave danger if he attempted it. Likewise, the people in power benefit from the status quo, and the opposition would be no different.

    The problem with Nigeria, in my opinion, is its political structure which makes it difficult for the people to hold leaders accountable.

    I started a debate at to indicate my thoughts on a solution. However, my proposal is not a complete solution as there are no easy ways to actualize the proposal.

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