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Nigeria’s President under pressure as uncertainty deepens

#Nigerias #President #pressure #uncertainty #deepens

Increasing attacks by jihadists and criminal gangs, including a brazen attack near the capital, are causing Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari a headache before the end of his last six months in office.

Last month, Islamic State group ISWAP’s Nigerian affiliate called for a prison break outside just 20 kilometers (12 miles) of Abuja’s international airport, freeing hundreds of prisoners, including 64 jihadist commanders.

The capital, located in the center of the country, is far from the usual operational area of ​​the jihadists in the north-east – the last major attack in the city was in 2015.

In the same month, a military checkpoint on the outskirts of the capital was attacked and a presidential security convoy was ambushed in the northwest of the country.

At least 40 worshipers were killed at a Catholic church in southwest Owo in June and five people were killed in Kogi state in the center of the country last week when gunmen opened fire on a bus.

Idayat Hassan, head of the Think Tanks Center for Democracy and Development, said security is now at the center of public concern.

“There is mounting pressure from Nigerians from all walks of life that the insecurity plaguing the country must be addressed,” he said.

“The problem right now is that nowhere in the country is safe – and no one, regardless of class or position in life, is safe.”

– “Helpless” Buhari –

Presidential elections for a successor to Buhari are to be held in February next year. The former army general, who was first elected in 2015 and re-elected in 2019, is set to step down after two terms.

One of Buhari’s big campaign promises was to end insecurity – and the relentless violence has exposed him politically.

“Most of us supported Buhari because he is a general,” said ruling party member Chief Frank Kokori, a former union leader and human rights activist.

“We feel that he is being careless about (with) the security of the country, that’s evident, and he needs to wake up because he wasted his goodwill.”

A Northeast-based security source, who asked not to be identified, said: “Buhari is in an unenviable position.”

“Of course, as head of government, he should take responsibility for security deficiencies, but in reality he is helpless.”

Despite heavy investment in the security apparatus, the situation “continued to deteriorate,” he said.

Opposition MPs threw down the gauntlet last month, threatening to charge Buhari if he failed to stem the violence.

However, given the ruling party’s parliamentary majority, the announcement is widely seen as an empty threat.

Udo Jude Ilo, an analyst and consultant at Thoughts and Mace Advisory, said the government had failed on the security issue.

He pointed to the ambush of a recently inaugurated high-speed passenger train between Abuja and the northern city of Kaduna in March.

Eight people were killed, 26 injured and an unknown number taken hostage.

“Nobody was fired,” Ilo said. “The duty chiefs are still there. It’s incredible.”

– ‘Burning’ Mixture –

In the face of a complex security crisis, the 79-year-old president appeared distant, multiplying trips abroad and communicating as much on the birthdays of his cabinet members as on the attacks themselves.

Meanwhile, criminal gangs known as “bandits” continue to wreak havoc across the Northwest and Center, raiding villages and kidnapping residents every week.

In the northeast, a 13-year-old jihadist insurgency that has already claimed more than 40,000 lives and displaced at least two million people is unabated. The militants are even expanding south.

Analysts have warned of links between bandits and jihadists – an alliance that could create even more problems for the government and security agencies.

Nigeria is also facing a bleak economic outlook as inflation surges due to the Covid pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Since Buhari came to power in 2015, “there has not been a coherent policy to address not just the insecurity but also the drivers of insecurity,” Ilo said.

There is a “burning interplay of factors: the economy is doing poorly, the country does not have enough resources to pay its debts, inflation has been growing for months”.

A lack of jobs also creates fertile ground for “radicalization,” he warned. “It’s a scary combination.”

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#Nigerias #President #pressure #uncertainty #deepens

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