Nigerians face killings, hunger in Boko Haram’s ‘state’

Displaced people fleeing Boko Haram violence in the northeast region of Nigeria, collect water at a water point at Maikohi secondary school internally displaced persons (IDP) camp, in Yola, Adamawa State January 13, 2015. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

(Reuters) – Boko Haram says it is building an Islamic state that will revive the glory days of northern Nigeria’s medieval Muslim empires, but for those in its territory life is a litany of killings, kidnappings, hunger and economic collapse.

The Islamist group’s five-year-old campaign has become one of the deadliest in the world, with around 10,000 people killed last year, according to the Council on Foreign Relations. Hundreds, mostly women and children, have been kidnapped.

It remains the biggest threat to the stability of Africa’s biggest economy ahead of a vote on Feb. 14 in which President Goodluck Jonathan will seek re-election.

But while it has matched Islamic State in Syria and Iraq in its brutality — it beheads its enemies on camera — it has seriously lagged in the more mundane business of state building.

“The Islamic state is a figment of their imagination. They are just going into your house and saying they have taken over,” said Phineas Elisha, government spokesman for Adamawa state, one of three states under emergency rule to fight the insurgency.

Unlike its Middle East counterparts wooing locals with a semblance of administration, villagers trapped by Boko Haram face food shortages, slavery, killing and a lock down on economic activity, those who escaped say…

Related: Mistrust between Nigeria, Cameroon stalls fight against Boko Haram: (Reuters) – Mistrust between Nigeria and neighboring Cameroon as well as disagreements over how to deploy troops against Boko Haram have stalled efforts to set up a regional force to combat the Islamist militants.

Failure to launch the 2,800-strong mission as planned in November has left the insurgents in control of large swathes of Nigeria’s north east from where they launch attacks.

The group, which aims to carve out an Islamist emirate in northern Nigeria, carried out a scorched-earth raid this month on Baga, a town on the shores of the Lake Chad that was due to serve as the headquarters for the regional force.

Also related, Nigerian officers face court martial over Boko Haram

Nigeria is still very tribal (as is the Middle East).  Islam exacerbates tribalism because Mohammed came from that environment and conducted his affairs in a tribal manner.  

It is not that Nigerians or Iraqis cannot fight — they can, but only with their tribes (kin) — they cannot fight as Western “nation state” — the concept is weak in these areas.

If Nigerians cannot trust each other, they certainly cannot trust Cameroon.   The court martial business is scape-goating.

Nigeria is further hampered by the lack of a group like the Iraqi Kurds.  After decades of trouble with the Arabs, the Kurds have developed a somewhat more “Western” outlook, or at least a sympathy with the West and against Islamic extremists.

Enoch, a leader of traditional militia hunters helping the army to fight the Boko Haram insurgence in the northeast region of Nigeria, speaks during an interview in YolaMorris Enoch, a leader of traditional militia hunters helping the army to fight the Boko Haram insurgence in the northeast region of Nigeria, speaks during an interview in Yola, Adamawa State January 14, 2015.

Note: In this context, a militia is basically a tribal fighting unit.