Nigeria attacks: What Boko Haram assault means

A man inspects the burnt-out wreckage of motorcycles destroyed by multiple explosions and armed assailants in the Marhaba area of the northern Nigerian city of Kano, on January 21, 2012

Related Stories

Some thoughts on the implications of the devastating Kano bombings:

- Boko Haram has shown, once again, that it keeps its promises. It warned several months ago that it would react violently if its jailed members were not released. "These are people who live up to their word," Nigerian human rights activist Shehu Sani told me.

- The scale and coordination of the attacks reveal an organisation growing in confidence and ambition, and seemingly committed to a long-term insurgency.

- The Nigerian authorities - routinely accused of mishandling and fuelling the insurgency through the heavy-handed actions of security forces - have reportedly allocated 25% of this year's national budget to defence. Many here fear that a strategy of confrontation, rather than dialogue, will condemn the region to long-term instability.

- Claims that Boko Haram have received training from Somalia's Al Shabaab have been given added strength by the sophisticated nature of the operation.

- Boko Haram may be a murky organisation with a range of targets and agendas - it has attacked Christians and the United Nations in recent months - but its main focus remains "the establishment" and the police in particular, which it blames for the 2009 killing, while in custody, of its former leader.

- There is a widespread belief that sympathetic elements in the security forces are, at the very least, cooperating with Boko Haram. It remains difficult to know how true that is, and how much is paranoia/propaganda.

- It's hard to gauge the level of public support the group enjoys. Millions in the north may share its goal of an Islamic state, but precious few have endorsed its violent tactics and many moderate Muslims have been targeted by it.

- Prominent Muslim groups and local politicians have publicly condemned the attacks. However, many commentators believe those same people are content to sit on the side-lines, knowing that the violence puts extra pressure on a central government widely accused of favouring the south of the country over the predominantly Muslim north.

- Nigeria seems unlikely to become an Islamic state. Warnings of disintegration also seem exaggerated. But Boko Haram has evolved into a serious security threat far more quickly than many had anticipated. Still, some analysts still feel President Jonathan may be misreading or exaggerating the group's strength for his own political/tribal purposes.

- All this has badly shaken Nigeria. But this is still a dynamic, developing democracy with a booming economy and plenty of reasons for optimism

Andrew Harding Article written by Andrew Harding Andrew Harding Africa correspondent

Ebola survivor 'hiding' from community

A Liberian woman tells the BBC's Andrew Harding how her husband left her even though she survived Ebola.

Read full article

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    How do BK get their weaponry ? It clearly comes over the unsupervised
    Sahel borders. A wall or fence or minefield needs to be constructed over the whole of the Northern border. When BK run out of munitions what will they do? Meanwhile they need to be hunted down and neutralised. A garrison is needed. .

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    Most comentators seem to get some facts wrong. there are more Christians in Nigeria than Muslims. Northern muslim leaders always try to block this fact.. So, i wonder how this muslim state dream can work here. the geographycal spread of the tribes and religions makes desintegration difficult along any line hard. millons of northerners are christians, likewise, millions of southerners are muslims.

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    leo_udie58, British and American people HATE the violence in Nigeria. Nigerians need to manage their immense wealth so that it is evenly distributed. And if Nigerians are fooling themselves, who should redress the situation? Nigerians - not Brits or Americans!

    Bring in an effective education system, train the teachers, open minds - so that the people have a real voice and resentment is quashed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    The huge plains of Northern Nigeria could be the bread basket of Africa if properly managed. Not since Audu Bako was governor of Kano State and Aminu Kano was changing the political landscape has the North had any wise and progressive leaders. Education and the eradication of poverty is the key to saving the north

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.



Comments 5 of 33


Features & Analysis

  • Signposts showing the US and UK flagsAn ocean apart

    How British misunderstanding of the US is growing

  • Before and after shotsPerfect body

    Just how reliable are 'before and after' photos?

  • Hillary Clinton frowns.Something to hide?

    Hillary's private emails threaten her air of inevitability

  • Mukesh SinghNo remorse

    Delhi bus rapist says victim shouldn't have fought back

Elsewhere on the BBC


  • Former al-Qaeda double agent Aimen DeanHARDtalk Watch

    Islamic State is about revenge says former al-Qaeda member turned spy Aimen Dean

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.