The federal government is being pressured to do more about the tribal feuding that is getting worse in central and northern Nigeria. During 2017 Boko Haram activity declined in most of the north to the point where the tribal (mainly Fulani against everyone) violence was more common. While Boko Haram was primarily an Islamic terrorist operation the Fulani are of a largely Moslem tribal organization seeking to obtain more land and water for their animals. This is often at the expense of Christian farmers and a growing number of Fulani, who are Moslem, have turned their land grab into another way of “defending Islam.” But the Fulani also battle fellow Moslems, usually other tribes that depend on herding more than farming. The Fulani have always been more aggressive but are not the only culprits, only the most common and the ones more likely to publicize their exploits.
In the far south (Niger River Delta) there is another form of widespread tribal crime; oil theft and refining in the delta areas where most of the national oil production takes place. The government has managed to curb much of this illegal activity by more aggressively going after the oil theft and refining (in remote camps where portable refineries are built) gangs while at the same time carrying out some real economic development programs, meaning ones that are not crippled by the massive corruption down there. The current reformist president has managed to do that but the corruption is always there waiting to make a comeback. No economic or social problem can be addressed in the long term unless something is done about the corruption. The population in the south is nearly all Christian and even the Moslem minority is there mainly for economic and educational opportunities not to wage religious war. But even in the north where it is largely Moslem politicians and businesses using corruption to get rich and cripple the economy, corruption is a major complaint.
Nigeria is officially out of its short-lived recession. GDP growth in 2017 reached nearly two percent during the last quarter which was twice what it was during the first three months of 2017. Foreign investment is way up as is economic activity in general. The trade balance (value of exports versus imports) turned positive again in 2017. GDP had declined 1.5 percent in 2016 but was expected to turn around in 2017, just not as robustly as it did. .
Before 2015 the decline in oil prices, persistent corruption and inept government has triggered a nationwide economic crises and recession. The worst part of it was the growing inflation that was largely the result of sharply rising food prices. This hits the majority of Nigerians and the government was accused of trying to downplay the problem. The Islamic terrorist violence in the northeast has had little to do with the fact that nationwide inflation was high and rising. The high food costs were made worse because the unemployment rate was ten percent and up. More telling was that the underemployment rate was two or three times the unemployment rate. Thus just having a job means little if it does not pay enough keep you alive, especially with rising food prices. Noting this, and other indicators, foreign experts like the IMF and World Bank revised their predictions for Nigerian economic performance downward. This was bad news because the economy apparently shrank 1.5 percent in 2016. A year ago the IMF considered it likely Nigerian GDP would grow .8 percent (if at all) in 2017 rather than one percent. But rather than getting worse enough Nigerians set to solving problems rather than creating new ones and the economy recovered more quickly. The problem is keeping a trend like this going and growing. In the past corruption usually replaced cooperation and the economy stagnated.
Nigeria has failed in its efforts to clean up its own massive internal corruption. Despite positive press releases from the government, outside observers cannot see any real progress. In 2017 Nigeria ranked 148 out of 180 nations in a worldwide survey of corruption compared to 136 out of 176 countries for 2016. Progress, or lack thereof, can be seen in the annual Transparency International Corruption Perception Index where countries are measured on a 1 (most corrupt) to 100 (not corrupt) scale. The most corrupt nations (usually Syria/14, South Sudan/12 and Somalia/9) have a rating of under 15 while of the least corrupt (New Zealand and Denmark) are over 85. The current Nigeria score is 27 (down from 28 in 2016) compared to 17 (14) for Libya, 31 (32) for Mali, 40 (37) for Morocco, 42 (41) for Tunisia, 20 (20) for Chad, 33 (35) for Niger, 71 (66) for the UAE (United Arab Emirates), 62 (64) for Israel, 61 (60) for Botswana, 75 (74) for the United States, 33 (34) for Algeria, 25 (26) for Cameroon, 39 (36) for Benin, 40 (43) for Ghana, 43 (45) for South Africa, 21 (21) for Congo, 45 (45) for Senegal, 40 (40) for India, 73 (72) for Japan, 37 (37) for Indonesia, 54 (53) for South Korea, 18 (17) for Iraq, 40 (41) for Turkey, 49 (46) for Saudi Arabia, 28 (28) for Lebanon, 30 (29) for Iran, 15 (15) for Afghanistan, 32 (32) for Pakistan, 29 (29) for Russia and 41 (40) for China. A lower corruption score is common with nations in economic trouble and problems dealing with Islamic terrorism and crime in general. Nigeria’s corruption score has fluctuated a bit but not changed much since 2012, when it was 27.
March 4, 2018: In central Nigeria (Benue State) Fulani herders attacked a Christian farming village leaving five dead.
March 3, 2018: In the north a major operation to clear remaining Boko Haram out of the Sambisa forest has been going on for two weeks. Large quantities of weapons, ammo and other equipment have seized along with many vehicles. Most of the casualties suffered by the troops were from roadside bombs and landmines. Most of the Boko Haram in these camps flee because of the explosive traps and landmines around the camps as well as lookouts. But some Boko Haram are captured and in this operation one known leader was taken. Senior leader Abubakar Shekau released a video earlier this year in which he boasted of evading capture in one of these operations and insisting he would keep fighting. But he also mentioned that he was tired and wanted to die in combat. That is as much of an admission of defeat you are ever going to get from Islamic terror group leaders. Yet the Shekau faction is still active and some of his men attack and loot villages outside the forest to obtain supplies. Meanwhile the Sambisa forest continues to be monitored even if it cannot be constantly controlled. This 60,000 square kilometers of hilly, sparsely populated woodland straddles the borders of Borno, Yobe and Adamwa states and until 2016 was largely inaccessible to the security forces and served as a base area for Boko Haram. But that safety was only temporary and by late 2016 it was clear to everyone that the Sambisa was no longer safe and many Boko Haram began to leave. During 2017, as Boko Haram suffered many defeats in Borno State and other areas the survivors returned to Sambisa and established themselves in a few large base areas. The Nigerian Air Force used UAVs and manned aircraft to track down the camps and now they were being attacked. Boko Haram adapted by building camps that were more difficult to spot from the air. Currently operations in the Sambisa forest are being carried out as the same similar sweeps are underway near Lake Chad. Together these two operations have killed over 300 Boko Haram since mid January and cost the Islamic terrorists a large quantity of equipment. Over 1,500 Boko Haram were captured or surrendered but over a thousand Boko Haram are known to have fled the sweeps and raids and are still out there. Several of those captured in the Sambisa forest recently report that their supreme leader Abubakar Shekau is rumored to have moved to Cameroon.
March 2, 2018: In the north (Yobe state) a female Boko Haram suicide bomber attacked but only killed herself and wounded three bystanders.
March 1, 2018: In the northeast (Borno state) Boko Haram attacked the Rann refugee camp near the Cameroon border, killing four soldiers, four police and three aid workers. A female nurse was kidnapped. Foreign medical specialists decided to withdraw from the Rann camp because of this attack and previous ones. This came as a major loss to this camp because the foreign medical personnel were the closest medical care for over 40,000 people.
Elsewhere in the north (Adamawa state) Boko Haram raiders lost one of their number while kidnapping three people.
In the southeast (Taraba State) clashes between farmers and herders (who are often Fulani) have left over 15 dead. Tribal violence in this area has been a problem for generations because Moslem and Christian tribes do not get along. The violence has gotten worse lately as the Fulani became more aggressive. .
February 28, 2018: In the northeast (Borno state) Boko Haram and soldiers clashed leaving five Islamic terrorists and two soldiers dead. Elsewhere in the northeast (Kaduna state) violence between Moslems and Christians over the last few days left twelve dead, over a thousand buildings burned down and much other property damage. This was mostly over Moslem men marrying Christian women.
February 27, 2018: In the northeast (Adamawa state) Fulani herders killed twenty farmers and after troops arrived ten of the attackers were killed.
February 26, 2018: In the northeast (Borno state) Nigerian and Cameroonian troops cornered a large group of Boko Haram and killed 35 of them. Two Nigerian soldiers also died. This was part of a two day operation near Lake Chad that later killed two more Boko Haram and freed over 1,100 civilians being held captive by the Islamic terrorists.
Elsewhere in Borno a Boko Haram ambush killed two soldiers and another six are missing and possibly captured.
February 25, 2018: In the northeast (Borno state) a soldier died when a Boko Haram bomb went off.
February 23, 2018: In the northeast (Borno state) Boko Haram raided a Christian village across the border in Cameroon leaving one villager dead and many buildings destroyed as the raiders looted the placed and fled. This is the fourth such raid on the border this year. The raiders are believed to be hiding out in Nigeria. Even through Cameroon and Nigeria have agreements about joint operations along and across the border, there are still enough Boko Haram still active in Borno state to keep this kind of violence going.
February 19, 2018: In the north (Yobe state) Boko Haram raided the Girls Science and Technical College in rural Dapchi and kidnapped 105 female students and drove them away using stolen trucks. The success of the attack was blamed on the fact that the army had withdrawn troops a week earlier, eliminating many checkpoints and small garrisons in towns like Dapchi.
February 15, 2018: In the northwest (Zamfara state) Fulani tribesmen clashed with villagers in a battle that apparently left over thirty dead.
February 14, 2018: In the northeast (Borno state) three female suicide bombers attacked a market outside the state capital, leaving 18 dead and at least 22 wounded.