Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan is probably wondering if his mother misnamed him. He is trying to simultaneously combat Muslim fundamentalist terror in the North on the one hand, a general strike called to protest the end of subsidies on gasoline, and official corruption throughout the country.
In a very frank address at a church service honoring Nigeria’s military dead Jonathan claimed that Boko Haram that has terrorized churches and warned Christians to leave northern Nigeria or be killed posed a more difficult challenge then Nigeria’s Civil War over 40 years ago. Then the enemy was at least visible and precautions could be taken.
Now, Boko Haram’s sympathizers were in place in the government, in the legislative branch and had even infiltrated the security apparatus. Even parents did not know whether their children belonged to the terrorist organizations.
“Some continue to dip their hands and eat with you and you won’t even know the person who will point a gun at you or plant a bomb behind your house,”
The government has relied on the military but the military has frequently played into the hands of the terrorists by burning homes and shooting residents in revenge for attacks by Boko Haram. Jonathan also conceded that the country was plagued by greed and selfishness which gave rise to corruption.
Also addressing the gathering was the head of the Nigerian Anglican church Nicholas Okoh. Okoh condemned the despicable attacks on churches as well as corruption and claimed that some politicians were playing with fire. The clergyman identified the source of Nigeria’s troubles as a lack of patriotism – and in order to instill that patriotism he called for revamping the one year of national youth service into three full years of military service.
In the meantime Catholic Church leaders joined the protesters and labor union leaders after the abolition of gasoline subsidies provoked a general strike. This resulted in the doubling of gas prices in the country where most people live on less than $1.25 a day. The government decided on this measure because the subsidized price of gasoline made it unprofitable to invest in oil refineries.
This led to a situation where Nigeria a major oil exporter was reduced to importing 70% of its refined gasoline. The government promised to invest the extra income in power plants to give more people access to electricity.
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