The presidential election in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, on March 28, pitted the incumbent Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian from the South, against Mohammadu Buhari, a Muslim from the North. Buhari is a former military ruler who assumed power in a coup in December 1983 and was ousted in 1985.
This is not the first contest between Jonathan and Buhari. Buhari’s electoral loss in April 2011 was followed by three days of Muslim rioting in 12 northern states which left 800 people dead. The March 28 election, which went the other way, didn’t see any rioting by the Christians in the south and power was passed peacefully to the new president.
For many commentators, the smooth transition of power was a cause for optimism for the future of democracy in Nigeria. It is if you believe, as do many in the West, that process equals democracy. That’s why dictators the world over hold elections that they win with 99% of the vote.
Before the election, Richard Grenell, a former spokesman for four U.S. Ambassadors to the United Nations, took to the pages of the Washington Times in an attempt “to ensure Africa’s most populous country doesn’t slip away.”
Mr. Grenell believes that Buhari wishes to impose sharia law on all of Nigeria, based on Buhari’s own words: “I will continue to show openly and inside me the total commitment to the Sharia movement that is sweeping all over Nigeria. God willing, we will not stop the agitation for the total implementation of the Sharia in the country.”
Mr. Grenell also says that Buhari has “spoken sympathetically about members of… Boko Haram, has cautioned against a rush to judgement on its members and has personally been selected by the terrorist group to lead its negotiations with the Government of Nigeria.” Mr. Grenell further points out that, under Jonathan, Nigeria’s “economy has been growing faster than South Africa’s” despite the depredations visited upon it by Boko Haram’s violence.
Pamela Geller argues that President Obama worked to “deliver Nigeria into the hands of the jihadists,” in the same way as he has throughout the Middle East, and compares it to his backing of Muslim Brotherhood terrorist Morsi in Egypt and Rouhani in Iran.
Indeed, Accuracy in Media, in its March 24 report on the matter, identified three steps the Obama administration took to thwart Goodluck Jonathan’s fight against Boko Haram:
[It] refused to sell Nigeria arms and supplies critical to the fight, and stepped in to block other Western allies from doing so.… [It] denied Nigeria intelligence on Boko Haram from drones operating in the area.… [It] cut petroleum purchases from Nigeria to zero, plunging the nation’s economy into turmoil and raising concerns about its ability to fund its battle against the terrorists.
Nigerian Ambassador to the U.S., Prof. Adebowale Adefuye told members of the Council on Foreign Relations last November that the U.S. justified its actions against Nigeria, on the ground that its defense forces “have been violating human rights of Boko Haram suspects when captured or arrested.”
The Administration and its propaganda arm make the same complaints against Egypt’s President Sisi : he needs to use a gentler form of persuasion in his attempts to control the violence of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Washington Post’s Lally Weymouth pressed him on “human rights violations” in a March 12 interview. Sisi, in a tone of mild exasperation, reminded her, “You look at Egypt with American eyes. Democracy in your country has evolved over 200 years. Just give us a chance to develop. If we rush things, countries like ours will collapse.… Do you want Egypt to become a failed state and then you wash your hands of it?”
As was the case in Israel, there were Obama operatives were in Nigeria influencing the election results. Politico reported last month, a “strategy group founded by former Obama campaign manager David Axelrod, AKPD Message and Media” worked for Buhari during the campaign. Buhari ran on a platform of “Change.” Naturally.
At some point Buhari had a “come to Jesus” moment, so to speak. He found Democracy. After the election, Buhari professed: “Boko Haram will soon know the strength of our collective will and commitment to rid this nation of terror and bring back peace…. We should spare no effort. In tackling the insurgency, we have a tough and urgent job to do.”
Sounds good, but the devil is in the details. It all depends on what the meaning of is, is. Who exactly is Boko Haram? Mr. Grenell observed that Buhari has “spoken sympathetically about [its] members.” So will we now see nice distinctions being drawn between good and bad Boko Haram? Why not? We’ve learned there is the good and the bad Taliban, the good and the bad Islamist. And will Boko Haram, over time, gain the same veneer of respectability as the Muslim Brotherhood in the eyes of the Obama administration? Will its members be incorporated into Buhari’s government?
Will the Obama Administration now change its policies toward Nigeria and assist Buhari? Will Buhari, like Morsi, try “to ram…Sharia…down the throats “ of an unwilling people? At a time when Christians are being brutally slaughtered, in Africa, and Jews targeted in Europe, is the election of an Islamist in Nigeria a cause for optimism?
And finally, will anyone remember the missing children of Nigeria? The 278 schoolgirls taken from a secondary school in Chibok? The 500 children aged 11 and younger taken from the northern town of Damasak? Who will speak up for the children?
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