As the world responds to terrorism in its many forms, not enough is being done about the havoc being wrought in Nigeria by the militant Islamist group Boko Haram.
It is a story that is getting scant attention in the Western world against the backdrop of the recent terrorist killings in Paris and the ongoing predations of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
More attention to the problem of Boko Haram is warranted. The solution is more elusive.
Nigeria is the most populous nation in Africa, and has abundant oil reserves. It should be a leader on the continent. Instead, it is divided along religious, ethnic and economic lines that threaten to tear it apart.
Boko Haram has killed many thousands of people in the past half-dozen years as it tries to create an Islamic caliphate in northern Nigeria.
The world watched in shocked horror last spring when Boko Haram kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls, who remain missing.
At around the time of the Paris killings, Boko Haram attacked the government-controlled town of Baga. The death toll is in dispute, but is at least in the hundreds. And the group’s scorched-earth tactics have continued.
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has been under withering criticism, well-deserved, for his failure to even attempt to create a united front against Boko Haram.
Nigeria’s presidential election will be held in a few weeks, but rather than promising to work together against the common enemy, the candidates rip into each other and fan divisions in the nation.
John Campbell, Ralph Bunche senior fellow for Africa policy studies, whose work appears on the website of the Council on Foreign Relations, suggests that the Nigerian and U.S. governments work together to “redress the alienation of Nigeria’s Muslims.”
That can’t happen until the government commits to a full-scale effort to contain Boko Haram. The United States and Nigeria’s African neighbors can use the promise of increased aid to pressure the next Nigerian president to improve security, but this is a fight that must begin with Nigerians.
While there are no easy answers, no solution is possible until the world pays more attention to the terror being inflicted by Boko Haram.