Horace Campbell (professor of African American studies and political science at Syracuse University) offers an analysis of the situation in Nigeria.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I’d like to ask Professor Horace Campbell of Syracuse University about the role of American policy in the region. A few years ago, we saw, to much fanfare, President Obama’s support of the overthrow of Gaddafi and the sending of military support to the Libyan rebels. What’s been the impact across northern Africa of the overthrow of Gaddafi in terms of the rise and the resurgence of fundamentalist groups?
HORACE CAMPBELL: Thank you, Juan. The statement by the secretary of state that we’re dealing with crimes against humanity behooves everyone in the world to be involved in suppressing and fighting against crimes against humanity. And what we’re describing in northern Nigeria and the scale of what has taken place in Baga clearly could not be the work of some groups of militias. So we’re dealing with many different entities here. And in the specific case of Nigeria, we’re dealing with the political struggles for control of the state, so that in the case of Nigeria, we have Boko Haram, or the elements that are called Boko Haram, that are financed from inside the top levels of the state apparatus. And the intensification of the killings and destabilization of Nigeria at the moment is directly related to the upcoming and forthcoming elections on February the 14th.
The well-known and the Nobel Peace Prize winner, Nobel Prize winner for literature, Wole Soyinka, presented to the world the fact that there was elements—there were elements of the Central Bank of Nigeria who were financing Boko Haram, and that he had the name of the elements from the Central Bank of Nigeria who were financing Boko Haram. He asked Jonathan to give the names to the world, because he got the names from a foreign embassy. Now, was that foreign embassy the United States government? What is the role of the United States government in the knowledge that they have about Boko Haram? That’s a first point I want to make.
A second point is, with John Kerry, what do they know about the role of Chad in Baga and the relationship between Chad and those who are providing missiles and resources to Boko Haram and the destabilization of Nigeria?
The last point I want to make is that when there was a vote at the United Nations about Palestine a month ago, John Kerry called the Nigerian government to change its vote about Palestine half an hour before the vote was made. He called Goodluck Jonathan. Clearly, they have information about the compromised leaders in the Nigerian state who are financing Boko Haram. Why do they not bring that information to the African Union, to the United Nations, so that there’s an exposure of all of the forces—in Chad, in France, in the Cameroon and in the Nigerian leadership—who are financing Boko Haram?
AMY GOODMAN: That’s a very interesting point you raise, the pressure that was put on Nigeria on the U.N. Security Council to vote against Palestine on the issue. Can you talk more about the U.S.-Nigeria relationship—Nigeria, the most populous African country—and how Boko Haram has gained strength there?
HORACE CAMPBELL: Nigeria is by far the most dynamic force in Africa. And what everyone fears at the moment is the mobilization of the Nigerian people, as the people mobilized in Egypt or the people mobilized in Burkina Faso, to remove corrupt elements. So, there is a merger of forces of exploitation in Nigeria. Militias are being used against the people. The humiliation, violation and exploitation of women has reached the most obscene levels. And the accumulation by the Nigerian political class—40 percent of the oil wealth from Nigeria is siphoned off by that political class. The Boko Haram struggle is a struggle about who will control the billions of dollars, 10,000 barrels of oil per day, that is siphoned out of Nigeria.
The United States government have the information about bunkering, about exportive capital, about financing Boko Haram. The United States government used that information selectively in order to get what they want from the Nigerian government. Note, 40 years ago, the president of Nigeria, Murtala Mohammed, was called by Henry Kissinger when the Nigerians supported the Angolans and the Cubans in Southern Africa. And the Nigerians were very important at that point to tell Henry Kissinger, “Go to hell.” “Murtala Mohammed, the president of Nigeria, was killed after that, because Nigeria was not going along with what the United States want. We need a movement here to expose the collusion between the United States, the oil companies and the political class, who use elements such as Nigeria and Boko Haram to destabilize Nigerian society.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And in terms of the spread of Boko Haram, is it your sense that they are gaining support in the population in the north, and there’s potential for a possible split of the country between the mostly Muslim north and the Christian south?
HORACE CAMPBELL: No, no. Nigerians are too sophisticated for that. What they fear is an uprising of Nigerian working people, men and women, young people, all over the country, from north, south, east and west. And so, there is an alliance between all of the oppressors in the region, including the United States.
What we must ask ourselves is: How is it that the former governor of Borno State becomes part of the delegation of the government of Chad, when we have this notion that Chad was going to be a mediator? And the government of Nigeria spent millions of dollars to organize bringing back the girls, only to find out that elements from within the Chadian government were supplying weapons and missiles to Boko Haram from Sudan.
So, there is a wide web that we need to penetrate and investigate that we’re not dealing simply with some armed, wild-eyed young people. There is a conspiracy against the Nigerian people so that Nigeria is not stable, peaceful, so that the people can have a good quality of life.