Jonathan faces the north

Africa Confidential

After two months in the global spotlight, the insurgency in northern Nigeria is fast turning into a national political crisis

The deepening security crisis in northern Nigeria and along the borders with Cameroon and Niger has galvanized more attention internationally than in Abuja. This week, it was Britain’s turn to hold a security conference on northern Nigeria. It invited an impressive group of diplomats and security experts. Many also attended the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, hosted by Foreign Secretary William Hague and Angelina Jolie, a Special Envoy of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

A month ago it was France that hosted the regional summit at which President Goodluck Jonathan declared ‘total war’ on the Jama’atu Ahlus Sunnah Lidda’awati wal Jihad, widely known as Boko Haram, dubbing it the Al Qaida of West Africa. His fellow leaders, especially Cameroon’s Paul Biya, looked markedly less enthusiastic about the prospect of total war in the region.

Then in August, United States President Barack Obama will host a grand Africa summit in Washington and security will top the agenda, along with economic renewal. Jonathan has been invited to that too, despite some coded critical messages passing between Abuja and Washington. Continue reading Jonathan faces the north

U.S. Bishops Seek to Match Vatican in Shifting Tone

The New York Times


US Bishops
Catholic Bishops chatted during a coffee break at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on Thursday in New Orleans. Credit Edmund D. Fountain for The New York Times
NEW ORLEANS — They are rethinking what kinds of houses they live in, and what kinds of cars they drive. They are wondering whether, in anticipation of the 2016 presidential election, they need to rewrite their advice to parishioners to make sure that poverty, and not just abortion, is discussed as a high-priority issue. And they are trying to get better about returning phone calls, reaching out to the disenchanted and the disenfranchised, and showing up at events.

Fifteen months into the pontificate of Pope Francis, the Roman Catholic bishops of the United States find themselves unsettled in ways large and small, revisiting both how they live and what they talk about in light of the new pope’s emphasis on personal humility and economic justice.

Over the last several days as the bishops gathered here for their semiannual meeting, they grappled with the substantive and stylistic implications of a still-new papacy.

After several of their colleagues faced recent criticism for lavish houses, several bishops said in interviews that they were paying new attention to their own spending, mindful of the pope’s decision to eschew the apostolic palace for a small suite in a Vatican guesthouse, and aware that their parishioners are concerned about how the church uses its money. Continue reading U.S. Bishops Seek to Match Vatican in Shifting Tone

Search for Nigerian Girls May be Impeded by Government’s Longstanding Lack of Coherent Strategy


By Ini Ekott

Nigeria IPS 2
A meeting session of the #BringBackOurGirls daily protest campaigners at Maitama Amusement Park, Abuja, Nigeria’s capital. Credit: Ini Ekott/IPS

ABUJA, Jun 13 2014 (IPS) – The search for the Nigerian schoolgirls abducted by Islamist extremist group, Boko Haram, could be hampered by a series of policy and information flip-flops by the government, the latest one of them being a public disagreement on policy between the president and the military chief.

The extremist group abducted close to 300 school girls nearly two months ago on Apr. 14 in Chibok, northern Nigeria. The abduction triggered a global campaign and a massive social media movement under the Twitter hashtag #BringBackOurGirls. The United States, United Kingdom, France and Israel have sent experts to Nigeria to assist in rescuing the girls.
“If both sides say no force, no negotiation, that means no one is willing to do something. What we would like to see is all options are on the table- including negotiations.” — Ubong Ben, of Facts and Figures Continue reading Search for Nigerian Girls May be Impeded by Government’s Longstanding Lack of Coherent Strategy