Insight: Rage over bad governance fuels Nigeria Islamists

Tue Feb 5, 2013 2:49am EST
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By Tim Cocks

KANO, Nigeria (Reuters) - Few in Nigeria's second city of Kano would admit to supporting the Islamist insurgents waging a bloody northern rebellion against the central government in Abuja.

But when Boko Haram talks of sweeping away the corrupt old order and creating an Islamic state to rule Nigeria fairly, the idea finds resonance with millions of desperate, struggling Nigerians in the north who feel the state has failed them.

"If the government treated people justly, there would none of these problems," said Khalid Adamu, 45, piling apples into pyramids of red and green at his stall by a traffic-choked Kano street.

Glancing over his shoulder, he hastily added he did not support the Islamists' campaign of violence, which rights groups say has killed more than 3,000 people in the past three years.

Boko Haram militants have carried out multiple bombings and shootings since the secretive sect launched an uprising in 2009, including a coordinated strike on Kano last year that left 186 people dead -- still its deadliest attack to date in a campaign that threatens the stability of Africa's largest oil producer.

"The government is supposed to look after health, education, water, but we see them doing nothing except getting rich, so why are they surprised there is a rebellion?" Adamu said.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan last week highlighted links between Boko Haram and al Qaeda's north African wing, whom French forces chased out of cities in Mali, as evidence Nigeria is one of many countries facing a global jihadist threat.

He gave it as a reason for Nigeria's large contribution to the West African peacekeeping force that is now gearing up to take over the battle against Saharan Islamists from the French.   Continued...