Michael Swartz / Dec. 4, 2020

The Plight of Nigeria

As the turmoil within the African nation grows worse, the stakes for our nation become more serious.

It often seems that the trouble popping up in far-off places eventually comes home to roost. Few Americans devote much thought to Nigeria — aside from an occasional joke about its all-too-frequent email scams — but after a kidnapping that involved a rescue from SEAL Team 6, that African nation is attracting a little bit of our international spotlight.

While that abduction involved an American living in the next-door nation of Niger who was then brought across the border, the concern about his safety arose because of the increasing frequency of kidnappers selling their captives. As The Military Times reports, “Concern grew quickly after the kidnapping that an opportunity to rescue [hostage Philip Nathan] Walton could become much more dangerous if he was taken by or sold to a group of Islamist militants aligned with either al-Qaida or ISIS and American special operations commanders felt they needed to act swiftly before that could occur, said one counterterrorism official briefed on the hostage recovery operations.”

Walton was one of the lucky ones. As our Louis DeBroux pointed out back in June, more than 50,000 Africans have been murdered in Nigeria over the last decade. Most of these victims were Christians who died at the hands of Islamic-associated groups, Boko Haram being the most infamous. (DeBroux also notes the still-unsolved 2014 kidnapping of 276 schoolgirls by the group that the Obama administration addressed with a social media hashtag.) Last week, that same group was blamed for a one-day massacre of 110 farmers around the city of Mauduguri in northeast Nigeria, the area where Boko Haram is most prevalent.

Even more chilling was the kidnapping and murder of Michael Nnadi, an 18-year-old seminary student who was abducted with three other students last January. The reason why Michael was executed but not one of the other three? “He did not allow me any peace,” said his Muslim captor. “He just kept preaching to me his gospel. … I did not like the confidence he displayed [in his faith], and I decided to send him to an early grave.” In other words, he was killed for being a devout Christian.

Unfortunately, the prevailing attitude in Nigeria seems to be either a shrug of the shoulders or hollow lip service. “Some in the government of Nigeria, which notoriously lacks the rule of law, have been complicit in the attacks,” observes The Heritage Foundation’s Patrick Tyrrell. “Data on cellphones inadvertently left behind by the killers identified owners of the phones as government insiders. Police are also complicit, according to reports. Some police stations haven’t responded to brutal anti-Christian violence even when loud gunfire and screams are clearly audible from less than a mile away.”

The fact that our government felt compelled to call in SEAL Team 6 seems to be a vote of no confidence in the Nigerian government.

It’s no secret that we’ve been doing battle in some form with radical Islam for most of the last 40 years, ever since the Iranian Revolution and the accompanying hostage crisis of the Carter administration. But while we’ve focused on the hot spots of Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, and Afghanistan — much of which was derided as “blood for oil” by the Left — the age-old battle between Christians and Muslims occurs in many other places as well. Nigeria’s situation, where Christians tend to dominate in the southern half of the nation while Muslims prevail in the north, has put the lie to the Left’s phony “coexist” mantra. Nigeria is becoming a war zone, and the more well-armed Islamists are the aggressors.

Despite its successes in other areas of diplomacy, the Trump administration made little progress in dealing with the issues in Nigeria. Unfortunately, the Obama-era retreads who are poised to populate a Biden administration have an even worse track record of success. Thus, it’s not out of the question that Nigeria’s problems could become ours before too long.

At Nnadi’s funeral, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah bemoaned the fate of his brethren: “Our nation is like a ship stranded on the high seas, rudderless and with broken navigational aids. … Nigeria is on the crossroads, and its future stands precariously in a balance.”

Nigeria’s plight serves as a reminder that the Long War we’ve been fighting exists on many fronts, and at a moment’s notice we may become involved once again.

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