In the months leading up to the 2015 Nigerian presidential election, incumbent Goodluck Jonathan received generally negative media coverage. This was due in large part to what was at the time an unexplainable lack of response to the rise of Boko Haram and the kidnapping of over 250 school girls from Chibok in April of 2014.
The Chibok tragedy heightened international attention on Boko Haram that had been preceded by U.S. State Department campaign to downplay the significance and motivations of Boko Haram as a group disgruntled by a lack of government services. Boko Haram was in fact identifiable as a part of the global jihad movement with connections to al Qaeda going back to 2011.
No one could fault an analyst or observer who predicted that Goodluck Jonathan would lose this weekend’s election due to his own lack of leadership and assertiveness. There were and indeed are ostensible shortcomings. There is now, however, a critical piece of context that was missing before. The U.S. administration intentionally undermined the democratically elected president of Nigeria while David Axelrod and his political firm were being paid by the political opponent of President Goodluck Jonathan. That opponent is former dictator Muhamadou Buhari and he stands to be the next president of Nigeria.
The list of particulars with which U.S. policy was used to frustrate the Nigerian government’s battle against Boko Haram began with the State Department resistance to designate Boko Haram as a terrorist organization. The list also includes denial of intelligence in the crucial weeks following the Chibok kidnapping, ending oil purchases as Nigeria’s primary customer, and prioritizing Nigeria’s domestic social policy over national security.
Note that the reduction of oil purchases, an act of economic warfare, was hanging over President Jonathan’s head just before the Chibok kidnapping. Reeling from unexplained punishment from the U.S., Jonathan’s strained silence in his reaction seems explainable in this context. Each mechanism with which the U.S. subverted President Jonathan came with a thinly veiled pretense that will disappear for lack of necessity after a Buhari victory.
This pattern will continue. U.S. oil purchases from Nigeria will recommence, likely fulfilling a deal cut long ago between Axelrod and Buhari. Buhari will take credit for restoring the economy and decisively challenging Boko Haram, with U.S. Intelligence and military support resuming full scale. It is, after all, what Buhari’s campaign, designed by Axelrod’s firm, AKPD, was based on.
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