Last night’s speech on Nigeria by European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis plastically demonstrates the inability of EU institutions to act. Dombrovskis cited everything to “prove” that the causes of the genocide of Nigerian Christians “are not rooted in religion”: he claims the attacks aim to divide society, that the causes are the widespread network of criminals, endemic poverty, poor access to public services, competition for resources, insufficient education, unemployment, and so on. Scarcity of access to public services? Just one statement like that is enough to help you immediately grasp the level of the discussion.
But what is happening in Nigeria?
Nigeria is a true giant with feet of clay, despite being Africa’s leading economic power. Millions of people’s lives are at daily risk from hunger, there is a huge problem of widespread corruption, and there are Islamic terrorist groups plaguing the entire territory.
In fact, the country is divided into a Muslim north and a Christian south-center. Rich in raw materials, Nigeria is a more than palatable morsel for those hungry for power and riches: and raw material riches are concentrated mainly in the south, which happens to be inhabited by Christians. Beyond political divisions between parties, the real tussle in the country is a religious one, with Muslims on one side and Christians on the other.
Let us go back now to the 2014–2015 period. At the time, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan was president of Nigeria. His term was coming to an end. Jonathan was the second Christian president in Nigeria’s history, and his political commitment was to try to solve the country’s endemic problems, primarily corruption and illiteracy, especially in the northern territories.
In doing so, Jonathan gained the favor of a huge portion of Nigerians, and so his enemies took the field, ready to resort to anything. Perhaps not coincidentally, the last period of Jonathan’s presidency in early 2015 coincided with the intensification of attacks against Christians by the Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram.
In 2015 alone there were 7,100 Christians killed worldwide, including 4,028 in Nigeria alone, as Open Doors documents. The tactic employed is clear and effective: to create terror in order to induce the population to choose a new president, no longer a Christian one, but Muslim. And this is exactly what happened. In office since May 29, 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari, a Muslim and ethnic Fulani, is now in his second term. The next elections will be held in 2023, and given the premises, we can expect a very tough time for Nigerian Christians, marked by the escalation of violence.
But, once again, the Islamist terrorism of Boko Haram, of the local ISIS cells and today of the Fulani is merely an instrument of a higher political will, a power that wants to assert its ideological empire at all costs, and take over the territories of the south, which are rich in raw materials and inhabited by the obstacle called Christians.
As of today, in fact, despite what the European Commission thinks, the main problem is no longer Boko Haram (which, moreover, is not just any small group of criminals), but the unstoppable and bloody advance of precisely the Fulani herdsmen.
The Fulani are not originally from Nigeria. They come from the Middle East and are not just breeders. They are Islamic extremists who have long sought to expand their hegemony at the expense of everyone else.
After spreading to Senegal, Gambia, Mali, Sudan, Cameroon, Niger, and Congo, they have also arrived in Nigeria, mainly occupying the northern territories. And these nomadic herdsmen have very specific goals: the Islamization and Fulanization of all Nigeria.
And so it bears repeating ad nauseam: the Nigerian problem cannot be traced to climatic variations that thin out pastures, much less to poor access to public services. The Nigerian problem is the all-out war on Christians the aim of which is to take over their lands where, even with all the country’s underlying problems, a different way of life is being staged. A solution? Direct action: to immediately stop economic support to the Nigerian government and suspend cooperation. Then you will see the Nigerian government make a serious commitment to peace. This is where the European Union can intervene in a factual and concrete way.