Pressure Mounts on Nigerian President

   < < Go Back
from The Wall Street Journal,

Jonathan Faces Widespread Criticism Over Handling of Schoolgirl Abductions, Militant Attacks.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan

The day after 276 Nigerian schoolgirls were kidnapped, and a car bomb killed more than 70 people in the country’s capital last month, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan was seen dancing at a political rally in the northern city of Kano.

He didn’t specifically mention the girls’ abduction in public until some two weeks later.

By then, the schoolgirls’ disappearance spawned a viral hashtag—#BringBackOurGirls—and made Mr. Jonathan a target of scorn both inside and outside his country.

The feeble response from Nigeria’s commander in chief soon turned into a full-blown security crisis for Africa’s top economy.

“He’s totally out of his depth,” said John Campbell, a former U.S. ambassador to Nigeria and now a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. “Look at how feckless he is.”

Mr. Jonathan, president since 2010, has been saying for years that his government is on the verge of defeating the Boko Haram Islamist militancy.

Now, after the schoolgirl abduction and more attacks as Mr. Jonathan prepared to host business leaders and heads of state in his capital during last week’s World Economic Forum in Abuja, insurgents once again appear to have the upper hand.

Some Nigerian officials fault the central government for not adequately supporting the fight against insurgents, saying soldiers don’t have the weapons and resources to fight Boko Haram, a point the military contests.

“The insurgents are armed with lots of rocket-propelled grenades. They have antiaircraft guns,” said Kashim Shettima, the governor of Borno state. “Boko Haram are much better armed than our military.”

Mr. Shettima spoke from the town of Gamboru, where he was meeting with families of more than 300 people killed in an attack last week. Mr. Shettima said the town had been torched—houses burned to the ground, hundreds of vehicles destroyed and a major bridge blown apart.

“The way these insurgents are coming through and burning down villages and towns, it shows what the situation is,” Mr. Shettima said. “We need to wake up from our slumber and stop playing ostrich.”

More From The Wall Street Journal (subscription required):