Nigeria

Presidential poll puts Nigeria to the test
Nigeria’s presidential election next month is the closest contest since the end of military rule in 1999 and is taking place against a worrying backdrop of civil conflict and economic trouble. Gideon Rachman is joined by Tom Burgis and William Wallis to discuss whether the country can hold together.

  • Venezuelan émigrés in Florida with fierce anti-Chavez views are aiming to steer US foreign policy on their homeland, just as exiled Cubans did
  • The postponement of Nigeria’s elections offers President Goodluck Jonathan a chance to regain the initiative in the Boko Haram insurgency, but the delay also risks fraying nerves further
  • India hopes deworming 140m schoolchildren in the world’s biggest campaign against the parasites will boost economic productivity
  • Germany and Greece are engaged in a fight to the death, with neither backing down in a cultural and economic clash of wills
  • Welcome to Crimea in winter - a lonely island, with no tourists, frightened Tatars and where Russians have taken all the jobs.

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Abubakar Shekau has been killed and resurrected so many times now he is using up his proverbial nine lives .

The leader of Nigeria’s Boko Haram extremists appeared on Thursday in a fresh video released to the French news agency AFP, declaring the border areas with Cameroon as “Muslim territory” and boasting that only Allah could take his breath away. Read more

The political leaders of all 32 nations competing in the World Cup will be praying for a good performance from their national side. With the possible exception of Barack Obama, they can confidently expect to bask in any success achieved on the playing fields of Brazil. Football glory is welcome for any country. But, right now, it feels particularly important for those countries that are currently troubled by national identity crises – in particular Belgium, Nigeria, Spain and even, France. Fortunately, all four countries have good teams that have arrived in Brazil with high hopes. Read more

  • Ahmed Rashid argues that Pakistan desperately needs a ground offensive by the army, which aims to retake the territory the state has lost to the Taliban and the elimination of the group’s leadership.
  • Despite blows to his authority, Nigeria’s President Jonathan Goodluck is still the man to beat in the general election next February.
  • A second Chinese army unit has been implicated in online spying and, according to research, used yoga brochures to infiltrate systems.
  • Bloomberg has built a prototype of its data terminal hooked up to the virtual-reality headset Oculus.

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Nigerian teachers at a rally in Lagos protesting against the abduction of 200 schoolgirls and the killing of 173 of their colleagues by the Islamist Boko Haram group. Getty

Osama Bin Laden must be chuckling from his grave on the ocean floor. In the wake of 9/11 he explicitly targeted Nigeria as a new front-line in his global jihad. When the UN Security Council on Thursday blacklisted Boko Haram alongside al-Qaeda and its other affiliates, Nigeria had formally arrived.

It is the latest in a series of international gestures intended to isolate the group, which provoked international outrage for a series of atrocities including abducting more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls and threatening to sell them into slavery. But its value is little more than symbolic.

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Onlookers at an explosion in Nairobi (Getty)

Join the dots from this week’s news stories and you get a picture of an African continent that is increasingly troubled by Islamist terrorism. On Friday, the British government started evacuating hundreds of tourists from the Kenyan coast, in response to a terrorist threat. Confirming the danger, two bombs went off in Nairobi, killing ten people. Meanwhile in west Africa, the horrifying abduction of hundreds of schoolgirls by Boko Haram remains unresolved – but has highlighted the extent to which large swathes of Africa’s most populous nation are now destabilised by extremist fighters.

One western country that is clearly concerned by a pan-African Islamist threat is France. Over the weekend, the French hosted an international conference – bringing together leaders from African nations, including Cameroon and Nigeria, as well as representatives from the US, UK and EU. Read more

  • The languishing economy in northern Nigeria has driven recruitment into the brutal insurgency campaign.
  • Martin Wolf argues that to eliminate excess capacity and raise inflation to 2 per cent, the ECB needs to do “whatever it takes” again or the crisis might yet return.
  • In March, the Fed stated that interest rates may stay abnormally low even when unemployment and inflation are back to normal, but Janet Yellen has given no detailed explanation of why. Several of the possible explanations, says the FT’s Robin Harding, are either so tenuous or so gloomy that it is easy to see why a Fed chair might be reluctant to talk about them.
  • If Ukraine loses its southeast region, it could cut off half the economy and push the debt-to-GDP ratio to a dangerously high level.
  • Author Alaa al-Aswany argues for an Egyptian society when Egyptians who enjoy belly dancing don’t frown upon the women who dance, but appreciate the art form and the value of its performers.

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♦ A potential split from Kiev is dividing the 200,000 miners around Donetsk whose livelihoods depend on Ukraine’s demand for coal.

♦ Anti-Assad rebel Abu Omar’s darkly comedic ‘Blockade Meals’ blog contains tips and recipes to help Syrians survive life under siege.

♦ Syria is the most dangerous place in the world for journalists. More than 60 have been killed there since the current conflict began and many others have been kidnapped as they become pawns in the conflict.

♦ Simon Schama argues that Scotland‘s exit from the ‘splendid mess’of Britain’s multicultural union would be a disaster.

♦ The town of Chibok, deep in the northeastern Nigeria bush and down the most Boko Haram-dense road in the country, is gripped by fear and pain after the terror group kidnapped more than 200 of its daughters. Read more

  • Pressure has grown on the Nigerian government to increase its efforts to rescue more than 200 schoolgirls abducted three weeks ago by Boko Haram militants.
  • Thailand’s prime minister has been ousted by judges in a contentious ruling that threatens to plunge southeast Asia’s paralysed economic hub into deeper turmoil.
  • Minecraft has smuggled an educational game past children and is helping to create the next Frank Gehry or Zaha Hadid, says Helen Lewis, deputy editor of the New Statesman.
  • Vladimir Putin is taking on the Russian language: David Remnick muses over how his ban on swearing will work.

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♦ Edward Luce explains why it is stupid to insult the IQ of Tea Party members.
♦ The budget fight that led to the first government shutdown in 17 years set off a public escalation of the battle for control of the Republican Party – a confrontation between Tea Party conservatives and establishment Republicans.
♦ The National Geographic reports on how the presence of Boko Haram has affected public psyche in Nigeria: “Boko Haram has become a kind of national synonym for fear, a repository for Nigerians’ worst anxieties about their society and where it’s headed.”
♦ Susan Faludi, the author of Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women, wonders which women the Lean In community is trying to reach.
Christina Lamb writes about her year with Malala Yousafzai.
♦ Dennis Rodman compares a visit to North Korea with a holiday in Ibiza. Read more

♦ Many in Japan are hoping that Shinzo Abe’s pragmatism will win out over his ideology.
♦ Rotimi Amaechi, the governor of Rivers state in Nigeria, has accused President Goodluck Jonathan of condoning “impunity and authoritarianism” in an effort to ensure re-election in 2015.
♦ A generation of Muslim Americans has come of age in the shadow of 9/11, amid a climate that ranges from low-level paranoia to verbal abuse and vandalism. In response, some embrace their faith more fervently, others live in self-imposed isolation.
♦ Western states in the US may break temperature records again this year, but what does this mean for farmers and agriculture?
♦ Israel’s government views the EU plan to label products made in settlements as symptomatic of a greater threat to the legitimacy of the Jewish state.
♦ The Israeli-Palestinian peace process is back and Foreign Policy has a handy guide to the buzzwords that are going to be flying around.
♦ A young conscientious objector has proved tricky for Israel’s army – he would serve if it wasn’t for the Israeli occupation. Read more

Manufacturing is on the rise in Nigeria, as the global recession cuts returns in developed countries. But the country faces great challenges — political discord, corruption, broken infrastructure and a high poverty rate.

Vali Nasr, a former senior adviser to Richard Holbrooke, criticises the Obama administration’s tough yet diffident and contradictory approach to the Middle East and its eventual retreat in his new book.

Foreign Policy’s flagship blog chronicles the Wikipedia war over whether military intervention in Egypt deserves to be called a ‘Coup.’

♦ The New York Times remembers the 19 Arizona firefighters who died battling a fire outside the old gold-mining village of Yarnell in poignant vignettes.

♦ The New York Times chronicles the lead up to the Egyptian coup, as President Morsi refused to deal with the Americans or with his minister of defence, General Abdul Fatah al-Sisi. As Egypt’s economy faces a tough transitional period during the post-Morsi period in the midst of political unrest, the central bank governor flew to Abu Dhabi to raise financial supportRead more

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The world is in the midst of a sustained oil boom. Yet Africa’s leading producer is haemorrhaging the proceeds. The Nigerian treasury, which should be raking in record revenues, has been squeezed at both ends of the oil trade, writes William Wallis.  Read more

Mo Ibrahim at a 2011 press conference to announce the winner of that year's "Mo Ibrahim Prize" (Ben Stanstall/AFP/Getty Images)

Mo Ibrahim at a 2011 press conference to announce the winner of that year's prize (Ben Stanstall/AFP/Getty Images)

There has been something of a hullabaloo each time the Mo Ibrahim Foundation has failed to find a worthy laureate for its $5m annual prize for excellence in African leadership.

One year it even prompted speculation that the Sudanese-born philanthropist and pioneer of African telecoms had run out of money. He had not. Rather, the criteria for the award had to be stiff if it was to have any credibility on a continent with a long history of tyranny and mismanagement. The intent was not just to encourage personal integrity and conformity to democratic principles among African heads of state but to reward transformational leadership. So, it should be no surprise that there have been some fallow years like this one.

Moreover, when it comes to leadership there is a global deficit. If a similar prize had been on offer in Europe in the same period, it would been a struggle to find an irreproachable candidate. In three out of the six years since the Mo Ibrahim prize was launched there have been winners. For the most part, African leaders are more accountable now than they were. In some cases they have been instrumental in turning their countries around. Read more

Here are the stories that were stoking our fire this morning:

Here are our tips from the world new desk today:

Nigerian unions may have agreed to suspend strike action and call off protests after the government partially caved into demands for the restoration of the longstanding fuel subsidy. But President Goodluck Jonathan is not out of the woods yet. Read more