"If Maiduguri falls into the hands of Boko Haram, it would be a disaster for all of Africa", said Fr. Gideon Obasogie, head of social communications of the Catholic diocese of Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State in northeastern Nigeria. The city has come under frequent attacks by the Muslim sect, which has conducted suicide bombings of Christian churches and killed and abducted hundreds of Christians for the last several years in the petroleum-rich country. Boko Haram has been linked, variously, to the Al-Qaeda and Islamic State terror organizations.
 
"Maiduguri is the state capital and the seat of Government, with all its structures, with a high concentration of state population and the commercial nerve of the northeast", said the priest, according to the Fides news service. "If the city falls, citizens will be more facile to radicalization and the terrorists will have more conscripts. Maiduguri for Boko Haram would become a strong base and then rumble into Yobe, Bauchi, Gombe and Adamawa. Finally, if Maiduguri falls, the militants would control an airport and a military base with the 7 Division. This is really and truly dangerous for Nigeria, as it is a potential disaster for Africa as a continent", emphasizes the priest. "So far,  the militants have conquered and occupied towns and villages near Maiduguri."
 
Referring to the current situation in Borno, Father Obasogie said,  "With the recent waves of attacks, there is so much fear and tension in the air. With the February Polls drawing ever close we see all sorts of personalities with well fashioned and designed promises too good to be taken as true; trooping into Maiduguri and the northeast, not to identify with us in our plight but to beg for our votes".
 
"Citizens of Maiduguri as much as possible avoid crowded areas and the polling units would not be an exception, unless people’s security is assured and ensured. If anyone needs our votes, our safety must first be assured", concludes Fr. Obasogie
 
Nigerian army units have been criticized for retreating in the face of the enemy, while some have been accused of being in league with Boko Haram, which has vowed to impose an Islamic state in Nigeria. In January, while the world was focused on the horror of the Islamist terror in France, more than 2000 Nigerians died at the hands of Boko Haram in a single day's raid near the border shared with neighboring Chad. The United States has provided some assistance to Nigeria, in the form of training and military advisors.

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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