THE BLOG
01/23/2015 01:18 pm ET Updated Mar 25, 2015

Islamist Murders in Paris and Nigeria

How wonderful it was that 40 world leaders turned up to be part of the crowd of mourners in Paris after 17 Frenchmen and women were killed by three radical Islamists in Paris. Many across the world sent their messages of condolence to the French people for their loss. Indeed one of these messages came from President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria. That message is important in that thousands of his own countrymen have been slaughtered by the Islamist group Boko Haram and kidnappings of girls and boys is an ongoing daily occurrence in Nigeria. For his part he has steadfastly ignored that is happening in his country. Alas, only this week Boko Haram used several young girls as suicide bombers -- killing hundreds of Nigerians.

The marching multitudes in Paris and other French cities were a blazing tribute to the 17 brutalized and murdered by the three crazed radical Islamists -- two Algerian immigrant brothers and a Senegalese immigrant. Yes, we all joined, in spirit at least, in sharing the sorrow for the loss and for the pointlessness of the 17 deaths. We acknowledged them all as fellow human beings, who deserved life and all the rights all men deserve.

The logic of an African leader appreciating the pain and agony of European souls while at the same time lacking any semblance of caring or humanity towards the citizens of his own country escapes many people's minds. What indifferent callousness occupies the souls of the Nigerian ruling class is hard to comprehend. We watched as fingers from across the world pointed at Nigeria -- at both her leaders and her Army -- after nearly 300 girls were abducted in 2014. The US Africa Command joined the search for the missing girls using drones and other forms of intelligence to do so. The US shared some of the intelligence with the Nigerian Army -- which has apparently now been infiltrated by Boko Haram.

The latest is that the US Army has withdrawn its support of the Nigerian Army -- an army that is so incompetent and so corrupt it can't "shoot straight." And of course in the mean time the world has forgotten about the 300 girls even as the numbers abducted and killed by Boko Haram continue to soar.

To many of my American colleagues, Boko Haram's exploits are a far off echo in faraway North East Nigeria. They are of very little import to most of us. We laugh at the incompetency of President Good Luck Jonathan and his corrupt Nigerian army. But we forget that ISIS and Al Qaeda in the Maghreb are looking on at this new theater's possibilities, what with its government weakened by venal corruption and a populace that is continually distracted as it seeks to survive. It is just a matter of time before the two groups join Boko Haram; Nigeria with its corruption will be an easy flower to pluck. The implications of the fall of Nigeria are quite dire to contemplate. All Americans should be very concerned because Nigeria is the largest economy in Africa, is one of the major suppliers of oil to the US, and because as Nigeria goes, so does Africa and the world.

There is no easy solution. We have watched as oil corporations (Shell and others) use corruption as a way of establishing their business hegemony in Nigeria, supporting one dictator after another, destroying the environment and consequently all semblance of good governance. It is now so rotten a system that it maybe unsalvageable. And yet, it must be forced to clean itself up if it is to survive the Boko Haram and Al Qaeda onslaught.

I have many Nigerian friends who are not just ashamed of what Nigeria has become but who see no way out. Which is truly amazing because Nigeria has the best educated Diaspora, has the most universities in Africa and has more billionaires than the rest of Africa. The US and the West must forget corporate profits, and concentrate on whether the disintegration of Nigeria under the weight of Boko Haram serves the western capitalist system.

It is heart warming to watch dark suited leaders of the world holding hands, marching down Place de la Republique in Paris to mourn 17 dead in France. This is a declaration that human beings care for other human beings. But to realize that thousands are being killed in Africa and no one takes a moment to mourn them is astonishing. That the President of Nigeria where many are dying sees the dead in France as victims worthy of his condolences means they are humans to him. The
unacknowledged dead in his own country are nameless, and probably to him non- human.

For that we mourn. We mourn for the many in dark places in Africa dying without a bell ringing for them -- to mark their passage. We weep and wonder what will it will take to stop the murder and death of so many in Nigeria and other places across the continent.