ABUJA, Nigeria Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has likened attacks by a radical Islamist sect in his West African nation to the ongoing civil war in Syria, an unlikely acknowledgment from the seat of power about the violent unrest gripping the country.
Jonathan’s comments Sunday are widely viewed in Nigeria as hyperbole because the estimated 45,000 people killed in the Syrian uprising is far more than those killed by Nigeria’s extremist sect. But Jonathan’s remarks offer a glimpse into the worried leader’s mind as his weak government remains unable to stop attacks by the sect known as Boko Haram.
Though government and security officials have sought to downplay the sect’s guerrilla campaign of shootings and bombings, the group is blamed for killing at least 792 people in 2012 alone, according to an Associated Press count, the worst year of violence yet.
And with Jonathan also referencing the apocalypse before parishioners at a church in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, it offers a bleak assessment of Nigeria heading into the New Year.
“We have challenges, no doubt, especially the recent terrorist attacks on all of us and the church is one of the main targets,” Jonathan said. When the preacher “was making reference to the bombings ... I was just wondering, could this be a clear way of telling us that the end times are so close?”