Nigeria: With Abuja blast, Boko Haram creeps to center of capital

Is Nigeria bifurcating between the teeming urban corridor of Lagos-Ibadan, and the Boko Haram-infested northeast, where killings happen daily?

Olamikan Gbemiga/AP/File
A Nigerian soldier (c.) walks, at the scene of an explosion in Abuja, Nigeria, June, 25, 2014.

A version of this post originally appeared on Africa in Transition. The views expressed are the author's own. 

On June 25, there was a bomb blast at a shopping center in Wuse 2 in downtown Abuja.

According to the police, 21 persons were killed.

While no group has claimed responsibility, the Nigerian media (and everybody else) points to Boko Haram, the Islamist insurrection, as the most likely perpetrator.

There are now bombings in Abuja, the capital, every month. Previously, they have been in the outskirts of the city and at transit points.

This time, the bomb attack was in the commercial heart of the city. The shopping center is described as “luxury.” It is patronized by government officials, business people, diplomats, and other expatriates, although it is not as luxurious as Nairobi’s Westgate Mall, the scene of an attack in September 2013.

Deutsche Welle is reporting anger among citizens in Abuja at the government’s inability to provide security.

Nigeria is now highly bifurcated.

On the one hand, the Lagos-Ibadan corridor is booming, with the skyline marked by construction cranes. Conspicuous consumption is evident -- condominium prices appear to approach those of Washington, DC, (if not Manhattan). Luxury cars choke the roads in the best parts of town. Also, the Lagos state government appears to function better than any other in the federation.

Boko Haram has mounted no attacks on Lagos, and Islamist terrorism seems to be far away.

On the other hand, death and destruction are ubiquitous in the northeast where Boko Haram killings are now daily -- no longer weekly or monthly.

Abuja seems to be between the two extremes.

In the case of the June 25 Abuja bombing, a spokesman for the Department of Security Services told the media that suspects have been arrested and that there is an ongoing investigation.

But in Abuja, popular confidence in the government’s ability to provide security is eroding.

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