Nigerian strives to exert control as Islamists kill 200

ONE month after taking office, Nigeria’s new president has not yet named a cabinet to help him cope with the West African ­nation’s firestorm of troubles.

The aftermath of the church bombing yesterday in Potiskum which left at least five people dead. Picture: AP

Its petroleum-driven economy is in crisis with a months-long fuel shortage, the naira currency is falling, tens of thousands of civil servants have been unpaid for months and north-east Nigeria continues to be plagued by violence from Islamist extremists.

In the latest blow to Africa’s largest economy, last month a government body revealed that more than $20 billion (£13bn) in oil revenue is missing and the excess crude account – the government’s rainy day savings fund, equivalent to Norway’s sovereign wealth fund – has shrunk from $4.1bn in November to $2bn now.

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President Muhammadu Buhari promptly fired the board of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corp and has promised to recover stolen state funds.

Mr Buhari’s supporters say his reputation as an anti-corruption crusader is helping spur a needed culture change in Nigeria.

He earned his corruption-fighting reputation as Nigeria’s military dictator in the 1980s when he arrested many corrupt politicians and had them tried at military tribunals that ­sentenced some to life imprisonment.

Mr Buhari was elected in March on promises to curb endemic corruption, halt a five-year-old Islamist uprising in the north-east and rescue an economy battered by graft and a halving of the price for oil, the commodity that provides about 80 per cent of state revenue.

But the coalition of parties that helped him become the first person to beat a sitting president in Nigeria – Goodluck Jonathan – already seems to be falling apart. Despite the fact that the coalition holds the largest number of seats in both houses of parliament, rogue members ignored the party list for chosen legislative leaders. They even elected a member of the party of the former president, Mr Jonathan, as speaker.

Meanwhile, a woman suicide attacker detonated a bomb amid a crowded evangelical Christian church service in north-east Nigeria yesterday and killed at least five people, witnesses said.

It is the latest in a series of attacks blamed on the Islamist Boko Haram that has killed some 200 people in the past week.

Nearly 100 men and boys praying in a mosque were gunned down on Wednesday.

In yesterday’s attack the Redeemed Christian Church of God in Potiskum was targeted. Potiskum is the largest city in north-eastern Yobe state.