swirling around the country than anywhere else. In fact, that a northern administration has failed so com- pletely to even begin to tackle the region’s many eco- nomic and social problems only compounds the disap- pointment felt by many of those who live there. For in a clinentelist state such as Nigeria, ties of blood and religion are supposed to matter. Yet seemingly they do not, which makes the general inability of ordinary voters to hold their political leaders to account, and if necessary change them, all the more frustrating.
And this sense of marginalization continues to be heightened by the state’s routine abuse of human rights and the violence with which it often responds to popular protests. The past 12 months have witnessed a procession of bloody riots as Nigerians, usually young men, take to the streets to make their displeasure known. That there have been so many demonstrations such as these speaks volumes about the limited op- portunities ordinary people have to make themselves heard or get involved in the political process. The ma- jority of these disturbances occurred in the north, in the cities of Jos (November 2008), Bauchi (February 2009), Zaria (June 2009), Kano (July 2009), Maidugiri (July 2009), and Bauchi again (August 2009).
On each occasion, the state’s response was fero- cious. In Jos, the local governor ordered the police and army to simply shoot suspected rioters on sight.45 Ac- cording to the most up-to-date estimates, some 700 people (most of them protestors) died during this crackdown.46 More recently, the leader of the Boko Haram group, Mohammed Yusuf, was summarily ex- ecuted by MOPOL officers for orchestrating violent demonstrations in several northern cities.47 While his death was warmly welcomed by President Yar’Adua’s administration,48 it caused consternation among hu-