FOR the past few years President Goodluck Jonathan has publicly shrugged off the deaths of thousands of people, mainly in the north-east of his country, portraying them as the unfortunate but unavoidable result of a fanatical insurgency for which his government cannot be blamed. But in the past few weeks the plight of 200-plus girls abducted from a school by Boko Haram, the extremist group chiefly responsible for the mayhem, has put Mr Jonathan and his government under an international spotlight, exposing them not only as incompetent but callous, too.
As outrage spread beyond Nigeria’s borders, Barack Obama and other Western leaders, hitherto watching more or less silently from afar, have felt obliged to offer help as well as sympathy. West African leaders, led by Ghana’s president, have expressed unusual solidarity. The surge of global horror mixed with curiosity and bafflement was particularly embarrassing, at a time when Mr Jonathan was about to host a glamorous gathering of leaders, including China’s prime minister, at the World Economic Forum in Abuja, his capital, where he was hoping to celebrate the recent international re-evaluation of Nigeria’s economy as by far the biggest in Africa, well ahead of South Africa’s.