Nigeria: New Leader, Same Old Problems

nigeria

Muhammadu Buhari defeated Goodluck Jonathan as the leader of Nigeria, now what? Although it has been a short time since the change of power has happened, nothing has changed for the better in Nigeria and the prospects look dim. Buhari pledged to sure up the military by getting rid of corrupt general and getting soldiers weapons to fight Boko Haram. However, it has proved difficult to weed out these generals. Also, the volume of weapons has not increased since Nigeria’s finances are nearly entirely dependent on the exporting of oil. Oil prices globally have shrunk drastically and a lot of the oil inside Nigeria is being smuggled out of the country resulting in even less revenues for the government. These problems highlight the 2 main factors that need to be addressed in order to defeat Boko Haram, Funding and Strategy.

Funding:

It is an absolute necessity that Nigerian soldiers need to act ethically (not abuse their powers on innocent civilians) and need the supplies in order to fight Boko Haram. There is a reputation within the army that for every one target, they are given only one bullet, which is ludicrous. Nigeria, for their sake in both the short and long run, needs to develop more of their economy and look for outside investors. This will help them diversify their economy off of merely oil revenues. Alternatively, they should make sure that these oil revenues are not lost to oil smugglers. Additionally, Nigeria should be given some help from the outside community in order to wage this war. Boko Haram has consistently acted barbarically on par with ISIS yet no attention is being paid to them because they are not a direct threat to the international community.

Strategy:

Boko Haram used to take over, town-by-town, in the northeast of Nigeria. However, they were starting to lose their battle with the army so they audibled to another strategy. Now Boko Haram is using guerilla tactics of attacking and then receding into the woods. They have become unpredictable and difficult to squash. Nigeria needs to change their strategy in dealing with these new tactics. This involves being prepared for a counterattack whenever Boko Haram strikes, predicting their next possible moves by looking at their incentives and previous attacks (which towns have the most people, supplies, and are largely neglected), increasing their surveillance, isolating the enemy, and cooperating with neighbors who have shared interests such as Niger, Chad, and Cameroon. These neighboring countries do not want Boko Haram in their countries terrorizing their people, so they will give a helping hand towards the fight.

It is disturbing to hear about the atrocities by ISIS on a daily basis, but it is also disturbing to read that another 50 people have been massacred by Boko Haram, yet no one in the media seems to be discussing it. When the group captured 200 schoolgirls, the United States paid attention and the “Bring Our Girls Back” campaign was launched. But what happened to that? We need to help Nigeria in this fight by providing advanced surveillance and giving them tactical help. It is the least we can do since as a nation we seem to be ignoring this African nation. Maybe it is because we don’t have oil interests in the region or an ally like Israel being threatened close by. Maybe it is because we feel they are not a threat to us because they cannot reach us. Whatever the reason, for the sake of human decency, we should at least debate some solutions and try to care.

 

 

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