Foreign Policy Blogs

Nigerian Security in the Era of Cheap Oil, #Hashtags and Terror

This photo taken from video by Nigeria’s Boko Haram terrorist network, Monday, May 12, 2014, shows the alleged missing girls abducted from the northeastern town of Chibok. (AP Photo) | AP

While the world mourned the terrorist attacks in Paris this past week, a tragedy of unspeakable brutality was occurring in Nigeria. A village in Nigeria was nearly wiped out by Boko Haram — estimates are that between 150 and 2000 people were murdered. The massacre began after a child was sent in with a bomb attached to his body and detonated in order to neutralize a security checkpoint. Once the checkpoint was eliminated, the village was set upon by soldiers and destroyed. The Nigerian government set the death toll at around 150, but the lack of action by the government in challenging Boko Haram and the muted response from officials leaves the true number of those killed in question. According to Amnesty International, the number is most likely well over 150 victims.

Nigeria is one of the largest and most conflicted oil producing nations in the world. With the country divided on religious grounds, the mostly oil producing Christian areas are economically distinct as compared to many non-Christian areas of the country. Nigeria’s government is somewhat stable, but they have been criticized for not successfully challenging Boko Haram’s forces, especially in light of kidnapped girls and recent slaughters in various regions of the country. Fearing economic blowback, Nigeria’s oil dependent government has worked hard to distract and avoid the discussion of threats as they possess a limited capacity to directly oppose them.

The recent drop in oil prices may have a long term negative effect on Nigeria’s fight against terror. Nigeria has received limited assistance, and a well-meaning hashtag campaign, #bringbackourgirls, is having a limited, and mostly intangible, effect on the conflict.  Outside assistance might be required to bolster Nigerian army capabilities as actions by Nigerian forces have often lead to a stalemate or retreat against terrorists in the country. If the crisis worsens, Nigerian army capabilities will surely fall short without outside help.

Acknowledging terror threats is the first step to challenging the threat in society. While the #bringbackourgirls campaign made a not-insignificant impact on the international community, the real effect of the campaign faded without committing any real help for those kidnapped girls. Actions and campaigns must address African issues in an effective manner. Creating moral equivalencies or ignoring terror will only numb us to another massacre by Boko Haram, and could even risk a situation like in Rwanda, where the world knew of and ignored the genocide, with much of it taking place in front of UN observers.

  • Brylee Beth Walker

    I applaud you for bringing awareness to an issue
    like this. With so much of our efforts focused on ISIS and Islamic extremist,
    we do not here about these things happening in Nigeria. It is hard to hear, and
    learn of these terrible events posing threats to the African people, and it is
    even scarier that nothing is being done to help or bring awareness. It would be
    a terrible thing for it to get to the point of what happened in Rwanda, and I
    think that as a stable sovereign nation, the United States should show efforts
    and contribute to the #bringbackourgirls campaign.


  • Colette Christine Greene

    It is terrible that things like this are happening all over the world, but yet we only hear about a select few. Sharing stories like this can spread the word on how Nigeria needs our help more than ever while also solidifying the effect that the #bringbackourgirls movement was originally trying to do.
    Instead of trying to hide and avoid the conflict that is arising out of Nigeria, I believe the solution should be to raise awareness so the area can receive help and have a fighting change against people like Boko Haram. We may be different countries with different beliefs, but everyone should have the same goal to end the atrocity of taking people’s lives and using them to only help themselves (especially when it involves children).


  • Colette Christine Greene

    It is hard to admit, but it seems everything the world does is based on money and personal needs. Instead of standing up for the innocent people, we are more worried about the oil production in Nigeria, and how it only affects us personally. It is the same with Syria and the refugees. It was not only until they wanted to come to the United States that people started paying attention and having an opinion on Syria and the conflict that is taking place.
    Instead of worrying about, “How can this affect me?” we should instead worry about the people of Nigeria as human beings and how they have a right to live peacefully and without fear of violence or loss of children.

  • Rick Rein

    If the U.S. hopes to stop the spread of Boko Haram and other terrorist cells within regions of Africa, President Obama and Congress need to act sooner rather than later to help stabilize the region. Nigeria is but one front where we can do more to assist the continent. With oil prices plummeting, it will be important for the U.S. to offer continued financial assistance to the region. We have witnessed how much easier it is to radicalize a population when they feel nothing but despair and Boko Haram is well aware of this as well.

  • Rick Rein

    The U.N. and her represent nations must also step up financial aid to the region. The assistance will help to win the hearts and minds of those affected by providing for the most basic needs of the Nigerians, including health care, education, poverty reduction measures, infrastructure and other needs. Again, Boko Haram and other terrorist cells aren’t nearly as effective without a disenfranchised population.

  • zulema

    The Nigerians, Christian and Muslim very well understand the situation, they need to work together and help with all the violence that is going on. If they become one they will defeat Boko Haram, he is evil.
    Together Christian and Muslims can accomplished greatness. The US military would constitute a marked shift in Nigeria’s attitude towards the conflict. It has repeatedly insisted that it can take on the militants alone. The United States has provided surveillance and intelligence specialist, as well as aerial drones, to help in the high-profile hunt for 219 schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram last April.

  • Migue Garcia

    Nigeria is going through tough times and is desperately in need of outside help from other countries. The fact that Boko Haram’s forces are taking over such influential country and killing hundreds of innocent people and there is no one to stop him and nobody is doing anything it’s outrageous. The Nigerian government clearly lost control of the situation, and if Boko Haram gains more power, it could become a serious threat to the world, which is why I believe the world should be more inform of the situation in Nigeria. The United Nations should step up and raise awareness of the situation and put more endeavor into this issue before it gets worse.

  • Migue Garcia

    It is important for the united States to show all the support possible to Nigeria now that their situation is unstable and they are desperately of help. Nigeria is one of the most important countries in Africa because of the natural resources and it is important for the U.S. to keep that relation strong. United States is the most influential country in the world and the country with the most military power, there are several ways United States could help Nigeria. For example United States help mexico with their conflicts with the cartel because it was directly affecting the country, they provided Mexico millions of dollars, and trained their soldiers with military intelligence strategies. This conflict if it not affecting United States directly yet,but if Boko Haram gains more power sooner or later it will affect the country. the U.S. government could follow the same procedure they did with Mexico, since it has worked in Mexico it could definitely work in Nigeria.


Richard Basas
Richard Basas

Richard Basas, a Canadian Masters Level Law student educated in Spain, England, and Canada (U of London MA 2003 LL.M., 2007), has worked researching for CSIS and as a Reporter for the Latin America Advisor. He went on to study his MA in Latin American Political Economy in London with the University of London and LSE. Subsequently, Rich followed his career into Law focusing mostly on International Commerce and EU-Americas issues. He has worked for many commercial and legal organisations as well as within the Refugee Protection Community in Toronto, Canada, representing detained non-status indivduals residing in Canada. Rich will go on to study his PhD in International Law.

Areas of Focus:
Law; Economics and Commerce; Americas; Europe; Refugees; Immigration