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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.

 

Author

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

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