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Author Topic: Nigeria  (Read 1498 times)
Power User
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« on: March 06, 2016, 01:01:36 AM »

Recently Nigeria has crossed my radar screen, so I begin this thread.  If you run across items of interest, please post them.
Power User
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« Reply #1 on: March 06, 2016, 08:21:30 AM »

I wasn't going to say anything, but I have recently been contacted by a Nigerian prince with a very promising financial proposal.
Power User
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« Reply #2 on: March 06, 2016, 09:36:12 AM »

Power User
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« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2016, 08:35:25 PM »!/
Power User
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« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2016, 08:46:48 PM »

second post



Nigeria is debating its budget for 2016 — currently being presented at 6.08 trillion naira ($30.5 billion). It is also pursuing several options to cover its estimated 2.22 trillion naira budget deficit as Abuja contends with low oil prices. Abuja is also believed to be looking to the World Bank and the African Development Bank for loans of around $3.5 billion. Although Nigeria has been quick to say that it is not pursuing an "emergency" loan, Abuja nonetheless will have a difficult financial year in 2016.

Oil prices are unlikely to recover and the Central Bank of Nigeria's foreign reserves have fallen by 28 percent since Oct. 1, 2014, sinking to its current decades-low level of $28 billion. Without a near-term rise in oil prices, many of Nigeria's policies are simply unsustainable. Until prices inch back up, which could happen in 2017, Abuja will be forced to make painful financial adjustments, some of which are already in the works — though at a very slow pace to avoid rattling public confidence.

When President Muhammadu Buhari took office in May 2015, he inherited a government whose sole source of hard currency came from oil. Prior to the collapse in oil prices, oil accounted for 70 percent of the government's revenue and 95 percent of the its export revenue. One of his core objectives was to limit the impact of low oil prices on the public. His support base is largely the northern half of the country — a region that has historically been poorer than southern Nigeria, where the country's oil wealth in the Niger Delta and the strong economic center of Lagos are located.
Nigeria's Geographic Challenge

In doing so, the Buhari administration has continued several of its predecessor's policies. First, Buhari has continued to subsidize the price of fuel in the country (currently $1.67 per gallon). With Nigeria importing gasoline and diesel at international prices and selling it at a loss at home, subsidies historically have cost Abuja an estimated $5 billion. But global oil prices have fallen so far that Nigeria no longer needs a large subsidy to keep its domestic prices low.

Second, Buhari has continued the foreign exchange regime that effectively pegs the naira to the dollar at a rate of 197 to one. Former President Goodluck Jonathan introduced the fixed exchange prior to elections after the naira plunged from 165 to the dollar in September 2014 to 204 in the middle of February 2015. The policy aimed to ensure that the price of imports would not go up. But despite growing depreciating forces on the naira, Buhari has fervently defended the currency and has said devaluation is not likely.

Finally, the president pushed for a strong budget for 2016. Despite falling oil prices, Nigeria's 2016 budget is 21.6 percent larger than it was in 2015, largely because of capital expenditures, its share rising from 11 percent in 2015 to 30 percent in 2016. Most of this budget will go into sectors such as public works, housing, power sector development and other related areas. The stimulus, which likely depends on Buhari achieving external budget support through international loans, would likely bring jobs and tangible benefits to local governments.

All of this is Buhari's attempt to cater to the average Nigerian. Continued job growth, low fuel prices and a strong naira limiting increases in prices on imports will be the basis of success for the economic plan. Moreover, Nigeria's economy is still likely to grow somewhere around 3 percent in 2016, despite low prices for oil, which only represents about one-tenth of Nigeria's overall gross domestic product.

However, maintaining the currency peg at its current levels cannot be sustained in the long run. The unofficial market — or black market — rate for the naira has reached 300 per dollar, forcing the central bank to intervene to keep the currency fixed at its desired levels. Speculation on the peg has been a problem as well. In August, Abuja banned banks from taking foreign currency cash deposits. Banks had been issuing dollars at the parallel rate, depreciating the naira and prompting Abuja to take greater control over foreign currency available domestically, contributing to a steady decline in Nigeria's foreign exchange reserves as it defended the naira's peg.

In addition, the budget deficit was calculated with an oil price of $38 per barrel for the year. Already, we have seen prices at times fall below $30 and several attacks have caused pipeline outages in the Niger Delta region. Of course, Abuja's projected revenue goals are still attainable, but as prices remain below $38, it will only strain Nigeria's finances as it goes to lending markets — whether they are domestic or foreign — to balance the rest of the budget. Finally, Abuja's stimulus package is likely to increase imports of equipment and other materials to help physically build the infrastructure, sending even more foreign currency out of the country to finance those imports.

Nigeria will ultimately need to devalue its currency and possibly reduce fuel subsidies as prices rise, but it will likely do so slowly. Moreover, Nigeria is unlikely to devalue the naira by a substantial amount. Still, the Buhari administration will continue to seek solutions. On Jan. 11 the central bank removed its ban on foreign currency deposits in banks, making it easier to access foreign currency at parallel rates. It will ease the burden on the central bank's foreign exchange reserves while slightly diminishing the relevancy of the official rate, just one difficult decision the government has to make, though there are many more to come.
Nigerian militants are trying, but failing, to resurrect a campaign against oil interests as severe as the one they waged in the late 2000s. On Jan. 15, they attacked two crude oil pipelines in the Warri area of Delta state, shutting down the recently restarted Warri and Kaduna refineries, which produce an estimated at 25,000 barrels per day. The attacks were likely a response to an arrest warrant for alleged corruption against the former senior commander of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) militant group, Government Ekpemupolo — more commonly known by the name Tompolo. The conduct by Tompolo's loyalists is reminiscent of past MEND behavior, which disrupted hundreds of thousands of barrels per day of crude oil output and resulted in frequent kidnappings of oil industry expatriates and Nigerian employees.
And though they were the most significant against the Nigerian oil industry since former President Goodluck Jonathan granted amnesty to Delta militants, the attacks were made in vain. Even if militants expand operations into a wider campaign, the damage to oil production will remain relatively small compared with what it was at the height of MEND operations years ago.

The order issued for the arrest of Tompolo is part of a nationwide anti-corruption crackdown led by the government of President Muhammadu Buhari, who is working to cement his political control over the country. The investigation of Tompolo centers on his alleged role in a $65 million Niger Delta land fraud scheme. While the charges of complicity have not yet been proven, the militant leader certainly benefited from the patronage of the previous administration — a legacy that the new government wants to root out. His is also involved in ongoing corruption related to security for the oil and natural gas industry.
Conversation: The Measured Approach of Nigeria's New President

At the peak of its campaign in the mid-to-late 2000s, MEND was a loose conglomeration composed of what were essentially criminal gangs led in part by Tompolo. They were provided significant patronage from all levels of the Nigerian government to disrupt the region's energy sector to achieve political prominence for their patrons. Other commanders, such as Ateke Tom, Soboma George, Farah Dagogo, and Ebikabowei Victor Ben, also known as Gen. Boyloaf, were provided space and patronage in other states of the Niger Delta region as well. The commanders maintained rivalries and competed against one another, fighting openly when factions strayed across ethno-political lines. Top MEND leader Henry Okah was arrested in South Africa in 2010, following an investigation into a car bombing in Abuja that had targeted the Nigerian president. After Okah's car bombing and subsequent arrest began the slow process of the rebel group's unraveling.

The region entered a period of relative calm after President Goodluck Jonathan's government supported an amnesty program that doled out cash and favors to the region's militant commanders and soldiers. Tompolo received security contracts to provide river escorts for travelers along the creeks of Delta state as well as to protect oil and natural gas infrastructure. He also gained a great deal of wealth and power in the process. The government also gave Tompolo millions of dollars to disband his gang, the Federated Niger Delta Ijaw Communities. With the change from Jonathan, who hailed from the Niger Delta's Bayelsa state and whose political rise was in part due to MEND's campaign, to Buhari, the Niger Delta region's political elite began to fear that their lucrative patronage ties and largesse would henceforth be lost. Buhari has not ended the militant amnesty program, and some of the Niger Delta elite are part of his government, but concerns remain that their former benefits will be rescinded permanently.

The warrant for Tompolo's arrest has not caused widespread fallout in the region — or even among militants. The Niger Delta's militants are not longer assembled into a coordinated body, and rivals in Bayelsa state and Rivers state are not concerned with Tompolo's apparent fall from grace. The reprisal attacks Tompolo loyalists recently launched against oil pipelines are in keeping with their longstanding technique to discourage government operations against them. They also carried the implied threat of future assaults if the investigation on Tompolo continues. The militant leader does indeed command enough men to launch attacks in the Warri area if need be. Beyond this area, however, his influence wanes and he does not have control over militants in other nearby states. MEND will not resume or be able to maintain a broader coordinated militancy campaign.

Moreover, the Nigerian military's Joint Task Force has reportedly deployed to the Niger Delta region to pursue Tompolo loyalists in response to the pipeline attacks. Tompolo himself has even communicated to the Nigerian president that he wants to avoid further confrontation and make a plea deal.

There is always the chance that political elite and militants in the Niger Delta could reignite a militant campaign. But sources among other Niger Delta militants report to Stratfor they are loathe to open a new conflict with the government, and certainly not for Tompolo. Instead, they are watching other militant groups to see how they will respond. In addition, some members of the region's political elite have been incorporated into Buhari's government, with patronage schemes still in place to support the important oil-producing region. Some pipelines may be attacked and damaged to the point that they shut down, but ultimately, the region's oil will continue to flow, and insecurity in the south will be kept at a minimum.

Editor's Note: This is the third installment in a three-part series on militant activity in Nigeria.

In some ways, the future of northern Nigeria's counterinsurgency rests in the hands of Nigerian voters. If President Goodluck Jonathan is elected for another term, the Boko Haram campaign will intensify. If Jonathan loses, the presidency would go to a northerner, who would be better suited to developing the political, social and economic relationships needed to wage an effective counterinsurgency.

Of course, the presidential election is a national contest, not a regional one, and so the consequences stretch far beyond northern Nigeria. Though Boko Haram has captured the attention of international media, it is not the only militant group with which Abuja contends, nor is it the only group that has a vested interest in the election's outcome. If Jonathan is not re-elected and Niger Delta militants lose their political patronage, they will probably attack oil infrastructure in the country's southwest, as they did in the mid-2000s. Nigeria conceivably could see two active insurgencies, depending on how the election plays out.

However, it is still possible to placate Niger Delta militants even if Jonathan loses. If Niger Delta officials are appointed to senior posts in the new administration, they could keep their patronage networks intact.
Upsetting the System

The power-sharing system that governs Nigeria is particularly important to northern Nigerian interests. Northern Nigerians dominated much of the military's officer corps, which in turn dominated most of the military juntas that ruled Nigeria from the 1960s to the 1990s. Military and political elites from northern Nigeria believed they were best suited to govern the naturally fractious country. While no one can easily govern Nigeria — a country of 175 million people divided among more than 500 ethnic groups and clans — northern Nigerians historically have imposed order more successfully than others. Northern Nigerians accepted the transition to civilian rule, yielding the power they acquired by a military junta in exchange for a system in which they were guaranteed to periodically hold power under a new democratic system.
Nigeria's Ethnic Divisions

Click to enlarge
Nigeria's Ethnic Divisions

Jonathan's assumption of the presidency in 2010 upset the carefully crafted power-sharing system negotiated in the late 1990s. The People's Democratic Party had meant for him to fill the vice presidency for two terms (2007-2015), while the North-West region was supposed to occupy the presidency. Because Jonathan took the North-West's turn in office, northerners want the next term for their own. If Jonathan wins the upcoming election, northern Nigeria will not recover presidential control until at least 2019, a prospect that most residents oppose.

Other ongoing political issues only make the 2015 election more complex. Most significantly, the People's Democratic Party is no longer the pre-eminent party. For the first time in Nigeria's democratic experience, there is a viable opposition party capable of winning: the All Progressives Congress, which was created in response to Jonathan's power grabs. The All Progressives Congress has mobilized voters across north-south divisions and could challenge the People's Democratic Party for control of the federal executive and legislative branches, as well as state governors' offices.
Condoning Violence

Boko Haram operates in an environment familiar with radical Islamist ideology. Northern Nigeria has experienced such ideologies over the past two centuries, and Sharia is enforced in Nigeria's northern states.

The militants have made parts of northeastern Nigeria ungovernable. This is not to say that the group controls northeastern Nigeria; rather, the Nigerian government and its security forces have been unable to prevent attacks on civilian and government targets. Society there is terrorized, not knowing when the next Boko Haram raid or car bomb will occur.

But Boko Haram also operates within a political environment that condones its violence as a means to achieve political goals. Like the relationship between political elites and militants in the Niger Delta region that Jonathan benefited from, Boko Haram is a tool with which aggrieved political elites can challenge the incumbent regime and compel a change in government.

The Jonathan administration gets little cooperation from local officials and residents in the northeast (and in the north more generally). Members of the federal government, northeastern state governments, security forces and the military allegedly sympathize with and support Boko Haram. These claims are bolstered by U.S. statements that Washington is withholding raw intelligence from Nigerian authorities in fear that officials sympathizing with Boko Haram will provide this intelligence to the militant group.

The government's ineffective counterinsurgency strategy, further constrained by poor cooperation from local constituents in northeastern Nigeria, will likely degrade further if Jonathan is elected to another term as president; northern political elites will be even less willing to cooperate with his administration. In fact, they may become more supportive of Boko Haram to exact more concessions from the government.

If that happens, Boko Haram can be expected to extend its operations beyond northeastern Nigeria. (Ironically, the only region largely immune to Boko Haram violence is Jonathan's Niger Delta.) Boko Haram will also attack more frequently, leaving many in the country doubtful that Jonathan can effectively combat the group.

But because the objectives of Boko Haram's backers remain the same — destabilize the government and terrorize the civilian population so that Jonathan will yield to northern interests — the group's attack methods will not necessarily change, nor will it intensify its activities outside the state. Of course, Jonathan would not willingly abdicate power, but if continually pressured to the point that his government weakens, he would at least have to negotiate a substantial compromise with his political opponents.
Why the Election Matters

If Jonathan wins, the subsequent violence would endure for several years, receding only if the president transferred some power to his northern opponents. Since Jonathan would serve as president through 2019, this could mean Nigeria would see four years of insurgency alongside a largely ineffective counterinsurgency.

If a northern politician wins the 2015 election, the counterinsurgency against Boko Haram can be expected to improve. The only presidential rival Jonathan will face, whether from an opposition party or from within the People's Democratic Party, will be a northern candidate, so if he loses a northerner will win by default.
Nigeria's Geopolitical Zones

Click to enlarge
Nigeria's Geopolitical Zones

A new Nigerian government led by a northerner would move quickly to establish confidence among the rest of the political and civil society leadership in northern Nigeria. This confidence will be used to acquire local cooperation and intelligence that will benefit counterinsurgency operations.

It is not yet clear who the presidential candidate from the All Progressives Congress will be. If it is Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, who led Nigeria from 1983 to 1985, the operations against Boko Haram would improve dramatically. Buhari has not formally announced a bid, but he has sought the Nigerian presidency in the past three elections under the political parties that now constitute the All Progressives Congress. He can be expected to take a stronger conventional approach to combating Boko Haram, though it is unclear whether the government can muster the necessary resources.

Boko Haram will not be fully defeated if a northern politician assumes the presidency in 2015. However, the group will be disrupted and degraded to the degree that it would no longer pose a meaningful threat to northern Nigeria. Strains of radical Islam currently present in northern Nigeria that can support Islamist militants would remain, but Boko Haram would have a greatly decreased political, economic and security space in which to operate.

    Part 1: Nigeria: From Military Coups to Militias
    Part 2: Nigeria: Examining Boko Haram
    Part 3: Nigeria: Opting Out of an Insurgency
Power User
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« Reply #5 on: March 18, 2016, 09:08:09 AM »
Power User
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« Reply #6 on: March 18, 2016, 09:09:30 AM »

Second post
Power User
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« Reply #7 on: March 23, 2016, 12:07:57 PM »
Power User
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« Reply #8 on: April 01, 2016, 09:31:08 AM »
Power User
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« Reply #9 on: April 01, 2016, 12:59:42 PM »

It angers me to see the world so powerless to stop this.  Yet encouraging to see that Muslims hid and fed them along the way and a Catholic camp giving them a home.

From the article:
"More than six years into their bloody campaign in northern Nigeria and the surrounding Lake Chad region, Boko Haram extremists have killed around 20,000 people. Entire villages have been razed to the ground; men and boys executed or forcibly recruited to join the militants’ ranks; and women and girls taken against their will as wives and household slaves. As part of the group’s brutal effort to establish an Islamic caliphate ruled under a strict interpretation of sharia, its militants have conducted mass rape."

Meanwhile our President golfed, spent $4 million on his last Hawaii trip, ignored ISIS, Boko Haram, visited the Castros, and cut deals already broken with Iran.  

Our Secretary of State was trading State favors for Clinton crime family support and making exceptional speeches to Wall Street bankers.  I wonder what percentage of this big, women's rights advocate's emails were focused on solving the crisis in Nigeria...  20,000 of them were about wedding plans.

We aren't the world's policeman but there is a time and a place to offer help.  Do we have to wait until this is within our borders to fight back?

I wonder if these women survivors of Boko Haram or the Islamic State, raped, starved, beaten, "forced to watch her uncle's head sawed off", think the biggest threat in the world is Climate Change?
« Last Edit: April 01, 2016, 01:09:09 PM by DougMacG » Logged
Power User
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« Reply #10 on: April 04, 2016, 07:16:56 PM »*Editors%20Picks
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« Reply #11 on: April 07, 2016, 12:46:31 PM »

INAWAO REFUGEE CAMP, Cameroon — Hold the bomb under your armpit to keep it steady, the women and girls were taught.

Sever your enemy’s head from behind, to minimize struggling.

“If you cut from the back of the neck, they die faster,” said Rahila Amos, a Nigerian grandmother describing the meticulous instruction she received from Boko Haram to become a suicide bomber.

Of all the many horrors of Boko Haram’s rampage across West Africa — the attacks on mosques, churches and schools; the mass killings of civilians; the entire villages left in ashes after militants tear through — one of the most baffling has been its ability to turn captured women and girls into killers.

Boko Haram, one of the world’s deadliest extremist groups, has used at least 105 women and girls in suicide attacks since June 2014, when a woman set off a bomb at an army barracks in Nigeria, according to The Long War Journal, which tracks terrorist activity.

Since then, women and girls, often with bombs hidden in baskets or under their clothes, have killed hundreds of people in attacks on fish and vegetable markets, schools, a river dock and even camps for people who have fled their homes to escape the violence.

“This isn’t something you can defeat or eradicate outright,” said Issa Tchiroma Bakary, the minister of communications in Cameroon, where 22 female suicide bombers were identified since the start of this year. “You don’t know who is who. When you see a young girl moving toward you, you don’t know if she’s hiding a bomb.”

Soldiers cannot open fire on every woman or girl who looks suspicious, he added. “They know where we have the Achilles’ heel,” Mr. Bakary said of Boko Haram.

Boko Haram’s abuse of women first shocked the world two years ago, when it stormed a school in Nigeria and fled with about 300 girls, many of whom were never found. Hundreds of other women and girls have been abducted, imprisoned, raped and sometimes intentionally impregnated, perhaps with the goal of creating a new generation of fighters.

Ms. Amos, 47, said the fighters had come to her village in the morning, firing weapons as they spilled out of cars and rounded up women and children.

Not long after, Ms. Amos, a Christian, said she was forced to enroll in Boko Haram’s classes on its version of Islam, a first step on her way toward being taught the art of suicide bombing.

After months of training, Ms. Amos said she was finally able to escape her captors one day when they had assembled for evening preaching. She stayed behind, gathering two of her young children and a grandchild so they could make a run for the Cameroonian border.

“I don’t want to take a bomb,” she said inside this refugee camp in Cameroon that stretches across a vast landscape dotted by tents and mud huts.

The authorities in Cameroon and Nigeria said that many of the experiences detailed by Ms. Amos matched the accounts of other women and girls who have escaped Boko Haram, or who have been arrested before they could detonate bombs. Ms. Amos’s assertions are also strikingly similar to details recounted by other freed women and girls, including descriptions of the funeral rites performed before female bombers were sent on missions.

The accounts offer insight into how Boko Haram, despite being under military pressure from a multinational campaign to wipe it out, has been able to strike fear across an expansive battlefield that now includes Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Niger.

No longer able to control the territory as tightly it once did, Boko Haram is sending out women and young girls as newly minted terrorists who can inflict a devastating toll.

Col. Didier Badjeck, a Cameroon defense spokesman, said that after soldiers had chased Boko Haram out of villages in recent weeks, they found homes that had been used as prisons for the women and girls. He said female hostages had reported being trained during their captivity — both in the Quran and in violence.

“They are training them to maximize the number of victims,” Colonel Badjeck said. “We are sure about it.”

Boko Haram often sends male fighters to set upon mosques. But last month, a woman dressed as a man set off her explosives during morning prayers in a village in northeastern Nigeria. Another woman was waiting outside the mosque, and as people fled the first blast, she detonated her own explosives as well. In all, at least 24 people were killed.
Officials inspected a mosque in Nigeria on March 16 after two female suicide bombers killed at least 24 people. Credit Associated Press

Bombings by women have become so widespread that even humanitarian groups are rethinking how they distribute food, water and other help to them. What if one of the women is hiding a bomb?
Continue reading the main story
Related Coverage

    Boko Haram Falls Victim to a Food Crisis It Created MARCH 4, 2016
    U.S. Plans to Put Advisers on Front Lines of Nigeria’s War on Boko Haram FEB. 25, 2016
    Nigerian Women Freed From Boko Haram Face Rejection at Home FEB. 16, 2016
    Military Victories Over Boko Haram Mean Little to Nigerians JAN. 15, 2016
    Boko Haram Ranked Ahead of ISIS for Deadliest Terror Group NOV. 18, 2015

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In Cameroon, many of the recent bombings have been carried out by girls in their early teens, leaving officials and analysts to wonder whether the girls were aware they were carrying bombs. Yet some of the bombers in recent attacks in Nigeria have been found to wear their hair pulled back from the face — a hairstyle reserved for burial rites, a sign they were ready to die.

But cracks are starting to show in the Boko Haram suicide-training system. In February, a girl sent to bomb a village in the Far North Region of Cameroon dropped her explosives and ran to the authorities instead. Her information led to a major raid on Boko Haram fighters.

In northeastern Nigeria in February, three girls with bombs were sent into a camp for Nigerians fleeing Boko Haram. Two of the girls detonated their bombs, killing nearly 60 people there. But the third girl spotted her parents among the desperate people inside the camp. Overwhelmed, officials said, she threw her explosives in the bush.

Boko Haram, which pledged allegiance to the Islamic State last year, has abducted as many as 2,000 women and children, both girls and boys, since 2012, according a recent report from humanitarian groups. Young boys have been used as bombers, too.

In many ways, female bombers are ideal weapons. At security points run by men, they are often searched less thoroughly, if at all. Tucked under the bunched fabric of dresses or religious gowns, explosives are easy to conceal.

Female suicide bombers have been a trademark of extremists for decades. In the Chechnya conflict, they were nicknamed black widows. In Sri Lanka, they fought with the Tamil Tigers. In her book, “Bombshell: Women and Terrorism,” Mia Bloom estimates that between 1985 and 2008, women committed a quarter of all suicide bombings.

One soldier who has engaged with Boko Haram said he believed that fighters must drug the girls’ food. Others who track the group question whether the bombs are remotely detonated.

According to Ms. Amos, Boko Haram’s use of women as weapons is a carefully thought-out strategy, one some of the women accept. Ms. Amos said that of the 30 or so female captives enrolled in training with her, seven girls were enthusiastic about carrying out suicide missions.

“It was a direct path to heaven,” she said the group was told.

Ms. Amos, now among the 58,000 residents of the Minawao Refugee Camp, described a system of grooming potential bombers that involved food deprivation and promises of eternal life, tactics that cults have used for decades.

She said that when Boko Haram stormed her hometown in 2014, her two brothers were shot dead. Her husband managed to flee with five of their children, but Ms. Amos did not make it out, and neither did two of their other young children and a grandchild. Boko Haram rounded them up with other women and children, putting them in a long ditch to contain them.

They stayed there for days, eating one meal a day of a corn paste made from powder. Finally a fighter arrived and asked a fateful question: Do you want to follow Christ, or do you want to be a Muslim?

The women all agreed to follow Islam, fearing they would be killed otherwise. Their training began.

Ms. Amos described a six-tiered daily education track for the women that she called Primary One, Primary Two and so on. The first two levels were Quranic training. Primary Three was training in suicide bombing and beheading. “How to kill a person and how to bomb a house,” she said.

“They told us if we came upon a group of 10 to 20 people to press this,” she said, speaking of a detonator.

The instruction given in the upper levels of the training — Primary Four, Five and Six — was a closely guarded secret among the fighters. Ms. Amos said she never learned what took place there.

Ms. Amos was lucky. Boko Haram fighters decided not to “marry” her, a euphemism for the rapes the group commits, because she already had a husband and children. She counted 14 women and four girls in her training classes who were not as fortunate.

Throughout her months in captivity, Ms. Amos was fed one meal a day and lost weight, a fact confirmed by her nephew living in the Minawao camp, who stared at her scrawny frame and said, “She used to be a big woman.”

Boko Haram incorporated the lack of food into the training, Ms. Amos said. Several months ago, she said, fighters rounded up the women and took them to an old factory to view a set of plump, well-fed girls who had plenty of food and water. Follow our ways, the fighters said, and you can have enough to eat, like these girls.

The girls, some of them crying, told Ms. Amos they were from Chibok, the Nigerian village where Boko Haram had captured the schoolgirls. American State Department and military officials said they would investigate the statements from Ms. Amos about the girls.

“They were very fat,” Ms. Amos said, compared with herself and the other women who were being held, “and they had lots of water.”

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Power User
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« Reply #12 on: April 28, 2016, 11:37:46 AM »
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« Reply #13 on: May 04, 2016, 09:36:17 AM »
Power User
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« Reply #14 on: May 04, 2016, 10:29:03 AM »

It took them until 2016 to notice a problem? 

Seven years into the Obama disaster, what is our African strategy?
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« Reply #15 on: May 04, 2016, 01:58:56 PM »
Power User
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« Reply #16 on: May 10, 2016, 09:55:31 AM »

LAGOS, Nigeria — Young men became entangled in a swirl of flying fists. Gas station workers swatted away boys hoping to fill their plastic cans. A mother with a sleeping baby in her minivan was chased off, rightly accused of jumping the line. A driver eager to get ahead crashed into several cars, the sound of crunching metal barely registering amid the noise.

Nigerians were getting used to days like this.

But then came the ultimate insult to everyone waiting at the Oando mega gas station: A bus marked Ministry of Justice rolled up to a pump, leapfrogging no fewer than 99 vehicles. “Service With Integrity” was painted on its door. A gas station supervisor who calls herself Madame No Nonsense stepped aside to let it fuel up before anyone else. The crowd howled at the injustice.

Plummeting oil prices have set off an economic unraveling in Nigeria, one of the world’s top oil producers, and the collective anger of a fed-up nation was pouring out.

“Starvation in the land of plenty,” said Tony Usidamen, a public relations consultant waiting for fuel.

For months, many Nigerians have endured painfully long lines for gasoline and power failures that last for days — with no fuel for backup generators. Scant power means water cuts for homes that rely on electricity to pump it. Everyday items are missing from stores, and those that remain cost more than usual.

In this country of rampant inequality, the poor have long been desperate, and the rich are still able to buy their way out of problems. But the situation in Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, is having an outsize impact on the expanding middle class, which has become accustomed to air-conditioning, owning a car and going out for Domino’s pizza. Now, even a bottle of Perrier is too expensive for many.

President Muhammadu Buhari is urging patience, noting that when he took office last year he inherited a corruption-plagued mess.
Continue reading the main story

“We are experiencing probably the toughest economic times in the history of our nation,” Mr. Buhari told Nigerians on Friday. “I cannot promise you that this will be an easy journey.”

Low oil prices are not helping. The resulting shortage of dollars means less cash for imports, including fuel to power the nation. Though Nigeria produces millions of barrels of oil a day, it has long had to ship its own crude oil out of the country to be refined into gasoline.

Imported fuel has been arriving in Lagos, a city of 20 million, by tanker truck, a trip that takes a week. Old trucks and bad roads cause delays. Trucks sometimes disappear across the border, where thieves sell the fuel and pocket the cash, and militants keep blowing up oil platforms and pipelines.

The lines at gas stations ebb and flow, depending on the day. But the government says the supply is getting better. It has finally fired up Nigeria’s three rickety oil refineries, and the wait in Lagos improved drastically last week. Eventually, officials say, Nigeria will make all of its own gasoline.
A neighborhood in Lagos, Nigeria, during one of its frequent power failures. Credit Ashley Gilbertson for The New York Times

“A certain amount of pain must be endured,” said Garba Deen Muhammad, a spokesman for the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation. “Everybody must make sacrifices.”

At the gas station in Lagos, Olafay Segun and Abu Bellow tried to sleep away the pain of losing a morning of valuable fares in their yellow minibus. They joined a huge line of vehicles backed up along the expressway. Both men stretched across the old metal seats. In the beating sun, it was like sleeping inside a TV dinner.

Suddenly, the car in front gave up on the wait, pulling out of line and leaving a gap. Mr. Bellow bolted for the driver’s seat, turning the key. Nothing happened. Long seconds passed as both men panicked that someone would pull in front of them. He tried the key again. Success. The bus jolted ahead a few feet.

They wound up behind Adeanike Oso, whose mind was on her chickens. As the owner of Oso Farms, a 3,500-bird operation outside Lagos, she worried they might not have enough food and water.

That morning, Ms. Oso had dropped off her children at school before heading to the farm, but her Nissan Pathfinder was running low on fuel so she pulled into line. That was two hours ago.

Toward the front was Toyin Adeniyi, who was on her way to work as a school administrator. Three hours after arriving at the station, she was still waiting.

As midmorning arrived, young men holding plastic gas cans gathered. “There’s no light, there’s no water, there’s no anything,” said one, Michael Tungi, venting about Nigeria. “Everything is spoiled.”

The station was not allowed to sell gas to Mr. Tungi, to prevent fuel from slipping onto the black market. People had been filling jerrycans and selling gas at high prices to drivers looking to skip long lines at filling stations. Mr. Tungi and the others were optimists, hoping to sneak a few liters.

First they would have to get past Nike Olorunfemi, 50, the station supervisor. Wearing a straw hat and bright yellow vest, she hollered, sometimes with a bullhorn, to let them know they were waiting in vain.

“That’s why they call me Madame No Nonsense Action Lady,” Ms. Olorunfemi said. “I don’t take nonsense.”

The day had started out orderly and calm. Drivers inched forward. The procrastinators, the planners, the innocents — the line absorbed them all, having mercy on no one.

“I’m late already,” grumbled Peter Ademola, a swimming pool maintenance man. He had hopped into a minibus, heading to a repair job, but it was low on fuel. Now he was stuck in line, wiping his brow. Tiny beads of sweat formed above the purple lipstick of the passenger next to him.

“What can I do?” Mr. Ademola said.

Another driver, Ify Ezeobi, a shopkeeper, figured every hour of waiting cost him $100 worth of business at his store. “I’m sick and tired of this,” he said.

It was almost noon when the line stopped altogether. The station’s supply had run dry. Vehicles squealed away to search for fuel elsewhere. It was anyone’s guess when the next fuel truck would arrive.

Some drivers made use of the empty hours until more fuel came. A policeman read over a stack of witness statements. One driver repaired a busted side mirror. A doughnut saleswoman paraded alongside the vehicles. Old friends found one another in line, their reunion an upside to the otherwise grim day.

The hottest part of the day came and, with it, stress. A mother made the calculations of every busy parent — if she waited, would she get to school in time to pick up her children? Three energetic boys bounced in the back seat of another car, hanging out the windows and slugging one another. It was the first day of vacation and their father needed gas to reach their grandparents outside the city.

A billboard with a man clutching his head taunted the stalled motorists: “Need pain relief?”

Ms. Olorunfemi — Madame No Nonsense — was still trying to chase off the people holding gas cans. She snatched a can from one man’s hand and threw it onto the freeway.

“Anybody jumping the queue, they call Action Lady and I send them out,” she said. “I hate cheating.”

But by afternoon, cheating was in abundance. Some drivers employed a fried-chicken strategy: gaining entrance inside the station’s parking lot by claiming they were patronizing the adjoining KFC.

At 2 p.m., a fuel truck rolled in, eliciting a cheer. But unloading its 33,000 liters would take hours.

Two men lugging a heavy generator rested it on the driveway. Three elementary-age boys, sent by their mothers, arrived after school with plastic cans to try their luck.

At nearly 5 p.m., fuel was finally in the pumps again. Drivers started their engines. Wheels spun in the dirt. Station employees blocked off the cars at the KFC, dashing the hopes of line jumpers. Workers gathered around Madame No Nonsense for a pep talk.

“Don’t sell to anyone with a can,” she said. “Be nice to all your customers.”

Horns started blaring. A security guard in T-shirt and jeans, with an AK-47 slung around his chest, stepped in front of the vehicles. The station’s gates scraped open.

“O.K.,” Madame No Nonsense said. “Let’s go.”
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« Reply #17 on: May 13, 2016, 08:54:00 AM »

Nigeria: Militants Give Oil Companies Ultimatum
Situation Reports
May 12, 2016 | 17:22 GMT Print
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The Niger Delta Avengers militant group issued a two-week ultimatum to oil companies operating in Nigeria's oil-rich Niger Delta region, warning companies to shut down or risk attack, the Nigerian publication This Day reported May 12. The group has claimed responsibility for several attacks on oil pipelines and platforms, including an explosion that targeted a Chevron oil platform on May 4. Though the militant group has shown it can conduct assaults against individual installations, it has not yet demonstrated the ability to disrupt regional oil production on a larger scale.
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« Reply #18 on: May 18, 2016, 10:23:19 AM »

Fourteen months after the election of President Muhammadu Buhari in Nigeria, the Obama administration is considering selling his government 12 warplanes. It is a thorny decision because Mr. Buhari is an improvement over his disastrous predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan, and is fighting Boko Haram, the Islamist extremists who have terrorized the region. But he has not done enough to end corruption and respond to charges that the army has committed war crimes in its fight against the group. Selling him the planes now would be a mistake.

Under Mr. Buhari, Nigeria has cooperated more with Chad and Niger to fight Boko Haram. The group, which emerged in the early 2000s, has seized land in the northeastern, predominantly Muslim section of Nigeria. Thousands of people have been killed and 2.2 million displaced. The group’s depravity captured world attention in 2014 when it kidnapped 276 girls from a secondary school.

While violence is down and some territory has been recaptured, the group continues to attack remote villages and refugee camps, and it is using women and children as suicide bombers. American military officials say that Boko Haram has begun collaborating with the Islamic State and that the groups could be planning attacks on American allies in Africa.
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Yet Nigeria’s government cannot be entrusted with the versatile new warplanes, which can be used for ground attacks as well as reconnaissance. Its security services have long engaged in extrajudicial killings, torture and rape, according to the State Department’s latest annual human rights report. Amnesty International says that during the army’s scorched-earth response to Boko Haram between 2011 and 2015, more than 8,200 civilians were murdered, starved or tortured to death.

The Obama administration was so concerned about this record that two years ago it blocked Israel’s sale of American-made Cobra attack helicopters to Nigeria and ended American training of Nigerian troops. American officials even hesitated to share intelligence with the military, fearing it had been infiltrated by Boko Haram. That wariness has eased and American officials say they are now working with some Nigerian counterparts.

Since winning election on a reform platform, Mr. Buhari has moved to root out graft and to investigate human rights abuses by the military. But the State Department said Nigerian “authorities did not investigate or punish the majority of cases of police or military abuse” in 2015.

That hardly seems like an endorsement for selling the aircraft. Tim Rieser, a top aide to Senator Patrick Leahy, who wrote the law barring American aid to foreign military units accused of abuses, told The Times that “we don’t have confidence in the Nigerians’ ability to use them in a manner that complies with the laws of war and doesn’t end up disproportionately harming civilians, nor in the capability of the U.S. government to monitor their use.”

To defeat Boko Haram, which preys on citizens’ anger at the government, Mr. Buhari will need more than weapons. He has to get serious about improving governance and providing jobs, roads and services in every region of Nigeria. Until then or until Congress develops ways to monitor the planes’ use, it should block the sale.
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« Reply #19 on: June 15, 2016, 08:22:35 AM »
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« Reply #20 on: June 15, 2016, 11:27:01 AM »

Second post of day
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« Reply #21 on: July 18, 2016, 08:26:43 AM »

Nigeria Finds a National Crisis in Every Direction It Turns


Fuel trucks stranded near the main highway of Warri, Nigeria, last month after militants calling themselves the Niger Delta Avengers disrupted fuel distribution. Credit Jane Hahn for The New York Times

UGBORODO, Nigeria — Militants are roaming oil-soaked creeks in the south, blowing up pipelines and decimating the nation’s oil production. Islamist extremists have killed thousands in the north. Deadly land battles are shaking the nation’s center. And a decades-old separatist movement at the heart of a devastating civil war is brewing again.

On their own, any one of these would be a national emergency. But here in Nigeria, they are all happening at the same time, tearing at the country from almost every angle.

“Nigeria is the only country we have,” President Muhammadu Buhari implored in a recent speech. “We have to stay here and salvage it together.”

Mr. Buhari took office a year ago, promising to stamp out terrorism in the north and to rebuild the nation’s economy. But he has been knocked off course by a series of crises across the country, forcing him to toggle between emergencies.

Beyond low prices for the nation’s oil, the source of more than 70 percent of the government’s revenue, Nigerian officials have been tormented by a new band of militants claiming to be on a quest to free the oil-producing south from oppression. They call themselves the Niger Delta Avengers.

Despite their name, which sounds as if it might be out of a comic book, the militants have roamed the waters of the south for six months, blowing up crude oil and gas pipelines and shattering years of relative peace in the region.

As a result, Nigeria’s oil production in the second quarter this year dropped 25 percent from the same period a year earlier — enough to contribute to a slight increase in global oil prices, according to an analysis by Facts Global Energy, a consulting firm in London.

By The New York Times

Partly because of the Avengers and their sabotage, Nigeria has fallen behind Angola as Africa’s top oil producer.

The attacks have been so costly that Mr. Buhari sent troops that had been fighting in the north against Boko Haram — the extremist group that has killed thousands and forced more than two million people to flee their homes — to battle the Avengers in the south instead.

Mr. Buhari then reconfigured those efforts after complaints that marauding soldiers had roughed up people and property while looking for militants in the south, creating even more resentment among the impoverished people who live there.

Militants have struck in the south in the past, kidnapping or killing oil workers and police officers to demand a greater share of the nation’s oil wealth. But the Avengers seem bent on crippling Nigeria’s economy while it is particularly fragile, striking at the core of Mr. Buhari’s plans for the nation.

The Avengers have sent oil, power and gas workers fleeing, torturing the multinational companies that burrow for oil underneath the waters. Fuel deliveries around the country have stalled because almost everything that has to do with oil in Nigeria right now has been tangled up by the militants.

On the main highway in the southern port city of Warri recently, a long row of fuel tankers sat on the side of the road, idle. A bent-back windshield wiper served as a makeshift clothesline. A mini tube of toothpaste rested on the dashboard of one truck. The truckers were stranded, waiting to fill up.

They had been there a month.

“We are not asking for much, but to free the people of the Niger Delta from environmental pollution, slavery and oppression,” the Avengers wrote on their website, explaining their attacks. “We want a country that will turn the creeks of the Niger Delta to a tourism heaven, a country that will achieve its full potentials, a country that will make health care system accessible by everyone. With Niger Delta still under the country Nigeria we can’t make it possible.”

Mr. Buhari’s government has said it is open to negotiating with the group. But it is already stretched thin.

On the opposite side of the country, Boko Haram is still raging. Mr. Buhari has started a major offensive against the group that has made progress, but it has yet to stamp out the violence.

Another longtime battle is flaring in the middle of the country, between farmers and nomadic Fulani herdsmen looking for grazing pastures. Hundreds have been killed in battles as herdsmen roam into new territory to look for vegetation for their cattle. Officials have blamed climate change and the nation’s rapidly growing population for the scarcity of pastureland.

And with their demands for economic equality for the south, the Avengers have been trying to stoke the aspirations of separatists elsewhere in the nation.

More than four decades ago, at least one million people were killed during the Nigerian civil war, when separatists led an uprising that created an independent republic of Biafra in the southeast. It lasted three years, until 1970.

Now, a Biafran separatist movement is simmering again, with the police and protesters clashing regularly since October, when a prominent activist was arrested and jailed. Some have accused the Nigerian security forces of seeking out and killing protesters.

The Avengers are fanning the separatist sentiments, invoking the Biafran movement and calling for a “Brexit”-style referendum to split the nation along several fault lines.

The south has long been a reservoir of anger and resistance, a place where countless billions in oil revenue are extracted for the benefit of distant politicians and companies abroad. Yet drinking water and electricity can be scarce, and the swamps people live around are regularly polluted with Exxon Valdez-size spills, casting an oily sheen on the creeks and coating the roots of dense mangroves in black goo.

Many people in the predominantly Christian south say they believe that Mr. Buhari, a Muslim from the north, is neglecting them for political or sectarian reasons, even though conditions were also grim under his predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian southerner.

“You always say you fought for the unity of this country during the civil war,” the Avengers taunted Mr. Buhari on their website. “You haven’t been to the Niger Delta, how can you know what the people are facing.”

In his recent speech, Mr. Buhari recalled the horrors of the civil war, when he served in the military fighting Biafrans. “The president has a vision of one united Nigeria and is prepared to do everything to keep it as one,” he said.

This spring, Mr. Buhari announced that he would personally introduce a $1 billion cleanup program of the oil-polluted Niger Delta area. It was to be Mr. Buhari’s first visit to the region since taking office, but with the Avengers’ movement raging, the president abruptly canceled his trip. Residents of Delta State felt slighted.

“Years have passed with neglect, deprivation, environmental deprivation, poverty, no electricity, no roads, no hospital, no schools, but we are living in the country of Nigeria,” said Blessing Gbalibi, a fuel-truck driver raised in the creek communities. “Over there in Abuja,” he added, referring to the capital, “they are taking our resources.”

Yet many Niger Delta residents like Mr. Gbalibi oppose the Avengers because their acts of sabotage have degraded the already-poor quality of life in the region. Spills from explosions have further polluted farmland and fishing holes. Mr. Gbalibi and his fuel truck were among those stuck on the side of the highway for a month because the Avengers had disrupted fuel distribution.

About a decade ago, another band of militants, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, prowled the creeks, blowing up pipelines. The federal government reined it in by setting up an amnesty program that offers cash and job training, some of it overseas, for more than 30,000 militants and residents, according to Paul Boroh, a retired brigadier general and the special adviser to Mr. Buhari for the program.

But oil revenue finances the program, and the fall in oil prices prompted the president to consider ending the amnesty program at the end of last year. Mr. Boroh said he had lobbied to keep the plan for now, but to phase it out over the next two years.

The Avengers movement sprang up around the time the president was considering an end to the program, prompting many Niger Delta residents to wonder if the shadowy group is made of former militants hoping to keep up amnesty payments.

The amnesty program is far from universally loved in the creeks. Many residents say payments are routinely siphoned by corrupt community leaders. Others say the job training they received was virtually useless. Oil companies prefer to hire foreigners, they complain, or they hire locals only on a short-term basis — and then nothing.

The program sent Mike Gomero, a former militant, to learn the teachings of Mohandas K. Gandhi and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. at a two-week session in South Africa. He is no longer blowing up pipelines. But he still does not have a job.

“The amnesty program is not a solution,” said Williams Welemu, a former member of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta. “It’s palliative.”

Communities like Ugborodo, so deep in the winding creeks that it is at least two hours from the mainland by speedboat, are dotted with homes that are little more than tiny zinc huts on islands that are sinking into the sea. They are filled with unemployed residents trained as geologists, pipe fitters and marine engineers.

One of them, Collins Bemigho, stood along a dirty swamp, orange flares from a giant Chevron terminal glowing in the distance behind him. He complained about a lack of indoor plumbing, of good health care or a secondary school, and then pointed to a thick pipe jutting from the water.

“If I wanted to bust a pipeline, I could do that right here,” Mr. Bemigho said. “We’re not rewarded for being well behaved.”
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« Reply #22 on: July 22, 2016, 10:18:40 PM »


   As President Muhammadu Buhari continues to lean on his trusted circle
of northern political advisers and allies, public frustration over the
north's perceived domination of Nigeria's political system will grow.
   The mounting irritation could spur political realignments, including
defections from the already strained ruling party to the opposition
People's Democratic Party (PDP).
   The PDP's decision to put forth a ticket in the 2019 presidential
election featuring candidates from both the north and southeast could
split the northern vote, weakening Buhari's support base and
threatening his chances for re-election.


In 1999, Nigerian strongman Abdulsalami Abubakar agreed to hand over power
to civilian leaders, replacing the military rule that had typified much of
Nigeria's political history with a rotational power-sharing agreement. The
deal, crafted by the ruling party at the time, was intended to prevent any
one region or ethnic group from monopolizing influence in the Nigerian
government. And indeed, for more than a decade, the country's various
administrations were more or less inclusive.

But the untimely death of former President Umaru Yaradua, a northerner
from Katsina state, upset the fragile balance in 2010. His demise led to
southern Vice President Goodluck Jonathan's rise to prominence, an ascent
that northern Nigeria viewed as a usurpation of the power it was owed.
When Jonathan then attempted to win a second term - a move that would have
extended southern rule by four years - the country's power-sharing system
broke down completely, driving a wedge between members of the ruling
People's Democratic Party (PDP). Many defected, joining the All
Progressives Congress led by northerner and former military ruler
Muhammadu Buhari, who went on to win Nigeria's presidential election in

Now people are beginning to fear that Buhari is skewing the balance of
power in the opposite direction, concentrating authority in the hands of
his northern political constituents and trusted advisers. Some in the
south have even warned of the federal government's impending
"northernization." But the truth may not be that clear-cut.
The North's Place in Nigerian Security

By law, at least one ministerial or vice ministerial post must be granted
to each of Nigeria's 36 states. Once those positions have been filled, the
remaining appointments can be made at the president's discretion. Buhari
has given many of Nigeria's leftover security portfolios to northern
figures - seven of the 10 most important non-ministerial jobs related to
security, in fact. The move, unsurprisingly, has irritated some of the
country's southerners. Yet Jonathan, a southerner himself, relied just as
heavily on northern officials to handle issues of defense. (He, too,
appointed northerners to seven of the same 10 security portfolios.)
Granted, Jonathan was in a very different position than Buhari is in now.
The former's tenure was so controversial that Jonathan may have felt
politically unable to appoint a slew of southerners to sensitive security
posts without risking severe public backlash.

But the government's dependency on the north is more than just a matter of
politics. The region - and specifically, the ethnic Hausa who live there -
has a military tradition that dates back generations. Since Nigeria's
independence in 1960, northerners have dominated the upper ranks of the
armed services, in turn predisposing them to hold an outsize share of
high-level security roles. Moreover, the only military conflict Nigeria
has had to fight in recent years involves Wilayat al Sudan al Gharbi, an
Islamist extremist group better known as Boko Haram that hails from the
country's northeast. That Muslim northerners lead the fight against the
group is crucial because it enables the government to counter Boko Haram's
claims that Christian southerners are heading the charge against it - a
message that risks alienating northern Muslims from the military.

In addition to these strategic advantages, Buhari has several other
reasons for favoring officials from the north. As a former military ruler
whose previous term was cut short by a coup, the president tends to save
sensitive security matters for those he can trust. More often than not,
that means people who come from the region he considers home. Widespread
corruption - a legacy of Jonathan, who gave his ministers enough autonomy
to engage in criminal practices with impunity - has also given Buhari
cause to pursue tough anti-corruption measures. To this end, he has opened
many high-profile corruption cases against former government officials and
is reportedly recouping millions of dollars in stolen government funds. He
has even named himself the minister of petroleum, likely in an effort to
prevent the corruption that has stained the post in the past.

Nevertheless, Buhari's detractors have interpreted the move as an
unwillingness to share political power. Similarly, the spate of corruption
charges against former civil servants - many of whom are southerners - has
been seen as an attempt to punish the previous administration and any
potential challengers within it. In reality, though, the anti-corruption
drive is more likely aimed at recovering the massive sums of money that
were siphoned off over the past four years, particularly since Nigeria's
finances are under severe strain.

And so, though Buhari has appointed some southerners to posts including
the chief of naval staff, his reputation for northern favoritism has
become difficult to shake. Buhari's recent removal of Emmanuel Ibe
Kachikwu, a southerner and the minister of state for petroleum resources,
from the head of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. probably only
reinforced the image. Some in the south saw this as yet another loss of
influence, though in all likelihood Kachikwu's role was originally meant
to provide temporary oversight of the company's reforms, rather than
permanent guidance. Still, that did not stop groups such as the Niger
Delta Indigenous Movement for Radical Change from condemning Kachikwu's
ouster, nor were they alone in their resentment.
Political Blowback From the South

In fact, the recent uptick in attacks against oil and natural gas
infrastructure in the Niger Delta may be caused in part by mounting
dissatisfaction with Buhari's tactics. Since January, several militant
groups - most notably, the Niger Delta Avengers - have taken to blowing up
pipelines, among other things, to draw attention to the southernmost
region's long-standing grievances. Chief among them is the unequal
distribution of wealth gained from the sale of the Niger Delta's oil. One
possible explanation for the rising violence is that certain factions are
attempting to address the loss, whether real or imagined, of the political
power that they secured under Jonathan's administration. Either way, the
government's inability to redress the restive region's gripes by providing
greater resources has reinforced the narrative that Buhari's government
simply does not care about southern issues.

This explains why, after Buhari declared amid the string of attacks that
Nigeria's unity is "nonnegotiable," several southern groups and figures
rebuked his statement, calling for more autonomy for individual states.
Obong Victor Attah, the former governor of the southern state of Akwa
Ibom, has even put forth a proposal for greater fiscal federalism that
would essentially allow states to lay claim to a bigger share of the
profits they produce. According to Attah, passing the measure would
restore faith in Nigeria's political system. Though the debate over
Nigerian unity has not yet reached an alarming level, the grumblings of
important figures such as Attah underscore the sense of injustice
pervading the region.

If left unchecked, popular frustration could eventually have political
consequences for the president. When narrow interests begin to amass power
in Nigeria, the country's various factions tend to realign against them,
throwing their weight behind candidates who can restore equilibrium. That
is how Jonathan's campaign for re-election was defeated in 2015, and if
Buhari is not careful, it could be how his is thwarted in 2019.

Of course, Buhari still has three years left in his term - plenty of time
to change course if anxiety over the "northernization" of the government
begins to significantly threaten his popularity. But the fact remains that
the public's perception, along with the many other problems Nigeria faces,
could erode support for the overburdened ruling party, especially since
Nigerian political alliances are by nature quite fluid.

Buhari's All Progressives Congress is already divided between two
factions: its original members, and former PDP figures who broke ranks
with Jonathan after he sought a second term. If Buhari's rule becomes more
contested, the latter could return to their old party, leaving the
president's coalition all the weaker. Their defection may be made even
more likely by the PDP's recent announcement that it intends to choose a
northern presidential candidate and a vice presidential candidate from the
southeast to represent it in the next race. A joint ticket could be
enticing to former PDP members, most of whom are from the north, as well
as any ruling party members who have been marginalized under Buhari's
reign. More important, the selection of a northerner to lead the ticket
would probably split the northern vote, severely undermining Buhari's
electoral base as he fails to broaden his constituency southward.

The president has time to adjust his image. Whether he has the will to do
so is another matter. But one thing is clear: If Buhari chooses to ignore
the south's growing concerns, he will have to accept the fact that he may
not be president for much longer.

Lead Analyst: Stephen Rakowski

"You have enemies?  Good.  That means that you have stood up for something, sometime in your life." - Winston Churchill.
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« Reply #23 on: July 23, 2016, 09:51:49 AM »
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« Reply #24 on: August 29, 2016, 07:12:01 AM »

Polio: The Disease Nigeria Can't Seem to Shake
August 28, 2016 | 13:01 GMT Print
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A health care worker administers an oral dose of polio vaccine to a child in northern Nigeria. (AMINU ABUBAKAR/AFP/Getty Images)


By Rebecca Keller

Ridding the world of polio is going to take a little longer than originally expected. On Aug. 11, the World Health Organization confirmed at least two new cases of children who have been paralyzed by a wild-type poliovirus in Nigeria's northeastern Borno state. Prior to the revelation, Nigeria — once one of only three countries left where polio was endemic — was on the path to becoming polio-free by 2017.

When examining outbreaks and epidemics from a geopolitical perspective, we often look at how the disease in question might disrupt economic activities, such as workforce productivity or the movement of people and goods. From there, we determine whether the impact of the disease will be notable enough to influence political, economic or social decisions. But in the case of polio, perhaps the more relevant question is how those decisions have aided — or prevented — the virus's eradication.


Polio cases have become less and less common since a global campaign to combat it began some 30 years ago. Stamping out the virus completely, however, has proved to be a frustratingly elusive goal, thanks to the disease's nature and the geopolitical realities of the places where it lingers. In addition to Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan are still struggling to wipe out the virus, a task made all the more difficult by the three countries' remote, isolated populations. The states' dire security situations often make disease prevention even more challenging: The Taliban are gaining strength in Afghanistan, and opposition is mounting to Pakistan's transition to secularism. Meanwhile, despite the waning influence of Wilayat al Sudan al Gharbi — better known by its former name, Boko Haram — power in Nigeria continues to be localized, and economic and political uncertainty have clouded the country's future.

Several geographic factors have also hampered international initiatives to fight preventable diseases, including polio, in the developing world. Harsh climates, difficult terrain and secluded population pockets make it tough to control many diseases, let alone destroy them. Moreover, these factors are frequently compounded by social ones, including distrust in foreign aid, inadequate education and poor sanitation systems. Even in this day and age, smallpox is the lone success story in the fight to eradicate human disease worldwide.

In fact, when it began in the 1980s, the polio prevention campaign took many lessons from the effort to wipe out smallpox, including the flexibility it required. At the time, India, with its large, poor population and disjointed bureaucracy, had been identified as one of the countries most likely to encounter trouble quashing the poliovirus. But a decade later, India pulled together a massive vaccination campaign that, among other things, targeted migrant workers, a mode of transmission often missed in previous polio outbreaks. In 2014, its efforts paid off, and India was confirmed polio-free.

Weakened by Chronic Instability

Afghanistan and Pakistan, on the other hand, have not seen the same level of success. (That said, the two have made some headway, reporting a combined total of only 19 cases this year, compared with 74 cases in 2015 and over 300 cases in Pakistan alone in 2014.) In most of the developing world, vaccination against the poliovirus typically requires multiple doses of an oral vaccine. Health care officials administering those doses, then, must either be locals or commit to staying in the area being vaccinated for an extended period of time. Security and local buy-in are requisites for success, and both are in short supply in many parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

When smallpox was wiped out in the 1960s and 1970s, Afghanistan and Pakistan were relatively open to the West, making the vaccination campaign far easier to conduct. Today, however, trust in Western vaccine initiatives is difficult to find in the tribal regions along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, in part because U.S. intelligence operatives searching for Osama bin Laden used a vaccine program as their cover in 2011. The following year, local leaders in North and South Waziristan banned the vaccination of children, leading to an uptick in polio cases in the years that followed. Several international aid initiatives subsequently shut down their operations in Pakistan, citing safety concerns.

Because instability is likely to worsen in both countries in the coming years, defeating polio will not get any easier, regardless of the recent marked decline in cases. The new polio cases that have arisen in Afghanistan this year occurred in regions that have seen heightened activity by the Taliban and Islamic State. Though U.S. troops will remain in the country to counter Afghanistan's persistent security threats, they will not be able to quell the violence enough to smooth the way for the poliovirus eradication effort. Pakistan will likely see similar hiccups as it gradually moves toward secularism, a development that will be somewhat beneficial to vaccination campaigns. The country's conservative elements continue to block Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's attempts to enact reforms, and they will undoubtedly try to keep him from opening Pakistan to the West.

There is nothing keeping polio inside the Afghan and Pakistani borders, either. So long as the disease remains endemic in the two countries, it can spread and spark flare-ups in other states with similar geographic and social factors. Many corners of the world are afflicted by violence and instability, and foreign fighters continue to flow in and out of Afghanistan and Pakistan. They could easily carry polio to other volatile areas, as they did to Syria in 2014.

For Nigeria, a Poor Prognosis

Nigeria's political atmosphere has not changed as dramatically as Afghanistan's and Pakistan's have since the smallpox vaccination movement. Throughout the campaign, the leaders of the country — which had recently gained its independence and was under military rule — were distracted by widespread unrest. Abuja's victory against smallpox had more to do with the properties of the virus itself than with any comprehensive response on the part of the Nigerian government. Health care personnel, able to vaccinate only a small segment of the population, managed to curb outbreaks by selectively administering doses to patients based on behavioral information.

But that approach may not work with polio, as the recent cases suggest. The newest incidents were found to be genetically linked to a poliovirus last seen in 2011, indicating that the latest strain has actually been circulating undetected for five years. Because only a fraction of patients with polio exhibit any symptoms, it is also likely that there are more than the two known cases in the area.

Boko Haram is largely responsible for the insecurity that has hamstrung vaccination efforts in Nigeria over the past few years. Though the group has weakened since the start of 2015, it continues to threaten the country's three northeastern states — including Borno state. And as long as this security risk remains, so, too, will the risk that Nigeria's latest run-in with polio will not be its last.
Power User
Posts: 39168

« Reply #25 on: February 23, 2017, 12:35:37 PM »

Kind of reads like a planted advertisement, but interesting nonetheless , , ,
Power User
Posts: 6720

« Reply #26 on: February 23, 2017, 06:14:39 PM »

sounds like a Chuck Norris movie

I wonder how much these guys get paid to risk their hides like this.

They must stand out like sore thumbs.  Surely not undercover?
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