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Terrorism and Oil Prices Plague Nigeria Ahead of Election

01.25.15

Terrorism and Oil Prices Plague Nigeria Ahead of Election

01.25.15
Nigeria

Written by Karl Sorri

The political and economic situation in Nigeria is fraught with instability. A combination of terrorist attacks and oil sector shocks have created an air of uncertainty. The current leadership under President Goodluck Jonathan has proved questionable, but whether this will have an effect on the upcoming national elections is hard to tell. Two issues are standing out that are particularly troublesome for Nigeria and Jonathan: Boko Haram and falling oil prices.

Despite initially being overwhelmed by the media attention surrounding the Charlie Hebdo attacks, the world has finally woken up to the terrible situation in Baga in northern Nigeria. Boko Haram, the same group that kidnapped 219 schoolgirls in April 2014, was responsible for attacks between January 3rd and 8th during which, according to some estimates, approximately 2000 people were killed with thousands more displaced.

Boko Haram has been a bitter problem in Nigeria for years, but President Jonathan has failed to do enough to combat it. Whereas fighters from Boko Haram are well equipped and trained, the Nigerian army has seen another recent cut in funding. Soldiers’ monthly pay has been cut in half with no explanation, and this serves to demotivate and incapacitate a military response to the Boko Haram threat.

Critics say that this is simply another case of corruption by the Goodluck Jonathan administration, which has been accused of corruption on several accounts. The fact that the President also showed a slow response to the Boko Haram attack does not do much to counter these claims.

Boko Haram is, however, not Nigeria’s only weak spot. Nigeria’s economy is heavily dependent on its oil exports, and the recent slump in global oil prices will become a significant economic setback. This will prove to be especially true if oil prices remain low for a prolonged period of time, as previous trends in oil may suggest.

Along with this setback, the United States recently announced that it would cease importing oil from Nigeria. Considering the United States has been a major importer of Nigerian oil since 1973, this compounded development will further dampen Nigeria’s economic outlook in the near future.

Once again, the current leadership has been criticized for not taking steps to ease Nigeria’s dependency on oil, or to proactively look for other importers. Moreover, some suggest that the reason the U.S. stopped importing Nigerian oil (and did not approve a separate arms deal), was because there is strong opposition to President Jonathan in Washington.

But despite all the current and former accusations, Goodluck Jonathan is leading the polls for the upcoming elections on February 14th. This popularity is partly due to his successful management of the Ebola crisis, and partly due to a lack of popular political opponents.

The strongest candidate besides him is Muhammadu Buhari, a former leader who has a record for being tough on insecurity and is “incorruptible.” If the Nigerian citizenry decides to vote for Buhari instead of Jonathan, these qualities would be beneficial for tackling Nigeria’s instability and restoring some confidence from the public and from investors.

Nevertheless, whoever wins the elections will have to take effective action soon to deal with Nigeria’s problems. Boko Haram is growing into an unsustainably strong force that is already acting across borders. Further, Nigeria needs to react to the new realities of its oil sector. If not, the resulting ramifications will prove increasingly harmful for Nigeria and for the region.

2 comments
2 comments
Dayo007
Dayo007

Jonathan has done a lot noone talks about. For one, his management of the oil crisis has been widely ignore, but he has helped develop many sectors (such as agrculture, transport, energy) and the balance is slowly shifting away from oil dependency (although the road still is long). He has asked for help to countries like USA, UK, France and others to help Nigeria to fight Boko Haram. He has also met neighbouring countries to organise an alliance. He is doing as goods a job a possible given our underequipped, demoralized, corrupt army , has the right vision of the long term conflict (as his calls for foreign help show). Two of the three latest attacks were victories for our military. Look at how a coalition of about 30 countries (including the US, the UK, France, Turkey and now Iran) are doing in a similar situation in Irak and Syria. Hardly better. And that is because such wars are tough to fight. But GEJ did a good job in comparison, being alone and given our military.

GMB, on the other side, went from a very bellicose stance (crush BH in two months? I'd very much like to know how) to talks of peace (which is preposterous given the bloodthirsty nature of the group and their dreams of expansion). Now that would be wrong. Not only is he constantly babbling teeth shattering lies, but he dividing a fragile country to have his last go at power (he is a 72yr old former military dictator who was oust by his very men in 1985).

Rolland
Rolland

Buhari is not a former LEADER. You mean former DICTATOR. He took control of Nigeria in 1984 in a military coup and implemented the MOST repressive regime in the history of Nigeria. And all this BS about Jonathan doing nothing to ease Nigeria's dependence on oil? He has pursued huge agricultural reforms in his term, helping create thousands of jobs, empower thousands of farmers and teach NIgerians to feed themselves and wean the country off oil dependence. I wish this article provided more context instead of mentioning just the ways Jonathan has been seemed to fail. 

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