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

By Karl Sorri for Global Risk Insights

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.

6 comments
6 comments
Linda O
Linda O

If I get your point you want to trap the Nigerians between religious fanatics and a dictator. Calling for GMB's election is ludicrous. Only misinformed or paid journalists do so. The man is a total autocrat, who displayed only contempt towards Human Rights and freedom of press during his time in power. And it's no secret. You even can read about it on Fela Kuti's wikipedia page!

Fadeelah
Fadeelah

These kind of armchair journalism articles are getting less and less credibility when they omit to mention what successes the current President has had.


I guess it would be equally fair to mention that corruption is something that affects both side, and that Buhari's association with the likes of governors Ahmed Tinubu and Rotimi Amaechi does not really help to make up for his dictatorship, that lasted just over 1 year, which is especially remembered for its brutality and war against indiscipline. He jailed journalists, politicians, civil society activists and executed a record number of people.


So you can resort to the Boko Haram argument where voting for an ex-dictator would seem like a good idea. But it isn't. Especially given the recent development of the fight against Boko Haram, with the intervention of Cameroon and Chad and with the successive defeats of the terrorists in Maiduguri and Sabon Gari (see: http://www.vanguardngr.com/2014/11/41-boko-haram-members-beheaded-biu/).


This country needs to move forward, and Buhari is a step in the wrong direction.

Dickson
Dickson

While GEJ's has systematically undergone both the critic and the propaganda originating from the APC, this campaign of misinformation cannot hide the fact that he has been quite successful in an large array of areas during his mandate. In fact comparing the records of both candidates during their time as Head of State reveals a mind-blowing gap between the two in terms of efficiency. Trying to resume GEJ mandate to his inability to tackle the Boko Haram threat is absolutely ridiculous when this very same man has fought off the Ebola outbreak for which he obtained a clean bill of health from the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2014 , fought off corruption by weeding out 46000 ghost workers out of the Federal service sector, brought very successful reforms in the industrial and agricultural sector, notably with the implementation of the Transformation Agenda. What is there to say in favor of GMB? Well, he hasn't yet clearly resorted to all out violence against his opponent, that's about it. Otherwise it's all lies, dictatorship, jailing, call for violence and Sharia law for everyone, but if that's your cup of tea, go ahead and vote for him.

chuckwuebuka alavavite
chuckwuebuka alavavite

Well, the least you could say is that this article is one-sided. I don't man GEJ bashing, but at least do the job properly. First, every problem that is mentioned is deeply rooted in Nigerian history (corruption, oil dependency and Boko Haram repdates GEJ's com to power…). Jonathan actually did a lot to tackle these issues, although less successful in the military struggle agains Boko Haram. However, the battle against BH is also one of the minds, and proper education and employment prospects are also key elements, that Jonathan has supported vividly. Another thing would be to present his main opponent - Buhari - for what he is, to see what the alternative is. The man is a 72yr old former despot who campaigned and slander and impossible promises, after losing 4 elections. His people have proven to be violent time and time again, and many of his backers are deeply corrupt (it takes quite a bit of money to campaign five times!). Now you have a glimpse of the bigger picture.

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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