Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Perspectives differ

Is the Nigerian military incapable of acting? Some officials from the US think so. Some Nigerians say they aren't getting enough help.

With Schoolgirls Taken by Boko Haram Still Missing, U.S.-Nigeria Ties Falter
Soon after the Islamist group Boko Haram kidnapped nearly 300 teenage girls in Nigeria in April, the United States sent surveillance drones and about 30 intelligence and security experts to help the Nigerian military try to rescue them. Gen. David M. Rodriguez, the top general for American missions in Africa, rushed from his headquarters here to help the commanders in the crisis.

Seven months later, the drone flights have dwindled, many of the advisers have gone home and not one of the kidnapped girls has been found…

Nigeria’s ambassador to the United States has accused the Obama administration of failing to support the fight against Boko Haram, prompting the State Department to fire back with condemnations of the Nigerian military’s dismal human rights record…

[I]n Stuttgart, officials at the headquarters of United States Africa Command offered their own bleak assessment of a corruption-plagued, poorly equipped Nigerian military that is “in tatters” as it confronts an enemy that now controls about 20 percent of the country.

“Ounce for ounce, Boko Haram is equal to if not better than the Nigerian military,” said one American official here, who spoke on condition of anonymity…

The United States has flown several hundred surveillance drone flights over the vast, densely forested regions in the northeast where the girls were seized…

When the Pentagon did come up with what it calls “actionable intelligence” from the drone flights — for example, information that might have indicated the location of some of the girls — and turned it over to the Nigerian commanders to pursue, they did nothing with the information, Africa Command officials said.

In addition, United States security assistance to Nigeria has been sharply limited by American legal prohibitions against close dealings with foreign militaries that have engaged in human rights abuses…

Those restrictions have drawn sharp criticism from Nigerian officials... Nigeria’s ambassador to the United States… said his government was dissatisfied with the “scope, nature and content” of American support in the fight against Boko Haram. He also disputed allegations of human rights violations committed by Nigerian soldiers…

Groups like Human Rights Watch say the Nigerian military has at times burned hundreds of homes and committed other abuses as it battled Boko Haram and its presumed supporters…

Testifying before House and Senate hearings, administration officials in May offered an unusually candid criticism of the Nigerian military. “We’re now looking at a military force that’s, quite frankly, becoming afraid to even engage,” said Alice Friend, the Pentagon’s principal director for African affairs at the time.

Sarah Sewall, the undersecretary of state for civilian security, democracy and human rights, said at a separate hearing that despite Nigeria’s $5.8 billion security budget for 2014, “corruption prevents supplies as basic as bullets and transport vehicles from reaching the front lines of the struggle against Boko Haram.”

Teaching Comparative blog entries are indexed. Use the search box to look for country names or concept labels attached to each entry.

Just The Facts! is a concise guide to concepts, terminology, and examples that will appear on May's exam. Great for review.










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