As if the strain inflicted on the Nigerian citizenry by the ignominious Boko Haram terrorist sect were not enough, the Nigerian psyche has been further assailed by the threat of a full blown Ebola epidemic. With the ineffectual government of Mr. Goodluck Jonathan struggling to get a handle on the scourge of Boko Haram (it’s been almost four months since 278 girls were kidnapped from Chibok) it will be a calamity at best and a catastrophe at worst, not only for West Africa but for the world, should the Ebola outbreak get out of hand.
While Mr. Jonathan cavorts in Washington at the African Leaders – US conference, hundreds of Nigerian troops have been killed in the North Eastern state of Bornu as Boko Haram seizes the border town of Gwoza, the second after Damboa, which it seized on July 21, 2014. With two Nigerian towns now under its control added to a vast portion of the Sambisa forest, which straddles Nigeria and Cameroun, Boko Haram is quickly carving out a geographical enclave for its proposed Islamic state.
Condemning strongly the “excesses of Boko Haram”, Mr. Jonathan and his PR machinery’s favorite refrain, while not taking cogent steps to confront the problem of Boko Haram leaves many Nigerians to speculate that either Mr. Jonathan is clueless as to what needs to be done about the brutish terrorist group or he is apathetic to the plight of Nigerians and the territorial integrity of the country which he pledged to protect and defend in the oath he took when he assumed the presidency. The Nigerian Military troops in the battle against Boko Haram have raised alarm as to how under-equipped they are compared to the terrorists. The Nigerian military is kitted with old, degraded and sometimes fake arms and ammunition that are decades old with ordinances that fail to detonate in their confrontations with the terrorist sect leading to high casualties dealt on the Nigerian Military by the superiorly armed terrorists all the time.
The corruption and rot that has rendered the Nigerian military a glorified vigilante group has also rendered the Nigerian Health care system in near-total collapse and disrepair. Nigeria is supposedly the largest economy in Africa with a GDP of about $502 billion in 2013 but spends only about $6 billion on its defense. Of this amount, only about $2.33 billion is actually spent on the Nigerian Military with the balance of about $3.7 billion going to fund the Nigerian Maritime Security Agency charged with Maritime security which it conducts through juicy security contracts awarded to former Niger Delta militant leaders (associates of Mr. Jonathan when he was Governor of Bayelsa state) and their private armies of pirates. Essentially, more than 60% of Nigeria’s defense budget goes to paying protection money to the Niger Delta militant groups.
Recently, Mr. Jonathan asked the Nigerian congress to pass an appropriation bill for $1.0 dollars to pay for training and equipment of the Nigerian Military against Boko Haram. If Nigeria’s history of corruption and misappropriation of funds is anything to go by, it is doubtful that the $1 billion dollar being sought by Mr. Jonathan will be used for its intended purpose.