The U.S. government’s support for Nigeria in addressing Boko Haram should go beyond arms transactions and transfers. In addition to continuing to provide significant humanitarian assistance, the U.S. should support efforts to tackle the root causes of inequality and conflict. This will require holistic and inclusive solutions in which all stakeholders have a voice.
The U.S. Congress will also need to provide meaningful oversight to U.S. arms sales, a role given to Congress by the Arms Export Control Act (1976). This includes enforcement of “the Leahy law,” which prohibits sending U.S. military assistance to a foreign military unit that has committed a gross human rights violation. Robust congressional oversight is especially critical now, in light of the “Conventional Arms Transfer” policy announced earlier this year by the Trump administration. The revised policy will make it easier to transfer arms to places of violent conflict.
Though faced with many challenges as a country, Nigerians have shown remarkable resilience as they build their nation. Now the country must build on its strengths and celebrate the richness of its diversity. The U.S. should support these efforts rather than seeking military profit and solutions.