Nigeria faces the disastrous consequences of both violent extremism and the militarized response to “counter violent extremism,” which has resulted in a humanitarian crisis, human rights abuses and about 100,000 deaths since the Boko Haram insurgency began in 2009. In Nigeria’s northeast, 8.1 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, and 1.7 million people are displaced.
In the midst of this humanitarian crisis, in July the United States approved a $593 million arms deal with the Nigerian government to help them fight Boko Haram. Given Nigeria’s current budget crisis, the source of funds for the purchase of the 12 Super Tucano warplanes and other military hardware remains unclear.
A bipartisan amendment was added to the National Defense Authorization Act that provides some conditions on military assistance to Nigeria but, nonetheless, supports a militarized approach. In September a congressional delegation visited Nigeria on a fact-finding mission and to strengthen ties with Nigeria’s legislature.
In response to the United Nations’ declaration of famine, our office participated in a congressional briefing on the humanitarian crisis in Nigeria’s northeast. We also helped to raise awareness about Nigeria’s conflict dynamics and emphasized the need for a long-term, holistic and nonviolent strategy.
We encouraged the State Department to prioritize humanitarian assistance to Nigeria, particularly to people affected by food insecurity and violence in the northeast. In the coming year we will continue to monitor the implementation of military assistance. —Charles Kwuelum