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Crisis Briefing: No easy answers for ending the crisis in Nigeria

Teja Palko

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Bloody attacks, seizing towns, declaring caliphates, kidnapping children and women, bombing churches and mosques, abuses against civilians, assassinating politicians and leaders are just some of the problems Nigeria is facing. War against terror in estimated 173 million population state is far from finished.

The security situation is worsening in the North from the Boko Haram insurgency. Boko Haram group is in Nigeria active for many years now, and based on United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimation responsible for 20.000 people killed so far, and recording to Human Rights Watch only this year at least 1.000 civilians. The number of internal displaced persons (IDPs) is also increasing. As of February 2015 Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) reported that 1.235,300 people were forced to flee their homes.

The Multinational Joint Task Force (MJTF) with newly task to fight the branch of Al Qaida was established in 1998 for maintenance of security in the border area and was expanded to counterterrorism operations. Military tasks are protecting civilians from further attacks, stopping abductions and rescuing those held captive. African Union, which recently gave MJTF a green light, asked the United Nations Security Council on January 29 to adopt the resolution authorizing the military operations, achieving coordination, conducting border patrols, finding abducted persons, stopping the flow of arms, reintegrating insurgents into society and bring those responsible for crimes to justice. Human Rights Watch suggests that situation in northeastern Nigeria can be resolved with the help of newly elected government, which needs to provide medical treatment, counselling and the ability to educate former captives. Boko Haram insurgency is also spilling across Nigeria’s border into Cameroon, Chad and Niger which together with Nigeria and Benin are part of MJTS. In a way MJTS is only regional attempt to contain the threat. Nigeria is reluctant for regional intervention on its territory, so neighboring countries within MNJTF framework will work on securing the borders and preventing Boko Haram insurgency from further spilling, while Nigeria itself will be military and otherwise active on its national territory. Regional force will be responsible for 10 to 15% of the entire area where Boko Haram operates, so Nigeria will need to do most of the job. The reasons can also be seen in history of border disputes with the neighbors and traditional status of Nigeria as an important regional actor in securing peace and stability in West Africa.

Doomsday predictions based on previous elections for the aftermath of presidential elections in April luckily did not happen. In pre-election period based on Fund for Peace reporting saw 264 instances of insecurity and 2.215 fatalities. By comparison of pre-election period in 2011 the numbers of fatalities have in this year increased dramatically and immediate post-election violence in 2011 resulted in an additional 800 people killed. Results of presidential elections were peaceful accepted mainly because Goodluck Jonathan concede defeat and congratulated Muhammadu Buhari on his win. Africa’s biggest oil producer did not face a fresh wave of violence, even though for the first time in history an opposition candidate won elections. On 11th April country voted again, this time in gubernatorial elections. State governors are one of the most important politicians, since they are managing big budgets, have influence over federal appointments and the choice of who runs for president. Political system in Nigeria is also confronted with high corruption level. From 175 countries measured by Transparency International Nigeria was ranked 136, from which we can see that corruption is widespread.

The country faces divisions along ethnic and religious lines, communal violence and impunity for crimes by Nigerian security forces. The latest is the most worrying since the army in the country had an important role in Nigeria’s turbulent history. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, The Global Centre for Responsibility to Protect, Human Rights Agenda Network and other international and national organizations have reported on abuses in Nigerian army. Nigerian security forces have in response to Boko Haram attacks used excessive force. A lot of people were detained in inhumane conditions. Physical abuse, burned civilian homes, violations of human right and humanitarian law, no credible investigations of past crimes, no accountability for crimes, executions, arbitrarily arresting, beating on people, stealing money while searching homes, torture and detainment in inhuman conditions are just some mentions problems that need to be addressed that Nigerian population won’t be forever caught between the army and Islamic violence.

Inter-communal violence, political unrest, and corruption demonstrate that Boko Haram attacks are not the only issue facing the country. A lot of inter-communal unrest has been seen through the years. The causes were, among others, also ethnic or religious identity and resulted in a great number of IDPs, deaths and violence. In Africa’s largest economy, people in the north of the country are predominantly Muslim religion and Christian in the south. 10% of the population following indigenous sects and close to 350 ethnic groups speak 250 languages. Another problem beside diversity in religion and ethnicity facing Nigeria is poverty. According to UN statistics about 70% of Nigerians live below the poverty line and survive on less than a dollar a day. The division along economic lines is seen, since poverty is more widespread in the north and less in the south and in the Niger delta. The divisions and inequalities, corruption, vulnerable people, the state’s inability to protect, with battles against insurgent groups have contributed to the current security crisis in the country. Potential problems can be seen in the country’s economy and its reliance on oil. 70% of the country’s government revenues are derived from the oil and gas business. That makes the country vulnerable in a case of oil price drops.

The crisis in Nigeria has rapidly become a complex global, regional and national issue. A lot of concerns and actions have come through different international actors and organizations about the situation in the country. On international level International Criminal Court (ICC) indicted Boko Haram and reason to believe that crimes against humanity have been committed. The Court is still in its preliminary stages but has gained the cooperation of Nigerian government. Furthermore, what is also important is that the Court also announced thatany crimes committed by Nigerian army will fall under its derestriction. United Nations (UN) have also condemned the violence seen in Nigeria. The UN and Security Council have expressed deep concerns of Boko Haram activities that jeopardize regional and national peace and security.

There are no easy answers for ending the crisis in Nigeria. Some things that need to change are Nigeria’s cooperation with even greater extend with regional actors and acceptances of assistance from its neighbors. Security must be established and insurgency from Boko Haram and other groups must be stopped. In the short term military conflicts must stop and negotiations with representatives of different militant groups must start. Different aspect of crisis must be addressed in order to protect the population. Furthermore, crimes and atrocities must be punished and answered regardless of the side that committed them. Beside successful prosecutions corruption must be reduced. There has been seen some improvements at the federal level with the establishment of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and with it impunity has begun to change. A lot still needs to be done at local government level, which has become the most corrupt in the federal system. The next thing is to improve use of oil revenues that will improve development indicators and last but not least a lot of political will and competent leaders.

Teja Palko is a Slovenian writer. She finished studies on Master’s Degree programme in Defense Science at the Faculty of Social Science at University in Ljubljana.

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Persistent Conflict and Instability Hamper the Recovery of the Central African Republic

MD Staff

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According to the first issue of the Central African Republic (CAR) Economic Update published today by the World Bank, the deterioration in security conditions and the humanitarian situation is dampening hopes for a robust economic recovery in the Central African Republic. After peaking at 4.8% in 2015, the growth rate slowed to 4.5% in 2016 and 4.3% in 2017. Despite the optimism prevailing since the 2016 presidential election and the government’s promising fiscal consolidation policy, the CAR remains a fragile state that could draw lessons from the successful experience of other fragile states in order to sustain its peacebuilding and recovery efforts.

Titled “Breaking the Cycle of Conflict and Instability,” the World Bank’s publication provides an in-depth analysis of the factors creating fragility and proposes a number of avenues to achieve economic recovery. It identifies three essential prerequisites to break the cycle of instability and conflict: restoring security, combating impunity by guaranteeing compensation for the harm suffered by the victims, and promoting equitable and inclusive economic and social development.

Without a doubt, the persistent insecurity is the biggest obstacle to poverty reduction, as each new violent confrontation between armed groups leads to additional displacement, destroys private property, and complicates the work of humanitarian organizations,” said Jean-Christophe Carret, World Bank Country Director for the Central African Republic. “The protracted security crisis in the CAR is taking a toll on the capacity of the state to provide essential public services and goods in the areas of health, education, and water.

The report recommends that lessons be learned from other post-conflict countries such as Ghana, Liberia, and Rwanda, which have managed to put prolonged periods of instability behind them.

“The experience of these countries underscores the importance of promoting the development of civil society in order to consolidate democratic progress, strengthen public accountability, and enhance transparency while implementing a pragmatic set of policy and institutional initiatives to achieve gradual but steady improvement in the quality of the public service,” said Souleymane Coulibaly, World Bank Lead Economist for the Central African Republic and publishing coordinator for Economic Updates.

The new Economic Updates series for the Central African Republic will review economic trends in the country on a biannual basis in order to help the government and its development partners identify new opportunities and tackle persistent challenges.

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Mauritania Conference : AU Reopen Western Sahara File

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Since the kingdom of Morocco left the OAU in 1984, the Kingdom’s participation with the African states has been seen by its enterprise involvement in several fields like oil imports and humanitarian aid. At the end of the 90s, under the King Mohammed VI rule, Morocco’s African alignments accept a new measurement whereby, continental banking, commercial and economic exchanges took the significant stage in Morocco’s re-engagement with the African States. The main objective for this collaboration and mutual African team banding was to build up a solid South-South strategy cooperation, tapping into Morocco’s longstanding historical, cultural, geopolitical and economic band with the African continent.

On the beginning of July, the 31st Ordinary Session of the African Union(AU) meeting, which took place in Nouakchott, the capital of Mauritania which is expectedly going to discuss a report on the Moroccan Sahara Issue.

Depending on the African Union calendar released, this meeting will hold the presentation of three main reports, including a report on the Moroccan Sahara Issue, conferred by Moussa Faki Mohamed, Chairman of the AU Commission.

Basically, this is the first time that the Western Sahara dispute has been conferred with the calendar of an African Union conference since the Kingdom’s return to the African organization last year, after it had left the country three decades ago because of the same issue, which necessitates the kingdom of Morocco would face any challenge to its national case as its priority .

On Thursday, Moussa Faki Mohamed, head of the African Union Commission in Morocco, met with King Mohammed VI, Prime Minister Saad Eddin Othmani and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Nasser Bourita, along with some of the King’s advisors to discuss the Sahara Dispute which is a report in AU.

The communiqué issued by the African Union on Vicky’s visit to Morocco did not refer to the Sahara issue with Moroccan officials. The communiqué issued on Friday made reference to the role of the Kingdom in the Union Foundation, as well as issues of major concern.

The Moroccan government refuses the inclusion of the Sahara report in the AU calendar and esteems the report to be an exclusive competence of the United Nations, especially in the presence of a total of parties opposed to the Moroccan proposal, led by the separatist Polisario Front, supported and financed by Algeria and some other countries.

Additionally, to offering a report on the Moroccan Sahara Issue, it is anticipated that the 31st AU Meeting, on 1 and 2 July, will show a report on the tools and implementation of the institutional reform decision of the African Union by Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda. Additional report on the Africa-Africa Free Trade Area will be handled by Mohamed Essovo, President of the Republic of Niger. Moussa Faki will come up with another report on the African Common Position on the African, Caribbean, and Pacific countries beyond 2020.

This African Union Agenda also includes the presentation of the subject of the year on “Victory in the struggle against corruption: a sustainable path towards African transformation”, to be seen by Mohamed Boukhari, President of the Republic of Nigeria, to be pursued by a debate by the Conference. The concluded sessions will argue the discussion of the activities of the Peace and Security Council on Africa, in which Morocco won a seat months ago.

The calendar of the African Meeting contains a report on the implementation of the African Union’s main roadmap for practical ways to silence guns in Africa in 2020, the adoption of the AU’s 2019 budget and the ratification of appointments in the Federation’s institutions.

Morocco’s acquisition to the African Union will undisputed change the policy of how the Pan-African organization stands the Western Sahara file. Despite Morocco’s diplomatic orientation to refine solving the Sahara dispute in a pragmatic way, its policy will sustain the same as for the acceptance of the SADR is concerned. The kingdom of Morocco is likely to endure its changeless policy to delegitimize any declare or allege of the Polisario in its search for being an independent state. It will also try to undermine the political impact of the Polisario leadership and its keen supporters, South Africa and Algeria.

At the same time, to disband the SADR from the African Union will be a weak mission, as the latter can only discourage other countries whose governments were agreed towards unconstitutional layers. Several African states refuse to disband the SADR. Regardless of Morocco’s intense African policy calendar and huge commercial economic projects, there stay countries who still cover the Polisario leadership. For instance, the case of Nigeria, which get advantage from Morocco’s economic bonus, continuing exercises its position to support the Polisario in their faith for independence.

Currently, the Kingdom of Morocco has used its diplomatic and economic might to return its empty seat at the African Union, it has to bestow that it is a capable partner whose membership will favor the African Union, therefore, solving and resolving the deadlock of an African colonial dispute. In contrast, the SADR can also urge for a resolution by sustaining powerful AU member states endorsement, especially, South Africa and Algeria, to guarantee the Kingdom of Morocco brings up some sort of a win-win barraging agreement.

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New Somali Business Fund Creates Jobs

MD Staff

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Unemployment is chronic across Somalia. The SBCF is expected to generate more than 2,000 jobs, most of which will go to young people. Photo: Hassan Hirsi/World Bank

Sahal, a dairy farmer, is CEO of Bovine Industry, an urban dairy farm in central Mogadishu. The company cross-breeds Somali cattle with Jersey cattle to produce higher-quality milk.

“Mogadishu is the only capital in the world where you can’t buy fresh milk,” Sahal said. “How can a country that exports the most livestock in the world not have fresh milk?”

Despite the clear need for fresh milk, it has been difficult for Sahal and other small and medium enterprises (SMEs) like his to access capital to grow their businesses. That was before the November launch of the Somali Business Catalytic Fund (SBCF), which aims to spur economic growth in country by supporting SMEs and entrepreneurs.

With support from the SBCF, Sahal was able to fit his backyard business with grazing grass and fences. The demand for fresh milk is soaring, with an average waiting list of three months for a single liter. Soon, Sahal will be able to increase his herd of 15 cows, producing more milk and allowing him to employ more people. He believes that development should be based on grassroots needs, and simple supply/demand analyses.

“Farmers have the knowledge to pasteurize milk, produce yogurt and expand the Somali dairy sector,” he said. “We just need the machinery and capital to make it happen.”

SBCF, the Bank’s flagship job creation initiative in Somalia, targets businesses that focus on innovative processes, products and markets new to the region. It is also intended to stimulate the business and technical services industry to build sector expertise in agriculture, livestock and energy, among others. So far, the SBCF has selected 101SMEs across the Somali peninsula – South Somalia, Puntland and Somaliland — to receive financial and technical support. The selected firms are expected to generate more than 2,000 jobs.

“Poverty reduction in Somalia must be private sector-led. We have relied on traditional aid since the early 1990s, and handouts have not been a sustainable method to reduce poverty,” said Sahal. “I believe that access to capital is crucial for both job creation and dignified poverty reduction.”

Asli Health Care Company, based in Hargeisa, has also benefited from the SBCF. The company’s manager, Nemo Yusuf, founded the company after she and her partners studied imports to Somaliland. Through a market study, she and her partners studies the viability of producing beauty products and creating jobs in the process.

“We observed an excess of imports of personal healthcare and beauty products from China and the Middle East, most of which could be produced domestically,” she said. “Our study confirmed that we could produce and sell shampoo, soaps and detergents competitively,” she said. “A reality that is too familiar with Somalis is that we import most products, when we should be producing them.”

Through the SBCF, Yusef was able to purchase high-speed manufacturing equipment, allowing her to produce shampoo bottles that limit waste from importing more plastic.

Her company is also supported through the SME Facility (SMEF). SMEF provides technical assistance and business development services to assist Somali entrepreneurs to launch, manage, and grow successful businesses. Asli and her partners were trained in budget planning, finance, and human resources training, which is helping their business become more effective. SBCF and SMEF fall under the Somali Core Economic Institutions and Opportunities (SCORE) Program, which is funded by the World Bank’s Multi-Partner Fund (MPF).

Armed with this knowledge, Yusuf and her partners have expanded their business. They created a sachet-packet shampoo line as a new product.

“There is a demand for one-time use 10 milliliter sachets, especially among young people and those who cannot afford full bottles,” Yusuf said. “We are in the process of manufacturing our own bottles to drive prices even lower.”

Challenges in Hargeisa are similar to those in Mogadishu, where Yusuf said “accessing capital is probably the main constraint to private sector growth.” There are also challenges such as the availability of skilled labor, supply-chain issues related to infrastructure, affordable energy and economic policies that support private sector competitiveness are also prominent.

Yusuf can see the results in Hargeisa, where the large market could be used to create jobs for young people as well as keep currency in the market and limit inflation.

“Our company is managed entirely by fellow citizens,” she said. “We have employed an additional 17 people to support the expansion of our company, of which most are young people. A third of our employees are women.”

World Bank

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