Nigeria: Dramatic Progress In The Wrong Direction


November 11, 2022: In the south (the Niger River Delta) oil thieves and corruption among local politicians and security forces commanders are responsible for a dramatic and disastrous decline in oil production. Oil theft gangs damage pipelines in order to steal the crude oil, which is then refined in simple local refineries to produce kerosene for domestic use. Oil theft so far this year has reduced production by 40 percent. “Official” 2022 production to date was only 284 million barrels compared to the projected 469 million barrels. This is in sharp contrast to November 2021 when Nigeria regained its position as largest oil producer in Africa with 1.33 million BPD (barrels per day), up eight percent from the previous month. Normally the largest producers in Africa are Nigeria, Angola and Libya. Angola suffers from some of the same corruption and internal violence problems as Nigeria and for October was in third place behind Libya and Nigeria. Nigeria is now in fourth place at a time when the government and the weakened post-covid19 economy needs the money the most. Revenue shortfall is one of the reasons for increased unrest in many parts of the country.

Despite continuing Islamic terrorist activity, the majority of violent deaths are caused by tribal feuds and criminal gangs. Most of this occurs outside Borno State, which is still where most of the Boko Haram and other Islamic terrorist violence occurs. Islamic terrorists in the northeast south have tried to expand their operations to other states but have faced resistance from local tribal militias as well as criminal gangs who don’t want the competition.

November 9, 2022: In the southeast (Imo state) dozens of civilians have been killed or wounded by soldiers searching for a soldier who went missing while on leave in the area. Dozens of homes have been burned down as well. This sort of misbehavior is normal for the army and a major cause of anger and violence against the army and the federal government. In Imo and surrounding states there is an increased army presence because renewed demands for an independent state of Biafra, dominated by Igbos and consisting of the southeastern states of Ebonyi, Enugu, Anambra, Imo and Abia is once again an issue. Local politicians told the federal government that the best, and most possible, solution to the Biafra/Igbo separatist movement threat was to offer some autonomy instead. The Biafra (separatist) movement was revived in 2015 and at first the government ordered police to crack down. By 2016 nearly 200 Igbo had been killed by police attacks on demonstrators and anyone suspected of separatist activity. The violent response was obviously making it worse and after 2018 a gentler approach was tried.

The pro-Biafran separatists have been around and increasingly active since the 1990s. Back in the 1960s the Igbo (or Ibo) people of southeastern Nigeria considered establishing a separate Igbo state called Biafra. A brutal war followed before the separatist movement was crushed and the Igbo were warned not to try it again. Separatist attitudes were silenced but not extinguished. Pro-Biafra groups began to appear again in the late 1990s, trying to revive the separatist movement. Since then, over a thousand separatists have been killed, and many more imprisoned, while the government continues to insist that Biafra is gone forever. But as details of the extent of government corruption during the last few decades came out, Biafra again seemed like something worth fighting for. Senior government officials, including president Buhari, are paying attention, and seeking to work out a compromise with the Igbos. The Fulani are less amenable to any compromise, especially since the Fulani are Moslem and consider themselves defenders of Islam against non-believers like the Christian Igbo.

In response to the threats of violence, a major pro-Biafra organization IPOB (Indigenous People of Biafra) took the lead in protecting Igbo from anti-Biafra violence. In areas where peaceful defense measures do not work IPOB formed an armed security component, the ESN (Eastern Security Network), to defend Igbos in Imo State from Fulani and government violence. The government has responded by sending a battalion of infantry to an area thought to be a base for ESN members. This was unpopular with the locals as Nigerian soldiers are notorious for their violent behavior. These troops had been ordered to behave but that proved difficult for them to do so in the face of Igbo contempt and hostility.

Many Igbo politicians urge IPOB to become more political than militant to achieve their goals. The Igbo, because of their higher education levels and entrepreneurial skills are a growing presence in the national economy and senior civil service. Many prominent Igbo see the possibility of an Igbo president of Nigeria because there is an Igbo politician running in the next presidential election in February 2023. This would do more for the Igbo than another war for an independent Biafra. Not all Biafrans agree with that assessment, but most see a Biafran president of Nigeria as a good thing. The 2023 election has a religious aspect to it because one of the leading candidates is Moslem and selected another Moslem to run for vice-president. For decades the Nigerians custom was to always have a Moslem president elected with a Christian vice president and vice versa. Anglophone Cameroonians don’t stand much of a chance in the Cameroonian national elections because most Cameroonians speak French and are fine with that.

November 8, 2022: Britain issued a travel warning for British citizens in Nigeria, who are advised to stay out of 22 states in Nigeria because of the increased bandit and terrorist threat. Most of these areas are risky because bandits and Islamic terrorists see foreigners as prime kidnapping targets. Many British visitors are Nigerian born or the descendants of Nigerians and their presence is easy to spot because despite looking like locals the expatriate Nigerians now move and speak differently than the natives, even if the locals are close kin.

November 6, 2022: In the northeast (Borno State) police repulsed an ISWAP (Islamic State of the West African Province) terrorist night raid on a town near Lake Chad. The attackers arrived in trucks. One policeman was wounded while the retreating attackers apparently took any casualties with them, along with one stolen pickup truck.

November 4, 2022: In the southeast (Abia State), IPOB (Indigenous People of Biafra) is believed responsible for the recent ambush of an army patrol that left one soldier dead. IPOB has been militant about protecting Igbos from anti-Biafra violence by the security forces and Fulani tribal militias. In areas where peaceful defense measures do not work IPOB formed an armed security component, the ESN (Eastern Security Network), to defend Igbos from Fulani and government violence. The government responded with more troops. This was unpopular with the local Igbos as Nigerian soldiers are notorious for their violent behavior. These troops had been ordered to behave but that proved difficult for them to do so in the face of Igbo contempt and hostility.

November 3, 2022: In the northeast (Borno State) soldiers, accompanied by some local CJTF (Civilian JTF, or Joint Task Force, after the military organization of the same name) ambushed a local Boko Haram groups and killed three of the Islamic terrorists. The CJTF was created to provide security from Boko Haram violence and provide information to the security forces about who Boko Haram members are and where they are living. In response Boko Haram openly declared war on Civilian JTF members and threatened to come to their homes and kill them. Most Civilian JTF members cover their faces while assisting the security forces. While this threat certainly terrified some Civilian JTF members (who generally have no firearms), the leadership publicly defied the Boko Haram threats. The Civilian JTF often operate with heavily armed police or soldiers nearby (ready to move in to arrest Boko Haram suspects the vigilantes identify or fire back if Boko Haram attack). The army has begun to use the volunteers to replace troops at checkpoints. There are still some armed soldiers nearby, in case Boko Haram tries to attack the civilians, but this new policy has enabled more checkpoints to be set up and more through searches of vehicles to be conducted. This made it more difficult for Boko Haram to move around, plan and carry out attacks or to resupply the few men they still have in the cities. All this CJTF activity also made Boko Haram very mad and ready to kill CJTF members whenever they had the chance.

November 2, 2022: In the southeast (Abia State) a soldier on leave in the area was kidnapped by armed men believed to be members of the Igbo ESN militia.

October 28, 2022: In the southeast (near the Cameroon border) the UN issued a warning to their relief workers in the area to be alert to a kidnapping threat. Local and especially foreign UN relief workers are often target for Islamic terrorists and gangsters that specialize in kidnapping for ransom. The locals being served by the UN relief efforts will often report suspected kidnapper activity in the area.

October 24, 2022: The piracy gangs operating of the southern coast have also terrorized local fishermen who live in the many creeks and other waterways that are found in the Niger River Delta. The gangsters see the fishermen as a source of useful target information, or potential police spies. The pirates seem to believe the worst and that the fishermen as enemies unless proven otherwise. Few of the fishermen cooperate with the gangsters.

October 23, 2022: The United States and Britain warned their citizens of possible Islamic terrorist attacks in the capital (Abuja). The Canadian and Australian embassies soon did the same. Within a week of this warning the U.S. ordered non-essential embassy personnel to leave the country. Britain believes the risk is greater for the American diplomats than for the British ones.

October 22, 2022: In the northeast (Borno State) ISWAP members raided a Boko Haram camp and killed six Boko Haram gunmen. This sort of violence between Islamic terrorists has been going on since 2016 when an internal struggle triggered by Boko Haram members who believed more radical measures were required for Boko Haram to survive. Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau and most Boko Haram members resisted this but the radicals managed to organize ISWAP and eventually (2021) kill Shekau when a large ISWAP raiding party attacked the remote camp where the Boko Haram leader was staying. The factional dispute was declared over because of the ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) faction raid. It wasn’t. The death of veteran Boko Haram leader Shekau did not lead to a reunification of Boko Haram under pro-ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) leadership.

Shekau was killed by dissident Boko Haram members that had joined ISIL and considered any Boko Haram member who did not do the same as traitors to Islam. Shekau had been active in Boko Haram from the beginning, in the 1990s, and had been leader since 2009. Shekau was correct about ISWAP, the local ISIL affiliate, seeking to absorb Boko Haram and seemed to realize more than ISIL leaders that many Boko Haram members preferred to fight ISWAP, or simply leave the movement. ISWAP leaders backed this forced reunification idea without realizing the impact the death of Shekau would have on most Islamic terrorists in the northeast. This became obvious when the number of Boko Haram and ISWAP members abandoning Islamic terrorism increased after the “merger” and death of Shekau was first announced. Many of those defectors switched to organized crime and ditched their religious pretensions. This has already been happening in the last few years but the “merger” caused the trend to spike. Two months after the death of Shekau over 8,000 Boko Haram/ISWAP members, including many family members who lived in Islamic terrorist camps, officially surrendered, something which merely resulted in an update of government records and agreeing to answer questions about their experience with Boko Haram. Nearly all the Boko Haram/ISWAP already named as criminals and wanted for specific crimes, are leaders and could negotiate a surrender deal that could spare them any punishment at all. That has upset a lot of northern political and business leaders, but these men know that if you have enough cash and connections, you can avoid conviction. This has been the case during the last decade as more and more notorious (they often flaunted it) politicians and business magnates were prosecuted, often with the help of foreign countries, like the UAE (United Arab Emirates) and many other Western nations, who provided evidence of financial activities locally.

Boko Haram quickly appointed a new leader; Bakura Modu (or Sahaba) who had much less experience than Shekau and he moved Boko Haram headquarters from the Sambia forces to Rijana forest in neighboring Kaduna State. These changes did not stem the defections. Boko Haram and ISWAP are both beset by money problems. Over a decade of Islamic terrorist violence in the north have ruined the local economy so there are more unemployed young men who can be enticed to join the Islamic terrorist for a “joining bonus” of less than $2, plus the promise of more if they learn to handle an assault rifle and succeed at looting and plundering what is left to steal in the northeast. A merger of economic, not religious, convenience was one thing most Islamic terrorists could agree on.

October 18, 2022: In the capital (Abuja) the CDS (Chief of Defense Staff) revealed that the campaign against Boko Haram has so far killed over 100,000 civilians and forced over two million to flee their homes. The economic losses so far have amounted to $9 billion.

October 11, 2022: In the northeast (Borno State), near Lake Chad) soldiers accompanied by armed local CJTF, detected and defeated an ISWAP ambush by attacking the Islamic terrorists from several directions. This attack caused the Islamic terrorists flee, with the soldiers in pursuit. Eventually the Islamic terrorists lost at least 19 dead and even more wounded as well as a substantial loss of weapons and vehicles.

September 28, 2022: Since 2020 Nigerian troops have received a dozen VT4 tanks from China. There have been problems when Nigerian troops used these tanks in counterterrorist operations. The army told China that Nigerian tank crews in combat sometimes found that it took them 30 minutes to load and fire a 125mm shell. The problem turned out to be lack of training and poor maintenance. These two items have long been a problem for complex exports like tanks, artillery and warplanes. Some VT4 (also known as MBT3000) users reported problems that did not involve poor maintenance or poorly trained crews. China said it would fix it. The recent discovery of a major design flaw in all T-72 type tanks is another matter. Nigeria has a dismal record with imported tanks, with most of them soon becoming useless because of lack of maintenance. Tanks require a lot of maintenance to remain operational.




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