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Boko Haram proves the Nigerian government to be corrupt and useless

6 May 2014

12:29 PM

6 May 2014

12:29 PM

You know, the more we hear about the uselessness of the Nigerian government in dealing with the abduction – the rape, in the original sense of the word – by Boko Haram of 230-odd schoolgirls, the less appealing that government appears. The most striking and urgent action it took in response to the crisis in the three weeks since it happened was yesterday to arrest Naomi Mutah Nyadar, one of the women behind the mass demonstrations calling on the unhappily named president, Goodluck Jonathan, to get a grip and do something. Apparently his wife Patience took against her because she spoke about rescuing “our daughters” when in fact she was not the mother of any of the victims; she was speaking metaphorically, you see. Mrs Jonathan views the whole thing as a damaging distraction from her husband’s re-election campaign, apparently.

If it weren’t so horrible in itself, this flagrant outrage by Boko Haram – whose leader helpfully explained that the reason the girls were kidnapped was because they had no business being at school; they should have been married by now – would serve as a useful illustration of the general corruption and incompetence of the Nigerian government: like government, like army. The country’s annual defence budget is about £3.5 billion yet the frontline soldiers unfortunate enough to be sent into the areas where Boko Haram hangs out are by all accounts drastically under-equipped by comparison with the surprisingly well-provided terrorists. The US has offered intelligence help, which is nice, but relatives claim that when they do offer actual information from people in contact with the girls, or the girls themselves in snatched mobile phone conversations, the security forces just don’t seem that interested.


But credit where it’s due. The Foreign Secretary, William Hague, was apparently on the Nigerian government’s case about 24 hours after the girls were taken, offering whatever help it needed to get them back. The government, funnily, didn’t take him up on it. And although it’s dandy that Mr Hague plans to bring up the issue at his forthcoming summit in London about women and violence in war, it leaves unanswered the question of what you do when the actual government in question is both useless and corrupt.

This wretched affair should make us think twice about economic relations with Nigeria itself. Not just the amount of UK aid that goes there – about £238 million a year, it seems, almost all of it to non-state agencies, which is controversial enough – but investment in Nigeria generally. Nigeria is of course the third bit of that fashionable acronym MINT – Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey – which has been vigorously promoted by investment buffs and popularised by Goldman Sachs’ Jim O’Neill as a supplement/alternative to the better known shorthand for exciting developing economies, the BRICs.  When I first heard about MINT, in an astonishingly uncritical BBC business programme earlier this year, the first thing that occurred to me was that they were either anarchic or the kind of ghastly states that no investor with even a minimal sense of business ethics should touch with a bargepole. Mexico, with its unlovely record of gang warfare and terrifying homicide rate; Indonesia with its dodgy human rights record, especially in respect of the Christian minority; Turkey with its increasingly radical Islamic government and its robust approach to urban redevelopment issues; and Nigeria. Even today’s FT supplement on investing in Nigeria kicks off with a reminder that the place is not just riven with sectarian divisions, of which Boko Haram is the most obvious example, but drastic inequalities. The country’s GDP is put at $510 billion for last year but about 70 per cent of the population lives in poverty.

Of course that brings us to the argument about whether it’s better to engage with unpleasant and corrupt states in order to make them better or leave them severely alone. Personally, when it comes to Nigeria, I’m all in favour of raising our skirts well above our ankles.

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Show comments
  • Common Sense ✟ كافر

    Muslims abduct girls in Nigeria and our politicians in the UK are straight away raising the issue.
    Racist paedophile Muslim immigrants rape non muslim white girls across the UK and the silence is deafening. Pretty much sums up the state Britain.

  • Common Sense ✟ كافر

    Muslims abducting girls? no surprise there.
    Nigeria corrupt? no surprise there.

  • ross meroe

    ”The country’s GDP is put at $510 billion for last year but about 70 per cent of the population lives in poverty.” You failed to mention the ‘inconvenient’ fact that 10 million Nigerians have risen to middle class status in the last five years alone, showing there is gradual improvement in peoples’ lives. Wouldn’t suit your ‘narrative’ I suppose… Next!

  • ADW

    Thanks for the headline. I had thought otherwise up until now.

  • Raw England

    Its not just Nigeria.

    I think you all know what I’m trying to say.

  • Bonkim

    So why are we wasting our time on Nigeria?

  • Mohammed Audu

    land of extreme poverty and extreme corruption

  • Daedalus

    I had the extreme misfortune to go to Nigeria on a number of times in the late 70’s and early 80’s. It was a totally corrupt, racist country back then. Can’t see that it has improved in the intervening years.


  • NickG

    Spot on!

  • Turdson Minor

    Look, Mr Hague just loves giving other peoples money to corrupt governments that actually hate Britain. It assuages the incurable disease of post colonial guilt, and anyway will never keep up with the Chinese.

  • itbeso

    You know, the more we hear about the uselessness of the British
    government in dealing with the grooming – the rape, in the original
    sense of the word – by Muslim rape gangs of 10,000-odd schoolgirls, the less
    appealing that government appears

  • alabenn

    That you write this without mentioning the single most important fact about this case, a savage religious ideology called Islam, suggests this is just a sop to your own guilty conscience about past excuses you and your kind have made for the adherents of this bestial cult.
    I am sure that if these girls ever find out about your concerns, they will rise up in praise of your indefatigable will to eventually get around to speaking the truth on this matter.

  • Frank

    There is an excellent book called “The worst date ever” (Jane Bussmann). It is focussed on the Congo, but could apply to just about anywhere else in Africa. Transposed to Nigeria, it would suggest that the army is unwilling to capture / defeat Boko Haram, as a permanent state of emergency suits the military top brass (they get paid more) and the government (they have an enemy on whom to blame all shortcomings). It is hard not to conclude, having seen a few videos of Boko Haram, that BH could probably be defeated in a month if the Nigerian army deployed its quite considerable assets – then again why bother since the existence of BH provides so many benefits to the guys at the top.

  • David Ossitt

    To write such a missive without once mentioning Islam is silly, I suspect your reason was that had you done so, this might then have led you to criticise Muslims and Islam in general, and of course this would never do in our now right on Spectator.
    But let it be clearly said most of todays problems arise from the MSM appeasing Muslims at every turn,
    Wise up they are not to be trusted, neither are the friends of us in the west.

    • Dutchnick

      Islam throughout the world is predicated on failure, their perception of discrimination as the reason for their international failings completely overlooks their faiths lack of understanding of the need for personal responsibility, the need to get educated and to work diligently and honestly. As long as you rely on the consent and approval of some nebulous (non existent) deity you are going nowhere, it shows.

      • Donafugata

        Absolutely, Islam knows how to play the victim card to its advantage.
        Unfortunately our stupid institutions have a penchant for helping victims, especially of a different ethnicity.

        • transponder

          ‘the underdog’ — regardless of the countless thousands or millions greater underdogs it crushes…. And simply being ‘under’ is no mark of virtue, decency, or moral superiority. Certain religions deserve to be not only under but over.

    • Kennybhoy

      Long time Maister O…

      • David Ossitt

        Hi Kennybhoy
        I lost heart when they abandoned The Wall, I do post on the other wall.

  • RavenRandom

    I can’t help thinking that of we stopped trading with all governments who we decided had outraged us with their incompetence, then we’d trade with no one.
    So Melanie is having a go at the Nigerian govt for a sin of omission. They have done little. Should people trade with us for a sin of commission? The invasion of Iraq and the death of 100,000 people?
    Unless it directly threatens or affects us, we should be friendly with all governments as a default setting. By all means offer Nigeria all the help we can, if they don’t want it we’ve done our duty.

  • Blindsideflanker

    It is a Nigerian problem.

    Hague should keep his nose out, for every time they try to police the world it becomes a very expensive problem for the British tax payer.

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    Boko Haram; prime candidates for a drone strike. “Allah allows us to sell these girls in the market” according to Boko Haram`s leader on BBC World News. The problem here is Islam. Face it, the next world war`s going to be between Christianity and Islam.

    Nice neutral Buddhist country, anyone?
    Jack, Japan Alps

    • Kennybhoy

      Rock. Back. Under.

    • Blindsideflanker

      Even Buddhist countries have their problems with the religion of peace.

      • Jackthesmilingblack

        Russia, China, even India have issues with the religion of peace. Now take into account world over-population; two stones with one bird.

    • RobertC

      “Face it, the next world war`s going to be between Christianity and Islam.”

      The Christians will be too busy celebrating gay marriage, women bishops, gay bishops and ensuring complete multiculturalism to be bothered by that. I expect most traditional followers have been so confused as what is normal practice, they won’t bother either!

      Let the feminists and gays ‘man’ the barricades: they have the most to loose!

      • Jackthesmilingblack

        lose even.

    • Kennybhoy

      “Nice neutral Buddhist country, anyone?”

      Are you lonely then…?

    • Keith D

      Its already started. Its just our effete governments cant admit it. And its not Christianity v Islam. Its humanity and decency v Islam.

  • Kennybhoy

    Boko Haram proves the Nigerian government to be corrupt and useless”

    And the failure of the Western media to give this story anything like the prominence it deserves Miss McDonagh proves that you are all corrupt and useless.

    Compare and contrast the blanket coverage of the missing Malaysian airliner and the effect of such coverage on the actions of the Malaysian governement. That story remained at or near the top of the news schedules for weeks after all reasonable hope of a positive resolution. Odds on those poor girls are still alive and suffering God knows what!

    Six-hundred and sixty words of utter f*****g cant!

    Utterly shameless!

    God forgive you all…

    • Jackthesmilingblack

      Yahoo UK have a story of 11 terrorists arrested in KL, suspected of involvement in MH370 hijacking. So a bit like 9/11 with hijackers showing up after the event. Getting the patsies in place?

      • Kennybhoy

        Big rocks. Back. Under.

    • Robertus Maximus

      Well said!

  • LadyDingDong

    A few years ago I was a senior executive with a US multi-national. Some idiot in strategy thought it would be a good idea to invest in Nigeria and after the deal was done I decided to go down and have a look. Being met at Lagos airport by armed guards from our appointed security company, Kroll, was interesting as was the journey, flanked by armed Land Rovers front and back, to the boring hotel to which I was confined . Two god-awful days with our partner in Lagos convinced me that they were unreliable and less than truthful and when I, thankfully, returned to London I strongly recommended we disengage. A higher pay grade than mine decided it was very good for the company image to be in Nigeria and the investment continued to its inevitable, disastrous conclusion with a consequent hit to the company’s (deep) pockets and substantial damage to their reputation in Sub-Saharan Africa’s largest economy.

    I also spent 6 months managing the company’s business in Moscow and whereas Russia is probably as corrupt and opaque as Nigeria, at least hordes of Muslim nutters do not going around capturing young children anymore as when they last did, in Chechnya, they were met with a considerable, and merciless response.

  • swatnan

    We know that the Nigerian Govt is corrupt, as are most Govts in Africa, but its the only Govt there at the moment, and its up to the Nigerians to put in abetter govt. The fact is that Northern Province is pretty faraway and ungovernable from the Nigerian Centre, And these terrorists are slipping over the border and are slippery. We all know that these Islamists are nutters, but theres very little that the Nigerian govt can do about them, and even the British and American Govts can do little about the Islamist worldwide. What we need is an International assault on the Islamists and remove them.

    • Kennybhoy

      Indeed. She seems to have no clue as to the size of Nigeria or the nature of the terrain.

  • Adam Carter

    Amazing. You really have missed the point, haven’t you?
    I’m sure you’re right about the shortcomings of the government but how did this crisis start?
    It started because a group of adherents to the RoP kidanapped the girls. And they have explained why they did it, you briefly touch on it. They think those girls had no right to be in school.
    The group’s name is Boko Haram. More or less, ‘western education is evil’, but ‘haram’ means ‘forbidden by Allah’. It does not mean ‘frowned upon’ or ‘disapproved of’ and it doesn’t just mean illegal. It means that it has been forbidden by the deity that these people submit to. Face facts: the people motivated by these ideas see western liberal democracy as an evil enemy that must be fought and defeated.
    And you’ve managed to write an article without addressing that point.
    Amazing. And not in a good way.

    • Kennybhoy

      Agreed. Pathological denial.

    • James Todd

      Worth pointing out that this gang of psychopathic scumbags is not only involved in this particular kidnap/slavery. They’ve also been steadily murdering other schoolchildren on a horrific scale over the past several years. A thousand Adam Lanzas on the prowl.

      That the Nigerian “government” can have allowed this horrendously violent and immoral enormity to continue to grow and thrive beggars comprehension. Any other country would have exterminated them.

      And certainly NO school would have been unguarded.

  • Alexsandr

    How on earth do you write this without mentioning Islam. Boko Haram is a sect of some of the worst kind of violent misogynistic islamists. This is another example of the daftness of calling Islam the ‘Religion of Peace’.

    • Barakzai

      ‘How on earth do you write this without mentioning Islam.’

      Indeed, but let’s be thankful for the small mercy that if a similar piece had appeared in the “Facts are Sacred” journal we would all have been reminded about our calumnious, imperialist responsibility for every ill involved . . .

      • Ricky Strong

        Very true. Did you happen to read the article in the Guardian (I was sent a link) that claimed homophobia on the African continent was introduced by British colonialism?