Should America be involved in Nigeria?

Matthew D'Aguanno, Staff Writer

The Washington Post recently released a moving piece on the death of 86 children burned alive by the Boko Haram, Nigeria’s homegrown Islamic extremists. The six-year onslaught by the group has killed over 20,000 people and driven 2.5 million from their homes. Feelings of anger and sadness are natural reactions to a piece like this, followed by resentment for world powers not getting involved.  

The natural reason as to why the U.S. has not gotten involved would be the lack of petroleum in the northern part of the country. However, there’s much more to the situation than the lack of tangible resources we can pilfer from the region.

This is one case where, despite the empathy we may have for the senseless victims, any intervention by the U.S. would and should be deemed in a negative light.

To begin with, the U.S. did ask the Nigerian government if they wanted military aid in their fight following a social media campaign headed by Michelle Obama with the hashtag, #BringBackOurGirls. The government hesitated at first and then rejected the idea. Several months later, the government asked for help again following a series of attacks in major cities, and Secretary of State John Kerry stated that intervention might occur following an analysis of the elections in the region.

However, after the election voted in Muhammadu Buhari, the first time an incumbent president had lost reelection in the country’s history, no intervention was given to the region. While corruption was leveled as a possible reason for the lack of force, there are multiple other factors at work, which has cautioned us from turning the biggest economic country into another Iraq/Afghanistan.

The government, for one, is a big problem. The change of incumbents is a step in the right direction in terms of replacing a man charged with war crimes and who oversaw a nation with experienced 12,000 deaths as a result of political violence. This is a nation we have yet to see strive to spend the money that it most certainly has in fighting terror. Both Algeria and Angola have spent more militarily than Nigeria, where ill-equipped soldiers have deserted in the thousands fighting an ideological cause. Before Buhari was elected, Nigeria relied on the neighboring country of Chad to fight the group as it placed security in spots to hold the delayed elections.

This isn’t a country with a low GDP and no manpower to fight an organization. It’s a country, much like that of Iraq or Afghanistan, which has refused to fight it. It’s refused to invest in communities where infrastructure and education is desperately needed and is an easy picking ground for supporters of an alternative, extreme option. Until then, does the U.S. need to involve itself in a cause with no direction?

When discussing any human rights violations and terrorism around the world, there is a crossroad in the course of action to be taken. Are we the world’s police force or should we be focusing on injustices on the home front? Maybe, it’s time to put down the big stick.