By Saeed Shabazz
Special to the NNPA from the New York Amsterdam News
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has been quoted as saying that the rebel organization Boko Haram killed 13,000 people in 2014. On Jan. 13, the United Nations called on his administration to bring the five-year rebellion to an end.
At press time, a draft resolution that would develop the legal framework is being circulated at U.N. headquarters that would authorize a military task force for 12 months. The group would consist of troops from Chad, Cameroon, Niger, Nigeria and South Africa under African Union control. The U.N. secretary-general would be authorized under the resolution to establish a trust fund to sustain the force’s operations.
The talk in the corridors of the U.N. makes note of Nigeria’s seeming resistance to any such task force until recently, when Nigeria, a U.N. Security Council member, became involved in diplomatic discussions with the permanent five members of the council (United Kingdom, China, Russia, U.S. and France). A French defense minister said his nation would help coordinate efforts to launch the task force.
“I think that the current Nigerian government lacks the political will to deal with the larger crisis,” said author and activist Bill Fletcher Jr. in an email to the AmNews. “It is not simply putting down the clerical fascists that must be undertaken. It is about the need for a political engagement with the leaders and organizations of northern Nigeria at the same time that grievances in other parts of the country are addressed. There is a need for a national dialogue about the future of Nigeria.”
Fletcher is the former president of TransAfrica Forum, a senior scholar with the Institute of Policy Studies and an editorial board member of BlackCommentator.com.
Jonathan is reportedly facing a tough re-election battle in February.
“In my opinion, I don’t think Jonathan has the passion to resolve this crisis at this time,” Dr. Molefi Kete Asante, of the Department of African American Studies at Temple University, explained to the AmNews. “It is better for him to have a destabilized north eastern region, which works for him politically, added Asante. “Jonathan seems to be saying let the Muslims kill each other, not my problem.”
Nigeria is the most populous nation in Africa, with nearly 180 million people divided into 250 ethnic groupings. Muslims make up 50 percent of the population while Christians make up 40 percent. Nigeria also boasts of having Africa’s largest economy, with a GDP of $502 billion. However, according to the CIA World Fact Book on the west African nation, unemployment is high at 23 percent. The Jonathan administration also faces an external debt of $15.73 billion.
There are calls for the African Union to address the situation with Boko Haram at their next summit, Jan. 21 to 31. Calls to the African Union’s office in Manhattan were not returned by press time.
“I attended a recent meeting in Dakar, Senegal, on peace and security on the continent,” said Asante. “I witnessed the presidents of Chad and Senegal tell the French delegation to mind their own business, and that Africans could and would handle their problems.
“The problem is the lack of strong Pan-African voices such as those of the past. Yes, I support the idea of an international military force being sent to Nigeria to deal with Boko Haram.”