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Corruption Worries Complicate Nigeria's $1B Request to Combat Boko Haram

  • Pamela Dockins

FILE - Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan speaks to the media on the situation in Chibok.

FILE - Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan speaks to the media on the situation in Chibok.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan is seeking up to $1 billion in foreign loans to help fight Boko Haram militants but the country's reputation for corruption could make foreign donors wary.

The extremist group kidnapped more than 200 girls from their school in northeastern Nigeria in April.

And, in a recently released video, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau said his group was also responsible for a June blast that killed two people in Lagos.

The two incidents are among a long string of attacks prompting Jonathan to seek foreign loans to finance Nigeria's battle against the militants.

Nigeria is Africa's top oil producer and has continent's largest economy. But Brookings Institution global economy expert Richard Joseph says the country does need more outside help.

"We need a major global plan focusing on northern Nigeria," he said.

Joseph was part of a U.S. delegation that recently traveled to Nigeria to discuss possible foreign assistance.

He says while Nigeria has considerable resources of its own, there are questions about the use of those resources. "Nigeria has been recently putting a lot of funds, for example, into its military. But it is not seeing that reflected in an increased capacity of military and security forces to deal with Boko Haram and other violent threats."

One reason why those funds seem to be making no impact is that they are likely being misused, according to Mark Pyman of the anti-corruption group Transparency International.

"Many countries have allegations of corruption," he said. "Nigeria's are, of course, particularly serious."

Those allegations weaken any efforts by the government to fight militants.

"Corruption is a real menace when it comes to security because insurgent organizations, such as Boko Haram, they both play upon the corruption vulnerabilities of the government and also they specifically target the, I'm sure, the defense and security forces," Pyman said.

He supports the government's efforts to seek out foreign and technical assistance but says Nigeria needs to focus on making sure any aid it receives is used for its intended purpose.

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