News / Africa

    Nigerian President Seeks $1B to Fight Boko Haram

    FILE - Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan
    FILE - Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan
    VOA News

    Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan wants to borrow up to $1 billion in foreign funds to help security forces fight militant group Boko Haram.

    In a letter to parliament seeking approval for the loan, Jonathan said the government needs the money to "upgrade the equipment, training and logistics of the armed forces."

    The oil-rich nation has a military budget of about $6 billion per year, but large sums are believed lost to widespread corruption.

    Nigeria has struggled to stop attacks by Boko Haram, which is blamed for thousands of deaths in the past five years and kidnapped more than 200 girls from a secondary school in April.

    The president did not specify which countries would be asked for aid.  But he indicated the money would be used to help the country deal with ongoing security threats.

    There was no immediate word on when Nigerian lawmakers would address the request.

    Meeting with girls' parents rescheduled

    Meanwhile, the president has rescheduled a meeting with parents of some of the schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram.

    A planned meeting on Tuesday was abruptly canceled by the parents.  An activist with the "Bring Back Our Girls" social media campaign said the families were insulted that Jonathan only agreed to the meeting after he was asked to do so by Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani women's rights activist.

    In a VOA interview, presidential spokesman Doyin Okupe said the meeting was now set to take place next week.

    "The president said, you know, 'Look, I care about these people. I care about them. I feel for them. You know, these children who are missing are like my own daughters too.'  It was a display of parenthood and of love and affection that the president did.  It was not a matter of the president being goaded into taking that decision.  That is not correct," he said.

    Okupe also said Jonathan had sent the parents an official invitation.

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