News Column

Nigeria wants to borrow $1bn to fight insurgency

July 16, 2014

Jonathan inaugurated a 26-man committee to administer the new $187.5 million fund to support victims of the insurgency.

Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan on Wednesday asked parliament for legislative backing to borrow $1 billion to procure military hardware to combat insurgents, especially in the country's northeast.

"The loan facility will be borrowed from foreign lenders," according to a letter the president addressed to the House of Representatives and the Senate and read out on the floor of both chambers.

Lawmakers are expected to debate the request in the coming days, parliamentary sources told Anadolu Agency.

The request would likely generate questions among Nigerians, with the country's national security budget standing at $15.94 billion between 2012 and 2014.

Many citizens have questioned how such was spent in view of claims, including by top government officials, that the insurgents are better equipped than the country's military.

Nigeria is battling a five-year-old Boko Haram insurgency in which tens of thousands have been killed, businesses ruined and at least six million people displaced, according to recent data released by parliament.

BokoHaram, which means "Western education is forbidden" inNigeria's local Hausa language, first emerged in the early 2000s preaching against government misrule and corruption.

The group later became violent, however, after the death of its leader in 2009 while in police custody.

In the five years since, the shadowy sect has been blamed for numerous attacks on places of worship and government institutions and thousands of deaths.

The group has been designated a terrorist organization by Nigeria, Turkey and the United States, while Washington has put a $7-million bounty on the head of its eccentric leader, Abubakar Shekau.

-Victims Fund-

President Jonathan, meanwhile, inaugurated today a 26-man committee to administer the new $187.5 millionVictims Support Fund to support families affected in the insurgency as well as rebuild damaged infrastructures.

"We have set up this committee to provide a framework through which all persons and institutions who wish to help the pains our countrymen and women are going through for no fault of theirs," he told the inauguration in capital city Abuja.

The fund, as AA reported last week, is being chaired by elder statesman and retired army general Theophilus Danjuma who would be assisted by banker Fola Adeola.

"The Victims Support Fund Committee is part of our ongoing efforts to provide a comprehensive solution to the menace," said Jonathan. "This government is determined to resolve this crisis."

The committee's terms of reference, the president said, include "to identify sources and ways of raising sustainable funding to support victims of terror activities; to develop appropriate strategies for the fund raising; to ascertain the persons, communities, facilities and economic assets affected by terror activities."

An estimated six million people have been displaced from the country's northeast - the main theatre of the insurgency - while thousands have been killed or maimed in the five-year insurgency, according to parliamentary data and other sources.

By Rafiu Ajakaye

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Source: Anadolu Agency (Turkey)

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