The week ahead – Not cutting back

30th November 2018

On Sunday the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, ordered that two Kalashnikov rifles and a Beretta pistol allegedly taken from a murdered police officer by members of the Indigenous People of Biafra in Nnewi, Anambra State be recovered immediately. According to police spokesman Jimoh Moshood, IGP Idris directed that a thorough search be carried out to recover the missing weapons. IPOB, which has been designated as a terrorist organisation by the Federal Government, held a rally on November 23. A police team sent to the scene was ambushed and a police inspector killed. In a related development, 33 suspects who were arrested in connection with the incident by the police have claimed that they were rounded up by the police while conducting their normal business that day.

A South African private contractor who helped the Nigerian Army recapture huge amounts of territory from Boko Haram insurgents has accused the country’s government of squandering the gains it made with his help. Colonel Eeben Barlow, a veteran commander in the apartheid-era South African Defence Forces, led a team from a private contractor, Specialised Tasks, Training, Equipment and Protection International (STTEP), who secretly trained up an elite Nigerian strike force back in 2015, but after just three months, their contract was cancelled by a newly elected President Muhammadu Buhari, a former general, who said at the time that the Nigerian Army should be able to do the job alone. Col Barlow accused Mr Buhari of needlessly prolonging the war by dispensing with the mercenaries’ expertise. In a posting on Facebook, he said: “It is sad that the President preferred defeat above victory, as soldiers can only do what they are trained, equipped, and led to do. Do it poorly, and they die.”

More than 50 members of staff of the Nigerian High Commission in London have been dismissed and asked to accept a letter dated 22nd of November, 2018, which the embassy claimed took effect from 1st of January 2018. The dismissed staff, however, have not been paid for months in 2018, according to the Vanguard. The termination, as stated in a letter signed by Helen Nzeako on behalf of the ambassador, is as a result of the restructuring of the organisation and due to budgetary constraints.

As competition with former gas customers tightens, Nigeria’s biggest foreign export, crude oil, might suffer a decline. A director in the Department of Petroleum Resources, Mordecai Ladan, said on Monday, that the oil and gas industry seemed to be under a new threat, which he described as the renewed dislike and global war against fossil fuels and the quest for renewable and cleaner energy. The need for renewable energy is fast becoming a reality as big technology companies, including Google and Apple, are making attempts at electric cars to replace petrol and diesel engines, with that of Tesla taking the world by surprise. Ladan also expressed concern that some of the big international oil companies are funding research into alternative fuels, which include the use of cheap, common algae.


  • This incident in Nnewi last week indicates two things. First, it highlights how ineffectual Nigeria’s police really is. We fear that this order will not be obeyed, like so many orders to the rank and file over the years, and like the IGP himself who disobeyed a public order given by the President earlier in the year. However, the hubris by the IGP, and the focus on IPOB, masks a deeper issue – between January 1 and July 16 this year, 78 policemen were killed across the country (not including the North-East), and in each of these killings, their weapons were removed. There have been more of such incidents since July. As an example, in October, there were two incidents in Delta state where policemen were killed and their weapons were taken away. None of the weapons has, to our knowledge, been recovered. The second thing that this incident marks is that it may go down as a watershed moment in the evolution of IPOB and the broader pro-Biafra protest movement. It may also signal IPOB’s descent into violent anti-state radicalism. To be fair, the Biafran Zionist Movement (BZM) had carried out attacks on Government House in Enugu in 2014. Yet, there appears to be something ominous about the ambush of the police team and the murder of the inspector. It could be the opening salvo in a nascent insurrection in the southeast. As the police seeks to unravel the mystery of the inspector’s murder and apprehend the perpetrator(s), it must exercise caution to avoid the sort of crude profiling and collective punishment that typically taints such investigations. Should IPOB morph into a full-fledged insurrectionary movement and take up arms against an already embattled state, it would be truly unfortunate.
  • When the history of the Boko Haram insurgency is written, there is no doubt that strategic folly will occupy a prominent chapter. A prime example may be the needless cancellation of the contract between STTEP and the Nigerian Army. Whether the decision was reached as a result of pseudo-nationalistic exuberance and a gross overestimation of Nigeria’s military capacity, or sheer mendacity was at work, the fact is that STTEP’s involvement coincided with a period of advances and victories during which the firm’s tactical and technological resources propelled an offensive that turned the tide of the conflict and seemed destined to inflict a terminal blow on the insurgents. President Buhari’s refusal to renew the contract cost the Nigerian military a strategic advantage and effectively subverted the counterinsurgency campaign. More light needs to be shed on the factors that informed the decision to dispense with the firm’s services.
  • The early warning signals of the impending fiscal crisis in Nigeria are going off, but it appears that the government continues to carry on as if this reality is not Nigeria’s. On Tuesday, Buhari approved a salary increase for the police, and on Wednesday, he approved a reduction of university examination fees. Both moves have been flagged as populist moves as elections draw nearer. We also expect him to push home a wage increase for unions before the end of January. The government, in the middle of a revenue crisis, is ramping up recurrent expenditure spending – this year, 84% of released funds have gone to this component, with 59% comprising of debt servicing alone. Things will come to a head soon, and all those who are meant to avert it have failed to recognise this.
  • The DPR’s director, Mr Mordecai, states the obvious. The dynamics in the oil markets have been shifting over the past few years but one thing that appears constant is the shift of western countries to cleaner fuel sources. At least seven European countries, Norway, Germany, France, UK, Italy, the Netherlands and Ireland, have announced measures to phase out petrol and diesel vehicles in favour of electric models in the next few years. North America’s largest car maker G.M. recently announced plans to shut down 8 plants in the U.S. Middle Eastern countries are already responding to the changing global energy dynamic by reimagining themselves as transportation, business and recreational hubs. While it is not as present a threat as Mr Mordecai has painted, the age of oil has begun its march to a sure end. Smart countries are leveraging the natural resource revenue to prepare for this inevitability, and the question Mr Mordecai and his colleagues in the government must answer is this – how is Nigeria preparing for the inevitable?