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British Government: Insecurity may get out of control in Nigeria

Valentine Chinyem

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The British government has warned that the security condition of Nigeria has the potential of spiralling out of control if necessary measures are not taken immediately.

It therefore, said it is considering stepping up its military efforts to help the Nigerian government defeat Boko Haram, following a rise in terrorist activity in the country’s north-east in the past year, Jeremy Hunt has said after a visit to the region.

The UK foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt said on Wednesday that he would be discussing what more the British government can do in terms of aid and military support to combat the terrorist group, warning the crisis had the potential to trigger a humanitarian catastrophe on the scale of that in Yemen.

Britain provides £240m in aid to Nigeria, of which £100m goes to the north-east, making it the second-largest donor after the US, and giving the UK a sizeable stake in what happens in the region.

Boko Haram and Islamic State in west Africa have terrorised the region for several years, but their activities came to the world’s attention when hundreds of Nigerian schoolgirls were kidnapped in 2014.

British military personnel in Abuja and the wider region are giving strategic advice to Nigerian forces on how to run counterinsurgency operations, with their advice focused on combining humanitarian and military activities.

The Nigerian military has been repeatedly criticised by humanitarian groups for running brutal campaigns that make little effort to win over hearts and minds.

The 120,000-strong army is structured on very traditional lines but sends troops to highly hostile areas for as long as four years. Operating on a small budget, soldiers are often underpaid and morale is low.