West & Central Africa

UK bolsters assistance to fight Boko Haram but neglect Fulani devastation

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and International Development Secretary Priti Patel have visited Nigeria to assess the assistance of the British government in the fight against the devastation of the Islamic terror group Boko Haram. A report released yesterday, 30 August, from the Department for International DevelopmentForeign & Commonwealth Office said.

Boris Johnson was briefed on the security and humanitarian efforts; the military training of over 28,500 Nigerian soldiers on counter terrorism and the provision of food for more than 1.5 million Internally Displaced people, in the face the corruption that saw to the diversion of food aid to the region which subjected refugees to unwarranted starvation. The Department for International Development (DFID) treated over 120,000 malnourished children and provided facilities to help keep 100,000 girls and boys in school, the report said.

Patel said “It is catastrophic that at least 20,000 people have been murdered by Boko Haram’s terrorist regime, and over five million people have been left hungry and many homeless. Babies’ bodies are shutting down and mothers who have lost everything are fighting to keep their children alive.” 

Priti Patel announced another new package of humanitarian support to the northeastern region which will extend DFID’s programme for another five years to 2022. “The new package of emergency relief announced today also includes the restoration of key infrastructure and services in north east Nigeria.” Johnson said, adding that, the package will include “giving children living in conflict zones an education, improving access to health care, helping smallholder famers to restore their livelihoods and produce food to generate higher incomes, and introducing innovative solar energy to power schools and health centres.” Johnson said.

“We are leading the way on the international stage through our world-class development, defence and diplomacy, providing a lifeline to over 1.5 million people on the brink of famine, tackling Boko Haram and pushing for global aid reform to deliver help more effectively.”

He added: “Terrorism knows no borders and the Nigerian Government must now follow our lead to stop innocent people dying and securing the area so that these people can rebuild their lives in safety – reducing the threat of radicalisation and migration for the UK at home.”

The Foreign secretary described his experience: “In Maiduguri I met casualties of Boko Haram violence, including bomb and gunshot victims, and saw for myself the displacement of people that brutality and poverty have created. Our military, diplomatic and development assistance is making a big difference. The British military has to date trained 28,000 Nigerian troops, equipping them with skills to turn the tide against Boko Haram, while our humanitarian aid is alleviating widespread suffering.”

The foreign secretary hoped that “this longer term restoration work combined with our military support will enable the poorest and most vulnerable people to stand on their own two feet and rebuild their lives in safety.” He said.

The British government has deployed over 40 UK military personnel to Nigeria on an ongoing basis.

The Senior Special Adviser on Religious Affairs to the Plateau State Government, Canon Nenman Gowon, said, “While the attention of the British government and other international development agencies is turned to the devastation caused by Book Haram in the northeast, very little or nothing is even mentioned about the hundreds of villages and people killed by the Islamic Fulani cattle herders who are still prowling Plateau, adamant, taraba and other states.”

He added that many people have been displaced and many more are starving because the terrorist herdsmen are killing people in the farm.”

The Senior adviser blamed the federal government for turning a blind eye to the crises in the middle belt, “because it is a predominantly Christian region and the Fulani Muslims are kins of the President, so he does not think that is an issue. It is christians, nor Muslims getting slaughtered.”

Nenman argued that “the fault of the governors also is they have been cowed into not talking about the plight of their people and have very weak machinery to bring the devastation to the international platform so that the evil perpetrated can be objectively assessed.”

“What we know is that the British government is less interested in these minor crisis, even if hundreds of people have been killed. It is more interested in what scores a huge political gain like Boko Haram, even if the the region is already overflowing with all sorts of assistance and support to the mostly Muslim communities of the northeast.” He added that “even in Borno, the Christians communities are discriminated in so-called development projects and reconstruction in the northeast.”

Book Haram has killed over 200, 000 people according to official figure which have not been updated. Local officials say over half a million people have been killed by the combined Islamic terrorism of Book Haram and Fulani cattle herdsmen.