Tina Ramirez on Is Nigeria the Next Iraq?

Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa, is poised to become the third largest in the world by 2050. Based on this fact alone, one would think that the country is humming and purring. But, in fact, Nigeria is teetering on the edge of becoming the next, bad version of Iraq.

In Nigeria, conflict – bloody conflict – is normal, with religious and ethnic differences firmly serving as the recurrent flashpoints for violence that are feeding the regional instability across West Africa.

It’s a conflict that bears troublesome similarities to the sectarian battle in Iraq that has dominated, or one could say plagued, US foreign policy since this century began.

The stakes are high for Nigeria. And, by default, for the African continent and the United States.

Recall 2009. The notorious “Underwear Bomber” – a 23-year-old, Nigerian male, who boarded a plane bound for Michigan on Christmas Day with enough explosives in his underwear to take the lives of the 289 people, who were on that plane. Thankfully, in our post 9-11 world, he was caught before the crime was perpetrated and 289 lives were saved.

In recent years, the terrorist group Boko Haram, which literally means “against western education”, arose in the northern states and has slaughtered more than 20,000 innocent victims, displaced at least two million Nigerians, and kidnapped more than 200 Chibok schoolgirls – a move that afforded them international notoriety.

If this all sounds horrific, it’s because it is.

The unnecessary violence and bloodshed in Nigeria is symptomatic of an intensified religious conflict. And, it is worthy of our attention now – not later.

As mentioned before, Nigeria is the largest democracy in Africa. In fact, the rise of Nigeria’s population growth mirrors its ascending influence in global economic markets and geopolitical affairs. It is now sub-Saharan Africa’s largest economy and constitutes roughly 75% of the West African regional economy.

Suffice it to say that a failure of government in Nigeria – sprinkled with an act of terrorism here and there – would have humungous ripple effects across the continent, not to mention regional global ramifications. Domestically, instability in Nigeria would also be damning, given our energy and oil interests – Nigeria is currently one of the top 7 crude oil suppliers to the U.S.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Tina Ramirez