Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Situation in Nigeria

Delivered in Plenary - 14th March 2012

Mr President

I last spoke on Nigeria in 2010 after the Jos massacres. Recent events, following repeated atrocities and kidnappings by the jihadi group Boko Haram, remind us that Nigeria sadly is a chronically unstable country.

By rights Nigeria as the most populated and oil-rich country in Sub-Saharan Africa should be vying for a permanent seat with South Africa on the UN Security Council, but instead there are now concerns about a civil war between the Muslim-majority north and Christian-majority south, to which are added ethnic, cultural and economic tensions in Nigeria. The central government struggles against these factors and in fighting the still very widespread corruption in public life.

The added element of a secessionist insurgency from the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta makes the security situation particularly precarious in this country. The introduction of Sharia law in 12 states, in contradiction of the secular, federal constitution, also causes widespread fear amongst Christians in the north and there are increasing concerns about the long-term sustainability of Nigeria as a unitary state.

The recent brave attempts on 8 March by the British Special Boat Service to free the kidnapped Italian engineer Franco Lamolinara and British Christopher McManus ended in the tragic death of both individuals and I extend on behalf of my group my deepest sympathies to the families of the deceased. Boko Haram and all those responsible should be held accountable for the murder of these two EU citizens.

President Goodluck Jonathan struggles to bring order and security to his country and is committed to fighting corruption and ending massive economic subsidies such as to fuel, in order to restore free market economics to Nigeria’s large economy.

We in the EU should give every support to his government. Any further escalation of violence will have massive repercussions in West Africa and result in large flows of refugees to Europe, particularly to my country, the United Kingdom.