Civil Unrest, Insecurity and the Future of Nuclear Weapons in Nigeria
Since the rise of attacks by Boko Haram in Nigeria around 2008, there have been massive loss of lives, from the North-eastern region of the country to different parts including the Federal Capital Territory. From a series of coordinated attacks which started with the use of guns and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), Boko Haram was able to capture large swathes of territory in some North-eastern states. In little to no time, Boko Haram overran military and paramilitary installations, making it look easy. Sophisticated military weapons and vehicles which included rocket launchers and armored tanks were taken from conquered bases, making them more daring, and as a result, boosting the scale of attacks.
Photo Credit: Boko Haram Fighters File Photo
In 2015, Boko Haram pledged an oath of allegiance to ISIS; a move which saw them having the backing of what is arguably the most dangerous terrorist group in the world. Another article in the Washington Post says during the capture of the Iraqi city of Mosul, ISIS nearly got hold of Cobalt-60, which is used to kill cancer cells in medicine, but which could be used to build dirty bombs, as it is the core ingredient. Nuclear energy has a plethora of positive life-changing uses which include electric power generation, improvement of food production and storage in agriculture, diagnosis, therapy, and sterilization in medicine, as well as nuclear powered vehicles in transportation, among others. However, the use of nuclear energy has intentionally been used to reduce Hiroshima and Nagasaki to rubles and has accidentally caused unimaginable destruction and loss of lives in Chernobyl.
Photo Credit: Getty Images
The illegal use of nuclear weapons is still a cause for concern for the world at large. Increase in acts of terrorism, violence, and extremism coupled with the ease of communication via social media has made it easier to perpetrate crime. ISIS is alleged to have links with countries that have nuclear capabilities or are capable of buying or stealing materials needed to make nuclear weapons. If these allegations are true, then Boko Haram’s affiliation to ISIS poses a serious threat to Nigeria’s national security, as there is a threat of the extremist groups having access to nuclear weapons, which from all indications, they would not hesitate to use. Imagine Boko Haram or alleged Fulani herdsmen gaining access to these weapons, when several cases of well guarded military bases being overrun by these extremists have been reported and where there are allegations of extremist having intel only top security personnel is supposed to be privy to. The consequences can only be imagined.
Fortunately or unfortunately, Nigeria’s 2017 budget on security which amounted to around 2.182 billion dollars does not give it any room to consider the development of nuclear weapons, due to the high cost of developing and maintaining them. In our ever-globalizing world, a threat to one nation is a threat to all nations and as such, reduction or elimination of nuclear weapons should be focused on greatly.
It would be recalled that in the mid-1980s, one Mr. Sunday Nana of Koko village in Delta State was paid a paltry sum of $100 a month by an Italian company to store hazardous waste on his plot of land. By the time it was discovered by Nigerian authorities, residents of Koko were already sick, experiencing nausea, paralysis, and premature births from exposure to these wastes. The toxic wastes discovered in Koko contained Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs), dimethyl formaldehyde, and asbestos fibers. These wastes came into Nigeria through porous borders and a largely weak institutional framework. Having nuclear weapons or materials and waste, given the present state of Nigeria will be, to say the least, catastrophic. Nuclear material and wastes pose way bigger threats than the wastes found in Koko village.
The Chernobyl Accident which occurred in the old Soviet Union in 1986, was meant to be a safety test at a nuclear reactor but culminated in the direct and indirect death of not less than 2000 people. Besides the casualties, cases of cancer, mutations and a host of other abnormalities were recorded. This accident is considered the worst nuclear disaster globally in terms of cost and casualties.
The goal of achieving global nuclear disarmament started in the United Nations as far back as 1946 during its first General Assembly. However, the clamor has witnessed quite a lot of support lately, leading to the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons on July 7, 2017. Nigeria is among the nations that have ratified this agreement and stated in very clear terms that the world is better off without any nuclear weapons. According to the United Nations, there are still around 14,500 nuclear weapons globally. This is enough to destroy the world many times over. As the world marks the Day for Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, it is important for the UN to continuously push countries to reduce or completely stop the production of nuclear weapons for the increased safety and security of the world, most especially in developing countries, like Pakistan, where there are indications that nuclear sites are not well guarded and can fall into the hands of terrorist or developed countries where nuclear facilities can be attacked in order to cause casualties from exposure to radiation.