Experts Urge Nigeria to Hire More Contractors

Experts Urge Nigeria to Hire More Contractors

The most populous country in Africa is “under the gun” because its security forces are stretched too thin, according to an Agora report.

“To relieve the security forces and to enable significant efforts to be applied to degrade the threats, the government should consider inviting private security contractors as it was done shortly before the general election in 2015 (and use them) to confront armed banditry in the North-West and North-Central regions. The engagement should be handled through the security forces to assuage concerns in some quarters that the private military contractors are an indication of the non-appreciation by the political class of the security forces’ contribution and sacrifice. Clear objectives and measurement parameters should be set and monitored closely,” the report stated.

The Agora Group, which is affiliated with the MacArthur Foundation, said the roots of the problem include porous borders, easy access to illicit drugs, multiplication of unaddressed socio-political and economic grievances, poor land use policies, agitations over resource control, the prevalence of poverty and unemployment, the impact of climate change, and failure to address structural and constitutional deficiencies.

Situation in Nigeria

About 250 different ethnic groups, which speak about 120 different languages, live inside Nigeria’s borders. Additionally, most people in the northern half of the country are Muslim, and most people in the southern half are Christian. These two features do not bode well for a country in a continent that’s been repeatedly torn apart by ethnic and religious conflicts.

Despite this powderkeg environment, 2022 started off well in terms of Nigerian security. By March 2022, over 40,000 Boko Haram terrorists had surrendered to government forces. This movement began in September 2021, with a series of aggressive government air assaults and other attacks on Boko Haram strongholds. Government security forces also seized weapons and motor vehicles. 

However, while Boko Haram was giving up, the Islamic State of West Africa Province, a Boko Haram offshoot, was just getting started. ISWAP, which is the new umbrella group for ISIS in West Africa, is headquartered in the so-called Timbuktu Triangle. When Nigerian security forces tried to breach this fortress, ISWAP fighters turned them back with heavy losses. ISWAP’s sphere of influence now extends beyond Nigeria into Niger, Chad, and Cameroon.

ISWAP may have been responsible for the Owo church attack. The mass shooting and bombing killed between forty and eighty people at a Catholic church in this southern Nigerian town. The attack was troubling not only because of the casualties but also because it indicated ISWAP was operating so far from its northern Nigerian base.

Also, throughout the spring of 2022, roving gangs of armed bandits operated freely throughout the countryside. 

Important elections, maybe the most important elections in the history of the Fourth Republic, are scheduled for 2023. For the very first time, four candidates are running for president. Also, for the first time, no 2023 presidential candidate is a current or former military officer. Unless this violence subsides, full and fair voting may be impossible.

Contractors in Nigeria

Private military contractors do more than bolster security forces during combat. They help people recover from the effects of this combat.

Combat support roles in places like Nigeria and Syria include training, maintenance, and direct combat support. 

Long anti-insurgency campaigns are very hard on troop morale. That is especially true when government security forces must fight far from their homes. Contractors give these fighters the skills they need to be more successful, especially when they attack the Timbuktu Triangle and other hard targets. Along the way, contractors improve troop morale. Simple things, like well-organized movie nights or USO-type shows, make a very big difference. 

As recently as World War II, commanders stressed manpower over firepower. Send enough guys up that hill, and eventually, someone will make it to the top. Drop enough bombs near the target, and one of them will hit the target. Today, the opposite is true. One person operating a drone or guided missile can do as much damage as a platoon of soldiers or a squadron of bombers. Someone must maintain this equipment. Private military contractors often step in here. Generally, contractors worked for the company which designed and/or built the equipment.

Direct combat support is critical, as well. Soldiers in remote areas need lots of supplies. They need basic things like food, gasoline, and ammunition. They also need kitchen items, bedding, and other personal things. Many contractors are former law enforcement officers. So, contractors know how to deter terrorists and other would-be troublemakers without firing a shot.

Rebuilding is also important. That is especially true in small, outlying villages. These villages might only have one school or one hospital. So, if they lose it, the people suffer greatly. Contractors quickly provide security and replace these losses. 

Additionally, and perhaps more importantly, government rebuilding contractors show locals that their government cares about them. Since they are less likely to join or sympathize with ISAWP and other violent separatist groups, the temporary victories that servicemembers worked so hard to win become permanent victories.

Injury Compensation Available

Lost wage replacement may be the most important injury compensation benefit that the Defense Base Act provides. Most families have practically no emergency fund. A few months without a paycheck, or even a few weeks without one, could force many families into bankruptcy. The wage replacement benefit usually depends on the type of disability, as follows:

  • Permanent Total Disability: Many combat wounds are permanently disabling or even fatal. The same thing is true for serious training injuries, like aircraft crashes. These victims, and wrongful death survivors, are entitled to reasonable future lost wage replacement
  • Permanent Partial Disability: Injuries that never completely heal, like broken shoulders and amputation injuries, are the most common PPD injuries. Like permanent disability victims, PPD victims are usually entitled to lump sum payments, depending on the nature and extent of the disability.
  • Temporary Total Disability: Almost all trauma injury victims are TTD victims. After their injuries heal, these victims can return to work at full speed. As they recover, the DBA pays two-thirds of their AWW (average weekly wage).
  • Temporary Partial Disability: Some injured victims can work on a limited basis as they recover. Since they must reduce their hours or take a light-duty job, they usually earn less. If that is the case, the DBA pays two-thirds of the difference between the old and new incomes.

These same categories also apply to hearing loss, toxic exposure, and other occupational disease claims. Occupational disease claims are usually permanent disability claims. 

For more information about DBA medical benefits, reach out to Barnett, Lerner, Karsen, Frankel & Castro, P.A.