Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari (left) meets with US President Barack Obama. Washington, DC, July 20, 2015, (Alex Wong/AFP/Getty Images)

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari (left) meets with US President Barack Obama. Washington, DC, July 20, 2015, (Alex Wong/AFP/Getty Images)

Speaking at Nigeria’s National Defence College in Abuja earlier this month, President Muhammadu Buhari outlined plans for the country to obtain “near self-sufficiency in military equipment and logistics production” and develop a “modest military-industrial complex.” This echoes previous government suggestions that Nigeria should expand the powers of its justice system to respond to its growing security concerns, which, I have argued, would likely be ineffective at best. Could the new plans be similarly flawed?

Buhari’s recent remarks come just a few weeks after his visit to the United States, where he took an unexpectedly frank stance towards the Leahy Law, which prohibits US military aid to countries who have violated human rights principles. Buhari said that application of the law had “aided and abetted” Boko Haram in its violent extremist activities. The previous administration of Goodluck Jonathan had also criticized American reluctance to provide arms to the fight against Boko Haram. Citing successful deals Nigeria had brokered with countries such as China, Russia, and Israel, an anonymous source from the administration was quoted as saying in February that the US, in contrast, was “playing games.”

Buhari’s comments ignited a US debate on the legislation; after meeting with representatives of the Nigerian military, Congressman Darell Issah suggested arms sales and military cooperation with the country would be restored. A group of congressmen visiting Nigeria also said Washington could lift the ban if Abuja improved its human rights record. Read more