In the fight against terrorism and insurgencies, much has been heard about the casualty figures in men and materials without commensurate information on expenditure on the war effort and its financial consequences. Terrorism has cost billions of dollars in too many nations and will continue to because there are daily reminders all around the world that terrorism is far from gone.

In the United States at least 20 percent of the government organization that exist to fend off terrorist threats were established or re-fashioned in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. Many that existed before the attacks grew to historic proportions as the Bush administration and congress gave agencies more money. The budget of the National Security Agency (NSA) doubled. So did the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency and the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces rose form thirty five to one hundred and six. Nine days after the attacks, the US congress committed $40 billion beyond what was in the federal budget to fortify domestic defenses and to launch a global offensive against al-Qaeda. It followed that up with an additional $36.5 billion in 2002 and $44 billion in 2003. With such quick infusion of money, military and intelligence agencies multiplied. Twenty four organizations were created by the end of 2001, including the office of the Homeland Security  and the foreign terrorist asset tracking task force. In all, at least 263 organizations have been created or reorganized as a response to 9/11, a foreign terror act on American home soil.

But for a country like Nigeria faced with an indigenous terrorist/insurgent  group, Boko haram, what is the financial cost of fighting terrorism and how much longer can the country bear the economic demands of counter-terrorism?

There has not been a clear cut official revelation of expenditure by the federal government on the insurgency. However,  the latest report released by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) revealed that in 2006 when there was relative peace despite the Niger Delta militancy that had begun to take its toll, the Nigerian government spent $1.067 billion on defense. By 2009, when the Boko haram crisis erupted in the north east, the expenditure rose to $1.825 billion (N233 billion). In 2010, a huge sum of $2.143 billion (N246 billion) was spent in procuring military hardware, and the figure rose to $2.386 billion (N348 billion) in 2011.  In 2012, the total budget for security was N921.91 billion, a figure that attracted criticisms from various sector of the society. In the 2014 budget approved in May, security got 19.5 percent (N968.127 billion) of the national budget. With so much being spent on security and with so little to impress Nigerians and justify these allocations, the level of dissatisfaction may increase unpleasantly. Already, the pensioners  of the power sector are paying the price and so is the educational sector. It may be that the fight against terrorism is stretching Nigeria’s financial capacity to its limit, a stark reminder that restoring peace is an expensive effort.

Aside from the tragic loss of lives, the economic damage and the raw dollars which get spent by governments, agencies and individuals fighting terrorism is difficult to quantify. And if the war on terror is ever won in any nation, then the cost of rebuilding will always be an economic reminder of the evils of terrorism.

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