It’s now been three weeks since more than 200 girls (exact figures still unknown) were kidnapped from their school in Chibok, Borno state in northern Nigeria sparking #BringBackOurGirls protests in various parts of the world, with several Hollywood celebrities supporting the movement. The unfolding events indicate that this is probably the last chance for Nigeria’s president, Goodluck Jonathan, to prove he is in control and has sufficient machinery, personnel, intel and logistics to continue to perform his functions as the number one security officer of Africa’s largest economy.
Two days ago, Jonathan addressed matters in a presidential media chat that was aired live on several local and foreign channels including BBC and CNN. Yesterday, May 5, Boko Haram insurgency group said it kidnapped the girls and in a video, Shekau, the group’s leader said the girls are being treated as slaves — and would be sold as such. Shekau also said that some had already been sold.
To complement efforts of Nigerian security officers and intelligence agencies, Jonathan said his administration is talking to foreign governments including the U.S., United Kingdom, Canada and China for technical support. He also called on these nations to assist Nigeria with troops to tackle the militants heads-on. Specifically, he said he has spoken with U.S. President Barack Obama twice.
AFKInsider spoke to three locals in Nigeria – Henry Rotimi Oshowo, Mary Ehigie and Oluwa Tosin on the situation, their perception of the president’s actions, ways out of the present hiatus, international perception of the crisis in Nigeria and the impact the present situation could have on the president’s second term bid at next year’s general elections.
Politics, Military and Citizens’ involvement
Oshowo described the case of the missing girls as unfortunate and the epitome of the failure of Nigeria’s ruling class and military.
“Politics has been introduced into the security of lives of Nigerians which is absurd. We don’t play politics with issues of national security. I remember during the Kenya shopping mail attack, Kenya’s political classes were all united and they spoke in the same voice in condemning the act. I cannot remember the Kenyan opposition criticizing the party in power,” he said.
According to him, the military seems to be benefitting from the chaos since the men of the Nigerian armed forces are capable of ending the insurgency.
“Honestly, I know if truly they want to end this insurgency, the Nigeria military would have ended it before now. They are benefiting from the entire game,” he told AFKInsider.
In addition to the military and politicians, Tosin added that citizens also made the situation complex.
“I don’t believe 200 girls will go missing without one or two citizens having useful information that can lead to their recovery. Whether the citizens are not doing enough to help the security forces or the security forces know what they need to know and they are not acting on it…is what I don’t know,” he said.
“The Boston marathon bomber was captured because someone provided useful whereabouts information. This may not necessarily be applicable to Nigeria because of the peculiarity of our situation and systems. But I’m just saying, it should be our ideal target.”
On how the president is dealing with the situation, respondents said the president’s second term ambition is hindering him from full action.
Ehigie said: “I think the president is trying to play safe because of his ambition for next year.
Oshowo said: “With the 2015 election around the corner, I fear Mr. President’s interest is his ambition first.”
Tosin added that the president is not yet showing the right ‘body language’.
“He needs to show the right body language…he needs to be more decisive, more brutal in his approach —even if it will hurt his 2015 ambitions. For reasons best known to him, he appears not to be ultimately concerned about recent developments in some parts of the North,” Tosin told AFKInsider.
International Perceptions and involvement
On how the security situation would be viewed internationally, Oshowo said, “it would portrait Nigeria as unsafe for investors. It would also place Nigeria alongside Afghanistan and other Middle East countries where [girls and] education is suffering injustice from the insurgent.”
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