By TANGWE Abraham
For a while now, the Boko Haram sect has given the Nigerian and world leader’s sleepless nights over the kidnapping of 234 girls in a boarding school in Chibok in Northern Nigeria on the 14 of April, 2014. This kidnap exposed the government of President Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan as a limping duck so near the doldrums of abyss. His non-action or statement over the kidnap for three weeks was the apogee of irresponsibility and a very clear demonstration of incompetence and in the west, he would have simply resigned. As if that gaff was not enough, Dame Patience Goodluck ordered the arrest of protesting helpless mothers; a first lady who herself is a woman haven gone through the pains of labour. What effrontery!
Boko Haram by that kidnap inadvertently shot itself in the leg. It should be noted that this group started in 2002 by Mohammed Yusuf, a cleric whose aim is an Islamic state in Nigeria. He was killed in 2009. The group’s current leader, Abubakar Shekau, surfaces sporadically in videotaped messages. Boko Haram opposes the education of girls and has kidnapped girls to use as cooks and sex slaves.To it, western education is evil to be discarded at all cost. This explains why after the girls were kidnapped, their leader argued that they were supposed to be married instead of wasting time schooling. They believe in violence and have a great dislike for Christians. It has killed hundreds of children. The group seeks to replace Nigeria’s government with a strict Islamic state. Its home base is the Sambisa Forest, a game reserve in Nigeria’s northeast region, and it has a few thousand fighters.
The most intriguing of the actions of Boko Haram is that the sect has extended its activities in the North of Cameroon with an incessant kidnapping of Catholic priests and French nationals and also attacking and killing hundreds of nationals. In fact, a few days back, a small bridge linking a border village between Cameroon and Nigeria in the far Northern region of Cameroon was blown off when the sect got wind or suspected that it could be used as a rescue route of the girls.
Such actions by the sect has made reprisal antics far from being Nigeria’s action alone. The notion of “sovereignty-at-bay” in international law counts for nothing in this case as the susceptibility of Nigeria’s immediate neighbours viz: Cameroon, Chad, Niger et al to the effects of the actions of this sect are telling on the denizens of these countries. The case of Cameroon is glaring as Akwaya in the South Western region of Cameroon like the Northern regions is inundated with people fleeing the barbaric acts of Boko Haram besides intermittent attacks from the sect itself on the afore mentioned areas.
It is inconceivable that President Goodluck has not taken very bold steps to get its neighbours involve in the struggle to hem in, annihilate and completely wipe out Boko Haram through diplomatic offensive. That he sluggishly turned to the USA, Britain, China and other world powers for succor without first attempting to get assistance from its neighbours is complete betrayal and spite to the whole idea of seeking African solutions to African problems. In all fairness to President Goodluck, even with the help of these powers, if the neighbours are ignored, whatever is done would just be as the saying goes “throwing water on a duck’s back.
Worst of all, it is a known fact that terrorism anywhere must be fought with vim and alacrity. How then do we explain the belated statement of our darling African Union that has ended at issuing just that statement? Is the issue, a Nigerian issue? One would have expected the A.U. to take the lead in efforts against the actions of Boko Haram because children everywhere are precious but most importantly because the actions of the sect are having an adverse effects not only in Nigeria but her neighbours as well. How then can the AU claim that it has the capacity to secure the continent when the actions of Boko Haram in Nigeria and Al Shaabab in Somalia and Kenya are simply condemned with no action taken by her?
Be that as it may, the activities of Boko Haram have gone far above the confines of the nation of Nigeria and the Nigerian government should not make the error of trying to go it alone without its neighbours for this would have a boomerang effect. The fight should be led by Nigeria and its neighbours with tactical support from the AU. All western support should have been channeled through the AU to all affected countries. Care must be taken to ensure a safe rescue of the girls as the sect might trap the rescuers by using the girls as human shield. Our hearts go out to the Nigerian nation especially the affected mothers in such difficult moments like this. Indeed, bring home our girls!