FEATURE ARTICLE

Michael NnebeWednesday, May 7, 2014
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CHIBOK SCHOOLGIRLS …A BLESSING IN DISGUISE TO NIGERIA
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ately Nigerian government has devoted an awful lot of time and effort trying to rebrand Nigeria. Earlier in the year, the government launched several industrial revolution schemes that included the Power Refinancing Summit and others designed to promote enterprise. Finally our government embarked on the long overdue rebasing of our economy, and after all the tinkering, voilà! Nigeria now has the largest economy and GPD in Africa. President Jonathan and his Cabinet became silently gleeful and looked forward to crowning their achievement by hosting the World Economic Forum on Africa. But Boko Haram had other plans, and would rain in on Jonathan's parade. First, they bombed the Nyanya motor park right there in Abuja killing dozens, then they abducted more than 200 school girls at their boarding school in Chibok, and as if these two events have not caused enough anguish and in an act of impunity they repeated their bombing of Nyanya three weeks after the first bombs went off at the same location.

The truth is that as far as Jonathan and his administration were concerned, Boko Haram has been contained. Days have gone when the dreadful terrorist group used to bomb and kill dozens of Christians inside their churches every Sunday. Their days of striking repeatedly in open motor parks and markets across the North is largely over. It seems now to the Nigerian authorities that Boko Haram is largely contained within the Northeast corridor of Nigeria, and our joint task forces have been left to keep battling with them. As long as their activities are restricted to the Northeast, and only makes occasional headlines, Jonathan and his men are content to carry on their business as usual. Jonathan and his men are obviously wrong. Most prominent Northern politicians have not helped matters by their utterances on the issues of Boko Haram. When the majority of Boko Haram victims were Igbos living in the North, most Hausa/Fulani politicians remained nonchalant in their response to calls for the North to rain in their people. Now that the majority of their victims are fellow Hausa/Fulani people, their politicians, especially those in APC have resorted to blaming Jonathan.

Boko Haram activities have never waned since it began. If anything, they have continued maiming, killing, abducting, and burning in just about every state in the North. How many young students have they slaughtered in their sleep at various colleges across Northern Nigeria? The number is in the hundreds. This year alone, they have abducted more than 100 young girls all across the Northeast before the Chibok abduction, and according to the United Nations' record, nearly 2,000 Nigerians have been killed by Boko Haram since the beginning of this year. Even the so called Fulani herdsmen have now been infiltrated by Boko Haram, as they go about their cattle rearing in their AK47 slaughtering hundreds of Nigerians almost on a daily basis along the Middle Belt Axis. The activities of Boko Haram is indeed causing a huge problem to Nigeria and its leaders, the sort they have never confronted before. Even the dreaded Niger Delta militants in their peak never caused this scale of havoc to Nigeria.

Even after these more than 200 school girls were abducted from Chibok our government carried on as if this was just another Boko Haram headline that will likely wear off sooner or later like the hundreds of other Boko Haram headlines before. Thank God for a few of our women who said "NO" this time, and began a series of protests that have now been repeated in just about every major capital in the Western world. Suddenly the Chibok school girls have put Nigeria on the map, and for all the wrong reasons. Jonathan and his men could have carried on their business as usual, but the world is now rising up and demanding that business cannot continue as usual in Nigeria or indeed in any other Western capital, as long as these girls remain missing. APC have blamed Jonathan for not fighting Boko Haram seriously, and the PDP have blamed their APC opponents for being the sponsors of Boko Haram. As these back and forth blames goes on Nigerians are dying in their thousands in the hands of Boko Haram.

The leader of Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau was supposed to have been killed by our military according to what our government told us last year. But, of course, the man is still very much alive, unashamedly taunting the Nigerian government in a video released just days ago. This man and his group have caused so much harm to the Nigerian entity. Thousands of Nigerians, including several high ranking military officers have died in the hands of Boko Haram. They have defied all decencies and all norms and killed in the most brutal of ways. But there is always a limit to what any terrorist group can do to a country, especially one as big as Nigeria with more than 170 million people. Even as I write this article, reports coming from CNN and BBC indicate that Boko Haram have just killed another 200 or so around the Cameroon border. In his latest video Shekau brags about what he will do with the Chibok girls, and how he will sell them off into forced Islamic marriage or slavery. It is worth noting that majority of these Chibok school girls are Christians, perhaps more than 90% of them according to the names released by CAN.

Thank God for these school girls, their collective spirit have now called upon the world to act. Finally, the world now knows the extent to which Nigeria has been suffering under the yoke of Boko Haram. This, I believe, may well be the undoing of Abubakar Shekau and his men. After the debacle of Iraq and Afghanistan, who can blame President Obama and the Americans in general for wishing to stay away from all forms of conflicts outside the shores of the United States. Before now, America has offered very limited intelligence assistance against Boko Haram. The outcry for the return of these girls around the world and in America has now compelled Obama to act hopefully more decisively. I expect that finally we may see the use of US unmanned drones in the Northeast corridor of Nigeria to track and destroy the Boko Haram organization. History has shown that it is impossible to wipe out any such terrorist group with the use of drones or even hundreds of thousands of army men on the ground. But the drones, as we have seen in Pakistan and Yemen, can significantly diminish their ability to cause unlimited havoc on the lives of those they terrorize. Sadly, the use of unmanned drones is not without consequences as can be seen in the high number of collateral damages in innocent human lives.

It is sad that Nigeria has to go through many years of this kind of brutal killings of her citizens, especially that of many young people, Youth Coppers and students among them. My heart now bleeds for the ordeal these teenage students of Chibok must be going through, and also to their families who also must be going through hell mentally by now. I continue to pray that in the end, all these girls, in spite of the rumors making rounds, will eventually be rescued alive. Their ordeal, no matter how horrific it might be, has become a blessing in disguise to Nigeria, for without this level of outcry about them, the world would probably not give much damn about our ordeal in the hands of Boko Haram. And with this awareness is likely to come a new dimension, with the help of US unmanned drones, and hopefully a meaningful containment or rather destruction of this dreadful terrorist group known as Boko Haram.

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