CHIBOK GIRLS: The Nigerian Government's Support For Boko Haram

On the night of 1415 April 2014, Nigeria experienced her fair share of an event unforgettable like the United States Black Hawk Down disaster in Mogadishu, Somalia in the year 1993. 276 girls were reportedly kidnapped by the ferocious Boko haram sect at the Government secondary school in the town of Chibok, Borno state. An Islamic sect that has been in existence since 2009 with the sole aim of islamizing Nigeria and abolishing the western system of education. 57 girls were said to have luckily escaped when one of the vehicles conveying the abducted girls to an unknown destination in Sambisa forest broke down with an account of a small number escaping from the Boko haram camps. This awful event put Nigeria on the headlines for a very long time for the wrong reasons. The image of the country was massively dented. It was a reality show of the weaknesses of the Nigerian government.
Our dirty clothes were washed publicly for the world to see. Countries, international organizations and several mass media out outlets began to focus on Nigeria when the country had little or no reputable features to showcase. As usual, the ill-fated incidence was widely condemned by countries and international organizations which is not a proactive move to rescue the girls. Initially the Nigerian government was quiet about the missing girls like it was a fairy tale but intensive pressure from media outlets forced a statement out of the Federal Government with the First lady, Patience Jonathan putting up an epic dramatic show that will forever be evergreen comically in Nigeria. (Diariz god oh!).

Till date, some Nigerians still don't believe the Chibok girls are missing. They believe it’s a staged act to discredit President Goodluck Jonathan by his political opponents. On record, there has been responses from top countries like United Kingdom, United States of America, France, China, Canada, Iran, Israel and a couple of others, including international organizations like the European Union, United Nations Security Council. The combined forces were highly anticipated especially the introduction of the United states famous marines but only produced massive sales for newspapers with rumours about plans to rescue the innocent little girls. 14th of April 2015 makes it a year that they have been in captivity with no definite process of reaching them or knowing their whereabouts. It was on this note that the 17-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner, Malala Yousafzai from Pakistan claimed the world has failed the girls in her open letter to mark the one year anniversary of the abduction.
                This claim maybe harsh on the Federal Government of Nigeria but the truth must be told. Consciously and unconsciously the Federal Government has supported the emergence and growth of Boko haram. This can be analyzed theoretically which I will do before delving into some pitfalls of the Nigerian Government on the Chibok girls saga.

Using the Conflict theory by Karl Marx as a perceptual screen to view this issue, the government of a state is obliged to maintain monopoly over the use of force which is used to suppress agitating groups who if not curtailed can undertake actions that are detrimental to the continued existence of the state. Facing the truth, Boko haram grew and matured under the nose of the Federal government. Even after the killing of their leader Mohammed Yusuf under controversial circumstances, they waxed stronger. Till date, there are still strong claims that the northern states contributed financially to operationalize the terrorist group at the budding stage. There is a strong relationship between weak states and terrorism. Nigeria is by all standards a weak state. A weak state serves a fertile growing hub for terrorist activities. Agriculturally, it is safe to call a weak state a 'loamy soil' for the perfect growth of a terrorist seed. Hence, the reason why the seed of Boko haram sprouted like a plant situated by the river side. Every successful terrorist operation boosted their confidence to the level of a massive abduction of the Chibok girls which drew an image tarnishing and undue international attention to Nigeria.

Furthermore, Nigeria's military was given early warnings of an impending Boko Haram attack on a boarding school in Chibok from where more than 200 schoolgirls were abducted, according to sources independently verified by Al Jazeera and Amnesty International. The Nigerian army was specifically given a 4-hour prior notice about the movement of the Boko haram fighters towards the school. The Nigerian army instead fielded an army of 17 soldiers to battle a formidable and dare-devil squad like Boko haram. What a costly national joke! They were outnumbered and outgunned so they had to run for their dear lives which is militarily called a 'retreat' or a 'tactical maneuver' as it was used when over 500 Nigerian soldiers crossed into Cameroon after being pursued by Boko haram.

The successful abduction of the Chibok girls was heavily aided by negligence on the part of the Nigerian military and the Federal Government as a whole. A sizeable number of troops stationed at Chibok could have averted the disaster. Reliable reports have it that a radio message was sent by the retreating 17 soldiers for the purpose of reinforcement which never arrived till the next morning after the operation was already done and dusted. A golden chance came to nip this abduction incident at the bud when one of the trucks used by Boko haram to convey the abducted girls parked up en route Sambisa forest. The opportunity was so open that some of the girls intelligently escaped safely. A responsive government with a vigilant military would have certainly caught up with them if a hot chase was given immediately after the abduction from their school. The innocent girls were left to fight out their escape with Boko haram insurgents.
It will amaze my readers that even the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the person of President Goodluck Jonathan doubted the credibility of the occurrence. He kept mum about it for a long period of time, aggravating the belief that the report of the missing girls was unfounded. It took more than two weeks before Jonathan addressed the matter in public. President Jonathan later attributed his silence to his desire not to compromise the details of security efforts carried out to rescue the girls. Who will ever believe that? That's a perfect story for a retard going through a rehabilitation procedure at a psychiatric facility. President Jonathan also engaged a public relations firm, Levick, for $1.2m to improve the public presentation of his handling of the crisis. In a simple sense, to favour him in the nature of the reports on the incident in the international scene.

Parents and others took to social media to complain about the government perceived slow and inadequate response. The news caused international outrage against Boko Haram and the Nigerian government. On 30 April and 1 May 2014, protests demanding greater government action were held in several Nigerian cities. Most parents, however, were afraid to speak publicly for fear their daughters would be targeted for reprisal. On 3 and 4 May 2014, protests were held in major Western cities including Los Angeles and London. At the same time, the hash tag
#BringBackOurGirls began to trend globally on Twitter as the story continued to spread and by 11 May 2014, it had attracted 2.3 million tweets. A woman who helped organize protests was detained by the police, apparently because the First Lady of Nigeria, Patience Jonathan, felt slighted when the woman showed up for a meeting instead of the mothers of victims. The woman was released soon after. Reports said the First Lady had further incensed protestors by suggesting some abduction reports were faked by Boko Haram supporters. Several online
petitions were created to pressure the Nigerian government to act against the kidnapping. On 30 April, 2014 hundreds marched on the National Assembly to demand government and military action against the kidnappers. In my own opinion, a responsive and responsible government that cares about the lives of its citizens as well as recognizes the futuristic status of the girls as the leaders of tomorrow will not sit back and wait for massive protest/petitions before it swings into actions. The only spontaneous move you hear from the presidency is the conventional statement of condemnation from the Press Secretary after which empty promises are made. The usual statement is 'President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR condemns Boko haram's attack on ........' and that's all without practical proactive military/strategic actions to back it up promptly.

 Boko haram has gathered so much strength instead of waning over time despite the military capability of Nigeria. The number of children fleeing the Boko Haram insurgency has doubled in the past year and more than 1.5 million people have now been displaced in the six-year conflict, Unicef said in a report with the children's statistics reaching a staggering number of 800,000. They have been denied quality education which is a foundation for the future. With the growing trends of terrorism, what is the assurance that these children without much enlightenment will not fall prey for another terrorism initiation like their predecessors in years to come. That sits Nigeria on a keg of gunpowder.

Another view that supports my claim of the Federal Government's indirect support for the Boko haram sect is the number of soldiers dedicated to the cause of rescuing the girls as against the number of soldiers sent to Osun state during the gubernatorial elections on the 25th of January 2014. It portrays the Federal Government as being power-centred rather than being people-centred. The return of the missing Chibok girls is only on the country's priority list on paper alone but not in the hearts of our leaders. It’s a window dressing show. The act of making people believe only what you want them to know. That's the more reason why headway is yet to be made even after a year. The Federal Government mandated 30,000 troops to secure the freedom of the missing Chibok girls and in the same year, 75,000 soldiers were sent to maintain peace during the Osun state gubernatorial election. On the other hand, France mobilized 88,150 police officers across the country, 9,650 in Paris alone to attack just TWO terrorists, Saïd and Chérif Kouachi (Koauchi brothers) involved in the Charlie Hebdo attack of the 7th of January 2015. These terrorists killed 12 people including a French National Police Officer and injured 11 others. Now here is my question, what is the government of Jonathan protecting? In case you are confused about the right response, permit me to educate you on the SOCIAL CONTRACT THEORY by Thomas Hobbes; that would orientate you about the essence of a state. I make reference to this on virtually most of my articles whenever I am addressing the ills of the society. This is because it accounts for the foundation of a state. The implication of being a leader is to serve. The Federal Government consists of individuals directly elected or appointed to represent the interests of the people, that is the general will. Leaders are to suppress their personal interests for the general good and development of the individuals in a state that they represent but in Nigeria today, it’s the other way round. It accounts for why we blindly celebrate individuals that transform a state with developmental projects while it is their constituted duty to undertake such projects. This is a problematique of the global south. You don't blame the people who have experienced repressive regimes during which much damage was caused to the state rather than repairs. A vivid example is the long-term debt crisis Late General Sani Abacha plunged Nigeria into for this selfish interests.
A times one is forced to think the Nigerian government doesn't value the the lives of its citizens. A case in hand is the massive death of an unbelievable 2,000 individuals in the cold hands of members of the Boko haram sect in Baga, Borno state from the 3rd to the 7th of January 2015. Although there have been conflicting reports about the figure but CNN authoritatively reported that over 2,000 people were unaccounted for. Dead bodies littered the whole place. The President and his entourage were unfazed about the incident. While CNN covered the reports, Local TV stations in Nigeria went about their daily schedule of programmes and President Jonathan continued with his presidential campaign in different parts of the country. The activities in the commercial city in Nigeria, Lagos was very normal as covered by CNN. The Nigerian flag wasn't flying at half mast to mark a black day or mourning event. This event took place coincidentally with the Charlie Hebdo attack in France. The whole world almost came to a halt because France was attacked and a couple of editors were killed. Several representatives of world leaders paid condolence visits to France. Footballers were mandated to wear a black armband as a mourning sign. Major events observed a moment of perfect silence for the dead editors. In less that 48hrs, the terrorists known as the Kouachi brothers alongside an accomplice were killed in a fire exchange with the police. The spontaneous response by the French government as well as the publicity given to the terrorist attack in Paris all points to how much human life is valued in France as one of the most peaceful states in the world. That is the image of a proactive government that cares about the populace. Not a government marred with selfish interests.

Ironically, the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan never saw Boko haram as a problem until when the general elections came knocking at the door. The National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki then used Boko haram as a valid excuse to push for the postponement of the presidential elections scheduled for the 14th of February 2015. There is this popular social media joke that President Jonathan could have found the Chibok girls if he channeled the energy he used in looking for Muhammadu Buhari's missing school certificate which could have been politically beneficial to him if not found. The Nigerian government took up a herculean task of trying to conquer Boko haram that has existed for 6 years in just a matter of 6 weeks to the election. Many political pundits mocked this move by the Federal Government but in utmost sincerity the plan worked to a large extent. Nigeria's full arsenal was unleashed on the Boko haram sect, mercenaries were employed from South Africa to combat Boko haram although the Federal Government constantly denied it. The regional memorandum of understanding with other neighbouring African countries like Chad, Niger and Cameroon was strictly adhered to. Boko haram attacks subsequently reduced and on a day as busy as the presidential election, Boko haram was restricted to just an attack in Gombe which wasn't too fatal compared to their ruthless track records in the past. Progress was also made concerning the missing Chibok girls as a way of appealing to the conscience of the angry electorates to secure their votes. Speaking to the BBC towards the presidential election, in his words President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan declared that Boko Haram is "getting weaker and weaker by the day... I'm very hopeful that it will not take us more than a month to recover old territories that hitherto have been in their hands."

Then on 28 March, the day before the election, the Nigerian army recaptured the town of Gwoza, which is the terror group's base. But how is it that a disorganized and underequipped  army, whose members are unwilling to fight, came to make significant gains against Boko Haram in the weeks leading up to the elections? That's a rhetorical question that still bores down to the questionable priority list of the Federal Government.

The answer is Nigeria's military had help from more than 100 mercenaries from South Africa,
Ukraine, Britain and other countries, and from other African nations as started earlier. However, Nigeria's African partners have also criticized the country's lax approach to fighting Boko Haram which is a confirmation of my claims. Chad has arguably done more than Nigeria, having retaken three key towns from Boko Haram in northeast Nigeria: Damasak, Dikwa and Gamboru.
The country's autocratic leadership has harsh words for their neighbours. "We want the Nigerians to come and occupy, so we can advance," President Idriss Déby said.
"We're wasting time, for the benefit of Boko
Haram," he added.
 "We can't go any further in
Nigeria. We're not an army of occupation.
"We've been on the terrain for two months, and
we haven't seen a single Nigerian soldier. There is a definite deficit of coordination, and a lack of common action."

 Today, many are questioning just how the massive gains against Boko Haram occured in six weeks, after six years of institutional incapability, and view the perceived failure to stop Boko Haram's advance as a reflection on Jonathan's leadership. This alone questions the dedication of the Federal Government to the welfare of citizens in Nigeria. It portrays the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan as a power-focused regime rather than existing for the betterment of the lives of the people which is the primary function of government.

In conclusion, Nigeria's inability to rescue the missing Chibok girls doesn't lie in the inefficiency of the Nigerian soldiers or the lack of adequate weapons to combat the terrorist group; it lies more in the will power of the Federal Government that simply didn't make the security of lives and properties its major priority. This is the basic human right on the basis of which other rights are built in a state. Let us not forget the oil-rich status of Nigeria. If our president could spend a rumoured whooping sum of over N2 trillion on electioneering campaign alone, which is half of the national budget for the year 2014; then acquiring the best military weapons to combat Boko haram and giving motivating incentives to soldiers was simply swept under the carpet due to personal interests.

One could simply say France was irrational when the government mandated 88,150 police officers to go after just 2 terrorists. In the real sense, the government made a perfect move to prevent a future damage to the lives of the citizens and also to serve as a deterrence to any other terrorist mole yet to be activated in the country or probably nursing the obnoxious ambitions of terrorism. The national stagnation of the country for almost a week buttresses my above point too. It shows how precious a single human life is valued in the country unlike Nigeria where our president campaigned with confidence and pride when lives were constantly been gruesomely taken at his backward. It is on this note of failure on the part of the Federal Government that I submit that it consciously or unconsciously supported Boko haram on the Chibok girls’ abduction. It will always be my prayer for them to reunite with their families and live normal lives.

Osayimwen Osahon George,
Senior Online Editor & Political Scientist (
Jetheights Services Limited.

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About Osahon

I'm a journalist and a Political Scientist undergoing a doctoral programme focused on media, democracy and governance in Africa. My mission is to uphold the role of the media as the 'fourth estate of the realm' and also tell the Nigerian Story to the world. You can contact me on Phone number: +2347053302356.
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