IT must have been three weeks of harrowing experiences for President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and his government which appeared to be hapless in the face of the growing bravado exhibited by members of Boko Haram in their insurgency. On April 14, the sect carried out an early morning bomb attack at the ever busy Nyanya Motor Park in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city, killing more than 70 persons and injuring several hundreds of others. Nyanya is about five kilometers away from Aso Rock Presidential villa. As if that was not bad enough, the insurgents raided a government secondary school in Chibok, Borno State, in the evening of that same day and abducted about 234 female students from their hostels after setting fire on many of the school buildings. On May 1, the insurgents again returned to Nyanya where they carried out another bomb attack in which more than 20 persons were killed while several others received various degrees of injuries. That was not all. On May 5, the insurgents returned to Chibok where they again abducted eight girls and from there reportedly attacked Gamborou village in Borno State, along the Nigeria/Cameroon border, killing about 310 persons who were, thereafter, buried in shallow graves.
As usual, these dastardly acts received the condemnations of the President and assurances that despite the attacks, the government was on top of the situation and that the Boko Haram insurgency would soon belong to the realm of history. But these assurances were not backed up with concrete actions. For instance, neither the president nor a top ranking officer in his cabinet or in the military cared to visit Chibok to assess the security situation on the ground as well as gather intelligence information on the possible location of the abducted school girls until very lately after the government came under national and international pressures to act. This, probably, explains why the president decided to seek help from the international community to enable Nigerian security agents who, according to reports, have been working at cross purposes, to carry out a successful rescue operation.
As at press time, offers of assistance had come from the United States, Britain, France, Canada and China. But the fear of some Nigerians is that there is no free lunch anywhere in the world. This means that Nigeria is surely going to give away something in order to get something. What will that something be? Will Nigeria compromise its sovereignty or allow its security network to be penetrated in exchange for foreign military assistance? These are some of the issues on which some Nigerians have expressed their fear. But some others have said there is no cause to worry and that Nigeria knows what it wants, that is, what to accept and reject in its overall interest. Olu Ojewale, the general editor, who crafted our cover story for this week entitled “Global Outrage At Boko Haram”, examines all these issues in details. It is a must-read piece. Enjoy it.
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— May 19, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT