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Nigeria in the Eyes of the World

News » Politics


In time past, Nigeria despite its limitations enjoyed some passable coverage in the global media. But that appears to have stopped.

Lately, the country has become one of the most featured in the global media giants like the Cable Network News (CNN), Aljazeera, China Cable Television (CCTV), Euro News, Sky News, virtually all African broadcasting channels and networks across the world. This is in the wake of the abduction of about 300 school girls from their school in Chibok, Borno State, North-east Nigeria, more so that their whereabouts is unknown.

Some analysts thought the repeated Boko Haram attacks shortly before the World Economic Forum (WEF) were some sort of scare tactics. But the global outrage that greeted the abduction came at about the same time that Nigeria hosted the World Economic Forum in Abuja, the nation’s capital. The forum itself was held amidst tight security.

Ordinarily, the WEF itself attracted worldwide media presence as the event attracted most of the world’s biggest global players in the business and investment sector. However, that was not the reason the country attained sudden popularity. It was because the activities of the Boko Haram insurgents peaked at the time.

Several Boko Haram attacks in Northern Nigeria have left no fewer than 4500 persons dead and several fatally wounded in different attacks and this has earned Nigeria a place in the list of terror-stricken nations. In fact, the American government has listed Boko Haram among international terrorist organisations.

Since 2011 when the group became vicious, it bombed the United Nation (UN) complex and the Police Headquarters in Abuja. Later that year, the office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), was bombed. And as these went on, worship centres in states like Yobe, Plateau, Niger, Adamawa and Kano were constantly under attack. Palaces of respected royal fathers and market squares were not spared, including popular motor parks.

But when on April 14, the insurgents kidnapped and made away with over 280 girls (though the figures keep changing), in two coordinated attacks, nearly placing Nigeria on the same pedestal as Syria, South Sudan, Afghanistan, Palestine, Ukraine and other parts of the world presently having crisis.

The outrage that attended the abduction became bothersome as concerned persons across the world continue to pressure government to urgently find ways to rescuing the girls, all of whom are teenagers.

What particularly attracted the world to the true situation in Nigeria was when President Goodluck Jonathan, during the last media chat, openly declared that the country needed help to face its security challenge. He emphasised that he had made efforts at attracting international support to tackle the activities of the terror group. 

Nigeria’s Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, was recently on CNN where he also drew global attention to the deteriorating security challenge in Nigeria and reiterated the need for the country to seek help from other countries.

The Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, in a recorded video, vowed that the abducted girls are to be put up for sale, having allegedly married some of them off to his recruits. He also said his group has conquered the Nigerian government and military and was ready to battle with the United States.

Thus, after President Jonathan declared that Nigeria required international assistance, almost spontaneously, US, Britain, France, Canada and China indicated their readiness to help Nigerian fight the group. Some of them have already sent teams to Nigeria to help with the search for the girls and that in itself has been closely followed by the world media.

Aside that, 41 of the most notable persons on earth, in a list that included Desmond Tutu, Bill and Melinda Gate, Aliko Dangote, Rupert Murdoch, Amina Mohammed, Festus Mogae, Mo Ibrahim, Ted Turner and Francis-Henri Pinault were among global business, civil society and religious leaders who have expressed concern and joined the call for urgent rescue of the girls. There have also been series of protests in Nigeria and in the US among people seeking the safe return of the girls.

The US president and his wife, Barack and Michelle Obama have both expressed displeasure at the incidents. World prominent Christian leader, Pope Francis also joined the tweeter handle hashtag #BringBackOurGirls, which has gone viral. He tweeted: “Let us pray and join in prayer for the release of the girls,” as the list of notable persons on the handle swells by the day.

Clearly, the issue is now a global concern and many people are anxiously waiting to see the abducted girls returned home. By itself alone, activities of the insurgents are news material for the international media and it is going on almost on daily basis.

At the weekend, two vital bridges in the North-east were blown off by the insurgent; the link bridge between Gamboru-Ngala local government area of Borno State and Cameroon and other one in Liman Kara, a village bordering Adamawa and Borno States were blown off.

During the attack, an unspecified number of people were killed while the wife and two children of a retired Divisional Police Officer (DPO) were again kidnapped.

No doubt, the story is becoming niggling by the day and even with the search light beamed on Nigeria, there is still anxiety among the people who are eager to hear that the girls have been found and have been peddling the rumour.

One of such was the allegation that the military had prior information on the attack at Chibok about four hours before it was carried out, an allegation that the military denied vehemently. There was also the untrue report that the insurgents had agreed to release the girls for their detained members.

Meanwhile, there have however been fears expressed by some Nigerians on the implications of seeking foreign assistance, especially from the US government.

Factional leader of the pan-Yoruba self-determination group, the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC), Chief Gani Adams, though welcomed the idea, held the views that Nigeria would only require support in the area of intelligence gathering and that the inhabitants of the area are better placed to locate the missing girls. He felt Nigeria would be surrendering her sovereignty by asking other countries to combat Boko Haram on its soil.

“We are losing our sovereignty gradually whereas what has happened in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya – the intervention of the international community did not help them win. They can be useful for intelligence gathering. It is the people that know the area that can really search for the girls. That is part of the reason we must allow state police. Because if Nigeria is not well structured, we cannot win the war against Boko Haram,” he said.

But for the duo of Professor Charlse Dokubo, a research fellow at the Nigeria Institute of International Affairs (NIIA) and the acting director, International Cooperation Department, Mr. Alex Ekeanyanwu, the idea of seeking foreign intervention against Boko Haram was long overdue, welcomed and capable of addressing the problem that has brought the Nigerian government on its kneels.
“I doubt if there is any implication to it. The issue of Boko Haram has gone beyond the Nigerian border; it has become an international issue, so the nations must get together to confront it,” Dokubo said.

Addressing a world press conference recently, the national chairman, All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Bisi Akande, in his speech titled: “Nigeria on Auto Pilot, Let's Rally To Save her”, said “Nigeria is at war!” and maintained that the Nigerian military was capable of stopping the insurgent but blamed the fact that Boko Haram activities thrived on federal government’s refusal to empower them for that purpose.

“We hail our gallant men and women in uniform, who have risked their lives to battle this insurgency and keep our country safe. We do not share in the pessimism being expressed in certain quarters about the ability and capability of our military to tackle the insurgency.
“We believe that given the necessary support and provided with the required wherewithal, our military can surmount this insurgency. The Nigerian military has excelled in peacekeeping and peace enforcement missions around the world since our independence in 1960, to such an extent that Nigeria has become one of the top troop-contributing nations around the world.

“However, stories emerging from the front in the battle with Boko Haram have been saddening: low morale among our troops, obsolete equipment, including guns that fail to fire and armoured personnel carriers that won't move, given to our troops, and cases of deserters.
“When Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno called the attention of the nation to the fact that the insurgents' morale was higher than that of our troops and that they were better armed than the soldiers we are sending to battle, he was roundly pilloried and shouted down,” he lamented.

Akande, therefore, called on the National Assembly to institute a probe on how the huge allocations for security in the recent years have been spent, asking “Whether the men and women we are sending to battle are properly equipped and whether funds meant for the prosecution of this war are being judiciously spent.”

Given the helpless situation the country has found itself, Akande therefore welcomed foreign assistance, insisting that “Our nation stands on the rim of crisis. A stupendous national disaster beckons. But this current leadership can help avert disaster if they wake up to what true governance is. The time for excuses and half-measures is long past. The wellbeing of the nation hangs in the balance.

“If we do not act decisively, the demands of the moment will find us wanting and history will issue a terrible verdict against us. We seek to protect this nation and her children. We seek to establish a legacy that shows the feats to which this nation can aspire when it stands united and strong against the threat of evil. We seek to make Nigeria a land where no one will ever have to demand that our girls be returned because in a better, more secure Nigeria, they never will be taken!”

Sadly, Nigeria is the talk of the town, the world over. While this is not on a platter of positive slant, the need for a bi-partisan disposition to combating the menace becomes immutable by the day. Thus, regardless of party affiliations, the fight against Boko Haram cuts across ideology and must be seen in that light. The time for finger-pointing is past and what is required now is a collective resolve by all who see the crisis as a Nigerian thing.

Article Credit: Thisdaylive

Updated 5 Years ago

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