On the eve of the commencement of the recently concluded World Economic Forum for Africa (WEFA), presidential spokesman Reuben Abati confirmed that the federal government had accepted an offer of help from some foreign powers in the ongoing effort to locate and rescue the 276 girls abducted from the Government Secondary School, Chibok, one month ago. The permanent members of the United Nations Security Council that offered their technical and logistic support are the United States of America, United Kingdom, China and France. Israel, widely experienced in this matter, has also offered to help.
In welcoming the development, we also remind the government of the need to be firm in the terms of engagement, just to ensure that the foreign powers do not use this as an opportunity to meddle in the internal affairs of the country. It is sad that the issue has brought Nigeria this low. The country had earlier lampooned America’s effort to set up an Africa high command; now it is reaching out to the same self-styled global policeman to deploy security personnel and assets in this search-and-rescue operation. This may be part of the international mobilisation against terrorism, but it detracts from Nigeria’s claim as the African continent’s giant. The world has now understood that this country is just a giant with clay feet.
Nonetheless, the offer of assistance at least provides the traumatised nation a fleeting psychological relief, since failure of intelligence is boldly written on each of the operations so far undertaken to tame the Boko Haram terrorists. It also remains to be seen how and when the surveillance, capacity building and technical support of the troops from abroad will rid the nation of the captivity of terrorism in the country. In the meantime, we must emphasise that time is of the essence in this effort to bring our girls home.
Our government should be mindful of the bitter criticisms by world statesmen and the press and do what is needed to keep up with public expectations. Because of its global sensitivity, it is our opinion that the government should start thinking through a counter-strategy in case Boko Haram also seeks help from other terrorist organisations around the world that it has been linked to. It will be counter-productive if lack of strategic thinking on this collaboration leads to the escalation of tension in the north-eastern part of Nigeria. Similar scenarios have been witnessed in countries where foreign powers had offered to assist in taming terrorism, especially in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen.
It is worrying that terrorism seems to be spreading beyond Yobe, Borno and Adamawa states where emergency rule has been imposed for a year now. With other parts of the country threatened by the terrorists and coupled with the apparent cluelessness of the security forces, we wonder how long this foreign assistance will last before the country is restored to the path of sanity.