Boko Haram and United States elusive presence

(By Onyiorah Chiduluemije Paschal)

Clearly, it is a complete negation of the United Nations’ principal objective of ensuring, at all times, the maintenance of international peace and security if the U.S. and other super powers within the fold of the Security Council continue to trifle with the terrorist activities of the Boko Haram sect. It would amount to a breach of the objective if they keep downplaying Boko Haram’s increasing bloodletting propensities and predicating same on the trite premise that the crisis is all rooted in and traceable to the intrigues and intricacies of Nigerian politics.

IT is becoming increasingly unacceptable and, in fact, a source of serious concern that despite the purported presence of security operatives from American and their Western allies in the Nigerian air space, the incidence of terrorist attacks by the Islamic Boko Haram sect has unfortunately remained high. It is in fact escalating. Expectedly, many Nigerians are beginning to wonder if indeed there is any mileage in the involvement of the Western powers in the ongoing fight against terrorism. That the world has always held America in high esteem, alongside some of its European allies, over their aggressive disposition towards terrorism and the war against it, is an incontrovertible fact. That these countries have, over time, earned enormous reverence and high reputation for possessing the force, the technical knowhow and the wherewithal needed at any point in time for combating terrorism is yet another fact that is not and cannot be in issue.

    Nevertheless, a cursory evaluation of the presence of these strong external forces in the Nigerian air space so far does not seem to reveal any fundamental improvement in the way or manner the Nigeria security agencies have been doing their work in striving to win the war against the Islamic Boko Haram terrorists. Needless to say this is contrary to the lofty expectations most Nigerians had ab initio. One is, therefore, tempted to ask, what the hell are these foreigners doing in our air space? Little wonder some Nigerians are still opposed to their presence.

   That side, Nigerians have been suffering a fate worse than death even before the American government and some others offered to help, especially in the search for the missing Chibok school girls. However, as media reports would later have it, these interventionists would only provide the intellectual and scientific support, the focus of which would only be on the onerous task of intelligence gathering. Critically viewed on the whole, this assignment could as well be construed as consisting in passive attempt by the U.S. to merely observe Nigerians while they fight to defeat the terrorists in their midst. This in part accounts for why the first reported instance of their unwillingness or, better still, outright refusal to share intelligence with the Nigerian security agencies did come to some persons as a big surprise. Ironically, however, that our anguish in the hands of the Islamic terrorists has persisted in brazen defiance of the supposedly superior technological powers is, to say the least, incomprehensible. Arguably, it stands against exaggeration to assert that since the coming of these external elements who now occupy our air space doing what only Heavens know, the number of casualties arising from the dastardly operations of the Islamic Boko Haram sect has not only risen but appears to have exceeded the total death toll experienced before their purported intervention. This is a pity, more so as many a Nigerian had not only heaved a sigh of relief upon reports of the arrival of the American security operatives and their European counterparts in Nigeria, but also had banked greatly on their presence as the ultimate solution to the menace posed by the Boko Haram sect. Of course, this mindset was, in no small way, aptly ventilated by no less a person than President Goodluck Jonathan himself when, in the immediate aftermath of the kidnap of Chibok school girls and the resultant United States’ offer of intervention, he enthused that the development would mark the “beginning of the end of the Boko Haram sect”. For some obvious reasons, not a few Nigerians really reasoned along the same line, they were all on the same page with the President.

   Unfortunately, months down the line, the security situation in the North has so deteriorated that it is now as precarious as never before – as if the coming/the presence of the American and European security personnel has even brought about a turnaround in the fortune of the Boko Haram insurgents. Needless to say that nowadays, unlike before, the frequency and the scale of deaths of hapless Nigerians living in the North-East geo-political zone as a result of the bloody activities of the Boko Haram sect have now gone beyond the level experienced in the past. Yet, all this is happening at a time and in a place where American and European security personnel are believed to be hovering around and ostensibly holding forte with utmost sincerity!. Hmm…

   Meanwhile, for clarity, it is important to state that the thrust of the issue is not that the Americans, Europeans or the outside world in general should lead the way for Nigerians in this war against terrorism in our land or that their security personnel should sacrifice their lives in order for us to live ours in abundance. Nay. This is far from the point in issue. If truth be told, willy-nilly, the best being offered to Nigeria now in the fight against terrorism by both the U.S. government and other interested members of the International Community – outside the African continent, is simply not enough. Yes, the support is not enough! If the U.S. government and other nations that have shown concern thus far are waiting for the Nigeria’s version of terrorism to attain the magnitude in cruelty and dimension as in Iraq they had better get ready for a splintered Nigeria. In Iraq, the attacks against Christians and the Yazidi minority by the Islamic State jihadists more known as ISIS have been characterised by horrendous and disgusting images of rampant decapitation. We do hope this is not the stage America is waiting for to be sufficiently provoked and then begin to swiftly, pro-actively, and resolutely and, in fact, overtly commit more human, material and other resources in this lingering war against the Boko Haram Islamic terrorists. If that is the case it will suffice to submit that the United Nations’ (UN) Secretariat would do well from now to begin to brace up for whatever humanitarian and diplomatic challenges that would necessarily be associated with admitting new member states that are naturally bound to spring up from the federation of Nigeria – in the event of the worst case scenario.

   Clearly, it is a complete negation of the United Nations’ principal objective of ensuring, at all times, the maintenance of international peace and security if the U.S. and other super powers within the fold of the Security Council continue to trifle with the terrorist activities of the Boko Haram sect. It would amount to a breach of the objective if they keep downplaying Boko Haram’s increasing bloodletting propensities and predicating same on the trite premise that the crisis is all rooted in and traceable to the intrigues and intricacies of Nigerian politics.

   Unequivocally, while this impression cannot be entirely ruled out it is no excuse for the international community to abdicate its responsibility to Nigeria under the pretext of not wanting to meddle in her internal affairs. This is why it is high time the U.S. and the entire International Community adopted more aggressive and elaborate measures in combating the Boko Haram scourge. Their involvement should be a replica of the U.S. on-going efforts to contain the excesses of ISIS in Iraq. This is the only way to avert the violent disintegration of Nigeria.

   It no longer matters to the ordinary Nigerians, who are daily bearing the heaviest brunt of the insurgents’ attacks, from where drastic and effective means of stamping out the Boko Haram insurgency may come. It is advisable now to look beyond President Jonathan’s political platitude belied by tirade from rational minds that he reportedly described as prophets of doom. It is imperative and obligatory for the U.S. government to pro-actively rise up now to these intractable security challenges bedeviling our so-called giant of Africa before it is too late.  A stitch in time saves nine.

• Paschal wrote from Abuja via duluemije4justice@yahoo.com.

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