Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

No wonder they didn't want help

The Nigerian army waited for three weeks before asking the USA, the UK, and other countries for help in finding and freeing schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram. One of the first things that comes from the helpers is a devastating critique of the Nigerian army and government.

Nigeria’s Army Holding Up Hunt for Taken Girls
Intelligence agents from all over the globe have poured into this city, Nigeria’s capital, to help find the nearly 300 Nigerian schoolgirls abducted by the Islamist extremist group Boko Haram more than a month ago — but there has been little or no progress in bringing the young women home.

The problem, many involved in the rescue effort say, is the failings of the Nigerian military.

There is a view among diplomats here and with their governments at home that the military is so poorly trained and armed, and so riddled with corruption, that not only is it incapable of finding the girls, it is also losing the broader fight against Boko Haram…

Boko Haram’s fighters have continued to strike with impunity this week, killing dozens of people in three villages in its regional stronghold, but also hitting far outside its base in the central region. Car bombs have killed well over 100, according to local press reports…

[D]iplomats’ worry… that officials in Mr. Jonathan’s administration are dangerously out of touch with the realities of a vicious insurgency that for years had been minimized in the distant capital, until the abductions made that impossible…

Mr. Jonathan’s aides were looking to the group to simply free the young women.

“I have reason to believe Boko Haram will see reason and let these girls go,” said Oronto Douglas, special adviser on strategy to Mr. Jonathan, in an interview this week. “I think they will have a conscience to let these girls go.”

Other officials here, stung by Washington’s criticism of the military, have looked to place blame elsewhere. They defensively point to the United States’ withdrawal from Afghanistan, saying that Nigeria is not the only country that has had difficulty with an Islamist insurgency. Terrorism is a global scourge, and “No one person, agency, or country can stamp out terror,” said Sarkin-Yaki Bello, a retired major general and one of the country’s leading counterterrorism officials.

Yet few outside the president’s close circle accept such explanations. Daily antigovernment demonstrations and increasingly critical news media coverage point to widespread anger at the government…

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