Friday, June 13, 2014

Nigeria: Update-- Respected Former President Vigorously Objects to President Jonathan's Handling of Mass Hostage-Taking of Girls

According to Reuters, respected former President and statesman Olusegun Obasanjo, 77, speaking Thursday (June 12) on BBC's Hausa-language radio service, in comments echoed in an interview with Nigeria's Premium Times website, predicted that many of the 200+ missing girls abducted by Boko Haram may never be found.

The former President said incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan's administration has taken too long to respond to the April mass abduction. 

Once Jonathan's mentor and one of his strongest political allies, Obasanjo turned against him in December 2013.  

The warning from Obasanjo, who stepped down in 2007 and nurtured Jonathan's own rise to power, will dismay parents who have now waited 60 days for any news of their daughters, taken from a school in the village of Chibok in northeast Nigeria.

Obasanjo's criticisms underline divisions within his and Jonathan's ruling People's Democratic Party, heightened by the failure of the government and army to rescue the girls and by political jostling ahead of presidential elections due in 2015.

"If you get all of them back, I will consider it a near-miracle...do you think they (Boko Haram) will hold all of them together up till now? The logistics for them to do that, holding over 200 girls together, is too much...if the administration had acted quickly, we could have rescued them," the former President emphasized. 

COMMENT: Boko Haram, from the outset, has wanted nothing more than to establish sharia law in Africa's largest economy, has successfully fought back against an army offensive and killed thousands in bomb and gun attacks, striking as far afield as the central city of Jos and the capital of Abuja. 

Activists have staged regular street protests demanding that Jonathan step up efforts to free the girls. The president has also faced hostile media coverage and a vociferous global #BringBackOurGirls Twitter campaign. 

Obasanjo, twice president and a respected political statesman, has progressively fallen out with Jonathan. 

In a letter leaked in December 2013, he said any decision by Jonathan to seek a second term in the 2015 poll would be "morally flawed."

Jonathan, a southern Christian, was vice president and came to power when President Umaru Yar'Adua, a northern Muslim, died in May 2010, three years into his first term.