Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Nigeria: A Tragic Commentary to 200 Missing School Girls

According to The Latin American Tribune, six months after ten trucks with 50 armed Boko Haram terrorists broke into a village in northeastern Nigeria at night to kidnap more than 200 local school girls, time and the inefficacy of the Nigerian Army threatened to plunge the horrific incident into eventual oblivion:

The mass-abductions of the 200 girls occurred in Chibok village in the state of Borno, one of the worst-effected of Nigeria’s 36 states and the federal capital of Abuja, the African equivalent of the Islamic State (IS).

The operation was executed at night, as with most Boko Haram operations, yet the difference was that instead of brutally killing teachers and students as they slept, the group kidnapped en-mass upwards of 200 school-age girls.

At first the Nigerian government regretted the incident, but then shrugged it off, in a country where human life is cheapest of any on Earth; even non-existent in the more remote areas where voters fail to have any influence at all.

Nigeria, the most populous African state with 170 million people and more than 200 tribes, has a huge economic gap between its wealthy south and poor north.

After the initial shock caused by the news of the abductions, the Nigerian Army, already known for its historic lack of credibility, began a war of statements aimed at quelling the fears of developed nations abroad.

Five days after the mass-abductions, the military alleged it had freed 165 of the girls, news denied by their school director, the girls’ relatives and even the governor of Borno.

Misinformation and silence over the girls’ fate lasted until May 5, when Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the abduction in a video tape, prompting the governments of several countries, including the US and UK, to offer their help for rescue operations.

International awareness of the incident took a few days and was fueled by the Twitter accounts of several celebrities in the #BringBackOurGirls campaign.

First Lady Michelle Obama, singer Justin Timberlake, actors Sean Penn, Ashton Kutcher and Jessica Biel took part in the campaign, and posted their photographs next to banners reading “Real men don’t buy girls.”

COMMENT: My advice to all well-intentioned governments in the future is to do three things first committing resources:

-- Carefully assess whether Nigeria was ever fully committed to finding 200 missing schoolgirls. This was never corroborated;

-- The impact of Nigeria’s institutional corruption was never thoroughly analyzed in the context of how badly the government wanted to find the girls;

-- All of the countries that offered assistance did so based upon “crowd rule,” rather than assessing whether they could actually be successful in finding the girls; and

-- None of the countries thoroughly assessed how badly Nigerian President Jonathan Goodluck wanted to rescue the girls.

For those of you who respond best to data, Nigeria’s history offers an unpleasant picture:

-- Nigeria, at 177 million people, is the 8th most populated country in the world;

-- The country is TWICE the size of California;

-- The per capita income is $2,800;

-- According to Transparency’s 2013 Corruption Perception Index Nigeria ranks 144th of the 177th most corrupt nations on Earth:


-- The life expectancy in Nigeria is 51.

According to Google, “BringBackOurGirls” registered millions of searches on the Internet in May 2014 and dropped dramatically the following month, only eventually disappeared in September.

US-led international military support and the firm belief in results dwindled gradually until all the foreign governments who collectively responded to the mass-hostage taking of the girls eventually and quietly returned home.

Yet, the results of this impressive deployment by a number of developed nations was unsuccessful not fully realizing that Nigerians themselves knew their own country far better than did foreigners that simply got caught up in “crowd rule.”

The latest news about the hostages was another misstep, when Nigerian Army spokesman Chris Olukolade said on September 23 that a group of girls had been released, raising hopes among anguished families, only to deny the news an hour later.

The worst possible indignity that any parent of a missing child can endure is not knowing that their off-spring is SAFE AND WELL, particularly when they are lied to by their own government.

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