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Published On: Fri, May 9th, 2014

Boko Haram: Foreign help, but at what price?

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World+Leaders+Meet+G8The last few days have seen a groundswell of international solidarity with Nigeria in its war against the Islamic terror group, Boko Haram, but particularly our effort at finding and rescuing over 200 schoolgirls of Govt Secondary School, Chibok, Borno state. The girls were taken from their school on

April 15. Protest marches are being held by women and children across the world, a “Freeourgirls” campaign is running on Twitter and other social media.

However, offers of “concrete assistance” have come from governments that have been Nigeria’s traditional development partners and have experience in fighting terrorism, both at home and abroad. As of Thursday, the United States, the UK, France, Canada and China have given firm commitments of assistance.

Washington, for one, has pledged a team of “technical experts including 10 military troops and has enforcement personnel skilled in intelligence, investigations, hostage negotiating, information sharing and victim assistance…” Pentagon (defence ministry) spokesman, Colonel Steve Waren, was quoted that “the military personnel will help with communication and intelligence” but there is

no plan to launch operation “now”. The troops the US will be sending in “few days” are besides the 70 already in the country, made up 50 guarding its embassy in Abuja 20 Marines training the Nigerian military.

On its own part, the British government has pledged the deployment of “satellite imaging capabilities and advanced tracking technologies” in the search for kidnapped schoolgirls. Similar offers have also come from France, Canada and China.

China’s leader, Mr. Li Keqiang, who is participating in the ongoing World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting on Africa in Abuja made his government’s offer of help when he met with President Goodluck

Jonathan Wednesday. After the meeting, the president had this to say: “The Premier expressed firm support to efforts at safeguarding our sovereignty and securing our territorial integrity. ..China will assist in our fight against terror, especially our commitment to the rescue of the girls that were taken away from a secondary school at Chibok, Borno state.”

It was a hugely relieved Jonathan that announced this flood of supposedly altruistic international offers of assistance on the fringe of the WEF summit. In doing so, he admitted his blunder in dismissing the Boko Haram insurgency, now, in its fifth year as something “temporary” which would be ended without enlisting external help.

Now that we have realized we need outside help to secure the release of our girls, first, before they are sold into slavery as the Boko Haram has threatened to do, and then confront the main terror -this at the cost of national pride -what other shall we be expected to pay? The Americans have said they have not planned to launch military operations now, but leave the option open. And when they decide one is required, they deploy their murderous unmanned drones in our airspace – drones that do not distinguish between the enemy and the civilian victim. What will be the rules of engagement and for how long will the “technical experts” be in our country be? These are issues that should sorted out before the arrival of the so-called experts.


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