Chibok girls: Nigeria’s national embarrassment, By Yemi Olodo
Posted by Yemi Olodo | 15 August 2016 | 2,561 times
When female students were kidnapped from the Government Secondary School in the town of Chibok in Borno State, the government of the day was caught off guard and official response/action did not commence until the world condemnation started to mount. The phrase “We are on top of the situation” became the national anthem of the Goodluck Jonathan administration.
Two years after the incident, only one of the girls kidnapped had been “accidentally discovered” as President Muhammad Buhari administration push for the eradication of Boko Haram and containment of the Niger Delta Avenger.
In May 2016, one of the missing girls, Amina Ali, was found. She met with Mr. President and the Civilian JTF was credited with the recovery of the girl. She claimed that the remaining Chibok girls were still there, but that six had died. A second girl was discovered later in that week, but parents have expressed doubts as her name was not on the original list of missing girls.
The latest Boko Haram video is the third to show the girls since they were captured and the group has consistently claimed responsibility for the kidnappings of the girls.
Fifty-Seven of the schoolgirls managed to escape initially and some have narrated their experiences in appearances at international human rights conferences.
The Boko Haram sect has released a video purporting to show some of the kidnapped Chibok schoolgirls. Some 50 girls wearing headscarves are seen behind a Boko Haram militant who demands the release of fighters in return for the release of the girls.
Whilst Nigeria Minister of Information did not deny the video; he said they are “On top of the situation" through his special adviser explaining they are working hard on the matter.
However, there is serious doubt within the security circles that the Federal Government would deliver their desire goal with regards to the rescue of the Chibok Girls based on the current security infrastructure.
Though “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” and regardless of sincerity of Nigeria Police Force which is constitutionally empowered to be responsible for internal security; in their current status quo they do not have the resources, security competence to lead the investigation and provide the necessary leadership to accomplish a successful Chibok Girls recovery.
Nigeria former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, was technically correct to state that the Chibok Girls could not be found; although it is a bitter pill yet the gospel truth remains that Nigeria Military are not trained nor equipped to handle abduction cases.
For President Buhari to fulfill his electoral mandate on the Chibok Girls saga; he will need to rewrite any security strategy presented to him in the past and mandate a fresh revisit of the issue.
With two Presidential reports produced on this matter and yet no positive outcome on this issue; it is time to deploy fresh initiatives to address this national embarrassment.
If only I could secure 15 minutes to brief President Muhammad Buhari on this Chibok Girls saga; I will suggest the following:
1. Withdraw the mandate for location of the Chibok Girls from the military
Nigeria Military competence is in territorial protection and it is totally unfair to expect them to pursue Boko Haram, Niger Delta Avenger, Fulani-Herdsmen and manage the Chibok Girls recovery at the same time.
2. Setup a Special Taskforce for Chibok Girls
The current mistake of thinking that the Chibok Girls issue should be manage under the normal operational routine would not yield any result but continue to produce 'accidental discovery' and we could find two or three Chibok girls a year; that is not the way forward!
We need a taskforce of researchers, investigators, police detectives, medical practitioners and special strike force retrained for hostage handling (elite team).
The Federal Government needs to collate all the different initiatives and assign the taskforce to deliver the work.
Until the Chibok Girls case is strategically repositioned and the full might of the Federal Government of Nigeria effectively utilised to delivery Mr. President's mandate; the journey ahead would be difficult.
A Presidential Committee that is restrictive and not diverse enough to accommodate academic expert in abduction, subject matter practitioner in negotiators and world respected security analysts. Whilst, I have the highest respect for retired generals and seasoned politicians normally nominated for presidential assignment; it is high time to move beyond political patronage to appoint young, dynamic and sharp minds that could deliver the mandate
•Yemi Olodo is a UK-based security expert. Photo shows some of the abducted Chibok girls.