While some of the world was preoccupied with the atrocities in Paris, France, earlier this month—the killings of 17 innocent people, most of them employees of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, and the eventual killings of the three gunmen who were executing their “radical Islamic” agenda—the world lost sight (suffered a blackout, or lost interest?) in what has been unfolding in northeastern Nigeria, the most populous country on the African continent, for over six years now.
The Paris incident and European optics, buoyed by the United States, the “global superpower,” along with various continental alliances and organizations such as the EU, NATO, etc., only magnify the perception that Europe indeed is the center of the world. [There’re no better illustrations than World Wars 1 and 11, when the eyes and lenses of the world were locked on the European continent, and the recent “terrorist” incidents in Paris, where international lenses and eyes were again fixed – on Paris. Everyone there and elsewhere chanting the mantra: “Je suis Charlie!” or carrying placards stating the same. It all spoke volumes.] It’s where global power emanates.
Which is why on Sunday, January 11, several international political leaders and/or high-level political dignitaries, and other people converged on Paris in solidarity with the French. They were all Charlie for a weekend. Apparently among them was none other than President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria locking arms – in solidarity.
Ironically, during the horror and solidarity parade in Paris, there was horror on a much larger scale ongoing in Nigeria where thousands of Nigerians have been killed so far in a six-year insurgency in the northeastern part of that country, and continue to be killed almost daily by a notorious paramilitary outfit called Boko Haram, a killing machine by any definition, which the Nigerian government seems unable to take on and destroy—once and for all.
Some of the Western media pay recurring, albeit scant, lip service to the Boko Haram issue; the exception was the kidnapping of over 200 young girls from a school almost a year ago. It was international headline news. And it’s only after international outcry that President Goodluck Jonathan was forced out of hiding to tell Nigerians (and people around the world in solidarity) who had taken to the streets, what his government was going to do. At the time he promised to do everything in his power to get the girls back to their families. Then he disappeared. He hasn’t been seen since; neither have the girls. And Boko Haram continues to wreak havoc on people and property – seemingly unchallenged…
[Actually, he came out of hiding about a week ago and made an appearance in a northeastern town called Baga, which Boko Haram had ravaged around the same time the Paris attacks were happening. By some reports, up to 2,000 Nigerians were killed; but the government denies that number, saying it’s much less. Consolation.] So there he was, Mr. Badluck… I mean President Jonathan visiting Boko Haram casualties in a hospital, and reassuring… promising…
“Jonathan Goodfellow” is how a local radio talk show host referred to the seemingly emasculated president recently, in a slip-of-the-tongue manner. A Freudian slip of course, but it aptly describes what many Nigerians would hope and should expect their political leader to be, a good fellow taking care of the country’s business. Almost six years, thousands killed, maimed, displaced… and that African president is…
And if you think Boko Haram is nothing less than a despicable, dangerous and ruthless outfit and ongoing threat to Nigeria’s socio-political stability, here’s another truly horrific incident printed in the January 15 24H newspaper. The headline states, A woman killed while giving birth.
According to an eyewitness account to Amnesty International, during the Boko Haram attack on Baga, “[…] the pregnant woman was killed in the middle of giving birth… Half of the baby came out and she died in the same position…”
“Hundreds may have been killed during the [Boko Haram] offensive,” the story concludes.
And here’s something equally appalling and troubling, Boko Haram is now using young girls as “suicide bombers” (from its stable of kidnapped girls) to carry out suicide attacks.
Mayhem has been the consistent tone of the Boko Haram story since the outfit launched its undeclared war against the Nigerian government (especially civilians), in its quest to create an Islamic state in the northeastern part of the country.
And, much to the chagrin of most Nigerians, their government seems incapable (or is it unwilling, afraid…?) of doing anything to counteract Boko Haram, which, by virtue of its wanton killings and destruction of property, is clearly emboldened by the apparent inability of the government to engage the “religious warriors?”
Rather than calling on the international community for help, as he recently hinted, President Goodluck Jonathan should be calling on other African leaders (as the chairperson of the African Union stated in a recent Focus on Africa interview) to lend some manpower towards an urgent and necessary effort. How long are African leaders going to depend on Europe… the West? Isn’t this the era of post-colonial independence and continental development…?
It was Rwandan President Paul Kagame who, at an African Development Bank Conference held in May 2014, in Kigali, Rwanda, told the gathering of African leaders and other dignitaries that [they and Africans themselves] should largely be blamed for “failure to resolve conflicts that are taking the continent backwards…” And he called on them to “[…] find African solutions for Africa’s problems… Why should our leaders wait until they are invited to Europe to get together to solve our problems…?”
It’s that master-serf (or political child-slave dependency) syndrome, Mr. Kagame.
Kagame continued, “As African leaders, we must take responsibility and accept our failures in dealing with these matters…Unless we deeply look into them, we may not make any meaningful progress on the continent…Why do you have to wait for Europeans to solve your problem?” he asked the gathering. “I think we should work together to solve our own problems without seeking assistance from western countries…”
Message to President Goodluck Jonathan!
Which is why when one of the self-styled governments of Libya (now a dysfunctional and unstable country now with two governments vying for power in the wake of the NATO/Western intervention in 2012 to remove then strongman and former friend of the West, Muammar Gadaffi) is doing so.
Recently, the “President” of one of the Libyan parliaments made a formal request to the Arab League to help with the instability wracking the country (to protect vital installations, etc.). But he made it clear that “all foreign military intervention (under the guise of preventing the threat of terrorism) is rejected.”
The unstable countries in the rest of Africa—especially sub-Saharan countries—must adopt a similar position. Looking at the continent, the Western “help” to some nations has done more harm than good. President Paul Kagame went on to illustrate how, and cite from something called The 2014 African Economic Outlook report showing how conflict and instability “continue to threaten Africa’s long-term aspiration for a people-centered and prosperous continent.”
He also cited from another report, based on research jointly conducted by Oxfam International, International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) and Saferworld, on Africa’s Costly Conflicts… “[…] The cost of conflict on Africa’s development between 1990 and 2005 was estimated at US $300 billion. This was said to be equal to the amount of money Africa received in international aid from major donors during the same period…”
And some more damning findings: “The study further revealed that on average, war, civil war or insurgency shrinks an African economy by 15%, and that Africa loses an average of around $18 billion to armed conflict annually. Between 1990 and 2005, 23 African nations were reportedly involved in conflict…”
As stated earlier, all that foreign aid is doing Africa and Africans more harm than good. And the benevolent countries love things just the way they are. As Africans go about the business of killing themselves, the respective donor countries are complicit in fomenting and nurturing the continent’s problems, while rewarding their benevolence with Africa’s land and other bountiful natural resources. If he is not wearing Western blinkers, President Goodluck Jonathan should know that.
And so, the bold, Boko Haram ravaging continues, aided and abetted by the inability of what should be a modern and proactive government, under the leadership of President Goodluck Jonathan, to do (or seemingly incapable of doing) what’s necessary to counter a years-long insurgency, which has been a hindrance to normalcy and stability in the most populous and one of the African continent’s leading countries.
But, as heard in a recent Democracy Now documentary, there’s more to the Boko Haram story than eyes and ears can see and hear. It involves oil companies, developed countries and hypocrisy… Let Google work for you!