A hundred days following the abduction of over 270 young girls by the militant terrorist group, Boko Haram, came and passed a few days ago with very little mention by the major news outlets. After what seemed like an eternity, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan finally met the families of the abducted girls and some who had escaped. The day itself was actually celebrated by Boko Haram by detonating two bombs in quick succession, killing over 75 people and narrowly missing the ex-military president and the country’s topmost opposition leader Mohammadu Buhari.
Of course, as expected, this is the news that made the headlines as everything regarding the missing girls is gradually dwindling into oblivion. Skeptics like me who had already questioned the social media hype – comparing it to a similar situation in the quest to catch Joseph Kony – are not in the least surprised.
It happened that international media outlets were initially very slow in reporting the news of the kidnapping of the girls, which even led to some questioning the veracity of the scanty early reports that emerged. When social media took up the campaign, the tempo was upped but the objective seemed to be one thing only – portray Nigeria as incapable of handling the situation and ask foreign intervention. Under pressure, international help was enlisted.
According to State department spokeswoman Jen Psaki the US was “providing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support“. Military and law-enforcement teams on the ground were “digging in on the search and co-ordinating closely with the Nigerian government as well as international partners and allies”. These allies were Britain, France and China, with Israel promising to join the team! Strangely, Boko Haram seemed to have become bolder and are hitting closer and closer to ‘home’ despite the massive international presence.
The recent targeting of prominent figures and the news that emerged today of the abduction of the wife of Cameroon’s Vice Prime Minister only makes the case harder to fathom. Does it mean that Boko Haram has over just a few years become so sophisticated that the ‘best’ intelligence agencies in the world cannot take them out? Or could it be that the efforts are just not significant to counter the threat?
Worse, there is little news about what is happening on the ground in the search efforts to bring the girls home. Gradually, therefore, this case is becoming a cold one and the Chibok girls are gradually becoming like the child soldiers that the US charity Invisible Children sought to free from Joseph Kony. Each day that passes, the issue seems to be buried deeper and deeper under the radar but what will simply not disappear is that the world could not save over 270 young vibrant girls from ragtags such as Boko Haram.
Maybe hope should be rekindled now that some prominent people have become targets of bombings and kidnappings. Maybe the Cameroon elite force, (the Battalion D’Intervention Rapide, which is said to be well trained to counter insurgencies of this type,) will step up and prove that they are not only good at cracking down on civilians to keep Paul Biya in power!
Whatever the case, we pray that the girls can still be found! After over a hundred days, one is scared to imagine what the girls might have been subjected to!