An Effort To Eradicate Education, Ctd

Three weeks have passed since Islamic militants kidnapped more than than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls, and the situation only seems to be getting worse.  The Economist finds that the government’s response “began with confusion and has become increasingly shambolic, creating chaos that in other countries would see senior heads roll”:

President Goodluck Jonathan has remained remarkably silent about the kidnapping of the girls, a story that outraged many and triggered one of Nigeria’s rare street protests. Five years into an insurgency by the Islamist sect Boko Haram that claims thousands of lives every year, Mr Jonathan seems distracted while the military has failed to stop the bloodshed despite a multi-billion dollar-a-year budget. … Messages from the Nigerian military are odds with statements from the girls’ school and other state authorities. The defense ministry issued an inaccurate report claiming all but eight of the girls had been found and then retracted it, further damaging the government’s credibility.

Alexis Okeowo notes, “The circumstances of the kidnapping, and the military’s deception, especially, have exposed a deeply troubling aspect of Nigeria’s leadership: when it comes to Boko Haram, the government cannot be trusted”:

Children have been killed, along with their families, in numerous Boko Haram bombings and massacres over the past five years. (More than fifteen hundred people have been killed so far this year.) State schools and remote villages in the north have borne the brunt of Boko Haram’s violence this year. The group is believed to be at least partly waging a campaign against secular values. The kidnapped girls were both Christian and Muslim; their only offense, it seems, was attending school.

Last June, I visited Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state and the birthplace of Boko Haram, to report on the insurgency and the Nigerian government’s counteroffensive, a security operation that placed three northeastern states, including Borno and Yobe, under a state of emergency as troops launched attacks on terrorist hideouts and camps. The military cut phone lines and Internet access, and, while residents were glad for the intervention, there was a sense of living in the dark. Gunshots, a bomb blast: was it Boko Haram or a military attack? Were the hundreds of men disappeared by the military actually terrorists—even the young boys? And was the government, as it claimed, really winning the war?

Meanwhile, Frida Ghitis describes the kidnapping as “an international crisis that requires international help”:

[I]t is urgent that the plight of these girls and their families gain the prominence it so clearly deserves. Global attention will lead to offers for help, to press for action. Just as the intense focus on the missing Malaysian plane and the lost South Korean ferry prompted other nations to extend a hand, a focus on this ongoing tragedy would have the same effect. Nigeria’s government, with a decidedly mixed record on its response to Boko Haram, will find it difficult to look away if world leaders offer assistance in finding and rescuing the kidnapped girls from Chibok, and another 25 girls also kidnapped by Boko Haram in the town of Konduga a few weeks earlier.

Previous Dish on unrest in Nigeria here and here.