Boko Haram Sects have murdered and maimed thousands of Nigerians, men women, youths and children. Their targets range from Christians in the churches to Muslims in the mosques, to workers in their offices at UN Building Abuja and police stations, market places, meeting halls and private homes. They destroy lives, they destroy properties in abhorrence of western education they call 'haram' abomination.
Since their emergence in 2009 challenging this western education, and advocating Koranic Education in Nigeria especially North East, there has been no known peace. Every week we wake up to deadlier actions executed to send their message. School children have become their recent attacks, while we are yet to come to terms with the massacre 53 boys in Federal Government College Yobe, bombing leading to more than 200 deaths of Nigerians at Nyanyan Motor Park in Nasarawa State, we were paralyzed by the emptying of a whole school of girls within hours by the insurgents.
The federal government of Nigeria has been able to link their activities to other international terror groups like Al-Shabab and Al-Qaeda. According to the Minister of State for Defense Senator Musiliu Obanikoro in a recent television interview he explained 'the government is seeking the cooperation of international communities in its bid to deal decisively with the Boko Haram menace, you know Al-Shabab, you know Al-Qaeda and you are aware of what happened in Mali from what is happening in Nigeria now, there is a lot to be done in terms of raising the standards of security along the borders'. A week later the presidency, governors and security outfits rose from an enlarged adhoc security meeting to unite irrespective of party, ethnic groupings or religion to fight terrorism and the insurgents. An agreed conclusion was for every political party to have security as a priority agenda.
Two weeks gone now, these girls are still lost and everyone is at loss, we begin to wonder at the real purpose of governance. Security of the people is a critical index to measure governance. All the tiers of government are involved in security of the lives while all other issues take back seat it including indices of development and elections, they come behind safety and security of the people. Early warning indicates the insecurity storm is moving south as soon as the President Goodluck Jonathan declares his interest to contest in 2015 election which is predicted to be any time from now. The people of Nigeria are being surcharged; the masses on behalf of which governance is put in place are being taken for granted with 190 young vulnerable lives missing and more than 200 families in despair. Boko Haram is not new to Nigeria, their activities have always been bloody and deadly, they have been with us for six years and the federal government can only hold enlarged security meeting only when they strike? Can we conclude therefore Nigerian Government underrates Boko Haram and is unable to avert any further attack on the Nigerian people? Having failed it its responsibility to protect, defend and rescue 253 underage school girls after they have identified to be at Sambisa forest? This forest is no news; it has been identified as the den of Boko Haram for a long time. What measures has government taken to smoke out the insurgents from their dens in this popular forest and end their activities in the target areas? There is now an urgent need to operationalize the responsibility to protect Nigerians.
In September 2000, the Government of Canada came together with a group of major foundations and announced at the United Nations General Assembly, the establishment of the International Commission on Intervention and Sovereignty (ICISS). The Commission was asked to wrestle with the whole range of questions on legal, moral, operational and political aspects in the discourse on protection of civilians in conflict, to consult with the widest possible range of opinions around the world and to bring back report that would help the Secretary General and everyone else to find a common ground on the issue. The report referred to above is the 'The Responsibility to Protect' The core principles underlying the responsibility to protect are that the state sovereignty implies responsibility, and the primary responsibly for the protection of its people lies with the state itself. In addition an another basic principle is that where a population is suffering serious harm as a result of internal war, insurgency, repression or state failure and the state in question is unwilling and unable to halt or avert it, the principle of non intervention yields to the international community to protect.
Before the founding of the African Union in 2001, its predecessor Organizations of African Unity (OAU) did not provide appropriate tools for collective and comprehensive acting of African States in times of violent crisis mostly due to shared value of non interference into internal affairs of states. During the 90s a series of violent conflicts within Africa especially the Rwanda Genocide in 1994 urged the African states for a change in their common security collaboration and the interference clause was no longer valid after 2001. A Constitutive Act enacted to give the AU rights to intervene in member states in grave conflict to intervene in war, genocide and other crimes against humanity. This act empowers the AU to intervene with or without invitation from the states when it is obvious they have failed in protecting the people either by fuelling the violence or incapable of ending the violence and the African Standby Force is deployed to end such crisis.
Operationalising the responsibility to protect concept will be an important step towards ensuring that Nigerian civilians living and affected by conflict in North, Abuja and other parts of the country are spared further sufferings and deaths which manifest as outright consequences of the inability or unwillingness of the state to protect the people. Nigeria is battling international terrorism and there is already refugee situation with many families; woman and children fleeing violence outside Nigerian borders of Niger, Chad and Cameroon while others are displaced within the country. It is time to give the Nigerian problem its real name to address it with practical solutions. The exact number of girls has been shifting from one authoritative source to another, this indicates the lack of seriousness with which the government in handling the situation. The military gives unverifiable reports to assuage the terrible frayed nerves of Nigerians.
We have grossly failed these innocent girls and it is a shame on the Nigerian leadership. These girls by now would have been harassed, beaten, starved, enslaved, raped, impregnated and some killed. UN Resolution 1882 condemns the killing and maiming of children or rape and other sexual violence against children in conflicts. The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has urged the nations to 'strike a blow against impunity' at parties committing sexual violence against children during conflict.
The crisis we face from international terrorism has brought us to the cross road of seeking help at sub regional level; ECOWAS, from the regional; African Union, from the Common Wealth and the United Nations. Terrorism is of international concern and Nigeria needs international intervention. Our terror increases as 2015 draws closer with the activities of Boko Haram on the increase. This crisis has reached a frightening crescendo and the assistance of collective efforts cannot be denied as every one of us in Nigeria is already endangered.
I therefore recommend that given the enormity of the problem the Nigerian government should not be left alone on this modern insecurity threat, immediate rescue of the school girls using a multi lateral approach to bring these girls home from Sambisa forest and every other hideouts and President Goodluck Jonathan's election campaign should not take priority over the lives of Nigerians.
Echoes of Women in Africa Initiative. (ECOWA)