Jamaica Observer / Overcoming its continued embarrassment, the Government of Nigeria yesterday admitted that 110 girls who have been missing for a week were actually kidnapped by the terrorist group Boko Haram in the north-eastern region of the country. The girls were taken last Monday by the Islamist militants from the State-run Girls Science and Technology College in Dapchi, President Muhammadu Buhari said, breaking the Government’s silence on the traumatic event.
No doubt, the admission was slow in coming because it revives painful memories of the mass abduction of 276 girls from another boarding school in Chibok, Nigeria, in April 2014. Nearly four years on, 112 of the girls are still being held.
The latest abduction has also embarrassed the Buhari Government, which had vigorously claimed that Boko Haram was on the verge of defeat. It has also drawn criticism that promises to beef up security at schools after Chibok had not been implemented.
Mr Buhari, a former military ruler, was elected in 2015 on a promise to end the Boko Haram insurgency which, since it started nine years ago, has claimed at least 20,000 lives, we are told.
Boko Haram, whose name translates roughly from Hausa as “Western education is forbidden”, has repeatedly targeted schools teaching a so-called secular curriculum, and wants to establish a hard-line Islamic State in north-east Nigeria.
It has used kidnapping as a weapon of war, seizing thousands of women and young girls as well as men and boys of fighting age. Many of these young girls who are minors are married off to Boko Haram members or impregnated by fighters, against their will.
Some of the boys used as fighters are nothing more than pubescent children who are given guns and ordered to kill and maim in the dreadful and painful tradition of child soldiers.
The terrorist group has largely escaped the attention of Western nations who seem to believe that the only terrorists are the members of the Islamic State (IS) in the Middle East. The coalition led by the United States couldn’t care less about what is happening in Africa.
It might very well be that these Western nations do not see Africa as part of their immediate national interests and therefore not worthy of their resources being spent on them or risking the lives of their troops.
Yet, the sheer barbarity of what Boko Haram is doing to those young girls and boys must be an affront to Western civilisation. It is hard to believe that these countries, which love to dictate to others about human rights and dignity, could stomach such atrocities without taking action.
Of a truth, Africa is a difficult place to navigate. It is not the gathering of colonies once ruled by one European country or another and brutality exploited for its natural resources and people for labour.
But these Western countries owe Africa a debt and, whether they believe in the concept of reparation or not, the removal of the terrorist Boko Haram is a duty that they cannot escape.