While using a hashtag campaign to call attention to girls who may be raped, tortured, and enslaved seems frivolous, commentary in a popular newspaper in Nigeria suggests the hashtag campaign on social media was an act of desperation.
In commentary for Punch (Nigeria), Bayo Olupohunda wrote on Thursday:
“Dear Nigerians, by the time you read this, it would have been three weeks that Boko Haram insurgents stormed the hostels of Government Secondary School in Chibok, Borno State in the dead of the night and abducted more than 200 girls. The abduction of the girls, who had been sitting for the just concluded Senior School Certificate Examination had happened almost simultaneously with the Nyanya motor park bombing which claimed scores of lives and fatally maimed many others.”
Olupohunda and some activists have criticized President Goodluck Jonathan for what was perceived as a tardy response to the girls’ abduction. Olupohunda said Jonathan treated the girls’ disappearance as “inconsequential.”
Olupohunda also said the girls may never be found because so much time has elapsed. The columnist said that after the news of the abduction broke, the president was “dancing away in Kano” at a political rally.
Some readers commenting on the story appeared to agree with Olupohunda, while others accused him of “running down” the government and the country.
The BBC described Boko Haram as a group whose members are “influenced by the Koranic phrase… ‘Anyone who is not governed by what Allah has revealed is among the transgressors’…Boko Haram promotes a version of Islam which makes it ‘haram’, or forbidden, for Muslims to take part in any political or social activity associated with Western society.”
Dr. Walid Phares, an expert on the East, warned about terror campaigns in the Mideast and Africa in his book The Lost Spring if Washington did not adopt “a major change in direction.” Phares noted that in Nigeria, “Boko Haram were conducting terror campaigns against civilians while clashing with the regular army.”
Phares was one of the only experts, if not the only expert, to predict the Arab Spring.
Nigeria has struggled to stabilize and expand the economy beyond relying on the country’s oil resources, the base of the economy for many years. Nigeria became independent of British control in 1960, but it wasn’t until 1999 that the government transitioned from military to civilian rule.
Nigeria is roughly a half and half country, split between a slight Muslim majority and Christians, with a small percentage of people practicing indigenous beliefs. Boko Haram, however, has killed people of any faith who aren’t aligned with Islamist fanaticism.
On April 14 the terrorist group set off a bomb during rush hour at a bus terminal in the capital of Abuja, killing at least 71 people. Boko Haram wants to overthrow the government and establish a strict Islamist state.
As for the hashtag ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ campaign, Olupohunda implied social media were instrumental in drawing attention to the girls’ abduction:
“Social media also brought the campaign to the attention of the global community with the evocative hashtag, BringBackOurGirls.”
Olupohunda noted offers of help from America in finding the girls.
Former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton has been accused of blocking efforts to designate Boko Haram as a terrorist group when some in Congress pushed her to do so. Sec. of State John Kerry added the designation to Boko Haram in November, 2013 after numerous acts of terror.
The latest attack occurred on Wednesday in Northeast Nigeria where Agence France-Presse said a new massacre killed hundreds of people.
(Filed by Kay B. Day/May 8, 2014)
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