Saturday 17 May 2014


The Search For Abducted Chibok Schoolgirls: Matters Arising

Sen. John McCain, a US Senator and former presidential candidate was wrong to have said that the US has the right to send its military into Nigeria to rescue the over 200 Chibok Schoolgirls abducted by Islamist militant group Boko Haram, even if the Nigerian government disapproves.

In an interview with the Daily Beast newspaper, the senator committed diplomatic blunder by declaring that the US should feel no compunction to withhold sending special operations forces to find the kidnapped girls – especially in a country led by “some guy named Goodluck Jonathan”, just as he suggested last week in an interview with CNN. In his words:

“If they knew where they were, I certainly would send in US troops to rescue them, in a New York minute I would, without permission of the host country,” McCain said on Tuesday. “I wouldn’t be waiting for some kind of permission from some guy named Goodluck Jonathan,” he declared, in reference to our President. Thank God, McCain is not President of United States of America. By now, he would have instigated third world war. Besides, his confessions of not knowing the whereabouts of the abducted Chibok Schoolgirls expose his ignorance of the situation and handicap in matters of serious international concern like terrorism. That the entire world is worried and desirous to Bring Back Our Girls is no gainsaying. That the world must queue behind Nigeria in search and rescue of the Chibok Schoolgirls is undisputable. John McCain reasoning can be compared to that of John Adams, the greatest American Secretary of State, who eleven years before the declaration of independence captured America’s assumption that she has a redemptive mission not only in its own hemisphere but also throughout the world. In the words of Adams:

“I always consider the settlement of America with reverence and wonder, as the opening of grand scene in Providence fir the illumination of the ignorant, and the emancipation of the slavish part of mankind all over the earth”.

On the other hand, Alexander Hamilton, who can be said to represent the minority opinion in the US cautions against exceptionalism, a theory that tries to see America as different from the other nations, a people selected to SAVE the world. According to Hamilton, “Idle theories which have amused us with promises of an exception from the imperfection, weakness and evils incident to society in every shape”.

The matter is that John McCain is overwhelmed by Adams’ postulation. The trouble also is that American foreign policy over the years has tended to act out Adams’ vision, though with limited success but maximum cost for America. Examples include Mexico, Nicaragua, Vietnam, Korea, Germany, and Iraq. There was Grenada and Afghanistan. Although, majority of Americans rejected Hamilton’s postulation and romanced with the Adams’ ideology, Herman Melville, a great American novelist was to warn that the vision of a world of possibilities was false, “Everything is impure, even America, and everything is limited, even American possibilities”. The limit of America possibilities was reflected in his statement, “If they knew where they were…? If we know where our girls are, do we need America and its allies to rescue them? If the Malaysian authority knows the whereabouts of the missing Malaysian plane will they have wasted time and efforts shouting to the world for help?   

Although, American foreign policy seems to tow the lines of the vision of Adams, McCain is unaware that it is currently haunted by the cautions of Hamilton and Melville. Agreed, the warning against the quest for perfection has never been part of rhetoric of American foreign policy, especially as it seems to be recording successes – the fall of colonialism, end to World War 11, free trade regime, the defeat of communism, victory over the Cold War, the exportation of democracy and now the maneuvering to rule the world as its President-General.

Like John McCain, many Americans think America is a special country with a special mission. But, the rest of the world knows that suspicion is the greatest deficit facing America. It supports and later attacks allies. China, Mexico, etc. are living examples. In Nigeria, America must act to restore credibility and prove it had acted so in the days of enmity, when the free-world was at war with communism.

Boko Haram warlord, Abubakar Shekau’s video claiming responsibility for the abduction of the Chibok Schoolgirls and threatening to sell them into slavery galvanized global concern and motivated united reaction. By directly touching on human trafficking in women, child marriage and the practice in some parts of the Islamic world to deny women equal educational opportunities, Shekau stepped on the toes of the free-world because these are the issues that the free-world cares passionately about.

The US, UK, France, China and Israel offer of assistance to search for and rescue our girls is welcomed. But, like the American public, Nigerians want to know the details of what the foreign allies are going to do, and what the US assistance will look like.

Today, the world is united against terrorism. Unfortunately, information reaching us from the Pentagon – that is, America military high command is that America will not share intelligence emanating from the search and rescue of Chibok Schoolgirls with Nigeria?

There is evidence that the US has deployed the Global Hawk, which flies at high attitude, and the manned MC-12, a turboprop plane heavily used in Afghanistan for the mission. It has also been confirmed that the US is using both manned and unmanned aerial ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) equipment in the search for the abducted Chibok Schoolgirls.

According to Colonel Steven Warren, “The unmanned Global Hawk designed to succeed the U-2 spy plane, can survey a vast area of about 40,000 square miles (100,000 square kilometers) in a day with its sophisticated radar and sensors”.

Nigerians were of the expectation that the visit of the Commander of the US forces in Africa, General David Rodriguez to Nigeria will address this important issue. But, it was as diversionary as it was colonizing. The theory that Boko Haram has infiltrated the Nigeria military high command; and the fears that sensitive information could fall into an adversary’s hands are unacceptable excuses devised to deprive us of our secrets.   The truth must be told, Nigeria did not contract America and its allies to search for and rescue our girls. America and other concern nations extended their hands to HELP Nigeria search for and rescue our girls, which we all appreciate. America should know that Nigeria is the leader in every aspect of this operation and therefore is entitled to have all the information emanating from the exercise. Intelligence information, surveillance information and reconnaissance information are too important information about a country to be scooped, gathered and exported without that country raising alarm.

This is not the first time America has moved to entangling Nigeria. During the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, President George Bush furnished plans to deploy American troops to safeguard oil platforms in the Oil Producing Communities of the Niger Delta, advancing insecurity as the major motivating factor. Several protests were then staged and many objection letters were sent to President Olusegun Obasanjo and the National Assembly, including State Houses of Assembly by the Nigerian Institute of Industrial Security under my leadership as the Director-General thereby convincing him to discontinuance the deployment plans which were hatched in the US and packaged in the UK.

President Barak Obama respects the sovereignty of nations but he is US President, guided by America dreams. It is our expectations that Senator John McCain will not be aggressive to Presidents of sovereign states, especially when they are confronted with difficult situations like the one Nigeria is facing now but, he is an American who believes that “only by (forcefully) interfering in the affairs of other nations could the US wage its campaign for self-determination for all people”.  

The President of the most populous black nation and an emerging power is NOT “some guy named Goodluck Jonathan”. He is the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He deserves international respect as a person and his efforts so far, deserve commendation not condemnation. His permission and express approval must be sought and gotten before any foreign operations can be carried out in any part of Nigeria.

One of the many embarrassments of Boko Haram apart from the condemnable senseless killings is the making of Nigeria to play into the hands of our good friend, America. It is very unfortunate that at last US troops are here courtesy Boko Haram, despite our resistance since 2003. Invasion of emerging powers by existing powers to bring them to their knees is part of human history. Today, our country’s sovereignty is being questioned and our privacy is being invaded. The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is being referred to as “some guy named Goodluck Jonathan”. The Pentagon Conference in which decision to use the opportunity created by the kidnapping of Chibok Schoolgirls to invade Nigeria’s privacy, collect her secrets and share it between America and its allies was without recourse to Nigeria, the victim whose secret assets are to be so partitioned.  

While our present predicaments make it difficult for us to differential between our friends and foes, we demand the following:

1.      An apology from Senator John McCain.

2.      Details of what the foreign allies are going to do to Bring Back Our Girls. That is, a proper definition of the ongoing and proposed roles of the foreign forces in the effort to search for and rescue the kidnapped Chibok Schoolgirls.

3.      To know what the US assistance will look like, the limits of the assistance to be given to Nigeria and how.

4.      That Nigeria is given unrestricted access to all ISR information and also to decide the intelligence to share and to keep, not the other way round.

5.       That the mission to “Bring Back Our Girls” is carried out within a specified period of time, say three months and then all the foreign forces are to leave Nigeria soil.

6.      That Nigeria leads every aspects of the mission to Bring Back Our Girls.

7.      That the Federal Government of Nigeria in desperation to Bring Back Our Girls watches out for those who intend to use this opportunity to pursue other dubious security goals.

8.      That because crisis period offers opportunities to both friends and foes to explore to their own advantage, our security agencies should buckle up and always look their back, be more dedicated and patriotic, and not allow themselves to be instigated into destabilizing the country.

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