Nigeria has been in the news for the past couples of weeks. We hosted the World Economic Forum Africa (WEFA) May 7 – 9, 2014 in the aftermath of the expansion of the activities of International Terrorist Group called Boko Haram. Let me hereby repeat my President’s gratitude to the one thousand one hundred people from seventy countries who participated at WEFA. We appreciate the confidence reposed in Nigeria by their participation.

The forum has been the most successful WEFA held in Africa. Investors posted $68billion for the continent. This amount provided Africa with a strong platform to project itself to the world as a huge unexplored market despite the challenges facing the continent. We defeated Boko Haram one of whose objectives was to scare potential participants. The successful WEFA boosted international confidence in the future of Africa.

2.​Inspite of the success of WEFA the effect of the Nyanya bomb blast followed by the Chibok kidnapping of over 200 of our secondary school girls was a talking point among the participants. Words are inadequate to condemn the dastardly act by a group whose sense of humanity stand to be doubted. We do appreciate the international outrage that greeted this incident. But before reacting to the series of comment on the incidents, let me assure the American community that our girls will be back. President Goodluck Jonathan as well as members of the government are parents. It is impossible not to imagine the psychological trauma which the parents of the girls as well as the victims of the Nyanya bomb blast are going through. Our government is committed to rescuing the girls as well as finding and punishing their abductors and the perpetrators of the Nyanya bomb blast.

3.​The Mission is aware of the comments of sections of the American community including the print and electronic media, politicians of all shades of opinion, and the larger civil society. We do appreciate their universal condemnation of the abduction of the girls and the express wish to get them rescued. But we also find it necessary to react to some statements on the remote and immediate causes of Boko Haram and the reaction of our government in the immediate aftermath of the kidnapping of our girls from their hostels.  

4.​It fell on me to explain to the CNN, that our security agencies took actions immediately on learning of the kidnapping of our girls. Allegations of delayed response made in some sections of the media are as wrong as they are unfortunate. The nature of the challenge dictated the nature and style of response. The pursuit of their abductors needed to be done in a covert manner shrouded in secrecy and away from the glare of publicity. You do not engage in an inconclusive covert action and rush immediately to address a press conference. Our security forces took immediate steps to pursue the abductors of our girls with the aim of getting them released. But the details of the action taken were such that it did not easily lend itself to publicity.

A screengrab taken on May 12, 2014, from a video of Nigerian Islamist
A screengrab taken on May 12, 2014, from a video of Nigerian Islamist

5.​If Chibok parents and some sections of the media accuse our government for not taking immediate action, it was because they were not made to be aware of the steps been taken by the government. I wish to affirm here that there was nothing a responsible government ought to do in the circumstance of the abduction of our girls that we did not do. We acted promptly. It was just that details could not be released to the public as at that time.

6.​Some comments on the origin, remote and immediate causes of Boko Haram are as wrong as they are unfortunate. Every nation at one time or the other is confronted with a security challenge. Nigeria is no exception. It is the manifestation of Boko Haram that the world is now witnessing. The causes are rooted in the inherited structure of our country, its porous borders, and acts of bad governance of the post independence era. Dr. Goodluck Jonathan is now having to face the consequences of acts of omission or commission of the previous regimes. Part of his transformation agenda is to root out the fundamental defects in our politics, economy and society. A massive and fast tracked economic and educational and social programmes for Northern Nigeria is now in progress. It is wrong and unfair to blame President Jonathan for a problem he did not create but against which he has been taking carefully planned and executed measures to resolve.

7.​The competence, preparedness and determination of our Armed Forces to deal with Boko Haram should not be in doubt. Terrorism is an intractable and now a worldwide phenomenon. It was strange to Nigeria. In spite of that our armed forces have being doing their best to confront it. It is when Boko Haram strikes successfully that the world becomes aware of its existence. What is not known is how many attempts of the dreaded sect to strike have been frustrated by the vigilance and effectiveness of our armed forces. The world is now beginning to realize that Boko Haram is not just a local group advocating local demands. It is the West African Branch of a Worldwide Alqaeda network with recruiting and training centers in Mali, Niger Republic, Chad and Cameroon. Boko Haram is now a threat to West Africa and by extension Africa.

8.​It is gratifying that the international community now recognizes this and has expressed support for Nigeria in its effort to combat Boko Haram. Within the last ten days, military experts from the USA, United Kingdom, France, Israel and China arrived Nigeria to support the government to deal with the Boko Haram menace. Last week, President Hollande of France hosted a meeting of Nigeria and its immediate neighbours to design a comprehensive strategy to deal with Boko Haram focusing on intelligence sharing, surveillance, joint border patrol among many other steps. It is expected that the steps to be taken will lead to the eventual demise of Boko Haram.

9.​Over here in the United States, the Embassy is immensely grateful for the solidarity and empathy with the abducted school girls and their families at this particularly difficult time for them and Nigeria. The level of support and concern has been incredible and humbling. It came right from President Obama, first Lady Michelle, Congressmen and the general public. They tweeted, sent personal mails, made phone calls and joined rallies in support of Bring Back Our Girls Campaign. When these girls eventually return to their families as surely as they will, Americans can expect the eternal gratitude of all Nigerians. This goes to show that we all belong to the same common humanity. We in the Embassy have begun a series of engagements with key stakeholders and interested groups briefing them on the progress of the rescue mission of the girls. This meeting is one of them.

10.​But in all this show of friendship and support by an incredibly compassionate American nation, Senator John McCain has been a sad footnote. The ranking Arizona Senator and former Republican Presidential candidate has inexplicably seized on the pain of a distressed nation not only to show contempt to our country but also denigrate the office and person of His Excellency Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It is this President of the largest economy in Africa, 26th largest economy in the world, Americas largest trading partner in Africa and Americas most important strategic partner in the continent that McCain described as ‘‘some guy called Goodluck Jonathan’’ whose consent he would not have sought before deploying US troops to rescue the abducted girls. But we hasten to ask: whatever happened in McCain mind to the principle of respect for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Nation States? Has Senator McCain forgotten the results of such acts just a few years ago? Could he not learn from the results of previous unilateral military interventions?  One wonders what could have happened if the 2008 elections have gone the other way and McCain became the President of the most powerful nation in the world. But thanks providence. The good Lord has a better plan for the people of the world.

11.​It is instructive that only a week after McCain made his disparaging remarks which might have reinforced his image as a hawk and reminded us of his status as a veteran, the US Senate ignored him and passed a balanced Resolution on May 14 condemning the abduction and urging the US government to assist Nigeria in its effort to rescue the girls safely. This has strengthened the hands of the US government to cooperate with Nigeria in dealing with Boko Haram.

12.​While looking forward to constructive and meaningful engagement with Senator McCain, we will like to call on his well paid staff to brief him properly on Nigeria and accord our country as well as the Office of the President the respect they deserve.

13.​Finally, we want to assure the American people that with their support, and that of their government and other members of the international community, our girls will be safely rescued and Boko Haram will cease to be a menace!
 
This is the text of an Address by Prof. Ade Adefuye Ambassador Embassy of Nigeria Washington D.C at the monthly meeting of Constituency for Africa held at Ritz Carlton, Monday 19th May, 2014.

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