…Says he was depressed
By Nwafor Sunday
A former British prime minister, David Cameron, has accused ex-president Goodluck Jonathan of being the reason the kidnapped Chibok School Girls were not rescued in 2014.
Disclosing this in a memoir, ‘For the Record’, Cameron said that Jonathan was unable to engage Nigerian soldiers to participate in operations the US and UK forces organised for the rescue of Chibok schoolgirls because of “politically appointed generals”.
The renowned Former PM accused Jonathan of sleeping at the wheel, while kidnappers were busy abducting school girls.
He said he was depressed when Jonathan refused to engage when US and UK offered to help rescue the girls they had located.
His words according to TheCable, “Iraq wasn’t the only place we would need our military to counter this extremist menace. Boko Haram in Nigeria was linked to al-Qaeda, and believed Western education and lifestyles were a sin (the meaning behind its name). It too wanted to institute a caliphate, and like ISIS it would use whatever barbaric means it thought necessary,” Cameron wrote in the book.
“In early 2014 a group of its fighters centered the government secondary school in the village of Chibok, seizing 276 teenage girls. They were taken to camps deep in the forest. The Christians among them were forced to convert to Islam. Many were sold as slaves, entering the same endless violent nightmare the Yazidi women suffered.
“As ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ campaign spread across the world, we embedded a team of military and intelligence experts in Nigeria, and sent spy planes and Tornadoes with thermal imaging to search for the missing girls. And, amazingly, from the skies above a forest three times the size of Wales, we managed to locate some of them.
“But Nigeria’s president, Goodluck Jonathan, seemed to be asleep at the wheel. When he eventually made a statement, it was to accuse the campaigners of politicising the tragedy. And absolutely crucially, when we offered to help rescue the girls we had located, he refused.”
In his book, Cameron also said the Nigerian army was unable to participate in operations the US and UK forces organised for the rescue of Chibok schoolgirls because of “politically appointed generals”.
“We had to play the long game focusing on a much bigger training effort for the Nigerian military and intelligence forces and trying to promote more energetic leaders from the younger generation. The Archbishop of Canterbury, as an expert on Nigeria, could be particularly useful on this and I invited him to join our NSC discussion.
“Some of the girls have managed to escape over the following four years, and others have been released, but over a hundred are still missing. Once again the combination of Islamist extremism and bad governance proved fatal.
“How did I feel about all this at the end of 2014? The answer is, depressed. ISIS now occupied an area larger than Britain. A similar brand of terrorism was being wrought by Boko Harem in west Africa), another ISIS affiliate in north Africa, and by al-Shabab (‘the youth) in east Africa, while related groups were springing up in the Philippines, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and the Caucasus. There seemed to be no stopping an evil ideology that seduced minds from the badlands of Syt’tato bedrooms in Birmingham. When I spoke about the challenge publicly I tried to remain measured and resolute. But privately did asked myself, would we ever be able to defeat this thing?”
Jonathan Defends himself
In his defense, Jonathan quashed Cameron’s allegations, describing it as a kaput memoir. He said that nothing of such happened, saying that Cameron never called him for any help, despite the phone calls and letters he wrote to him. “How could I write to appeal for help and then reject the very thing I appealed for”, he asked.
His words, “My Response To David Cameron’s Claims I read the comments by former British Prime Minister, David Cameron, in his new book, For the Record, in which he accused me and the Nigerian Government, which I headed, of corruption and rejecting the help of the British Government in rescuing the Chibok Girls, who were kidnapped on April 14, 2014. It is quite sad that Mr Cameron would say this because nothing of such ever occurred.
As President of Nigeria, I not only wrote letters to then Prime Minister David Cameron, I also wrote to the then US President, Barrack Obama, and the then French President, François Hollande, as well as the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, appealing to them for help in rescuing the Chibok Girls. How could I write to appeal for help and then reject the very thing I appealed for?
Also, history contradicts Mr Cameron. On March 8, 2012, when the same Boko Haram linked terrorists abducted a British expatriate named Chris McManus, along with an Italian hostage Franco Lamolinara, in Sokoto, I, as Nigerian President, personally authorised a rescue effort by members of the British military Special Boat Service supported by officers and men of the Nigerian Army, to free the abducted men. So, having set a precedent like that, why would I reject British help in rescuing the Chibok Girls, if it was offered?
I also authorised the secret deployment of troops from the United Kingdom, the United States and Israel as a result of the Chibok incident, so how Mr Cameron could say this with a straight face beats me.
Moreover, on March 8, 2017, the British Government of former Prime Minister, Theresa May, in a widely circulated press statement, debunked this allegation and said there was no truth in it after Mr. Cameron had made similar statements to the Observer of the UK.
In his book, Mr Cameron failed to mention that I wrote him requesting his help on Chibok. Why did he suppress that information? I remind him that copies of that letter exist at the State Houses in Nigeria and London. He never called me on the phone to offer any help.
On the contrary, I am the one that reached out to him. He accused me of appointing Generals based on political considerations. How could that be when I fired my service chiefs twice in five years, to show that I would not tolerate anything less than meaningful progress in the war on terror.
I was completely blind to ethnic or political considerations in my appointments. In civil and military matters, I appointed people that I had never even met prior to appointing them, based on their professional pedigree. Though I was from the South, most of my service chiefs came from the North. I do, however, know that Mr Cameron has long nursed deep grudges against me for reasons that have been published in various media. On July 24, 2013, while celebrating the passage of the United Kingdom’s Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act, 2013, Mr Cameron said: “I want to export gay marriage around the world”.
At that occasion, he boasted that he would send the team that successfully drafted and promoted the Bill, to nations, like Nigeria, saying inter alia: “I’ve told the Bill team I’m now going to reassign them because, of course, all over the world people would have been watching this piece of legislation.” As President of Nigeria at that time, I came under almost unbearable pressure from the Cameron administration to pass legislation supporting LGBTQ Same Sex marriage in Nigeria.
My conscience could not stomach that, because as President of Nigeria, I swore on the Bible to advance Nigeria’s interests, and not the interest of the United Kingdom or any foreign power. As such, on Monday, January 13, 2014, I signed the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Bill into law after the Bill had been passed by an overwhelming bipartisan majority of Nigeria’s parliament, in line with the wishes of the Nigerian people.
This happened shortly after a study of 39 nations around the world by the U.S. Pew Research Center came up with a finding which indicated that 98 percent of Nigerians were opposed to the idea of Gay Marriage.
Immediately after I took this patriotic action, my government came under almost unbearable pressure from Mr. Cameron, who reached me through envoys, and made subtle and not so subtle threats against me and my government.
In fact, meetings were held at the Obama White House and at the Portcullis House in Parliament UK, with the then Nigerian opposition to disparage me, after I had signed the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Bill into law. On the issue of corruption, it suffices to say that Mr Cameron is not as competent as Transparency International, which is globally acknowledged as the adjudicator of who is corrupt and who is not.
During my administration, in 2014, Nigeria made her best ever improvement on the annual Transparency International Corruption Perception Index, moving from 144 the previous year, to 136, an 8 point improvement.
As a nation, we have not made such improvements on the CPI before or after 2014. In line with these facts, I would urge the public to take Mr. Cameron’s accusations with a grain of salt. I will not be the first person to accuse him of lying on account of this book, and with the reactions in the Uk so far, I definitely will not be the last. Dr Goodluck Jonathan, Chairman of the Goodluck Jonathan Foundation and President of Nigeria 2010-2015.
The Abduction of the Chibok girls
On April 14, 2014, a group of militants attacked the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, Nigeria. They broke into the school, pretending to be guards.
They told the girls to get out and come with them. Some girls were loaded into trucks and the rest had to walk several miles until other trucks came to take them away possibly into the Konduga area of the Sambisa Forest where Boko Haram were known to have fortified camps.
Houses in Chibok were also burned down in the incident. The school had been closed for four weeks prior to the attack due to the deteriorating security situation, but students from multiple schools had been called in to take final exams in physics
There were 530 students from multiple villages registered for the Senior Secondary Certificate Examination, although it is unclear how many were in attendance at the time of the attack. The children were aged 16 to 18 and were in their final year of school.
There was initial confusion over the number of girls kidnapped but on 21 April 2014, parents said 234 girls were missing.
A number of the students escaped the kidnappers by jumping off the trucks. According to the police, approximately 276 children were taken in the attack, of whom 53 had escaped as of 2 May. Other reports said that 329 girls were kidnapped, 53 had escaped and 276 were still missing.