The vice president of a group of northern Nigerians living in the United States expressed gratitude to the U.S. government following its decision to help the West African country find the school girls abducted last month by Islamic militant group Boko Haram.
Boko Haram militants stormed an all-girls secondary school in the village of Chibok, in Nigeria’s northern Borno state, then packed the teenagers onto trucks and disappeared into a remote area along the border with Cameroon. The group has since threatened to sell the over 250 abducted schoolgirls, which has drawn global condemnation.
Sani Babaliya, vice president of the Washington, D.C. chapter of the Zumunta Association condemned Nigerian politicians who he says are attempting to make political capital out of the abduction of the school girls to discredit the Nigerian administration in the run up to next year’s general election.
Babaliya says the abduction of the girls should be seen by all Nigerians as a national heartbreak.
“This is not the time and the place to play the blame game. Using politics or using religion, using tribes and cultures to want to score cheap political [points] is not helping the nation at all,” said Babaliya. “Consequently, it is not going to help the person in the long run who would think this might help him or her to score some political points. This is a national tragedy, and it should be treated so.”
He says Nigerian leaders should unite as a people to help end the violent activities perpetrated by Boko Haram militants.
“The leadership at all levels should really step up to enhance their effort in defeating terrorism. It is evident right now, these terrorists [are] on a daily bases making progress in causing mayhem to ordinary citizens of Nigeria,” said Babaliya.
In a televised speech Sunday night, President Jonathan said his administration will find the girls and set them free.
But some Nigerians have been critical of both the Borno state and the federal governments of being too slow and not doing enough to secure the release of the abducted school girls despite repeated promises to do so. They contend that each day the girls are not found could complicate rescue operations to free them.
“You cannot have such a thing to happen and the leadership is so unresponsive for almost three weeks,” said Babaliya. “Thanks to the international community, that is the reason why both levels of leadership are coming up at least for the first time to do something about it. As time goes on the chances of bringing back these innocent girls is getting bleaker.”
Meanwhile, Nigeria’s police on Wednesday offered $300,000 reward to anyone who can give credible information leading to the rescue of the abducted school girls.
Clottey intev with Sani Babaliya, Zumunta Association VP, DC chapter