On April 14th, nearly 300 schoolgirls were kidnapped by Boko Haram, a Muslim extremist group who then promised to sell the girls into slavery. Literally, he promised to sell them. “There is a market for selling humans. Allah says I should sell. He commands me to sell. I will sell women. I sell women.” Since the girls were taken there’s been an outcry in the West regarding why the US wasn’t doing anything to assist in retrieving these girls from their captors. Well, now we have an answer. The Nigerian government wouldn’t let the US help until, literally, today.
After a personal phone call to Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathon, US Secretary of State John Kerry indicated that the Nigerian government is finally ready to accept outside help.
“Our embassy in Abuja is prepared to form a coordination cell that could provide expertise on intelligence, investigations and hostage negotiations and to help facilitate information-sharing and victim assistance,” Kerry told reporters at a joint press conference with European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.
But this next part explains why the West, or anyone else, wasn’t engaged in helping Nigeria get their girls back weeks ago.
Asked about the delay between the April 14 kidnappings and the U.S. aid, Kerry echoed the frustration of other senior officials in Washington, who have charged that Jonathan’s government dragged its feet.
“You can offer and talk, but you can’t do if a government has its own sense of how it’s proceeding,” Kerry said. “I think now the complications that have arisen have convinced everybody that there needs to be a greater effort. And it will begin immediately; I mean literally immediately.”
And there we have it. The reason the US government wasn’t already involved in assisting Nigeria is precisely because Nigeria wouldn’t allow it to be. This belies the notion going around on social media and in some places in the press that the US only cares about helping Europeans.
If 200+ young girls had been kidnapped in Europe/America, the world would have acted by now. Get in there and get them. #BringBackOurGirls
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) May 5, 2014
Nigerian citizens have been wholly disatisfied with their government’s response. So, if the US has been offering assistance to Nigeria for weeks and the Nigerian government simply hasn’t accepted it then who, truly, cares less for these 200 kidnapped girls?
— zellie (@zellieimani) May 1, 2014
With respect to well meaning bloggers, reporters, and citizens of the world everywhere, demanding that the West “do something” whether Nigeria wants it or not smacks of paternalistic imperialism. The reason Europe and America would have acted by now had 200+ young girls been kidnapped in the West is because our governments are generally more concerned with the fate of kidnappers than we are saving face. The below quote refers to the following video.
A leader of a protest march for 276 missing schoolgirls says Nigeria’s First Lady abused them, expressed doubts there was any kidnapping and accused them of belonging to the terrorist network blamed for the abductions. Then she ordered two of them arrested.
Right, that would not happen in the West but we have to give up on this notion that the omniscient US/Europe can sweep in and just make things right. Nigeria is sovereign and has the right to determine who it does and does not accept help from. That’s part of what makes a sovereign nation sovereign in the first place.
We should all just be glad that Nigeria is now willing to admit they need help. Maybe now we can focus on the only thing that matters here, the lives of over 200 girls who just want to go home.