Nigeria Played Down the Severity of Boko Haram Insurgency At The Beginning – US
The United States Government has revealed that the Nigerian Government, at the outset, misinterpreted the severity of the threat posed to the nation by the terrorist group, Boko Haram.
The US Assistant Secretary of State in charge of African Affairs, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, made the comment yesterday in an interview with Arise Television, stressing that the US is disturbed by the threat of Boko Haram.
“I would like to think and hope that the Nigerian government has not played this down because I think they understand and have acknowledged to us in our recent trip that this is a serious problem. I think they misinterpreted how serious the threat was initially. They really have worked over the past weeks to address that, but I think we all have come away understanding that fighting terrorism is not easy,” she said.
She restated the US’ earlier position of not putting its troops on the ground in Nigeria, stressing that at the moment, their approach to the issue is to allow Nigerians “be in the lead of attacking Boko Haram and we want to support the Nigerian efforts to do this.
“We are not in a place where we are prepared to put boots on the ground at the moment, but we do want Nigerians to more proactively go after Boko Haram and lead this process with her neighbours and we will look at ways to better support them”.
Thomas-Greenfield also admitted that the prospect of finding and rescuing the over 200 girls abducted by Boko Haram from Government Secondary School in Chibok, Borno State, was far more intricate than many imagined, but stressed that it was not entirely impossible.
According to her, “I think that we understand that it is very complex. The Nigerians understand that it is very complex. It is not impossible and we are working with the Nigerians every day to try to find a way to bring these girls home.
“I am in total sadness and sympathy with their families and what their families must be going through, not knowing where their daughters are. But I would add, it is not just the Chibok girls; there are many other families who have been impacted by Boko Haram.”
She also expressed serious concern over what she described as the looming “possibility of Boko Haram moving into Maiduguri”, a situation which the Assistant Secretary of State said had raised the attention the US is paying to the terrorist group to unprecedented levels.
“We are troubled about the threat of Boko Haram, period. But the possibility of Boko Haram moving into Maiduguri has raised the profile of Boko Haram and it certainly has intensified our concerns and the government of Nigeria’s concerns,” Thomas-Greenfield stated.
The US envoy also spoke on the difficulty which her country faces in its effort to collaborate with Nigeria in the battle against terror, stating that corruption and human rights abuse by some segments of the Nigerian security forces make a US partnership with Nigeria difficult.
According to her, “It has been a challenge for us, you know human rights is a core value for us in the US and a number of countries, and the allegations of security forces being involved in human rights violations and extra-judicial killings, have made it very difficult for us to work with some of the elements of the Nigeria security services. But there are some of the elements that we are working with.”
She however acknowledged that the Nigerian government is taking the Boko Haram issue seriously and exploring ways to defeat it.
“They (Nigeria government) have acknowledged that the Boko Haram issue is tough. They have acknowledged that they are being challenged but they are working to try to address this issue.
“They have asked for our support and our intent is to be there to support both Nigeria as well as Nigeria’s regional partners as they address this. This is not just a Nigerian problem. It is a regional problem that has Cameroun very much engaged, Chad, Niger as well as Benin,” she said.
The envoy expressed hope that the Nigerian Government was projecting the appropriate picture of the security crisis in the North-east to the international community, stressing that she believed the Nigerian Government now understood clearly the severity of the threat it is up against.
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