Anger is growing in Nigeria and abroad over the government’s reaction to the kidnapping of nearly 300 schoolgirls. The outrage is aimed at Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, who waited three weeks to publicly acknowledge the kidnapping and failed to order a rescue operation early on. "The government cannot sit back and watch how these little girls suffer. Their families are traumatized,'' said Nigerian Sen. Ali Ndume. "The government needs to do something extra, even if seeking external support, to ensure these girls are rescued."
On Monday, the Islamic militant group Boko Haram took responsibility for the abduction in a video, referring to the girls as slaves and threatening to sell them. The group, which has been operating in Nigeria for more than a decade, aims to eradicate non-Islamic or Western education and undermine the Nigerian government through violent extremism.
Mothers and families of the kidnapped girls joined activists in the streets of Nigeria, pressuring the government to react and chanting “Bring back our girls!” The rallying cry sparked two Twitter hashtags that soon went viral: #BringBackOurGirls and #SaveOurGirls:
Rescue operations are finally underway. On Tuesday, Secretary of State John Kerry met with Jonathan, who agreed to U.S. military aid in the search. The creation of a joint “coordination cell,” said State Department spokesman Jen Psaki, will offer Nigeria intelligence, investigation and hostage negotiation expertise. President Obama told NBC News on Tuesday, “We're going to do everything we can to provide assistance to them."
The Nigerian government has also offered a $310,000 reward for any information on the girls’ whereabouts. The police high command announced Wednesday that anyone who offers “credible information that will lead to the location and rescue of the female students” is eligible to receive the money.
Some think the effort is too little, too late. Adotei Akwei of Amnesty International told CBS News that many of the girls have likely been sold into slavery and thus fallen off the grid. "Some of them have been trafficked out of Nigeria, into Cameroon or Chad," said Akwei. "I suspect that they are being used as sex slaves ... that's unfortunately what happens when girls are abducted." While 53 girls have reportedly escaped, new reports say an additional 11 girls were captured near a terrorist stronghold in Nigeria’s northeast.
Stephen Hayes, president and CEO of the Corporate Council on Africa, wrote in U.S. News that Jonathan has been hesitant to address the kidnapping as the World Economic Forum, set to take place in Abuja, Nigeria, this week, approaches. "The forum’s presence in Abuja was to be a major feather in Jonathan's cap, and a showpiece of Nigeria for global business," he wrote. "Ironically, now the forum finds itself in a very awkward position of doing business as usual in the face of one of the most serious political crises in Nigeria since the Biafran Civil War."
So what do you think? Did Nigeria react too slowly to the Boko Haram kidnapping? Vote and comment below.