Some Nigerian youths have solicited for the help of the United States government in securing the release of the abducted 190 pupils of the Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State.
Dozens of Nigerian youths made the appeal on Thursday, during a Twitter chat with the White House Senior Director for African Affairs, Grant Harris.
The online chat, which held between 2pm and 3pm Nigerian time, was part of the President Barack Obama administration’s Young African Leaders Initiative programme.
The Twitter chat which had youths from different countries in sub-Saharan Africa participating, was focused on the US foreign policy towards the region.
But the majority of Nigerians who participated in the online conversation drew the attention of the senior White House official to the fact that the Federal Government has yet to find the missing schoolgirls.
A youth, Nnamdi Umunna, based in Owerri, Imo State, in a tweet to Harris, lamented that all is not well with Nigeria.
Umunna said the thought that the girls are reportedly being held in the thick Sambisa forest is disturbing.
Umunna said, “I woke up this morning (Thursday) and my first thought was about the girls being held in the Sambisa forest. We need the Federal Government to bring back our girls.
“But how can the US government also help in bringing back these girls? Today’s chat won’t be interesting and memorable if the US government cannot help ensure the release of these girls .Some of them would have participated in this online discussion.”
Also, Olalekan Akinde, a business development officer, asked Harris to appeal to President Obama on behalf of Nigerian youths to render necessary assistance to the Federal Government in the search for the girls.
He said, “President Barack Obama should please help the Nigerian government in searching for the abducted girls. They should assist in bringing back our girls and unmasking the sponsors of Boko Haram.
“We need Obama’s attention in Nigeria because people that have been killed are more than those killed in 9/11 terrorist attacks.”
For Abuja-based Chinedu Onah, a US-sponsored counter terrorism initiative in the Sahel region will go a long way in curtailing the activities of Boko Haram in Nigeria.
“No form of development can take place in an environment fraught with violence. What is the US government counterterrorism initiative for the Sahel doing? It will help Nigeria address terrorism,” he said.
Another participant, Emmanuel Ajah, said in the light of increased activities of insurgents in Nigeria, the US government should strengthen its collaboration with Nigeria.
“What efforts is the US government putting in place towards resolving the conflicts in the northern part of Nigeria and the Boko Haram insurgency?” Ajah asked.
But while addressing the questions and concerns raised by the Nigerian participants, Harris said the US government is in a “working” relationship with the Federal Government to end the Boko Haram menace.
He reiterated White House’s advice that the Federal Government should embrace a holistic approach towards ending insurgency in northern Nigeria.
“We are working with Nigeria to counter the Boko Haram. But there is a need for a holistic approach – security measures and also development across the country. Leaders must make it clear that attacks on civilians are unacceptable. Violators must be held accountable and violence must end,” Harris tweeted.
Harris, who said he was delighted to answer questions based on US policy as it affects sub-Saharan Africa, explained that the US government is committed to strengthening democratic governance, and enhancing peace and security across Africa.
“The voices of young leaders are vital – we are listening and want to support. We will focus on investing in the next generation of leaders. Thanks to all for the work you do everyday to change your countries and communities for the better,” Harris added.
Meanwhile, as the search for the abducted girls entered the 10th day on Thursday, more Nigerians lent their voice to the on-going online campaign demanding that the security agencies ensure their prompt release.
A blogger, Blossom Nnodim, said the case of the missing girls should spur the ruling Peoples Democratic Party and the opposition All Progressives Congress to unite and brainstorm on ways of locating the abductees.
“It is neither about the struggle for supremacy between APC and PDP nor is it about political affiliations, we just want to bring back these girls. At the table of looting, PDP and APC are unified. I encourage them to take this unity a step forward in an effort to find these girls,” Nnodim tweeted.
Political Blogger, Japheth Omojuwa, asked President Goodluck Jonathan to show much “dedication and desperation” in the search for the schoolgirls.
“If only our human President would show as much dedication and desperation to bring back our girls as he is showing to rule us till 2019! If only we had a government. A government that values every human life,” Omojuwa lamented on Twitter.
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