The United States Congress has asked President Barack Obama to explain what strategy the government has put in place to deal with Boko Haram menace.
It also asked the State Department to use its waiver authority to set aside U.S. laws that would hinder assistance to Nigeria in the face of Boko Haram attacks.
This was contained in the opening statement of the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Boko Haram, Edward Royce (R-CA), yesterday, during the hearing on “Boko Haram: The Growing Threat to Schoolgirls, Nigeria, and Beyond.”
Royce said U.S cannot sit on the sidelines just as he stressed that “U.S. involvement was critical.” He spoke shortly before a Nigerian teenager and victim of Boko Haram attack, Deborah Peter gave her testimony before the committee. Full speech of Royce was posted on his website.
While saying that U.S. has direct security interests in the ongoing effort to defeat Boko Haram militants, Royce drew attention to Pentagon’s report on Boko Haram. “Commanders at the Pentagon have stated that Boko Haram is a threat to Western interests and one of the counterterrorism priorities in Africa,” he said.
On the status of Boko Haram, he said: “Pressure from this Committee was critical in getting the State Department to designate Boko Haram as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation. Indeed, the Administration made that announcement in this room. As many have noted, it shouldn’t have taken so long.”
He therefore called on the State Department and the Pentagon witnesses to explain the strategy the U.S. government has put in place to deal with Boko Haram menace.
Earlier, he had rhetorically asked the question: “Why we care?” and provided answers thus: “We care about Deborah, her friends and family, and a girls right to an education. We care about human rights and religious liberty and the future of Africa’s largest country.
He noted that “over time, Boko Haram has developed aa vast arsenal of weapons, received training from al-Qaeda affiliated groups, and built-up its resources.
“This means greater terror for Nigerians, and greater challenges for Nigerian security forces. Unfortunately, these forces suffer unprofessional elements with poor morale.” According to him, the poor impression of the Nigerian security “led some to say we shouldn’t get involved.”
But Royce thought otherwise when he said: “…U.S. forces are well positioned to “advise and assist” Nigeria forces in the search for these girls.
In this role, U.S. forces, expertly trained to deal with hostage situations and in jungle environments could help Nigerians with intelligence, planning and logistics.
“And if some U.S. laws would hinder such assistance, the Administration should use its waiver authority under these extraordinary circumstances.”