Will Nigeria’s New President Finally #BringBackOurGirls?

Photo: STRINGER/Getty Images.
In a landmark election today, former military leader Muhammadu Buhari ousted incumbent Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan from the power seat. Voters rejoiced in the streets, and even the defeated Jonathan extended a call of congratulations to the first-ever candidate to beat the sitting president through the ballot box. But, when one hard-won battle ends, another picks up in its place: Buhari, 72, will take on the country’s serious structural issues, including a fragile economy and a power grid that leaves citizens with inconsistent electricity on a daily basis. Another issue by which history will judge his success? Taming the terror regime that is Boko Haram — and answering to the cries to #bringbackourgirls. Nigeria is the continent’s most populous nation; it has on of the largest armies in Sub Saharan Africa. But, over the last six years, Boko Haram has killed more than 13,000 of its people, Al Jazeera reported back in February, wreaking havoc across the country through bombings, assassinations, and abductions — all in the name of overthrowing the government and installing an Islamic state. President Jonathan’s inability to control the terror group may have been the lynchpin that cost him the election. Boko Haram was founded on the rejection of all Western political or social activities, including clothing choices, voting practices, and secular education — a tenet within its belief system that lead directly to the kidnapping of more than 270 schoolgirls from Chibok Government Secondary School on April 14 last year, which in turn launched a worldwide campaign to Bring Back Our Girls. In the last year, Jonathan tried — and failed — several times to do just that. But, despite his administration’s efforts (and the mass mobilization around the hashtag #bringbackourgirls in the social media sphere), over 200 girls remain in Boko Haram’s custody. The mantle to save them, and protect Nigeria’s people, now falls to Buhari. It will undoubtedly be a heavy one to carry: In January, Boko Haram attacked a town near the Chad border killing thousands; the dead were mostly women, children, and the elderly. 

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