By Henry D Gombya
Britain is set to host a meeting of African and European Union officials in London this week to discuss means and ways of stepping up pressure against the Nigerian Islamist group, Boko Haram.
Last month, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan said the group have so far killed at least 12,000 people and left 8,000 or more injured. Founded 12 years ago by Mohammed Yusuf, the group at first called itself the Congregation of the People of Tradition for Proselytism and Jihad but chose to go by the Hausa name ‘Boko Haram’ which when translated in English means ‘Western education is sin’.
Its kidnap of nearly 300 Nigerian school girls has forced the world to take notice of its actions. These include the burning down of churches in Northern Nigeria, the destruction of schools and the burning alive of those it blames for administering ‘Western education’ to Nigerians. As the world continues to wake up to its deadly presence, the organisation has grown more confident and has carried out daring attacks against police and army installations in Nigeria, in addition to mounting attacks on unarmed villagers.
The London meeting will be the second in as many months after one held last month in the French capital Paris. It comes as the African continent is facing criticism that nearly 60 years since getting rid of its colonial yoke, the African continent continues to heavily rely on its former colonisers to help solve its problems. Among those expected to attend the June 12 meeting are Nigeria’s Foreign Minister, representatives from countries that border Nigeria’s as well as officials from the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, France and the European Union. Critics are pointing at this very setup of officials to argue that while Africa has a union that unites it, this meeting as well as the one held in Paris last month is not having any official representing the African Union (AU).