Less than six hours after she declared the mass kidnapping of Nigerian schoolgirls an “abominable” act of terror, Hillary Clinton on Wednesday night blasted civilian leaders in Abuja, Nigeria, for their slow response, demanding “a lot more action” in the fight to bring the children home.
The domestic and international efforts — or lack thereof — to rescue the girls from their Boko Haram captors took center stage as Clinton stepped to the podium at an International Crisis Group award dinner in New York City’s lush Waldorf Astoria hotel.
“Everyone needs to see this for what it is,” she told a dinner crowd that mixed high-powered philanthropists with young staffers. “It is a gross human rights abuse but it is also part of a continuing struggle within Nigeria and within North Africa.”
Clinton took repeated shots at Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, charging that his ”security forces … have, at times, perpetrated their own human rights abuses,” and, “the Nigerian government has failed to confront the threat or address the underlying challenges of poverty, lawlessness and despair.”
“All of this,” Clinton said, ”demands a strong response from the people and government of Nigeria, from the region and from the international community.”
As for whose troops should lead the way, the former secretary of state was less assured.
“I greatly appreciated President Obama’s decision to send a team to assist the Nigerians,” she said, noting that while “the United Kingdom and other European partners have offered support,” and, “every asset and expertise should be brought to bear,” it is Nigeria and “Nigeria’s neighbors” who should align and launch a “coordinated effort to rescue the girls and bring their kidnappers to justice.”
Earlier, in Washington, D.C., Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, came out of a meeting at the Nigerian Embassy and, in the same vein, demanded President Jonathan step up and take a lead role in pressuring Boko Haram leaders.