You can’t build a democracy, a nation or anything on the trampled lives of innocent girls.
When nearly 300 girls get abducted and three hundred and sixty-five days later they are yet to be rescued and brought home; worse still, there is no strategic plan or visible action to inspire hope that they will be found, then we know that we have failed the future.
So, when a year ago news broke about the kidnap of nearly 300 school girls from the Government Secondary School in Chibok Town in Borno State, I never imagined that there would be an anniversary for their absence still.
The Islamic Jihadist and terrorist organization, Boko Haram, claimed responsibility for this act a long time ago, and since the disappearance of the girls, we have witnessed cases of young, female suicide bombers being used to perpetuate the evil and terror associated with the extremist sect. Like many Nigerians and the International Community, I am not pleased with the Nigerian government’s response so far to the kidnapping of those innocent girls.
It was 21 days after the kidnapping, on May 4, 2014, that the President of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan, spoke publicly for the first time about the missing girls. He assured Nigerians that the government was doing everything it could to find the girls, and also cited a lack of cooperation from the parents as part of reasons impeding the government’s efforts.
Since April 30, 2014, protests have been held in several cities across Nigeria and indeed all over the world, demanding more government action to rescue the girls. At the same time, the social media community picked up with the ‘#BringBackOurGirls’ campaign which has trended globally severally on Facebook and Twitter and at the time attracted over 4 million Tweets.
On April 30, hundreds of people marched to the National Assembly Complex in Abuja to demand government and military action against the kidnappers.
In Abuja also, former Minister for Education, Oby Ezekwesili, leads a daily sit-out at the Unity Fountain in Maitama. This move has endured attacks from the government, accusing them of being a product and enjoying the sponsorship of the opposition party. At the Unity Fountain they have been taken to court, arrested, physically attacked, and also tried at some point to detain Oby Ezekwesili at the airport on her way to an engagement in London.
On May 26, 2014, Nigeria’s Chief of Defence Staff announced that the Nigerian security forces had located the kidnapped girls, but ruled out a forceful rescue attempt for fears of collateral damage. Four days later, it was reported that two of the kidnapped girls were found raped, “half-dead”, and tied to a tree in the Baale region of North-eastern Nigeria.
On June 24, 2014, it was reported that 91 more women and children were abducted in other areas of Borno State. This, more than anything, betrayed Nigeria’s current appalling security status. The nation’s security system is obviously at an all-time low and it will be greatly unwise for any reasonable leadership to ignore the signs and continue to watch the situation deteriorate.
Amidst all of this, hundreds of families have had to endure the absence of their little girls whose only crime was seek an education. They weep daily for their loss, but their agony is heightened by the uncertainty peculiar to this kidnapping. A government sworn to protect its people cannot provide succour for them, or tangible information to help them find hope or peace with the situation.
What the situation needs right now is a lot more honest interest from the government especially. We are aware that all the sit-outs, rallies and cries will not directly rescue the girls from their present captivity, but we have directed our voices and tears to the feet of the government with the full might of the Nigerian Armed Forces, to apply its might and resources immensely and commit to bringing the girls back home safely.
We cannot have a better Nigeria, nay rather, we cannot have Nigeria in the future if our children continue to be victims of hate, greed and incompetent leadership.
The Government continued to play politics with the matter – spending $1.2 million dollars to engage an American public relations firm to manipulate the international and local media narrative surrounding the Chibok School Girls kidnapping – meanwhile, the girls continue to be subjected to unimaginable horror in the hands of their captors.
It has been 365 days since the girls were kidnapped. We urge the government to make the rescue of the kidnapped girls top priority on its daily agenda, especially now that ‘electoral politics’ are particularly over. Deploy whatever resources we have and seek support where necessary to ensure the safe rescue of the girls. It is the last thing we demand this current administration to do before it hands over power on May 29, 2015.
We are tired of counting number of days, we want to count strategic efforts and consequently count and celebrate the safe rescue of the Chibok girls. They have endured enough and we cannot afford to fail them. They are the future. They are Nigeria.
#BringBackOurGirls Now and Alive!