Three years after Chibok girls’ abduction, the search continues
by Shaka Oyaregba
April 21, 2017 | 12:17 am| | | Start Conversation
Mothers of kidnapped school girls react during a meeting with the Borno State governor in Chibok, Maiduguri, Borno State April 22, 2014. Parents of girls abducted by Islamist militants were searching for their daughters in a remote forest, they told the state governor on Monday, adding that 234 were still missing, a much higher figure than authorities said had been kidnapped. Picture taken April 22, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer (NIGERIA - Tags: CIVIL UNREST EDUCATION CRIME LAW POLITICS) - RTR3MLME
Last week, April 14 2014 to be precise, was the third year anniversary of the abduction of over 270 young secondary school girls from the Government Secondary School Chibok, Bornu state by the dreaded members of the Boko Haram insurgents. Since then nothing has been heard of them in a more comprehensive manner either by way of location or outright rescue. Government business has continued as usual, while the insurgents have become more dreaded, even though the government claimed territories have been recovered from them.
This has caused a lot of anguish among the parents of the girls. Many of the parents have lost their lives in the process, while some continued in the struggle to rescue the girls, hoping that one day, the girls would be rescued. The uproar which greeted the abduction attracted a wide range condemnation from both local and the international communities, with serious demand on the government to live up to its responsibility by freeing the girls from captivity. Streets of major cities in Nigeria and some foreign countries were occupied with protests by people urging government to do the needful. Notable personalities like the former First Lady of the US Michel Obama, and David Cameron of Britain also lent their voices to the call for the release of the girls, with their open alignment with the #Bringbackourgirls movement in Nigeria.
Though there were buck passing at the initial stage by the Bornu and federal government over the handling of the abduction, the federal government soon swung into action towards rescuing the girls. The assistance of some foreign countries was sought over the rescue mission. Countries such as the US and Britain opted to help, but pulled out, in course of the rescue mission citing lack of transparency as their reason.
About 50 of the girls have since found their way back home and reunited with their families, as they were lucky to have escaped from one of the vehicle conveying them on the day of abduction. Some escaped from the captivity into the hands of the troops, while 21 of the girls were successfully negotiated out from the den of Boko Haram by the federal government. A big thank you to the Red Cross movement and the Swiss government who facilitated the negotiations.
Government’s effort at rescuing the abducted girls soon turned into a money making ventures for some Nigerians, who saw it as an opportunity to swindle the desperate government. Other saw it as a political tool. Huge sums of money were demanded and released to those who claimed to have established contact with the terrorist. This turned out to be a hoarse, as the suspects were later arrested. For the opposition party, it became a campaign tool. It was easy to tell Nigerians and the grieving parents of the girls, how the girls would be rescue within weeks of taking over power.
At the third anniversary lecture held in Abuja speakers at the event, such as, Professor Grace Alile William, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the Emir of Kano and the Co Converner of the #Bringbackourgirls movement, Dr Oby Ezekwesili, all agreed that the failure of government to rescue the Chibok girls is as a result of absolute failure of governance in Nigeria. Beyond this, the speakers also saw government inability to rescue the girls as a fall out of government being less concerned about the well being of the girl child. They urged the government to ensure the rescue of the girls as soon as possible.
Patriotism in this part of the world is never absolute. There is something to take or give for anything to happen. Lives of citizens in this part of the world are not as sacrosanct as they are in other parts of the world. For Israel, for instance, the lives of its citizens were of paramount when, in 1976, it raided an airport in Uganda to rescue its citizens, who were taken hostage. America is also known for its loyalty to the lives of it citizens. This has been demonstrated in some cases, where over a thousand captives were release in other to free one of it citizen. There are other instances where the America president had to personally negotiate the release and ensure the rescue of it citizen held in captivity in another country. Jimmy Carter’s trip to North Korea in 2010 to negotiate the release of Gomes is worthy of mention. That is the spirit, which is absolutely absent in Nigeria.
In contrast, what we saw in Nigeria was the Borno state governor accusing the federal government of not calling it to inquire about the abduction even weeks after the incident. You begin to wonder who should call the other between the governor and the president to report issues, as they happen in their domain. All the security institutions and abundant resources at the disposal of the government could not douse its desperation to the extent of falling for some reckless and disgruntled elements and parted with Billions of Naira only to find out that it had been swindled.
While the Chibok girls’ issue unsettled the then government, the then opposition party feasted on it and campaigned vigorously with the issue promising to ensure the rescue of the girls within weeks of assuming power. For the opposition party, the government in place was clueless and incompetent. These actions were not patriotic to say the least.
As it stand today the government in power which was the opposition party in 2014/2015, can no longer stand the heat of the advocacy of the #Bringbackourgirls movement, which was a trusted ally during the campaigns. As trusted as the #Bringbackourgirls movement was to this government, one of the Co-Convener, Hadiza Usman has been appointed by this government as its principal officers to head one of its parastatal. The #Bringbackourgirls movement have suddenly become a sworn enemy of the government. For now, they are no longer allowed into the seat of power, while their sit-out campaign ground is sometimes condoned off by security agencies.
This clearly show or prove the absent of patriotism of Nigerians to national issues. Individual interest or clan interest in respect to national issues cannot win us any laurel.
As the search for Chibok girls continue, the government is advised to be transparent in its dealings, communicate regularly with the parents of the girls, cooperate with the various advocacy groups, empower the security agencies and seek assistance from the outside world where necessary.
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