“The Nigerian nation-space is poised on a knife’s point; it is failing, but not beyond redemption. The rescue of the abducted Chibok school girls and the outcome of the National Conference would help define the country’s future.” – Nobel Laureate Prof. Wole Soyinka, on BBC Hardtalk Programme, Saturday 10 May 2014.
The dramatic macabre dance since the midnight hostage-taking of the yet-to-be-rescued over 200 Chibok school girls in Borno State of Nigeria, on 15 April 2014, by Boko Haram terrorist elements, has now ascended a crescendo of pulsating emotional gyration, anger ventilation and global condemnation. That sordid and barbaric incident has now drawn both the anger and dagger of the attention of civilised humanity across all the hemispheres.
Just days back, the World Economic Summit, WEF, concluded its 3-day multi lateral business deals and seals in Abuja; out of which Africa cornered a chunk of $68 billion in prospective inward investment. This largest world’s marketplace also brought Nigeria under global security and governance scrutiny. Hence, the pervasive threat and stealth of death, the groans and moans of the abducted and maimed in the country; all combined to nearly steal the shine from the super-polished presidential shoes of the chief host, President Goodluck Jonathan. By the way, in far away Thailand, a Prime Minister, Lady Yingluck, was swiftly removed from office recently by the country’s highest court for “a gross misuse of power.”
Keep aside the digression. The man who wears the crown at the centre, GEJ, has been under the eye of the storm lately, but, still hanging on hopefully on the thread of expectation. He’s been openly chastised by some eminent authorities in global politics and media, particularly from the West. Leading this pack is former US Secretary of State, Senator Hilary Clinton; plus the New York Times and the Economist. They have all thumped down Nigeria’s self-acclaimed architect of transformation: tagging his administration, rightly or wrongly, “wasteful, corrupt, incompetent and callous.”
In the same nagging vein, ‘mother of the nation’ Dame Patience Jonathan has drawn the ire of the public. The tragicomedy of her seemingly theatrical and emotion-laden teary-eyed telly ‘court-marshal’ of the school principal of the missing girls, and the denial of abduction by leading members of her ruling party, PDP, have placed the First Lady ingloriously on the e-platform of the ”mocked and disdained.” Pitiful pictures and audio-visual captures of her low performance now indelibly adorn the Internet. Here was a classic crisis control event being mismanaged and actually suffered a ricochet; it boomeranged calamitously? Serious trouble-shooting situations have no room for grandstanding.
Unlike the proponents of the conspiracy theory, spearheaded by former Minister Kema Chikwe, who’s now the national women’s leader of the party in government; Dr. Obiageli ‘Oby’ Ezekwesili, ex-minister of education and former vice president of the World Bank, has succeeded in getting the eyes, ears and heart of the world into the “BringBackOurGirls” campaign, that she has meticulously masterminded, alongside other women of substance, to force the government in Nigeria to rescue and re-unite the kidnapped girls with their anguished families. Hers is a humane protest to which the whole of humanity has now become a part.
With the media frenzy accompanying the campaign, the United States was jolted into action. Father-of-two teenage daughters, President Barrack Obama, instantly took the gauntlet and pledged to support Nigeria with the American might in the winnable fight against the army of guerrilla terrorists.
The United Nations and ECOWAS, Britain, France, Canada, China and key war leaders including Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, the Pope, and so on promptly followed suit. But, frighteningly, Amnesty International has alleged that Nigerian security officials did ignore a “3-hour” warning on the invasion of Chibok. Now it race against the tide of time, as days roll into weeks and possibly months on the unresolved incident.
It has left a baffled world in trance, like the missing Malaysian plane, that an error of untamed terror in Nigeria could become a mathematical impossibility. They all ask their conscience, why the local denial and long delay by officialdom in rescuing the hapless and helpless young women, forcibly removed from school into the den of bandits as sex slaves and human shields?
Gracefully, “US First lady Michelle Obama made a rare appearance on her husband’s weekly radio address on Saturday, 10 May 2014, to express her outrage over the recent kidnapping of hundreds of Nigerian schoolgirls, and link their disappearance to the issue of girls’ education worldwide.”
In a fusion of anger and hope, a plausible Mrs. Obama, carrying a protest banner, told the world unequivocally that:
"Like millions of people across the globe, my husband and I are outraged and heartbroken over the kidnapping of more than 200 Nigerian girls from their school dormitory in the middle of the night.”
Adding that, "this unconscionable act was committed by a terrorist group determined to keep these girls from getting an education - grown men attempting to snuff out the aspirations of young girls. In these girls, Barak and I see our own daughters and we can only imagine the anguish their parents are feeling right now.”
With such a formidable strength of leadership coming from the White House, US Marines have now landed in Nigeria – with their tech-cultured expertise and bravery, battle-ready to unravel the mystery of the blood-letting Boko Haram insurgency.
Furthermore, and despite the increasing prevalence of “Free Our Girls” demonstrations locally and globally, President Jonathan, and most Nigerians, are beginning to heave a sigh of relief, with foreign military presence; that the menace of Boko Haram is almost near its decisive end. “Chibok is the beginning of the end for the insurgents”, declared a confident GEJ to the media recently.
Come what may, we must remind ourselves as a nation, to nip in the bud the errors of the past that escalated and gravitated into this monstrous act of terror. For as small as the soldier ants are; they know where to hurt the giant elephant (Kenyan proverb).
Finally, let us not rent room for avoidable conflict situations that could lead to painful consequence similar to stirring the hornet’s nest. For no matter what the case may be, evil can hardly thrive or survive when good people gather together to decisively stamp it out. That time for concerted effort is here at our bay. Nigeria has come to stay, and so shall it be.
Chibok and Boko Haram, like Biafra, would be remembered in the future as one of those nation-building hiccups. There’s gain of wisdom in every pain. No condition is permanent. Long live Nigeria and may peace return to our world.
The Writer, Alaba Yusuf, is an international publicist/journalist, strategist and commentator based in Abuja
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters