Like a thief cometh in the night to steal and to kill, the deadly terrorist group, Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad, which in English means, “People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad”, otherwise known as Boko Haram, on the night of 14–15 April 2014, stormed the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok Community, Borno State, Nigeria. Broke into the school, pretended to be guards, told the girls to get out and come with them. A large number of students, numbering about two hundred and seventy-nine (279) girls were taken away with them in trucks. Possibly into the Konduga area of the Sambisa Forest where they were known to have fortified camps. Fifty-seven (57) of the girls managed to escape on their own on transits, left with about 219 in the hands of Boko Haram their abductor. Houses in Chibok community were also burnt down in the incident. The school had been closed for four weeks prior to the attack due to the deteriorating security situation in the region, but students from multiple schools had been called on to take their physics final exams. These girls were aged 13 to 18 and were in their final year of school.
Tuesday, 14th April 2015, makes it exactly a year since the abduction of these girls. Their singular offence was that they wanted to be educated and pursue their dreams.
One of the saddening part of the incident was; the president did not believe that the girls were abducted for almost 18 days after their abduction was made. Since the president got the information within 24 hours of the act, if he had reacted almost immediately, those girls would have been rescued before they got to their destination. Rather for the president to spring into actions after receiving briefings about the abduction, he doubted it. He had rather preferred to go dancing in Kano in the name of a rally. That was the most unfortunate aspect of the whole scenario. After that, it took President Jonathan about 20 days before he publicly acknowledged that the abduction actually took place. That was after both local and international individuals and groups, especially the #BringBackOurGirls group here in Nigeria mounted pressure on him ahead of the World Economic Forum for Africa.
The president first spoke about the abduction in a media chat held 4th May, 2015, where he blamed the parents of the school girls for not giving information about the victims and the incident.
On 17 October 2014, hopes were raised that the over 200 girls left in the hands of Boko Haram their abductor might soon be released after the Nigerian army announced a truce between Boko Haram and government forces. The announcement coincided with the six-month anniversary of the girls' abduction and followed a month of negotiations mediated in Saudi Arabia by Chadian president, Idriss Déby.
The announcement was met with doubts, as that was not the first time the Nigerian government had claimed a breakthrough in negotiations with the Islamic militant group – it had to backtrack on a previous announcement in September after saying the girls had been released and were being held in military barracks. This was later found out to be false.
It must be on record, that if not for the relentless efforts of groups like the #BringBackOurGirls group, that kept demanding for the rescue of these girls, the government would not have said anything about their abduction, nothing would have been done about rescuing them and they would have been totally forgotten. Fortunately, this group has been consistent; they have been humane and have shown affection to the #ChibokGirls, their family and their friends. This group keeps the memory of these girls alive and continues to hold the government responsible for failing to rescue them.
For a year now, we have demanded, we have begged, we have petitioned, we have remonstrated, we have pleaded; we have prostrated ourselves before the throne, and have implored the Presidency to bring down Boko Haram under its feet and #BringBackOurGirls. Rather, our petitions have been slighted, our remonstrances have produced humiliation and insult, our supplications have been ignored, and we have been spurned, with contempt, from the foot of the throne. We have since indulged in the fond of hope and faith, while we keep demanding for the rescue of our girls. One thing is clear; we have pledged ourselves never to abandon this glorious course until our demand is meant. We shall keep demanding, for the rescue of our girls until they are finally brought back home.
These girls need to regain their freedom, they need to come back home, they deserve to live their normal lives and they have the right to pursue their dreams. The government must not allow the lives of these girls to be wasted, something has to be done and has to be done fast.
We have hoped that President Goodluck Jonathan would do all within his reach to rescue our girls, but as I write this piece nothing tangible has been done and the Chibok girls are yet to be back home. And it`s so painful, that even as his tenure is coming to end, the Chibok girls still remain missing worst of it is that we do not have any situation report about their whereabouts and safety. However as Nigeria swears in a new President come 29th May, 2015, who will #BringBackOurGirls? President Jonathan or General Buhari?
God Bless Nigeria
Ogundana Michael Rotimi