For more than a year ago, the misguided Boko Haram sect rounded up nearly 300 girls from their school in Chibok and took them to an unknown destination. The sect had capitalized on the non-existing government in Nigeria to execute its evil plan.
While the act shocked everyone, the Nigeria government led by President Goodluck Jonathan saw otherwise. The lack of action, or any form of statement from the government, for nearly three weeks that some schools girls had been kidnapped baffled everyone. Rather than the government commencing an immediate rescue mission for the girls, it maintained an eerie silence and its lackeys oozed—as they do still—with all forms of stupidity, indicated that the government did not believe that any girl was kidnapped.
If ex-president Obasanjo’s account that, for seventy-two hours Boko Haram was looking for a means to move the girls—it shows that had the government acted responsibly and immediately, then the girls would have been freed. It appeared it was not in Boko Haram’s plan to abduct anyone, at least not as many as that. Initially they seemed to have come only for their usual atrocities of murder and arson. However, when they found that the girls were loitering about without protection, they decided to round them up and move them from village to village like herds of cattle, looking for trucks to cart them away for days.
When the government eventually feigned reaction, its ranged from absurdity to preposterousness. It accused, and accuses still, imaginary enemies of attempting to taint the government with the kidnappings, as if the government was not already stained with corruption and incompetence. The wife of the president, who has no constitutional power, called for the arrest and punishment of whoever mentioned that girls were abducted. Her display, and that of other women in Jonathan’s government, makes you doubt if they ever passed through the pain of childbirth.
For months, the government did not visit the Chibok community nor sent representatives. All appeals by meaningful citizens for the President to visit the Chibok were ignored. People like Mrs. Obiageli Ezekwesili, who has ensured that the government shows a modicum of conscience for the duty it was elected to do, was constantly harassed and called names by government minions. Her group’s peaceful sit-outs were often disrupted, and her campaign items for the girls’ freedom were vandalized.
It was Malala Yousafzai, a 17-year-old Pakistani girl, who could make President Jonathan see the need of meeting the Chibok families. When Jonathan and his gangs heeded to the advice of Malala and see the girls’ parents, he decided to invite them to Abuja instead of travelling to Chibok. Even at the meeting, Jonathan’s incompetence did not fail to surface as he shared money for some of the parents leaving the others empty-handed. Was this even supposed to be an occasion to share money to parents who are undergoing the trauma of losing children to murderous kidnapers? The inability of Jonathan himself to be able to remember the name of the community from where the girls were abducted showed that the girls’ rescue was never in his priority list.
The insensitive of President Jonathan government to the issue was notched to immorality when Jonathan’s aides hijacked the cliché (#BringBackOurGirls) of Mrs. Ezekwesili’s group as a campaign slogan (BringBackJonathan) for his reelection. His ministers who had all long denied the kidnapings or tried of discussing the issue started to use the Chibok girls as campaign events for him.
One was laying blocks for a phantom safe school initiative for non-existing students. At the time, the government formed a committee as reward to political defectors rather than a genuine effort at doing something on the matter. Fund-raising dinner was organized for the victims of Bokoharam, but that is all we knew about it. How insensitive, roguish and morally bankrupt could the Jonathan’s government have been?
The Chibok girls’ scenario eventually brought to the fore how our once glorious military has been seriously compromised and rendered ineffective. We soon discovered that our armed forces are staffed with highly corrupt, potbelly individuals camouflaging as military generals. Unintelligent statements such as “we know where the girls are,” coming from military service chiefs was all the indication needed that Nigeria had lost its once highly celebrated armed forces. At a time, they lied that they had rescued the girls. Supposed army generals who should have been in fields commandeering army units were on social media tweeting trash. When some foreign countries decided to help, they found that Nigeria no longer have an armed forces with whom to share intelligence. In no time, they packed their belongings and leave.
For the past year, there has been no evidence that government has shown any commitment to liberate the girls. Rather it has tried to make political capital and blood money out of a very sad episode. In summary, the abduction reveals to us all the tragic comedians who control our important national institutions and national affairs.
One year after, the news about the girls is that they have not yet been found. One cannot imagine the suffering of their parents. As of August last year, thirteen of the parents had died from the trauma of losing their children to abductor. It is really tragic. Truly, if the girls had died from natural causes or even accidents and were given befitting burials, we could all have come to term with it and accepted it as destiny. However, the nagging thought of the girls being in the hands of some evil people is more traumatizing than that of death.
It is plainly obvious that the government has no interest for the girls’ rescue in spite of the entire pretense. Daily comments and body languages of President Jonathan’s aides are pointer to this. The sad fact we must adjust to is that the girls would not be home any time soon at least in the remaining days of the Jonathan’s presidency. The outgoing service chiefs who had said initially that they knew where the girls were have now said that they do not know whereabouts of the girls. Are you still hoping on Jonathan’s government and its useless military?
Our anticipation now is that the incoming government will act differently on the matter and all other security-related issues. The incoming government should invest more on intelligence gathering and involve all individuals who may have any clue that can lead to the rescue of the girls. Citizens should be informed of government rescue efforts while at the same time not jeopardizing intelligence. The parents of the Chibok girls and all relatives of the victims of various BokoHaram’s attacks should be provided psychological support as well as social and economic rehabilitations.
As of now, we can only hope that the girls and others still in the Boko Haram’s den will be liberated. In the word of ex-president Obasanjo, it might be impossible to have all the girls back. As uncomfortable and pessimistic this might sounds, we are hoping that whatever is remaining of the girls physically and psychologically will be saved. We are anticipating that the next anniversary should be on the freedom of the girls, but not another year of their continuous hold-up under BokoHaram’s torture.
S. M. Jimoh.
The writer can be reached on [email protected] and tweets on @anehi2008