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Chibok Missing Girls, Failure Of Leadership And Death Of Outrage By Charles Ofoji

May 7, 2014

The response from the government to the abduction of those girls is a bold statement that we are governed by people who have no idea of what leadership is all about.

Let me first commend Nigerians, especially those women who marched in Abuja, and the international community for the unprecedented campaign, titled #bringbackourgirls. Their solidarity has overwhelmed the world of social media.

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An avalanche of outrage is blowing across Nigeria and all around the world. The only ones who had appeared not to be outraged or who seemed not to understand what is going on are those in power. It took President Goodluck Jonathan three weeks to find his words.  

The feeling you get from the initial reaction of the ruling class is as if those kids vanished due to the occurrence of a natural disaster. Certainly, this was not the case. Those Chibok girls suffered the fate they suffered because of total failure of leadership. They have the misfortune of being citizens of a country where, due to failure of leadership, there is no security of lives and property. The Nigerian State breached its obligations under the social contract with the people. 

The primary duty of any sovereign state towards its citizens and residents is to safeguard lives and property. Any state that fails in this primary task is simply a pariah state. There are no two ways about it. This writer has being consistent in his views that Nigeria is a failed state by all benchmarks. If there was still any doubt left that Nigeria is a cassava republic, where life is short and brutish, the kidnapping of over two hundred Chibok school girls by terrorists from their dormitory, with impunity, must have erased that.
However, there is something I still fail to get. How could the kidnappers have so much luxury of time? They invaded the girls’ dormitory, intimated them into obedience with the use and threat of use of force, filed them into the buses they parked and later drove away with no response from the military and police in an area that is highly militarized(with lots of military checkpoints). I simply don’t comprehend.

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I also fail to grasp how they could be driven through the roads of Borno and across the border, as alleged, without hindrance. This could only be possible if there was sabotage by those who are in charge to secure that part of the country or if there was a criminal dereliction of duty. Up till now, no one has resigned or made to account for this national embarrassment.

The response from the government to the abduction of those girls is a bold statement that we are governed by people who have no idea of what leadership is all about. There is still no official list of the names of the missing girls and their photo. 

Last month in South Korea, there was a ferry disaster. It was an accident. Nonetheless, the South Korean Prime Minister, Chung Hong-won resigned due to his government’s poor reaction and handling of the matter.  

In the Chibok case, the government is guilty of being the cause (for failing to provide security) and pitiable response, yet no one has been held accountable. People who lack sense of accountability cannot be leaders in a democratic framework. The duty of accountability is sacrosanct in a democracy. Nigeria’s ruling class has no sense of accountability; neither do they seem to understand what this democratic doctrine is. I have also watched their reactions to burning national issues over the years and it appears to me that there is a death of outrage in their senses.

If not for the unparalleled outrage the kidnapping of the Chibok girls elicited among Nigerians, I guess the government would not have done anything serious in search of them. It would have been the usual big talk and no action.

Nigeria is in the distress it is today because of failure of leadership. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo failed the country when he allowed some states in the North to introduce Sharia law. This was against the secular-state prescription of the Nigerian Constitution. As president, he failed to provide leadership and defend the constitution. This is partly one of the reasons why we are where we are today.

Boko Haram has become very audacious. It bombed Nyanya, Abuja twice within three weeks. This is a slap on the face of Jonathan, who still says he is winning the war on terror. It is high time we told ourselves the truth. Boko Haram is now an ominous threat to the entity called Nigeria. In fact, we can forget about every other thing and face it. If we don’t solve this problem, Nigeria is imperiled. There would be no progress in all sectors. We can as well forget the 2015 general elections. As it stands now, no sane president will allow an election to be held in an atmosphere (not of fear), where the populace are now at the mercy of Boko Haram.

Jonathan came to power and met Boko Haram. He did not cause its emergence. However, whether he likes it or not, it will go a long way in defining his presidency. He has to decisively tackle the threat posed by this ruthless terror group. It is not a Northern problem; it is a Nigerian problem. I bemoan the quasi emergency rule he declared in those troubled part of the North. There is no constitutional provision for this. Rather there is one for a total state of emergency. It is high time the governors of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa are suspended to create the enabling environment for an effective combat against Boko Haram. 

You don’t need to be a parent to know what the parents of those Chibok girls are going through. Minute after minute, they are tormented by the uncertainty of the fate of their missing children. Unfortunately a detached ruling class cannot feel their anguish. 

But the signs are there that Jonathan has woken up. He can now smell the coffee. Heartwarming is the fact that he has stopped living in denial. The acceptance of the offer of the United States of America to help in finding the missing girls and bringing an end to Boko Haram is a good sign. I applaud it.

It was clear that Jonathan’s Nigeria could not deal with Boko Haram. Even as the noise is being made about all necessary steps being taken to bring back the Chibok girls, can Nigeria’s military guarantee that Boko Haram cannot repeat the same thing in any other school of their choice? The answer is a big no. Yesterday, eight girls were again abducted by the group in a school in Warambe, Borno. 

Terrorists are now at liberty to strike at will and at any object of their choice. This is where our dear country is today, no thanks to bad leadership. Not too long ago, Nigerians used to feel sorry for the people of Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Lebanon etc for the reign of terror in their country. Unfortunately, we have joined the league of such nations. Very sad!

In any case, the task of bringing back the kidnapped Chibok girls has suddenly become the biggest challenge of Jonathan’s presidency. He must scour the country and do all within his power to bring relief to those agonized parents and save the image of Nigeria.  

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The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters