600 Days After: Will The Girls Ever Return?
A graveyard silence enveloped the nation of Nigeria on the 15th day of April 2014 when the despicable news of the kidnap of 276 female students of Government Day Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State hit the blogosphere. The girls were said to have been abducted by suspected Islamic Fundamentalist Group, Boko Haram.
A series of protest trailed the kidnap saga aftermath the failure of the immediate past administration of Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and the Nigerian security formations to rescue the girls from their abductors.
The incapability of Jonathan’s administration to unravel the misery behind the controversial kidnap of Chibok girls led to a wild condemnation and rejection of his reign within and outside the shores of Nigeria.
This singular factor indeed, contributed massively to the defeat of Jonathan at the polls in 2015 presidential election. The kidnap saga was a good campaign PR for the opposition desperately searching for central power. It was a well greased campaign that collapsed a political dynasty embedded with incumbency.
The hitherto loved, cherished and valued Jonathan by the international community because of his intellectual humility and erudition became a recluse character decorated with a legendary muffler of cluelessness, ineptitude and clumsiness.
In Nigeria, various groups advocating for the release of the missing Chibok girls emerged. Journalists, Activists, Social Commentators and Analysts within and outside the shores including myself descended on Jonathan and his security chiefs through our pen and voices.
Many Nigerians of higher caliber were not left alone. The former Education Minister, Oby Ezekwesili’s led Bring Back Our Girls Group (BBOG) was the most vociferous amongst the pro-chibok groups. The group was well oiled by only God knows people or organization(s).
For the records, twenty three (23) public lectures were organized by BBOG in honour of the missing girls between June 2014 to May 2015. T-shirts, Caps, leaflets, posters, et al was printed by BBOG to boost the campaign.
Social networks were in aghast as major Nigerian cities were shut down in protest against Jonathan government for not securing the release of the abducted girls. Nevertheless, as fate would have it, the opposition party that promised to rescue the abducted chibok girls within two months and also put a stop to the menace of Boko Haram attacks if voted into power was victorious at the polls as predicted. Jonathan was voted out.
Now, it is over 600 days that the girls in captivity were abducted; and it is about 200 days that the All Progressives Congress (APC) led central government got the insignia of power, yet, the girls are still in the internment of Boko Haram.
Today, instead of the attacks to fizzle out, it is gaining momentum. According to Amnesty International, close to 2000 Nigerians have been murdered by Boko Haram with over 10,000 injured within the six months of Buhari’s presidency. Virtually all the seized Nigerian territories already recovered from Boko Haram before the end of Jonathan’s administration have been re-taken by the dreaded terrorists.
The most bizarre melo-drama is the missing chibok girls’ saga. Those physically leading the public campaign for the release of Chibok Girls have gone AWOO. No more harsh-tags! No more banners! Those who chastised Jonathan government over chibok girls are now Public Relations Consultants to the current government in Abuja.
Today, a co-founder of BBOG, Hadiza Bala Usman is the Chief of Staff to APC’s Kaduna State Governor, Nasir Elrufai who in his personal capacity excessively used his twitter handle @elrufai to lampoon Jonathan to a standstill over the kidnap saga. And here come a question thus; can Madam Hadiza Usman lead protest against the government she currently serves?
I am particularly shocked that most of my colleagues writing for BBOG have embraced criminal silence in the face of current bombings and spurious attacks against the sovereign state of Nigeria. 170 teenage girls were reportedly kidnapped on Sunday November 29, 2015 at Biam near Buratai, the country home of the Chief of Army Staff, Major Buratai, yet, no one is kicking.
Dr. Oby Ezekwesili operated in hibernation until the names of ministerial nominees were released. Rallies have been technically banned in Abuja. No more protest in Lagos. Kano is now bored. Kaduna, the base of Hadiza Usman and Elrufai is now a no go area for protesters.
Pitifully, the parents of the abducted chibok girls are now urging the general public and international community not to release fund to any NGO or group on their behalf anymore. The parents described the Abuja based groups protesting for the release of their daughters as fraudulent and deceitful. The representative of the parents, Mr. Mshelia Yakubu alleged that the struggle for the release of their wards has been turned to a money-making venture.
Consequently, many people who joined the campaign for the release of chibok girls are now forced to ask whether the struggle was real or they were just used by some political agents masquerading as Social Activists. And there’s this another question that, were the girls actually kidnapped?
More also, people are now asking that how could 276 girls be kidnapped at a go and be transported to a forest with a distance of about 280 kilometers in a state under a partial emergency rule without being questioned by the Army officials that liters the highways in Borno State? Why did the BBOG advocates go on hibernation immediately the baton changed in Abuja? Were they sponsored to be protesting in Abuja and in the media so that the world leaders could reject Jonathan for being incapable of securing the lives of his people? Why are BBOG advocates now lobbying for appointment(s) in Abuja instead of demanding for accountability like they did under Jonathan, and for the release of the girls they claimed they love and cherish? And will the girls ever return home? Who rings the clock? Time however, will tell!
Maxwell Adeyemi Adeleye writes from Magodo in Lagos. He tweets via @maxwelladeleye
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.
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