We All Want Our Chibok Girls Back, And Safely Too
When it emerged in April of 2014 that over 200 Nigerian school girls had been abducted from their school, it sparked not just a national outrage and disgust, but the international community too, was outraged and disgusted at what many saw, not just as crime against the education of the girl child, but a crime against humanity.
Groups and individuals, using the hashtag, “#BringBackOurGirls”, sprang up locally and across the world, to hold the President Jonathan administration by the balls, to act decisively to rescue our girls. This inept government did little but use its cronies to try to prove that the abduction was a hoax.
The whole world especially women and mothers identified with the pain, agony and anguish of the Chibok school girls’ families. The closest the female members of the Jonathan Administration got to acknowledging this heinous crime by the Boko Haram insurgents was a show of shame organised by the wife of the then President, Mrs Patience Jonathan where she unsuccessfully, tried to cast doubts over the abduction of the school girls.
But these girls, the Chibok girls were real girls from real families. So it was a welcome idea that some Nigerians began a sit-out at the Unity Fountain in Abuja, to keep the #BringBackOurGirls campaign in the front burner under a government that nursed and nurtured insurgency. Similar groups sprang up across the nation and beyond, each group adopting a strategy that works for them. All worked for the same goal that would culminate in bringing our girls home, SAFE, and ALIVE.
When President Buhari was sworn in, he did not waste time in reading the Army the riot act. He set a target for the cowardly Army he inherited and within months, it was clear that the brave, courageous and gallant Nigerian Army we used to know, that Africans used to love and that the international organs such as the United Nations used to be proud of, was back. Leadership is everything.
President Buhari did not stop there. Within six weeks of becoming the President of Nigeria, he granted audience to the lead campaigners of some groups, including the #BringBackOurGirls. He was later to meet with the Murtala Mohammed Foundation too. It was hailed by all campaigners as it afforded them the opportunity to hear first hand from the government, for the first time since the girls went missing that the government was doing all, within its power, to safely bring the girls home to their long-suffering families.
But the reassurances of the President apparently fell on the deaf ears of some of the #BringBackOurGirls campaigners. It did not matter to them that over twenty thousand Nigerians who were also abducted by the evil Boko Haram, had been rescued. It meant nothing to them that territories hitherto occupied by the insurgents were now firmly recovered and natives, returning to their ancestral homes to begin the arduous task of rebuilding their shattered lives.
The war against terror in Nigeria is being won but it will not be over until we find a closure, either way, for our Chibok girls and their families. The Parents of the missing girls trust the Buhari administration to bring it to pass. They know this government means business and is seriously pulling every available stop to find and rescue the girls.
However, it’s sad and bothers on unreasonableness that anyone would think, and even goes further to put to words that this present administration “does not want to rescue the Chibok girls.” This is in spite of the obvious evidence to the contrary.
They have gone ahead to ask President Buhari to resign. My goodness! As sad as it is that these girls are still missing, we cannot reduce the Nigerian state to be all about our missing girls!
These few who make this assertion are applying cheap blackmail as they have been denied the opportunity to barge in on the President at will. Some months after the President met with them, and while he was hosting an African President, the #BBOG group, barged into the State House, demanding an immediate audience with the President. They were not satisfied with seeing top Government officials, including a Minister who abandoned what she was doing to see them. The President abandoned his guest to meet with them and hurried back to this guest thereafter.
Since then, obviously oblivious of the fact that #BBOG is not the only campaign outfit there is out there, the leaders have carried on as if it’s their God given exclusive right to run the campaign aimed at supporting government’s efforts to rescue our missing girls. But their campaign is now wearing a frightening face many of us do no longer recognise.
These activists need to understand that #BBOG is not a franchise. The Murtala Mohammed Foundation is doing a fantastic work of advocacy too. So are many Nigerians and others from across the world. They frown at any others who advocate or support the rescue of the Chibok girls. They have berated the efforts of the wife of the President, Mrs. Aisha Buhari, who launched a textbook and donated the proceeds, in millions of Naira to the families of the Chibok girls and the Buni Yadi boys.
Their philosophy is based on being the only cock that crows in the yard. If it’s done or said by anyone other than them, it’s not right and is seen as infringement on their exclusive rights to Chibok advocacy!
These activists also need to understand that we are dealing with a mass hostage situation here. It’s not as easy as we all wish for the Army to shoot or bomb their way into freeing the girls. It’s widely believed and acknowledged that these girls are the priced “assets” of the insurgents who are using them as human shields. Their safety is paramount. Care needs to be taken if we are to have them back, safe and alive.
Constantly attempting to barge into the State House to meet with the President is one thing. Mobilising others and putting pressure on the Chibok parents to stage demonstrations against a government that is clearly doing all its best to end the hostilities in the North East, is another. It is therefore, most unfair, insensitive and callous to be adding to the sufferings of the Chibok parents by manufacturing the impression that the Buhari Administration has abandoned their daughters to their fate.
The BBOG’s present hostilities were necessary under a government that was insensitive towards the plight of the Chibok Girls. But under this dispensation, with a leader who daily, agonises the continued captivity of these Nigerian girls, it’s totally uncalled for. This is the reason Nigerians are lukewarm towards them now, wondering what their motives truly are.
It’s clear that the #BringBackOurGirls leadership has lost its focus. It’s now a personal war on the President for reasons only known to them. They need to take a step back and reappraise how they got to this sorry and sad pass. Their campaign was about the safe return of the Chibok Girls. Nigerians are not sure anymore. Bullying the President and the Nigerian Army by giving the impression that they have deliberately, refused to rescue the girls is the lowest of all lows and nobody in their sane condition would consider swallowing such horrible insinuations.
President Buhari, the Nigerian Defence team and indeed, Nigerians through their prayers and support, are committed to bringing the girls home. Safely. That’s what we all want. Safe return of our Nigerian girls. May God speed up that day.
Written by Lauretta Onochie