Day Of The African Child And The Abandoned Nigerian Children In Abductors Dens
It is only a nation and a people without empathy and compassion that will see a groaning neighbours and still move on as if her pains does not matter. That best illustrate the situation here in Nigeria where everyone including the state move on after every mass abduction as if nothing has happened until the next one, which as usual, get condemned and nothing more.
The Nigerian state and her people have become so accustomed to kidnapping and mass abductions that the plights of those affected no longer evoke an outrage as was done during the first ever mass abduction of Chibok school girls in 2014. The outpouring of condemnation over the Chibok incident across the globe was massive, unlike this day, that the World hardly talk about abduction of children in Nigeria. That singular abduction in Chibok was the last straw that led to the poor electoral outing of the then party in power in 2015. The worsening insecurity in Nigeria is beginning to appear like a plague with its claws gripping the nation by its jugular.
Wednesday, the 16th day of June, 2021 was marked as a Day of the African Child (DAC) with the theme “30 Years after the Adoption of the Charter; Accelerate the Implementation of Agenda 2040 for an Africa fit for Children”. The Nigerian state and her people in their usual characteristics were not left out. The nation capital city was agog with several events marking the day, whereas, somewhere in the same country, countless numbers of children were in the dens of their abductors, most recently as at then were the over 156 pupils abducted from Salihu Tanko Islamic school in Tegina, Niger state, in late May.
Every successful invasion of schools and mass abduction of students and children is not only becoming very saddening and embarrassing but a complete ridiculing of the nation and her security architecture. The incessant abductions of school children and their abandonment by the Nigerian state have debased our very humanity to a point that lives and the wellbeing of our people does not matter to the political elites.
The Nigerian state have in the first place failed to secured her people as guaranteed by the constitution and by extension in her obligation to protect children from harm way. These children never applied nor lobbied to be given birth to in Nigeria, neither have they committed any crimes by aspiring to be educated. And what do we do, every now and then, we allowed terrorists and bandits to invade their spaces and institutions of learning to abducts them and demands for ransom. These children are hardly rescued by the State.
Meanwhile, this nefarious activity increases and becomes embolden following ransom payment from the various tier of government across the country and the romance of bandits by the leaders and political elites of Nigeria North. However, lately, we are beginning to see hard stances by various states government against ransom payment. Such a stance is very commendable, however, that ought to be reconsidered, because if you cannot prevent the children from being taking, then pay ransom for their release and if you would not pay, then you rescue them. Unfortunately, our is such a pathetic and helpless situation. All you get are condemnations and assurances that that will be the last of such abduction and everyone go back to sleep, doing nothing until the next one occur while the parents of those abducted are left to lick their wounds. As parents, caregivers, friends, relations and well-wishers, you are left alone to find a way around it. Adults citizens are not left out but juxtaposing it with the pump and pageantry that heralded the celebration of the Day of the African Child, it clearly showed that the hypocrisy of the Nigerian State is assuming a precarious dimension.
In this part of the World, especially in Nigeria, things are never genuinely done with good intention but with a predetermined mindset for the gains of it and it is that pretentious lifestyle that is the bane of our progress. We pretend that we love our children and were making public show and delivering speeches when the reality was steering us in the face. Hundreds of those African/Nigerian child were and are still, at this very moment languishing in various abductors dens without any visible and reasonable efforts from the authorities to rescue and re-unite them with their families. The World would not have ceases to exists if we, as a people have cancelled any form of celebration here in Nigeria in honour of all our children still in captivity. Moreover, the day was instituted in honour of the over 700 students massacre by the Police of the apartheid government of South Africa on 16 June, 1976 during the Soweto student uprising. Yet we are trying to crucify a sufficiently angered Nigerian girl who marched with a blood stained Nigeria flag depicting the worsening insecurity and killing at home in faraway Russia.
Sometime early this year, it was largely reported of how a lone American man, abducted in Niger Republic was rescued by the American special forces on our home soil, yet, we are making it appears as if the criminality ravaging our land is a normal way of life. The entire country is indeed not safe security-wise but bleeding as alluded to by the Defense Minister while the spate of banditry in Nigeria North-West is increasingly assuming a worrisome dimension. Right before the watchful eyes of the Nigerian security operatives, these criminals became bolder because the government rather than confronting them was dilly-dallying on the approach, either kinetic or non-kinetic. Or perhaps, being children of the acclaimed owners of Nigeria, the security operatives would rather spare the rod and spoil the child than incur any wrath of the later. The Nigeria security operatives are noted for swiftness and precision while tackling criminality in place like Benue, South-South and South- Eastern part of the Country.
Kidnapping and abductions for ransom is not new in Nigeria but the new dimension to it in the Nigeria North portend grave danger to the future of the Nigerian child and this is a complete contrast to the theme of this year Day of the African Child. We have previously witnessed many kidnappings for ransom prior to the infamous mass abduction of Chibok school girls in Borno State in 2014, after which, the Dapchi abduction. Over one hundred of the Chibok girls are still in captivity while that of Dapchi was in February, 2018 and the lone Dabchi girl left behind during the released of her colleagues appeared to have escaped the memory of every one including the authorities but I bet you that the scars are still fresh on the parent’s mind. Subsequently, Kankara in Katsina followed, then Kagara in Niger State, that of Jengebe in Zamfara State took place. In Kaduna State, we have witnessed mass abduction in College of Forestry and Mechanization, Greenfield University and recently, the Nuhu Bamali Polytechnic. Recently, it is the pupils of Salihu Tanko Islamic school in Niger state that over One Hundred and Thirty-six of them were abducted and as reported, about a hundred and eight are girl child. Unfortunately, their nation is beginning to forget them like the others and if so, of what used was our marking of the Day of the African Child? For those children abandoned by the Nigerian state in captivity, their parents must have to look for a way and means to secure their release. Tell me how this child will one day want to die for his/her country tomorrow, considering the trauma they would have to endures in life. As questions are being asks, news filtered in about the abduction of an unspecified number of student from a Federal Government College, Birnin Yauri in Kebbi State. And six days after, we are yet to ascertained the number of those abducted from the school in Kebbi state. Amidst all of these, there are hardly any concerted efforts from the Northern political elites, rather they are scheming to continually dominate the Nigeria political landscape. Emulating their South-West and South-East counterparts by creating something similar to Amotekun and Ebube-Agwu to assist the police would immensely assist. Equally, the Coalition of Northern Groups should be more concerned about the deteriorating state of security in the Nigeria North and assists in peace building rather than making inflammatory remarks that fan the ember of discord that further widen the cracks.
According to a report, one in every five out-of-school children in the World is a Nigerian. With the attendant numbers of out of school children in the country and we are deliberately giving people reasons not to allow children to go to school any longer. Closing down of Schools as a panacea will in the long run be detrimental and hurts the region badly. Nigeria as a country is in the negative on all human development indicators. After sixty years of nationhood, we have failed as a nation in all facets of human development, equally failed ourselves and are failing our children and generations yet unborn.
Over the years, the government and the political elites succeeded in using the clouts of state to keep people calm. #ENDSARS which started as a peaceful protest was suppressed by the State and they have successfully suppressed any thereafter. Presently, everyone appears to be angry thereby resulting in the worsening insecurity that seems to overwhelmed the security operatives. From all indications, people are unleashing bottled-up anger against the system. Agitations for self-determination and secessionist calls are increasingly becoming louder.
Unfortunately, and more worrisome to us as a country, the Federal government have abdicated its responsibility of protection of lives and properties to the State Governors who see and described themselves as Chief Logistic Officers. Not until the Federal and States collaborate and put in place a robust and concerted measures, the Nigerian child will not be out of harm way. One other dilemma is the issue of cows which we have elevated to national discourse. Troops going after bandits tends to be rescuing more cows than human beings while the Presidency, having tried unsuccessfully to introduced the Rural Grazing Area (RUGA) and unable to persuade the governors to key into the National Livestock Transformation Plans (NLTP), is seriously keen on tracing, identifying and recovery of cattle routes of old.
The story of the African cum Nigerian child is one that is laden with hopelessness and suffering, disease and hunger, abandonment, while he/she equally suffers all forms of molestation, child labour, sexual exploitation, child trafficking, early/forced marriages, genital mutilation, enlistment/conscription by regular and non-state actors into military operations.
Presently in Nigeria, the eleven states yet to domesticate the Child Right Act, are all Northern states which is rather not surprising. The issue of Implementation is still at its lowest ebb even in states that have domesticated it. Ratification of some of these international conventions and treaties by the Nigerian state are all done to impress the donors and the foreign entities because its effects are hardly felt at home or become of any effect.
It is time we make it a solemn pledge, that never again shall we allowed our children taking and if we cannot protect them, we shall not abandon them. If we failed the remaining Chibok girls, the lone Dapchi girl and many others in abductors dens, the pupils of Salihu Tanko Islamic School must not be abandoned.
LET US JOIN OUR HANDS TO PROTECT THE NIGERIAN CHILD
Com. Msigekii Nwi-Aera Nacy writes from Abuja