700 days ago, in Nigeria, was Borno State, in Borno State was a school in Chibok, in the Chibok School, there were hundreds of girls in their dormitories. From the dormitories, over 200 girls were abducted.
The immediate response by the Goodluck Jonathan Administration was nothing short of lacking pre-emptiveness and the initial doubtful official stance. As men of power and prominence, their imperial political ambitions masqueraded over their responsibility to hit the ground running in rescuing the girls. Their imperial political ambitions masqueraded over whatever humanitarian compassion or stance left in them. Concerned Nigerians (on the ground and online) who raised the issue and questioned the government’s snail-paced approach were lampooned and waylaid by supporters of the previous administration. The attack canines threw empathy into the dustbin. Who would forget the deliberate attempt by the apparatchiks of the State Security to make sure Dr Oby Ezekwesili miss her London-bound flight to be a guest on BBC HardTalk (watch the video) with Steven Sackur on Wednesday, the 23th of July 2014 marking the 100th day of the abduction. As the incident occurred at the airport, Mrs Oby Ezekwesili was live tweeting (do search for her tweets of Tuesday, the 22nd of July 2014.) Apparently, the passengers and flight attendants decided to wait for her.
700 days after the Chibok Girls abduction; Nigerians still remember when they woke up on Monday February 29th to read in The Punch Newspaper the alarming story of Ese Oruru; taken (without her parents’ consent) by a 24 year old Yinusa (aka Yellow) to his state(Kano State) in August 2015. The foot-dragging and rigmarole by religious leaders and security officials left and still leaves much to be desired. When The Punch Newspaper broke the story, the outcry was reverberating and ricocheted from Nigeria to the West; resulting in, what should’ve been done in August 2015 was done with alacrity in March 2016. I have just one question; so the Police Force had to wait for the Emir of Kano to return from his religious voyage before they could do their job? Within that week, another sordid tale of a girl abducted and taken to Sokoto State surfaced. The same rigmarole traits found in the Ese Oruru story could be found in this too. It was during this period that varying stories of abductions of young girls were related to the media. A not so pronounced rebuttal of such acts by leaders invariably could be deduced as silence by the public but most importantly disturbing, could be seen as needed approval or consent by extremists (sexual predators and terrorists too) who, history has shown have the inability to grasp and anticipate the consequences of their actions beyond the immediate realisation of their goals. This also applies to Boko Haram, who abducted the Chibok Girls and other numerous kidnappings.
During the past 700 days, coincidentally, on the same day (Monday, the 29th of February 2016) the Ese Oruru story became public, gunmen gained access into Babington Macaulay Junior Seminary (BMJS), Ikorodu, Lagos at about 8pm. The Lagos State Government swung into action and within 6 days, the 3 girls were rescued at Adama creeks, in Imota area of Ikorodu Town with no ransom paid (to the captured kidnappers) according to the authorities. If ever the scriptwriters for the new instalment of the TV hit series (24 whose African-American lead actor would replace Kiefer Sutherland’s character; Jack Bauer) need material; the Lagos State rescue would come in handy.
Whilst writing this paragraph on the 696th day of the abduction; I thought of Peter, the Chibok young married man (19) I wrote an article on; whom I was introduced to by a friend Istifanus Yaro in 2015. Peter’s sister and two cousins are part of the Chibok Girls. I wondered if I should call him and inquire about him, his wife and son’s welfare. But my conscience pricked me (why do I only remember Peter when any hundredth day of the Chibok Girls’ abduction approaches?)
700 days after the abduction, the present administration led by President Buhari has been making military gains against Boko Haram in the North East but no regular updates about the government’s search of the Chibok Girls. . Although, Nigerians were informed the Boko Haram had been defeated “technically”, some wonder including I, why the military alliance with Saudi Arabia to fight terrorism. An alliance that, probably out of “oversight” forgot to have Iran on board. Whilst this piece is not to highlight, the Saudi-Iran age-long political and religious face-offs and their proxy fisticuffs played out in other lands, let us, leave expensive dangerous games for those who have the wherewithal and monstrous cash to dabble into expensive dangerous games.
700 days after the abduction; I believe and I know the government has the moral, ethical and political responsibility to get to the end and put a closure on the Chibok Girls’ abduction. The girls could not have disappeared into thin air without any trace. They are somewhere surely. As a bargaining chip? Who knows but the government must get to the bottom of it.
700 days ago, in Nigeria was Aso Rock, in Aso Rock Villa was an office, in the office was a desk, and seated at the desk was President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. In the coming days, his team dilly-dallied and questioned the veracity of the abduction, invariably losing crucial time in tracking down the trail of the abductors. In simple words, injustice was prolonged, injustice was magnified. And the deafening silence was in actual fact, violence.
700 days after the abduction of the Chibok Girls, intertwined with the Ese Oruru case and other girl-child abductions and under-aged marriages, it is time Nigeria and each state have a sexual offenders’ alert list and I believe chemical castration for offenders (paedophiles and culprits of under-aged marriages) as a government sanctioned deterrent, the Senate should look into. We can no longer deny the fact that there are paedophiles and sexually demented minds; who hide behind whatever guise and who prey and prow the nooks and crannies in Nigeria. And one sits pretty in that publicly reclusive chamber.
On Sunday, the 699th day of the Chibok Girls’ abduction, I called Peter at 21.24pm. When I mentioned I met him last year and we discussed Chibok, he said he was busy and would call me later (which I knew he would not do). So, I said, I was with you last year and inquired about his family and son with a biblical name. He was forthcoming and responded that his family was during fine.
700 days later, the current administration of President Buhari must continuously reassure Nigerians and the parents of the Chibok Girls that his administration would get to the bottom of this. Failure to do so, isnt an option. For in the President’s campaign, he promised to do so.
Photo Credit: Gordon Brown’s Office