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Opinion: Jonathan And The BringBackOurGirls Protests

By Odimegwu Onwumere

The BringBackOurGirls protest is trading on another path, out of the call to free the abducted Chibok girls. Whoever that coined that word, a keen observer would note that some persons want to pull the government President Goodluck Jonathan down with these protests, as if the girls are being held by the government and, they must be released.

As the world was meant to understand, the girls are with insurgents who neither hear nor understand the language of protest, but use abduction, rape as weapons and spoils of war. So, it is crassness all the protests in this regard, (even though that I have great empathy for all the victims of the insurrection by Boko Haram).

The protests are done knowingly or unknowingly to spite Jonathan. And if he doesn’t see them as beyond protests, they might heat up the country and set anarchy in, hence revolution. The abducted girls are neither with Jonathan nor with the government. People should stop hiding in shadows, kick-starting revolution quietly. These protests are not like picking the gun to put the gun down.

Few days back, the premeditated slogan – BringBackOurGirls – has changed to FreeTheGirls, ReleaseOurGirls and what have they. My position was that whoever that was bent on using the BringBackOurGirls in a protest should go to the Sambisa Forest (if such forest exists in Maiduguri owing to the dry land in the north) where the girls were allegedly kept by the notorious Islamic terrorists and protest.

But I hope ‘Sambissa Game’ has not turned to Sambisa Forest? Do we have Yankari Forest? Although, many people believed to be the parents of the abducted girls had at the early stage of the abduction since April 14 reportedly went to search for the girls in the much touted dreaded forest without any slogan or song attached to their movement. They barely got to the base of the goons when they were, according to accounts, told by a herdsman to go back, because they were close to the warren of the gangsters and they might be killed and their children also killed.

In that regard, the world was told that the searchers went back somber. In addition, let me make it clear for the benefit of doubt that I’m not pro-Jonathan or anti-Jonathan. I’m just a critic, who is not commenting like the opposition political parties that their always aim is to bring the ruling government down in order to take over. This phenomenon is although, the world over. I want to say that Jonathan has handled the abduction saga very carefully, not rising to too many words at the first stage, which was the case of the Nigerian Army.

 Remember that the Army was reportedly said that the abducted girls had been freed. And when they found the information to be false, they quickly retracted their initial stance. But before this was done, the whole world was of the certainty that the statement by the Army was true. When they retracted their statement, the world looked at the Nigerian Army with one eye closed.

That was how Jonathan could have been ridiculed if he had been quick to comment (as many people were wont to saying that the president was showing unconcern attitude to the whole issue), because the principal of the school and the Borno State Government – the place of the incident, were saying different things at the same time, contradicting theirselves. It was not possible to know who to believe his or her statement.

In this regard, Jonathan should be appraised for not joining words loquaciously that could have turned out to be falsehood. Imagine mendacity coming from a president! He should be commended for sending security officials to about 250 places in search of the girls, where planes and other security accessories were said to have been used in the search.

While Jonathan has intensified effort to put to an end the nuisance called Boko Haram by inviting the international community for help, let Nigerians learn how to spread truth in a matter, every matter and, should stop spreading Jonathan in widening circles, citing the masses against him and his leadership. In earnest, the man has not done badly in many areas even though that I know that the country is today said to be the richest in Africa, without a commensuration of the riches in the lives of the citizens. (Think about this before you respond!).

It would add to the growth of the country that everyone aspires for if people begin to learn new truth each day to help drench the tensions that are being created with and by falsehood in the country. Nigerians and Nigeria cannot improve while at the same time suffering the leadership of their country with claptrap. The liberty of all should be the yearning and aspiration of all. It wouldn’t be good telling and repeating stories in the country without committing error to definition.

I think we should pause and ponder over the statement credited to John F. Kennedy in the following words: What do our opponents mean when they apply to us the label Liberal? If by Liberal they mean, as they want people to believe, someone who is soft in his policies abroad, who are against local government, and who is unconcerned with the taxpayer’s dollar, then… we are not that kind of Liberal.

Kennedy continues: But if by a Liberal they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people — their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties — someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a Liberal, then I’m proud to say I’m a Liberal.

We can only be happy as Nigerians when we make each and everyone happy, with our critiques of the leadership being constructive, not destructive, just as I can perceive the later in the BringBackOurGirls protests.


Odimegwu Onwumere, a Poet/Writer, writes from Rivers State.

Tel: +2348032552855

Email: [email protected]


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