Opinion

#ChibokGirls — Long Forgotten?

By Prince Charles Dickson PhD

All idiots are morons, but not all morons are idiots

On the night of 14–15 April 2014, 276 mostly Christian female students aged from 16 to 18 were kidnapped by the Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram from the Government Girls Secondary School at the sleepy town of Chibok in Borno State, Nigeria

Till date Chibok itself has witnessed almost a dozen and more attacks, Chibok since Chibok has seen almost one attack per year, per village after that incident, whether it is Kwarangullum, Piyemi, Kauitkari, Pemi, villages, it is tales of woes and neglect.

Eight years and counting 110 of them are still missing and more than half that ML number will never be found. And in this timeline over 1500 children according to Amnesty have been abducted, and UNICEF figures state over 1million children afraid to go back to school as a result of violence.

The Chibok girls have now become a symbol of the nation and her wayward ways. Chibok, a community discussed as an ethnic, faith based, party based, politics laced, hate coloured discussion, it symbolizes everything that we stand for in many ways.

Chibok has no electricity, no good roads, health is on leave of absence; the only bank for a long time was simply an agency. Chibok had only that secondary school. Chibok is Nigeria, and Nigeria is Chibok.

I have done a sizable amount of work on not just Boko Haram but also the Chibok girls, killings, abductions and Nigeria’s conflict torn Northwest region. I have visited Chibok four times, I have spoken to a few of the girls that were released, spoke to one that escaped, I have spoken with several of the parents, and that includes a few that are now dead.

For the purpose of this admonition let me quickly share what I would like to call some quick facts of the matter as it is and reminders. I do not expect it to go down well with many, but truth be told, what’s the essence of an opinion if it is tailored to go down with everyone?

Some of those quick facts, include but not limited to the following–Those girls were indeed abducted from the Government Secondary School in Chibok, and that the figures are conflicting, it is even safe to conclude that no one knows the exact number of girls abducted not even the government, even Boko Haram has lost count of their damage. Years of pressure, there is a semblance of a list of Missing Persons but it’s not even accessible and very conflicting.

Before Chibok, Boko Haram had established a tradition of abducting girls and women, for countless reasons, the authorities were quiet, the media reported a few it could, and let me tell us many parents equally kept quiet and took it all in their stride.

This writer had interviewed several girls and women who were victims; they escaped one way or the other.

I equally know that for a fact many believe that Mr. Buhari and the ‘North’ however defined was and is Boko Haram, and that with Buhari as president, the girls would have been found. And many still don’t understand the whole Dapchi Episode and Leah that was left behind.

It certainly is not a Peoples Democratic Party PDP or All Peoples Congress APC stratagem and now with Patience Jonathan almost forgotten for that popular “Derris God” rant, what will only be remembered of her hubby, is his failure as charge de affaire of government when it happened.

While late Abacha is credited to have propounded that theory of “if killings go on for so, so and so time, the government knows about it, or are behind it.”

Recall the drama of what I call the international week of Boko haram—the week where the United States, UK, France, China, Togo, were all willing to help, and how the drones were droning. Nothing happened!

I recall the dramatic Chadian negotiation, a ballet between Modu Sherif, Idris Derby and Jonathan, the sum total of which revealed that we are not really serious as a people on matters that we should be serious. And that many of our tales of nationhood are Chibok like…

Cruel fact is that several hundreds of girls that are victims of this terrible group have paid the ultimate price, a few have escaped with almost irreparable damage, others have become part of them, and we have not done much.

It is equally a fact that one of the many reasons that Boko Haram may continue for a while is because many still do not know what the group is all about, does it have an ideology, what really is it about…a CIA conspiracy or a thing about poverty, how is it connected to ISWAP, are they same and one with the current bandits and terror camps of abductors that have gradually filtered in numbers into other parts of the north. How about their funding, communication and many such questions?

I also know that based on what is out there, many experts on the subject matter are foreigners and one wonders, but Salkida, and a few who by mention of our names do more harm than good. I do not always believe former Olusegun Obasanjo, but I agree with him when he asserts, “many, most, half of these girls will never come back…” That is a fact! A sizable number have passed on, sadly so! And yes, did I add Salkida also affirmed, and I concur too. But the good Lord  bless those of us that have remained dedicated to the cause–true men and women!

The Chibok parents continue grieving and mourning,with irreparable bewilderment and pain, as they do not know the exact situation of their wards. There may never be any closure, and that fact is gruesomely scary.

Eight years we have lost men and officers, more villagers and villages have been killed and taken, loads of propaganda, half-truths, misinformation and sheer falsehoods, fight between now opposition PDP, and governing APC, even the Airforce has accused the Army of taking their shine. The army has had a mutinous situation, local media vs. foreign media, and Christians/Muslims. But the fact is that we do not have the Chibok girls.

The Boko Haram group in all their splinters, continue making all sorts of demands, releasing videos, and creating more confusion, but the fact is that some girls just disappeared. They were abducted because our institutions are not working the way it should, the girls’ will/may not be found because we are not sincere people, and because many of them are dead, and because we are largely and easily divided by our selfish motives.

This administration would have spent eight years unable to fulfil this promise of safety, and security, simply blaming everyone but themselves, assuring themselves while no one is safe, and it would be symptomatic of who we are as a people. The Chibok saga will continue to remind us of who we really are, till we are ready, like Leah and our baby failed constructs, we will remain hunted and haunted for failing these girls till we hear the real story, the true story—only time will tell.

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Prince Charles Dickson PhD, Team Lead, The Tattaaunawa Roundtable Initiative (TRICentre)

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