The missing of 276 Chibok girls was one of the leading high-points laced around the campaign of the All Progressives Congress during the run up to the 2015 elections. The previous administration of Goodluck Jonathan was taunted and harangued for caring less and not doing much about the girls. As much as fiddling like Nero when Rome was on fire was ascribed to the government at that time. The campaign got the desired nod and attention of the local and international communities as it became the most trending hash-tag on the internet. Various rallies were held or rather sponsored in and around the world to drum up support for the release of the captives. The Unity Fountain, Abuja, became a buzzing hob and rendezvous of both local and international advocates of the group. It was a local village square and a sit-out of some sorts for the fans and proponents of the group with the media on standby to beam events live to the world. The missing of the Chibok girls was an albatross for political haughtiness and one of the haunting factors which reversed the role of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and consigned it to the leading opposition party today.
The reassuring words of the then president-elect, Muhammadu Buhari, on the first anniversary of the kidnap of the Chibok girls came at the auspicious time of hopelessness. “I want to assure all of them, and particularly the parents, that when my new administration takes office at the end of May, we will do everything we can to defeat Boko Haram. We will act differently from the government we replace: we hear the anguish of our citizens and intend to respond accordingly.” Moreover, a glimpse of hope came with the president’s inaugural speech: “The most immediate is Boko Haram’s insurgency … but we cannot claim to have defeated Boko Haram without rescuing the Chibok girls and other innocent persons held hostage by insurgents. This government will do all it can to rescue them alive.” However, the nation was shocked by the president’s position at the maiden edition of the Presidential Media chart where he conceded to not having a clue to the whereabouts of the girls. “There is no such intelligence report of where those girls are physically and in what condition they are in; but what we believe in from our intelligence is that they keep shifting them around so that they are not taken by surprise until the girls are freed, and they are not being kept in one place,” the president said. Security of lives and properties of citizens is the responsibility of government and the president’s position was an indictment on his government.
More than 870 days after the abduction, great in-roads at hitting the target have failed. Could it be that the hullabaloo about the missing girls is a political game? Several days of renewed peaceful demonstration launched by the BBOG to as usual press for the release of the girls have unsettled the government of the day which has also become intolerable and complacent with an issue its party once held very dear. The group has been denied access to the Villa to meet with the president. Various attempts to stop them have equally failed, leading to the announcement of ban on public protest in Abuja by the FCT Police Command. The Inspector General of Police has also added a tonic to the issue by announcing gleefully that the BBOG constitutes threat to public peace and order. How, if one may ask? This is democracy and the people’s rights to expression and peaceful assembly as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution as amended cannot be taken away from the people by any agency of government. The IG of Police Ibrahim Idris should get himself educated on democratic rules and must be told in clear terms that in his utterances and action of the FCT Police Command lie the potent threat to peace and order. In another development, one pro-Buhari group staged a counter protest against the BBOG. Their leader, Idris King, described the kidnapping of the Chibok girls as a “scam. We are for peace. Buhari is a man of peace. President Buhari’s administration was doing everything to rescue the girls alive.” Does it mean that the abducted girls should remain in perpetual captivity or what? The seeming conspiracy surrounding the said abduction of the Chibok girls seems to be unfolding before our very eyes. Could it be that the manufacturers of this “scam” chose to continue to play ostrich until time and tide erase the issue of the girls from our memories?
What piqued one most was that a political party which rose to stardom and success through the nightmare of Chibok community has suddenly become antagonistic and indifferent. The community once solidly behind the BBOG is divided. One community leader has spoken against the way and manner the group now goes about the quest for the release of the girls. Yakubu Nkeki who lives in Chibok said the parents of the abducted girls held a meeting in Chibok last week and there they decided that they would not attend the protest. “All we want is our missing daughters and we are willing to work with anybody who will help us find our daughters.” She explained that the parents came to the decision because they did not want to provoke the government which is in the best position to help them find their missing daughters.
The parents are concerned that the unpleasant experience they had during their last protest march in Abuja, when angry comments made by some of the activists who accompanied them to see the president irritated President Buhari to the point where he spoke sharply and dropped his microphone, could occur again if they joined the match.
The BBOG is a classic example of an emerging anti-climax. Mrs. Obiageliaku Ezekwesili should kindly return home to take care of her husband. As a matter of fact, she should use her tongue to count her teeth. Her assignment ended when the elections were lost and won, though without her inkling. She has become a burden too weighty to bear, thus must be thrown overboard. It is frustrating for one to be encouraged to trudge on by those one begun a race with. Her co-founder, Hadiza Bala Usman was handsomely rewarded recently with a plum job of the managing director of the Nigerian Ports Authority. Could this be the rationale behind this renewed vigour in the camp of the BBOG campaign? Before then we need to interrogate certain factors surrounding the abduction of the girls. First, was it possible to have about 276 girls taking WAEC in a remote and small community like Chibok in a region where school enrolment of the girl-child is low? Second, how could Boko Haram have evacuated 276 girls when at that time curfew was imposed on Chibok community and indeed entire Borno State? Third, why did Borno State government ignore the letter by WAEC warning that exams should not take place in Chibok? How conceivable was it for a cruel group to have carelessly allowed many of the unarmed, bruised, possibly tortured and subjugated girls to escape without firing them? Honest answers to these questions lead us to the discovery of the missing treasures. Meanwhile, if BBOG is denied the right to peaceful assembly for presently “constituting threat to peace and public order,” we should all accept the fact that no kidnap ever took place in Chibok in the first place.
Eze, a Media and Communications Specialist, is the publisher of thenewinsightng.blogspot.com. He wrote via [email protected]