Chibok Girls: Mai-Gaskiya Living Up To His Name By Chukwudi Enekwechi
Posted On Oct 25, 2016
With the recent release of 21 Chibok girls by the Boko Haram insurgents, President Muhammadu Buhari has lived up to his popular alias ‘Mai-Gaskiya’ which is translated to mean, “someone who keeps his words”. In the entire Northern Nigeria, Mr President is synonymous with the nick name, and across the country he is also acknowledged as a man of fidelity. Most Nigerians have implicit faith in President Buhari as a man of honour and integrity. What this translates into is that though reticent, he keeps his promises.
During the 2015 presidential campaigns, it was obvious that President Buhari was flabbergasted that some 219 school girls were kidnapped under the watch of the previous administration and we still carried on as if things were normal. One could easily sense how disappointed he felt about the ugly development; hence he made an irrevocable promise to rescue the girls on assumption of office.
Since May 29th, 2015 when he was sworn in, President Buhari left no one in doubt about his desire to quickly rescue the Chibok girls from the pangs of Boko Haram. He strategized behind the scenes with the Nigerian military and the result is the safe return of the twenty one of the Chibok girls and a clear possibility that the remaining will soon regain their freedom and rejoin their families.
It is needless to recount here the horrendous trauma which enveloped the nation since the abduction of the Chibok girls, yet it should matter to us that on this issue, Nigerians of different political, religious and ethnic divides were united that the act was reprehensible and regrettable.
Before President Buhari assumed office, it seemed as if we were merely scratching the surface as far as locating and rescuing these girls, as all efforts including pay-outs to would-be negotiators yielded little or no result.
Therefore, in celebrating the return of the twenty-one Chibok girls, we must reflect soberly and appreciate President Buhari’s single-minded determination, but quiet efforts towards the eventual release of twenty-one Chibok girls.
From all indications, it can be seen that while criticisms have been heaped on the government for the non-release of the girls, especially coming from the Bring Back Our Girls Group (BBOG), President Buhari was ahead of everybody, as he worked tirelessly until this particular mileage in the search and eventual release was realized to the consternation of all.
It is not surprising that Nigerians and the international community will expect quick fixes in rescuing all the Chibok girls, but matters like this are more complicated than the ordinary eye can see. It must be acknowledged that President Buhari has brought his military tactics and experience to bear in the rescue efforts, as well as in achieving the overall security goals of his administration.
In retrospect, we can easily conclude that before President Buhari’s coming to power, the security agencies were running in circles over the rescue of the girls as no meaningful clue was available. Of course, while the rigmarole lasted, the agony of the parents, relatives and most well-meaning Nigerians and foreigners knew no bounds. Perhaps it can be said that the whole world was taken aback that such reprehensible act happened in the 21st century. Our collective psyche was hurt and dehumanized, but with the release of the twenty one girls, Nigerians have a reason to cheer up and support the President in the efforts to bring back the remaining girls.
It was therefore a great relief that at a time when we least expected it, President Buhari pulled a pleasant surprise on all of us with the release of the Chibok girls. While it is hoped that the remaining girls will soon regain their freedom from Boko Haram’s captivity and we put the debacle and ugly experience behind us, there is need for the president to be given all the support he needs to weed Nigeria of the Boko Haram terrorists.
With the successful release of the 21 Chibok girls, what has to come to the fore is President Buhari’s uncommon ability to navigate through rough terrains using such negotiating skills that only him can muster, or how else should one describe the involvement of the International Red Cross and the Swiss Government as mediators? This spectacular feat has endeared the President to Nigerians from different political divides, and for once there is a unifying factor for the entire country.
As expected, the President has been receiving accolades from around the World, and the most pronounced came from the United Nations Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon, United States Government, and even some opposition elements in Nigeria.
Nigerians are equally gratified that President Buhari is desirous of bringing home the remaining girls and it is believed that the necessary machinery must have been put in place to achieve the feat.
The revelation that no ransom was paid or any Boko Haram commander exchanged for the release of the 21 girls is a sign that the Federal Government remains committed towards achieving a seamless rescue operation or negotiation as the case may be.
As a nation, we have a duty to condemn Boko Haram endangering the lives of innocent school girls, as it is not only a crime against humanity, but it negates our existence as decent human beings. There is absolutely no justification for the abduction which is in contravention of rules of engagement in armed conflicts.
Once again President Muhammadu Buhari deserves our commendation for heeding to the outcry of Nigerians for the release of the girls and leading the way in actualizing our hopes. Certainly, posterity will judge him favourably as a leader who did not go to sleep or slumbered in the face of daunting national challenges.
By Chukwudi Enekwechi, Journalist and Politician, writes from Abuja and can be reached email@example.com