The Failure Of A People By Hannatu Musawa
The tragedies of April 14 — the dastardly Nyanya bombing that took the lives of over 75 innocent Nigerians who were going about their daily activities in the early hours of the morning and the abduction of 234 teenage girls from their secondary school in Chibok, Borno State – are enough to spark a bitter war. It is with great anguish and heavyheartedness that I write this. As a parent, a mother, a child, a Nigerian, a human, I find it difficult to not feel a profound sense of responsibility in voicing out my melancholy and distress.
This has got to be a completely new low for a nation fiercely battling to get one breath of air. When I remember the faces of the parents of those little girls, there is not one bone in my body that is not ashamed to call myself a Nigerian today! Why should I sit here in Nigeria and be bombarded by the American disgust with the racist views of an American immigrant via the world media just because it is important to the history and evolution of America, and not tell America that my own children have just been kidnapped, allegedly violated in the most deplorable manner via the same media? If there is one incident that should have united us with a single voice, it’s the tragedy of the Chibok girls. What have we done so far to tell the world that the Chibok tragedy is not acceptable?
We speak about this being the government’s responsibility. There is no doubt that it is the responsibility of government. But it goes beyond that; it is my responsibility too. In saner climes which have not abandoned their conscience, all hands would be on deck, regardless of government inefficiency and security agencies’ ineptitude, for a concerted effort in ensuring that they pressurize those at the helm of affairs who are responsible for bringing back our girls safely, and also making uncomfortable people whose comfort have so far not been disturbed by the tragedy of the Chibok girls. Was that not what we did when the issue of the fuel subsidy reared its head? We stood as one and told the government what we were willing to accept and what we would not accept. Is the increase of fuel subsidy more important than the safety of our children now? During the 2011 “Occupy Nigeria” protest, irrespective of party affiliation, and religious and ethnic differences, the government was practically shut down and was forced to review the demands of Nigerians. We all stood with one voice, simultaneously replicating such protests nationwide. Why haven’t we as a people demonstrated and replicated such unity, cohesiveness and patriotism in this instance?
There is not one of us, not one, that is not someone’s parent or someone’s child. But since the April 14 incident, the majority of us have been going about our normal daily activities, lamenting about the issue and then going about our daily businesses. There has, thus far, not been enough public outcries over the tragedy of the Chibok girls. At the very worst, a concerted effort would have compelled the government to take the necessary measures in ensuring they bring back our girls alive.
The tragedy in Chibok is not a northeast affair; it is certainly a Nigerian tragedy that should concern every Nigerian, parent or child. Where is the voice of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN)? One would expect that they should ordinarily be vociferous in this instance as they have always retrospectively been during terrorist acts. Where are the voices of Muslim rights groups? We call ourselves righteous, but where is our voice when it really needs to be heard? Is it only when Muslim is stereotyped that they only lend their voices? Why the silence and pretence that there is not an issue that needs to urgently be addressed amongst us?
Where are the women rights groups? Is it only when top female public officials are to be probed for corrupt practices that they lend their voices in crying foul and playing the gender card? Where are the voices of women groups in the north? Is it only in cases such as the banning of hijabs in public schools in Lagos that they muster or elicit public outcry?
Where is the voice of the National Association of Nigerian Students? Are our girls in Chibok not also Nigerian students?
Where are the voices of the ASUU and its sister body ASUP? Should they be concerned only with “saving the university system” and increments of their remunerations? Where are the myriad of civil society/pressure groups across the length and breadth of the country? Are they not supposed to be engaging and compelling the government on a regular basis in ensuring that they resolutely bring back our girls safely?
Where is the voice of our regional elders? Is it only on matters concerning resource control that they are interested in? Where is the voice of the National Assembly? A special round-the-clock committee should have been set up solely for our missing girls, liaising with the executive and security outfits, vociferously championing and canvassing the safe return of our missing girls.
Where is the voice of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC)? Is it only when it involves the increment in petrol price or subsidy removal that they become more active and activists?
Where are the voices of the columnists of the various media houses we have in the country? Where is the voice of our traditional rulers? Where are the voices of the plethora of NGOs scattered across the country? Where are the voices of Nigerians in the Diaspora? These are voices needed now more than ever before. There must be a concerted and unending effort to safely bring back our girls. There needs to be a synchronized and simultaneous peaceful protest nationwide, demanding prompt action in bringing back our girls safely.
As we continue to exist, we must all remember that these abducted girls could be any of our daughters. She could be your sister, your niece, your cousin or your grand-daughter. She could be a distant relative of yours or a friend of your child. Any one of us could be undergoing the pains and sorrow actual parents and guardians of the Chibok girls are going through right now.
Now if you have done nothing, look to your conscience and earnestly ask yourself why you have not attempted to be, or been, involved in a collective cohesive nationwide effort and public outcry for the safe rescue and return of these girls in even the smallest way.
A conscientious nation would involve a committed citizenry — every man, woman, and child, every religious and traditional ruler, political parties and politicians, civil servants, professionals and entrepreneurs, religious institutions, civil society groups, nongovernmental organizations, elder statesmen and former leaders — in a vociferous concerted effort, regardless of religious or ethnic differences and political party affiliation, compelling and demanding that the government and our security apparatus should do all it takes to bring safely back home our girls.
Even as I pray for the return of our girls and I offer my voice, my pen and myself in any way possible for this cause, I bow myself in shame and admit that I have failed those little girls and their parents… And so have you!
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