Will The Chibok Girls Ever Return? By Obayomi Abiola Benjamin
“The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only object of good government” – (Thomas Jefferson)
In case the rest of the World has forgotten and moved on, Nigerians and the families of the Chibok girls that were kidnapped almost two years ago by Boko haram have not. On the night of 14-15 April 2014, some 276 female students were kidnapped in their dormitories in the town of Chibok in Borno State, Nigeria in the course of writing their final secondary school exams. 57 of them managed to escape from their captors and 219 of them are yet to be found. Boko haram claimed responsibility, and has been associated with kidnapping school girls and women, whom it believes should not be educated, and use them as cooks and sex slaves. Since these innocent school girls kidnap; the pains and anguish their families has had to face and still facing cannot be quantified. Two things made the Chibok girls kidnapping very complicated.
First is the failure of the government of the day to move into action immediately the incident was reported, and the second is the failure of the Nigerian army under President Jonathan.
It took two whole weeks for the Presidency under Jonathan to set up a committee to verify the authenticity of the report and look into the matter. Two weeks! One would be tempted to ask, what the government was doing since the day one the incident was first reported. Is it that the president was hoping that those girls were not missing or whether it was some cheap propaganda from the opposition? Two weeks is more than enough for an abductor to do whatever he/she wants with his/her abductee. This shows nothing but cluelessness on the part of President Goodluck Jonathan. Also, Amnesty International report indicted Nigeria’s military that it had an advance warning of the raid by Boko haram militants. Despite the warning, reinforcements were not sent to help protect the town in the remote area, which was attacked at around midnight. Amnesty’s Africa Director Netsanet Belay said it amounted to a “gross dereliction of Nigeria’s duty to protect civilians”.
Two years on, the hope that the kidnapped Chibok girls would return grows slimmer and appears dimmer (please pardon my pessimism). What possible explanation can Nigerian government give for failing to bring these girls back since their abduction? Politicing the issue of the kidnapped immediately it took place by the Jonathan administration was no doubt one of the lowest moments of that failed, corrupt, clueless and wreckless government. No wonder Nigerians stood against his re-election bid by voting him out in 2015. Since the new administration came on board, considerable progress had been made in wiping out boko haram and degrading their capabilities from further attacks in the North. Only a blind individual and an enemy of this nation would submit that President Muhammadu Buhari and his team has done poorly in handling the issue of insurgency in the North-east. But nothing much has been said about the issue of the kidnapped girls.
Whether the Chibok girls would ever return is a difficult assertion to make. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo in a meeting recently said that anyone saying the girls will return is simply lying. He went further to express his doubt on the ability of Buhari’s led Federal Government to rescue the abducted Chibok girls and blamed Jonathan administration for failing to yield the distress call to rescue the innocent girls on the very day they were abducted. A statement like this from the likes of Obasanjo is a sure testament to the fact that those girls may never return to their parents and families.
In spite of discouraging statements like this, the #BringBackOurGirls movement continues to demand return of these girls alive. One of the conveners of the group, Waziri Bello said in a statement to VOA that she still believe the girls will be free. She believes the Federal government of Nigeria has the responsibility to rescue each and every citizen who finds himself or herself in situations like this.
While it may never be possible for all the girls to be rescued the same way they were kidnapped, it is in the opinion of this writer that they could be rescued individually through proper intelligence gathering if this administration is serious enough about their rescue. There are a number of ways through which this can be done. It will not be totally incorrect that where these girls are being held- either forcefully married off or being used as sex slaves, will not be beyond the shores of Nigeria’s neighboring countries like Cameroun, Chad and others. The Nigerian Intelligence Agency (NIA) – if there is body like that anyway, can send spies into some of these countries to go all out for these girls. Although, the process may take some time before it yields any meaningful results, but it would definitely produce one if the government is serious about it. Serious governments in the world have at some point or the other used this method of spying to sniff out criminals even from their remotest hiding place.
The government can also collaborate with foreign-based intelligence agency like the CIA in the United States and British MI6. These two agencies have been known to be very good at intelligence gathering. It is good that Muhammadu Buhari is seeking help abroad to better the lots of Nigerians and Nigeria at large. I believe it will be not be totally out of place if the President also seeks international help so that these girls can be returned to their families.it would only amount to an incomplete task if President Buhari achieves everything he is set to do for the betterment of this country, and do not rescue these girls. Enough of blaming the former President for not doing the proper thing, but what Buhari is doing right now to help secure the release of the remaining 219 of girls that are still out there is all that matters to many Nigerians right now. As a matter of fact, it is one of the many reasons a lot of Nigerians voted him into power.
At this point, the Whole World is watching Nigeria and the numerous failures of our leaders. All eyes are on this current administration of Muhammadu Buhari. The President should never forget that the care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only object of good government.
Thank you for reading.
Obayomi Abiola Benjamin