Time has gradually passed away as minutes, hours and days have gradually turned to weeks and months since over 200 girls were taken from their hostels while the rest of the world slept unaware of what was happening. For several weeks, the government lived in denial. There was belief in some quarters that they were not kidnapped simply because of the number of girls involved. It did not make sense to them. Few days later, information filtered in that they have been rescued. This falsehood was reported around the world in major newspapers and television stations until the principal and the parents vehemently denied that their daughters had returned. The government went on the attack. Anyone who demanded the girls be found was attacked. Some were even labelled members of the opposition. It was painful when you realise it took the President over 2 weeks to make a public statement on this issue. In various discussions I listened to, many people stubbornly said those girls were not kidnapped. It was perplexing to hear an individual like Mrs Kema Chikwe hold on to this view. Doyin Okupe and Labaran Maku took turns to make series of ridiculous comments probably feeling that attacking the public, who demanded the girls be found, was a sensible strategy to defend their employer. You wonder if their views would have been different if they had relatives who had been victims of the menace called Boko Haram. For them, this was simply another plot by the APC to discredit the ruling government. It took a recorded video by the Boko Haram sect leader with loads of the abducted girls for many to actually believe the girls were indeed in captivity. They had already made up their mind that any criticism of the current dispensation was simply the handiwork of those who were always against the government.


Chibok Girls: Still in Captivity

The abduction of those girls led to widespread campaigns, protest and demonstrations around the world. Fuelled by social media, countless tweets and updates on twitter and facebook were followed by the “BringBackOurGirls” hashtag. This predictably made the government very uncomfortable but didn’t really change their lackadaisical approach to finding a solution and getting our girls back. Foreign countries offered to help in bringing our girls back but somehow they all packed their tools one after the other and went back presumably because they had confirmed what we always knew that there were lot of hidden secrets and hence, no strong commitment on the part of Nigeria to find the girls. They didn’t want to be made to look stupid. But who could blame them?
Unfortunately for the girls, the World cup came along. Suddenly, from being bothered about bringing our girls back, we concentrated on the Nigerian national team while we waited for our customary first or second round exit from the tournament. When they were eventually knocked out, we chose another favourite team. It is no coincidence that during the month-long tournament, not much was said about them. The Chibok girls as they are known were mentioned sporadically while we continued to watch various football stars.
And just when we thought the momentum could be generated again, that tiny and scary virus entered Nigeria. Suddenly the fear of Ebola had gripped a nation. We were more concerned about how to get hand sanitizers and run from anyone we felt was sick or potentially at risk of having the virus. This was understandable considering the human and economic damage it was causing in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. We lived in fear perhaps too bothered to think about those girls. The “BringBackOurGirls” hashtag was quickly replaced by “EbolaFacts”. The disease seems to have been controlled while our girls clock over 150 days in unknown lands. This is even made worse by the fact that everyday conflicting reports come out from that troubled region about the sect making strategic gains in territory.
Brave members of the armed forces are being killed like never before. We begin to wonder if they are getting the right assistance from those at the top in terms of weapons, logistics and intelligence. The North East has become very volatile making any rescue operation very risky. And then there are the doubts and questions we have. Do we even have an idea of where those girls are considering that 5 months have passed since we last saw them? Do they feed properly? How has the sect managed to feed such large number of girls with relative ease? What is the sanitary condition like? Are those girls being used as sex slaves by their captors? What level of physical, sexual and psychological abuse have they gone through in those days? Are they being used as suicide bombers? There are certainly more questions than answers. Many may have even died from various causes.
It is disturbing to note that there seems to be a silent acceptance that the girls may never return home. They have become victims of a sad story called Nigeria, a country where the citizens have gradually come to realise that successive governments will never fight or stand up for them. Those innocent girls are being punished for their crimes. What exactly was their crime? Their sole offence was trying to get education in a region where education is not valued by everyone. They are even more unfortunate because most of their fellow citizens have come to accept mediocrity, where failing governments are constantly being defended on the basis of ethnicity and religious affiliation. This is usually with total disregard to the quality of leadership and service delivery.
We have also become detached from reality and sometimes even making a mockery of the abduction. How else can you explain or rationalize the new campaign slogan for the re-election of the incumbent President which reads boldly “BringBackOurGoodluck2015”. This clearly is a mockery of the BringBackOurGirls campaign slogan which goes to explain how insensitive the President and his support team could be. Who exactly thought it was a good slogan for a President who would score very low if security was the single most important factor in the coming elections? As we speak, the supporters of the “BringBackOurGoodluck2015” have chosen to ignore that the man they support so passionately has failed or better still has not attempted to bring back the Chibok girls home.

An insensitive and ill-advised slogan

Bring Back Mr President 2015: Creativity or Idiocy?

Finally, as the days pass by without those girls returning home, we must forget our political affiliation and hold this government responsible for their inactions. We have painfully reached that point where we see it as normal for our leaders to take us for granted because we have similar religious and geographic orientation or possibly we turn a blind eye due to financial gains we stand to make. We have to as a matter of urgency start to hold them accountable. By the time you read this, it would have been over 150 days since those girls were kidnapped. We must not sweep this under the carpet. We must stop being a group of people that forget our worries and problems. It is time to face them.