When Boko Haram released a propaganda video about abducting over 275 school girls from their school dormitory in Bornu in 2014, Nigerians and the world thought it was some practical joke. A rag-tag militia that a simple police action will checkmate. Or, so Nigerians thought.
Two years on, I guess the joke has been on Nigerians and the world.
Mr. Goodluck Jonathan, the immediate past president, despite repeated promises to return the girls safely to their parents, failed, abysmally, to fulfill these promises. And, it looks as though, it was from lack of trying.
His successor, President Mohammadu Buhari seems to have taken up the rumbustious smoke-screen his predecessor left in Aso Rock by emulating the vagueness of language deployed for communicating with Nigerians.
Talk is cheap.
Nigeria’s leaders have been talking, non-stop, since 1960. Zero action; zero leadership. We are a nation peopled by leaders and followers of inaction. Inaction, in any context, is expensive to any nation. In the case of the Chibok Girls, governmental inaction has not only been expensive, it has been damaging.
And the damage continues apace with each new dawn.
Ese Rita Oruru recently made national headlines and led to many questions and angst.
Like the Chibok Girls, Ese was abducted (the fiend that instigated the brouhaha and her abductor's supporters states elopement).
Yet, unlike the Chibok Girls, Miss Oruru was not hidden away from sight. She was seemingly groomed, brainwashed, converted from an ‘infidel’ belief with the blessings of a clan head, her abductor was known, his sometimes residence an established household and a tango of officialdom prevented her from being freed because she is a convert and cease to be a girl if a marriage has taken place? A 13 year old?
What exactly is happening in Nigeria?
The questions to be asked in Miss Oruru’s case (calling her Mrs. Yunusa Dahiru legitimizes the crass criminality) are legion: she was 13 when the domestic aide cum tricycle driver, Yunusa, took her away from Bayelsa state; he transported her, without her parent’s consent across several states’ line; Yunusa’s father knew of the crime beforehand; Yunusa’s dad was shocked yet arranged several meetings with opinion shapers; Yunusa, in tow with his Bayelsa loot, gained access to the Emir’s palace; the parents of Ese knew who had kidnapped their daughter and duly informed the police; the police knew who and where he was yet did not arrest him, and, the Inspector General (IG) of Police had to wait for the Emir’s return before apprehending a paedophile and criminal?
If the above paragraph sound a tad silly and a little too far-fetched, one might be excused for thinking it is a fictive narrative. Alas, one is wrong as its stated sequence obtained in Bayelsa and Kano states of Nigeria.
The IG waited for a civilian to issue procedural orders before acting on his constitutional duty?
If the IG waits on the temperament or otherwise of personalities, is the IG waiting for Ibrahim Shekau’s permission perhaps before the Chibok Girls are rescued?
What exactly is happening Nigeria? A little over 17, 560 hours have elapsed since the Chibok Girls were taken from their school. Malcolm Gladwell famously stated that 10,000 hours is needed for specialism in any chore. Can we presently state, therefore, that the Chibok Girls are specialists in captivity? Viewed conversely, does 17,560 hours of ineptitude not make the police specialists in failure?
News reports recently gave a clue to how girls volunteer as suicide bombers; it is not a case of Stockholm Syndrome. They volunteer in the hope that the bombs will not go off as the deprivation of their captivity is edged on a chance of escape or death! Ineptitude by all agencies has made the girls weigh the cost between privations and freedom.
Recently, an OPED piece by Fisayo Soyombo opined that Boko Haram has suffered a mortal blow that has substantially crippled their propensity to inflict maximum damage, thanks to the administration led military campaign against them. I recall wondering if Boko Haram is truly defeated or their attacks grossly under-reported.
Despite the reported surrender of 200 Boko Haram fighters, despite several others being captured, despite the strives of the Civilian JTF, despite Sambisa Forest being sacked, despite some girls escaping, Nigerians and the world are not closer to the Chibok Girls’ rescue.
No intelligence has been gleamed from the 200. No intelligence is forthcoming from the Department of States Security despite this breakthrough. No intelligence that is actionable for 732 days?
Where on Earth are the Chibok Girls?
Is there something, perhaps a script, Nigerians are missing? Has Ibrahim Shekau sold them into sexual slavery as ISIS has done with the Yazidi women and other ‘war bounties’? Given that ISIS is on the run in the Middle East and Boko Haram has aped it in the past, will there not be a snowball effect soon in religious conversions and marriages if the foothold in Libya crosses Niger and land in North-East Nigeria? Is it not time Nigeria stopped looking in and around Sambisa Forest for the safe return of the Chibok Girls? And, perhaps change tact and actions by looking into the harems of the proponents of child marriage – notable among them, senators who maliciously truncated the gender equality bill.
Children have rights. Their rights are in danger of being assaulted with psycho-babble of paedophilia with a tinge of religious indoctrination.
The Chibok Girls situation is not a creation of Boko Haram solely. Aided and abetted by a culture steeped in subjugating women and girls to a servile existence, the recent unspeakableness of the varied tomfooleries of Miss Oruru’s misadventure paints a picture too macabre to sum up without throwing up.
Nigeria is on the highway to perdition if the twin nonsenses of religious bigotry and personalities-as-institution are not removed from her daily realities! Countries that aim at growth do not have different approaches to a problem because of the personality or criminal involved.
It is a shame that Ese Rita Oruru went through the nightmare of jaundiced conversion and child marriage at 13. A bigger shame that she is rumoured pregnant. But the biggest shame today is that no one –in authority or outside- has a clue where the Chibok Girls are.
What is happening, Nigeria?