It is over two weeks since armed men from the dreaded terrorist sect, Boko Haram, stole a march of the lives of our children on April 14, 2014. Two hundred and thirty four of them were abducted from Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok at night and hurled away into the infamous sambisa forest in Borno, where they are presently being used as sex slaves and human shields. Nearly all of the girls have remained faceless and nameless while the government is busy in a blame game with it’s perceived opponents. There exact number had even been a puzzle until days ago.
It is easy to shed tears and march on the government and demand their release. That is the best a conscientious person can do. But in the dead of night, when all about you is still and empty, it is unbearable to even imagine the pain and fear and abuse and humiliation that these girls are going through every day they are in that forest. To make matters worse, our government (yes, we still have one, no matter how inept it is) has not found it worthy to keep Nigerians updated on their plans to free these girls. The best we’ve got was a boogie-woogie President dancing his life away in Kano on the very day these girls were abducted and a Nigerian army relying on rumours rather than intelligence to falsely claim that the girls had been released.
There is no wondering how precarious life in Nigeria already is. Our security system is so much distracted with the dreariest of things that security intelligence is limited to forced confessions by unlucky victims of our law enforcement officers. We not only lack the will to tackle a growing security menace in our society but also lack the capacity to win this war. This is a government we have known for long to lack any sense of priority; a government whose modus operandi is to be outlandish only on the silliest of things. We have never been so insecure within our own borders as we are today and the security of the Nigerian people has never been the priority of this Jonathan administration. If it was, it would have done something tangible to curtail the activities of this murderous group. Instead, we are aware that the government is busy apportioning a greater share of our national budget to frivolous issues. In 2014 for instance, Nigeria will spend more money (N58 billion or US$357.3 million) on militants in the Niger Delta than all of our police, army, navy and air force combined will spend (N34.2 billion) on capital expenditure. The army’s position is worrisome, especially in the face of threats by Boko Haram and other insurgents. This crazy government has only budgeted N4.2 billion (US$25.8 million) for the capital expenditures of the Nigerian army this year. Pray, was this amount apportioned for the purchase of Walky-talkies or what? In comparison, only this past year, the government disclosed that it made a capital call of $100 million for a baseless Centenary city project, which is almost 4 times the amount allocated for the capital expenditure of our army. This madness has to end sometime.
Today, the reality of this has come to haunt us such that armed men, in a section of the country already declared to be in a state of emergency, can have free road access to herd two hundred and thirty four school girls in several trucks and motorbikes into the forest and vanish without a trace! This shouldn’t be happening in 21st century Nigeria but it is. “Disgust”, doesn’t quite describe the emotions now.
If not for the courageous efforts of many in the blogosphere and other online activists, the government would have been content to simply let the girls vanish. Up till today, no official word has been made to the families or indeed, to Nigerians on rescue efforts for these girls. The best we have are hearsays. It was only today, two weeks since this ordeal began that the senate is now raising a committee to liaise with the president on the matter. Political groups are politicizing this abduction when the lives of our young girls are in harm’s way. We have to be clear that there is a level of disconnect between our national leaders and the rest of us that is stunning at best. Perhaps, it is time to bring them down to reality.
Across the country today, online activist movements are forcing the hands of the government to act. They have stolen our commonwealth, laid our security infrastructure bare and are now running from pillar to post looking for answers. Yet, the only answers we want from them are actions to find those girls and return them to their families safely. There will be no rhetoric; just action.
Tomorrow, on Labour Day, I will be marching with my fellows to demand action from the federal government for the safe return of these girls. I will hope that every able bodied Nigerian joins us at CMS Lagos to give life to this demand. Our general disinterest on the happenings in this country can no longer hold. This Chibok abduction must never happen again