Bring Back Our Girls!

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By Denrele Animasaun

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” — Margaret Mead

Three weeks and counting and we are no closer to securing the missing girls’ safe return. Instead, there have been more hand wringing, posturing, mumblings and dribbling from the government and one unelected individual.

In the meantime, the families of the missing are undergoing a prolonged untold agony and with yet daily insults are piled to  their  agony  and pain by  some uncouth, despotic , deranged and disturbed  unofficial  and official people.

#BringBankourgirls campaign, has drawn and captured the worlds imagination and the compassionate Nigerians home and abroad are matching up and down in unison .The world has  taken notice of the  extent in the breakdown of law and  order in Nigeria.
I watched CNN, with Wole  Soyinka  who, speak so  passionately and eloquently  about  the present  tragedy in Nigeria and the prolonged menace of BH. He is right. Something should have been done so long ago instead; this government has kowtowed, pleaded and bargained with this mad and murderous group for far too long. During  that  time thousands of  lives have been  destroyed with sections  of  the  country living in  perpetual  fear and dread.

The leader of the mad and dammed, Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau has gone on record for all to see, ranting vile tirades that he did abduct the girls and now threatened to “sell” the abducted school girls. The Boko Haram leader said of the Chibok kidnapping. “I abducted your girls,” he taunted with a chilling smile. “There is a market for selling humans. Allah says I should sell. He commands me to sell.”

The ease with which this monster makes his audacious pronouncements is horrific and alarming that such rag tag army have held the people of Nigeria for so long to ransom. The Chairman of the forum and Governor of Niger, Dr Babangida Aliyu, spoke to the U.S. officials that the April 14 abduction happened in a part of the country “where up till today we still beg parents to bring their children to school”.

One of the mothers of the missing Chibok school girls wipes her tears as she cries during a rally by civil society groups pressing for the release of the girls in Abuja on May 6, 2014, ahead of World Economic Forum. Members of civil society groups marched through the streets of Abuja and to the Nigerian defence headquarters. AFP

One of the mothers of the missing Chibok school girls wipes her tears as she cries during a rally by civil society groups pressing for the release of the girls in Abuja on May 6, 2014 . AFP

He made a valid point that ‘`for the abduction to happen in a school environment means that if we do not do anything, we will be taken fifty years back, because many parents would be discouraged to send their children to school. This is the sad fact.

Instead, education has always been the key to riding society of intolerance and ignorance and this government has failed on many levels.  They have diced with peoples’ lives and have played Russian roulette with the lives of our people. They have  done so for so long and they  should be thoroughly  ashamed  of  themselves.  But, they have no conscience and know no shame.

Where are our armed forces? And where is the chief of armed forces? Where are the task forces and advance planning? Juno   went  on air to say  that his  government  is working hard to  release the girls  and that  he was  happy and Nigerians were happy that there was no report that  the  girl  were harmed! Can someone tell Juno that these girls were forcefully, and aggressively abducted by murdering maunders, these girls did not go willingly. I cannot begin to fathom the rationale of this man and motley crew. This is case of the blind leading the blind. His other half fared no better. She had accused everyone including the parent of the missing girls, of trying to destroy her husband’s rule. Can someone  tell  this woman to put  a cork  in it and that she  has  no mandate to rule and beside ,an elected official  can  be  unelected and  removed with due  process. They  have  shown  that they cannot  and do  not  know what to do  and all they are  concerned about  is saving their own  skin.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron told the British Parliament that the kidnapping was “an act of pure evil”. He pointed out that people in Nigeria are angry at the government’s response. “There are extreme Islamists around our world who are against education, against progress, against equality and we must fight them and take them on wherever they are. They  say  that  those  the gods wish  to  destroy they, first  make  mad. We are watching the unraveling of this in real time.

We are watching a runaway train and we cannot remain silent, not while these young girls are missing. Nigeria is not working and we know it and the world now knows it.

Enough said.  We would like the safe return of the girls. The world has cotton on that; we as Nigerians must garner this support and pressure this government to do something and something quickly. If anything, the abduction of these young girls serves as a catalyst to call to action for all well-meaning Nigerians.

Now that the government has agreed to receive help from varying quarters. United States, Britain, China and a host of other nations have stepped up to assist. Britain is sending a small team of advisers – possibly including some military officers – to help with planning and coordination. However, they will not take part in operations on the ground.
The US is flying out a group including experts in intelligence, law enforcement and hostage negotiations, with fewer than 10 military troops going. The West has offered help to the Nigerian authorities; the US in the form of specialist negotiators, police and military advice, while the UK already has training teams on the ground and counter-terrorist officers from Mi6 and Special Forces.

The  U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr James Entwistle, had later told reporters that he held discussions earlier on Wednesday afternoon with some Nigeria security officials on what the “U.S. team might look like”.  Although  he is  unable to  share the details,  he had said that the US are putting  a team  together to  form what the  Nigerian  Security  officials  have  told  them. The ambassador said the team would be in Nigeria shortly and did not provide further details on the composition of the inter-agency team offered by the U.S. government.

The U.S. offer will include the creation of a “coordination cell” to provide intelligence, investigations and hostage negotiation expertise, the U.S. State Department said. The UK, France, China and the US are among the countries lending their support. We can only hope that the girls return safe and that the reign of terror of BH is consigned to the past.

I  have  scanned the  social  networks and here  are  some  notable people sharing their  support for the  missing  girls.

Michelle Obama has gone on record to publicly support the #BringBackOurGirls campaign.
Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl who survived a shooting by Taliban insurgents, has gone on record saying that the world must not stay silent over the abduction.

She told the BBC that “if we remain silent then this will spread; this will happen more and more and more”.

Maya Angelou, respected American writer and civil right activist wrote: “Each one of these girls is our daughter, our sister, our niece, our aunt and our mother. The future of Nigeria and Africa and New York and Europe and the United States etcetera, etcetera, is threatened by the robbing of these young women’s future. We must have our darlings back so that we can help them to heal from this horror”.

Former UN chief, Kofi Annan, also appealed for action. He criticized both the Nigerian government and other African nations’ reluctance to help free the girls.

Now that the government has welcomed outside help perhaps, now perhaps we can see some action. A presidential spokesman Doyin Okupe told the BBC, that the country welcomes international support to defeat Boko Haram, but defended its record. “We are even fighting a war that we have to limit and manage collateral damages – but the insurgents do not care,” he told the BBC’s Newsday programme. And “They can kill soldiers, they can kill villagers, but we cannot do that. And people must understand that, we have to fight this war within the rules of engagement that is accepted internationally.

So the Nigerian Police has placed a reward of $7m (£4.6m) and 50m Nigerian naira (£182,000) has been issued for information leading to the location of BH. A little too late.

The girls and their families and indeed, the whole world are waiting. While Nigeria is facing a tremendous challenge and it is not going be easy. We pray for the safe return of the girls. We have to speak out and with one voice #bring back our girls!

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