The 14th of April has become a day that the failure of leadership and governance in Nigeria led to the disappearance of 276 students of Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok in Borno State. Today is exactly 731 days or two years since Boko Haram terrorists walked into the school in the dead of the night and took away final year students waiting to complete their final exams.

Prior to this mass abduction, which eventually turned momentous because of the international furore it created, thousands of Nigerians had been abducted, killed or maimed, with communities razed and surviving inhabitants turned into internally-displaced persons in far away towns. The Chibok girls’ abduction came barely three weeks after the February 26th 2014 massacre of 59 students of Federal Government College, Buni Yadi in Yobe State.

The interest shown in the rescue of the girls by America’s First Lady, Michelle Obama and Pakistani teen activist, Malala Yousafzai, triggered off the historic #Bringback Our Girls (BBOG) protest around the world, which was also spearheaded in Nigeria by activists, Dr Oby Ezekwesili and Miss Hadiza Bala Usman.

Though 51 of the girls managed to escape through their own efforts, the remaining 219 girls have remained unaccounted for though the Federal Government sometimes claims they know where the girls are held, as human shields.

The abduction of the girls by Boko Haram went a long way in prolonging the conflict, as both the former President Goodluck Jonathan regime and  its successor led by President Muhammadu Buhari, had to proceed with caution in the war against the terrorists. Jonathan’s inability to defeat the Islamist terrorists and rescue the girls also contributed much to his loss of the 2015 presidential election. Buhari, on assuming office, vowed that his defeat of the Jihadists would not be complete until he sets the girls free.

Two years on, and with the military on the verge of winning the war on terror, hope appears to have dimmed for the rescue of the girls. In fact, the #Bringback Our Girls campaigners appear to have lost heart, especially since their founder, Hadiza, was appointed as the Chief of Staff to Governor Nasir El Rufai of Kaduna State.

Apart from the boasts of Abubakar Shekau, Boko Haram’s leader that he had “sold” or married off the girls, it is speculated that some of them may have been radicalised to become suicide bombers while others might have become mothers and victims of serial rape.

We call on the Federal Government to quickly rout Boko Haram and rescue any of these girls who may still be alive, for total rehabilitation. We hope lessons have been learnt, and that steps will be taken to make our schools safer.

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