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The unravelling of #BBOG

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By Yinka Odumakin
GOD bless the soul of Senator Abraham Adesanya on the other side of eternity.There was no one who stayed around the late good old man for long that would not remember his depth of Yoruba philosophy with his wisecracks and anecdotes.


I remember this one whenever there was multitude of counsels and he suspected the motives of counsellors .He would share the story of the day a king’s horse went missing and a search party went to work in a jiffy with many of the actors desperately trying to show the king that they cared.

As the exercise was going on, a wise one leaned on the wall with his right hand on his chin, stamping his foot on the earth. He looked at the army of searchers and started labelling the formations within it.He said there were those who cared for the King and would go to any length to search for the missing horse. He identified another group as those who would pursue the horse to a never-to-be -seen-again destination. And that there were those that would outrightly kill the horse if they found it in a spot where no one would see them to report what they did. But to the king they all were a search party.

This anecdote has been ringing in my head, having watched security agencies twice in a week turning back the BringBackOurGirls group or what is left of it from accessing the presidential villa in what I am suspecting as a pre-clampdown on the group if they continued to make a “nuisance” of themselves at the seat of power in the days ahead.

The wicked carting away of over 200 Chibok schoolgirls in 2014 in very mysterious and suspicious circumstance threw the whole country into a frenzy. Someday we still would have to confront how   200 human beings (more than the passengers that would load a Boeing 737 plane) would   be taken through many checkpoints without anyone suspecting foul play if there was no connivance at highest level.

In the midst of the national outrage came the BringBackOurGirls campaign with the hashtag #BBOG going viral. It surfaced in world capitals, including the White House.

The world media became focussed on Nigeria and a little brat from the CNN was in Abuja treating our then Information Minister, Labaran Maku, like a school kid.The local media were not left out   as activities of the group enjoyed hours of live coverage and undisguised manifestations of cashing in on the misfortune of the Chibok parents as a tool of regime change. Only the pathetically naive would not see through that it was less of the search for the missing girls than the campaign for the polls that were ahead. Not one protest took place in Borno State where the tragic incident occurred and no one asked the governor of the state any question.

But like the king whose horse got missing, the poor parents assumed that all the noise was about their musing daughters. How would they suspect that a sinister agenda was playing out with their hapless daughters as cannon fodders.

When power eventually changed hands on March 28,2015 it was as of the girls were going to be part of the inauguration ceremony on May 29. The campaign suddenly ebbed momentarily. Major activists of the movement were rewarded with plum positions in government. Perhaps those ones know so well what the script was all about ab initio.

Sixteen months after,only one girl has been brought back and it was one of those who abandoned the campaign for plum job in government that was invited to come and present the found girl at the presidential villa. The remnants of the movement were slow in getting the message that they were already becoming irritants and pests.

In fairness to the remnants who must have been under the mistaken impression that the heavy support that came their way under the ancient regime was all on account of the campaign for the missing girls sake,they kept faith with the campaign by the time it dawned on them that the Chibok girls were not on the front burner as they thought it would be.

The recent video by the evil group Boko Haram on the girls brought a renewed vigor to the movement which has depleted. Some 50 girls were shown with a gunman who demanded   the release of fighters in return for the girls, and said some girls died in air strikes.

The non-Muslim girls were forced to convert to Islam, and it is feared that many of the schoolgirls have been sexually abused and forced into “marriage” by their captors.

Parents of the missing girls described their anguish at seeing their daughters in captivity. The video started   with a shot of a masked man, carrying a gun, speaking to the camera. He said that some of the girls have been wounded and have life-threatening injuries, and that 40 have been “married”.

Speaking in the Hausa language, the gunman said the girls on display will “never” be returned if the government does not release Boko Haram fighters who have been “in detention for ages”.

The video concluded   with footage of bodies, said to be the victims of air strikes, lying on the ground at another location.

The militant also carries out a staged interview with one of the captives, who called herself Maida Yakubu, in which she asked   parents to appeal to the government.

Another girl among those standing in the background can be seen with a baby. Some of the girls can be seen weeping as Maida speaks.

Official response to the video fell below the expectations of the movement which has led to the latest rounds of agitations around the seat of government which is being warded off by security agencies.

And as if to expose the many forces that buoyed the #BBOG in the past as self-serving .American Secretary of State Mr John Kerry recently visited Nigeria-half of Nigeria to be precise-and we did not hear a word about the Chibok girls in all his speeches in his meetings with the Sultan,the President and five governors from the North. It is amazing how those who were campaigning in Washington two years ago on the missing girls would now have a high official in Sokoto and Abuja and the girls they so loved a while ago would no longer be in   the reckoning.

What should the remnants of the movement now do as it seems a crackdown is imminent if they continued to pester government over the abducted   girls? They should avoid a confrontation as much as possible so that attention is not shifted from the missing girls to broken ankles and injured heads. Given the character of Nigerian law enforcement since the colonial days,it is not wise to give opportunity for a test of the instrument of violence against them.

Am I saying they should abandon the campaign? No! The column that was lumped with other “searchers” should continue to give hope to the parents of the abducted girls through activities that do not involve confrontation with law enforcement apparatus .

The distraught parents should on their part not become forlorn and give up hope on their kidnapped daughters who are presently at the mercy of these evil minded men.They should draw strength from the three Hebrews who were thrown into the fiery furnace and were expected to burn into ashes until the fourth man showed up in the fire. Daniel should have been meat for the lion but he came out unscathed.

Some day,when these girls would have been reunited with their parents as our God liveth,there would be some closure to this inhumanity to young women by these marauders and evil forces. For now we keep remembering them.

We Remember Them…

In the rising of the sun and in its going down,

We remember them;

In the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter,

We remember them;

In the opening of buds and in the warmth of summer,

We remember them;

In the rustling of leaves and the beauty of autumn,

We remember them;

In the beginning of the year and when it ends,

We remember them;

When we are weary and in need of strength,

We remember them;

When we are lost and sick at heart,

We remember them;

When we have joys we yearn to share,

We remember them;

So long as we live, they too shall live

For they are now a part of us as

We remember them.

*From Gates of Prayer, Judaism Prayer Book

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