By Ugoji Egbujo
They were eager to denounce Chibok. They said it was a farce. They said it was contrived by the opposition to tarnish Jonathan’s ruling government. Jonathan’s wife lent credence to the absurdity by shedding crocodile tears on national television. She was the weeping wife of a victimized husband. They had said it was impossible to find many girls in any one school in the North. They said it was impossible to cart them away like oranges. They despised the Bring-Back-Our-Girls movement. They said they were rented by the opposition to create nuisance. That was in 2014. More than half of the abducted girls remain missing till today.
In February 2018, another news broke. 110 girls had been abducted from a school in Dapchi. The girls were carted away, quietly, in trucks, from their school. It took government avoidable clumsiness and very many hours to confirm the incident. The rattled government needed many days to settle on the number of girls that were taken. The Chibok doubting Thomses were stirred. They danced out of their cynicism.
The Thomases of 2014 were delirious. They welcomed the horror of Dapchi with sadistic glee. They mocked Buhari and booed the military. They said the Buhari government was founded on cheap propaganda. They said Dapchi was hard evidence that Boko Haram had neither been decimated nor defeated. They said only a government that traded in deceit and technical lies would play hide-and-seek with the people on the insurgency. They demanded the resignation of the president. They announced that he had failed in everything.
The CNN said Dapchi was not a national disaster but a national disgrace! They chuckled. They quoted CNN’s Aisha Sessay everywhere they went. The hatred they had fashioned for her in 2014 and sustained for four years had suddenly expired.
They wanted many heads to roll. They wanted the Chief of Army Staff to resign. They pilloried the police. They said they left Dapchi unprotected to loiter in the kitchens of VIPs. They tittered as the Army and the police traded scowls and blames.
They were hysterical. To service their histrionics, they validated Chibok retrospectively. Dapchi had to be true so that Buhari can bear the brunt. For Dapchi to be true, Chibok had to be true. So Chibok was made true. They said Chibok should have been a lesson. They said Buhari never learns. They said if Jonathan had the benefit of a lesson like Chibok he would have handled Dapchi smartly.
They called on the international community to take note of the woeful performance of their once preferred Buhari. They taunted the president. They said he lacked empathy. They said if he had any empathy he would have gone to Dapchi to commiserate with grieving families. They remembered how quickly, and emotionally, he attended to his wounded son Yusuf.
Then Buhari attended a wedding party of governors’ children in Kano. It became a free-for-all. They discarded all restraints. They called him a wanton prodigal who frolicked with the rich while the nation grieved.
While they believed Dapchi, they rendered soulful jeremiads.
Then Buhari visited Dapchi. They said it was a shameless piece of gimmickry. They said he went because he couldn’t stand the deluge of moral outrage directed at him. They said he was an artful hypocrite. At Dapchi, Buhari walked on a red carpet. They rolled their eyes and rolled on the floor. They said he had walked on the pool of the blood of the missing girls. They were willing to give it depraved occult interpretations.
When he told them he had given marching orders to the military to rescue the girls. They yawned. The Air force announced that our pilots were doing round-the-clock sorties. They sneered at what they called childish propaganda. They said the military was culpable. They said the military was sloppy. They said the commander-in-chief must bear responsibility for such a monumental failure and for such a disastrous outcome.
The doubters of 2014 had become latter-day supporters of the BBOG.They said they wanted the Dapchi girls returned intact. They jumped around like human rights activists. Chibok had proved a mortal wound for Jonathan. So they calculated that Dapchi must be the nemesis of Buhari’s government. They punched the air in triumph.
They appeared resolute in their new convictions.
Then the former United States Secretary of States, Tillerson, visited. President Buhari revealed that the government was making progress in negotiations with the insurgents to retrieve the girls. That rang alarm bells. The Thomases of 2014 screeched to a halt. The spirit of cynicism started creeping back into them.
Then the Minister of Defense announced an imminent return of the girls. His confidence troubled them. That was enough. The Thomases ran back to their rumour mills and factories for conspiracy theories. They oiled their dusty equipment and revved the engines of obdurate skepticism and mindless nihilism. They re-submitted themselves to delusions.
The PDP tweeted that it smelt a rat. It said the minister’s announcement meant the government knew too much. The Amnesty International announced that the army had ignored early warnings of Dapchi attack. The Thomases started guffawing. They wouldn’t hear that the army receives thousands of false alarms daily.
Then another news broke . The Dapchi girls had been returned. Boko Haram had come like thieves at night when they took the girls. Now they came triumphantly-flags flying, trumpets blaring. They had time to deliver a sermon. They warned the parents never to send their girls to school again. 104 of the 110 girls were returned. They said they collected no ransoms and didn’t touch the girls. The villagers broke out of their grief and cheered the insurgents.
The Thomases had had it. They found the reaction of Dapchi villagers ridiculous, suspicious. They scoffed at what they called a badly written script and its poor execution. They said the government enacted the piece to paint a messianic image of a bumbling Buhari. They dismissed Dapchi as a farce. They said it was another thriller from the producer of Chibok. Another clever use of Boko Haram to manipulate the dynamics of national politics.
They wont lend themselves to reason. These Thomases. This government had pronounced the insurgency defeated. What would it gain letting the insurgents strike such a blow with loud international resonance? On any cost benefit analytical scale, the abduction of the Dapchi girls would outweigh the recovery of the girls. Even with a giant leap of devilish imagination it’s hard to see how this government would benefit from a scripted Dapchi. But the Thomases have resumed their mills.
The Thomases of 2014, after a brief sally into reality, have returned to base.