WEDNESDAY, April 14, 2021 marked the seventh year since the first school abductions by violent extremists, Boko Haram, took place in a girls secondary school in Chibok, Borno State.
In all, 276 girls were swept off to captivity. But after some of them escaped while some were successfully freed through negotiations and alleged ransom payments, there are still officially 112 students in the terrorists’ den.
The outrage it sparked gave birth to the #BringBackOurGirls, BBOG, campaign which gained universal traction when former US First Lady, Michelle Obama, joined the call for their immediate, safe rescue.
The Chibok girls’ abductions became a massive impetus in the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC’s, drive to oust former President Goodluck Jonathan and take power. Jonathan lost power to retired Major General Muhammadu Buhari who promised to rescue the girls and defeat Boko Haram.
Since Buhari assumed power, apart from the negotiated release of dozens of the girls in 2016, no further progress appears to have been made. Instead, many former BBOG campaigners have been offered appointments in government. The BBOG gatherings at the Unity Fountain, Abuja and marches to Aso Villa have disappeared. Media houses which were doing day-counts to keep the issue on the front burner have stopped. Government appears to have lost interest.
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To make matters worse, more school abductions for ransom have taken place. These include the Dapchi schoolgirls, Yobe State (February 2018); Kankara boys, Katsina State (December 2020); Kagara School, Niger State (February 2021); Jangebe girls, Zamfara State (February 2021) and Kaduna School kidnap, Kaduna State (March 2021).
All the Dapchi girls were released and returned by Boko Haram in daylight, except for Leah Sharibu, the lone Christian girl who remains in the Islamic terrorists’ clutches because she refused to convert to Islam. Also, Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State who paid foreign herdsmen to stop attacking his state, has refused to accede to the ransom demands of the abducted Kaduna Forestry and Mechanisation students.
The Buhari administration which stepped on the Chibok Girls’ abduction to achieve his ambition to rule Nigeria as elected president, has disappointed millions of expectant Nigerians who had believed that with his military background he possessed the magic wand to make a difference.
Instead, the situation became worse under his watch as school abductions have now become regular means by which terrorists and bandits sustain their criminality.
We call on Nigerians never to get tired of reminding the federal and state governments of their primary responsibility, which is to protect the people’s lives and property and guarantee their welfare. We must not see government failure as an acceptable way of life for Nigeria.
Bring back our Chibok girls and all Nigerians in the custody of terrorists and bandits.