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Culture of silence, root cause of Boko Haram, says Sanusi

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The Emir of Kano, Mohammed Lamido Sanusi yesterday chided Nigerians for what he described as their culture of silence, which he said was the root cause of the emergence of Boko Haram and the Chibok girls’ tragedy.

Sanusi, who spoke at the Inaugural Annual Chibok Girls Lecture held in Abuja, noted that that culture created the kind of society we now live in and called for an end to forced marriages, maternal and educational challenges, and other vices against the advancement of the girl-child.

The Emir, who was represented by his daughter, Shahida Lamido Sanusi said in three years, since the Chibok girls were abducted, Nigerians have been horrified by the incident and the consequent crimes of forced marriages, forced labour and even sale into slavery.

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He said while effort should be concentrated in bringing back the abducted girls, “we ask ourselves where are they being brought back to when they are eventually released? What kind of society? How much better is the normal environment we all take for granted than Boko Haram camps?

“These questions ultimately force us to face the reality that the kind of society we have created is in fact the root cause for the emergence of groups like Boko Haram and occurrences like the Chibok tragedy,” he said.

Explaining the seriousness of the challenge, he said at the Dalori Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) Camp alone, near Maiduguri, there are over 1,500 Boko Haram-abducted girls who are either pregnant or carrying babies, who have been freed by the military while hundreds of orphaned children are being carried away to unknown destinations and they are all gone into oblivion due to society’s neglect.

“We are dealing with an anti-intellectual environment and with people whose failure has bred a sense of insecurity which leads to incomprehensible, almost insane, reactions to simple advice.

“Secondly, that these problems are deep-seated and have been there for a long time so changing mind-sets will be a difficult and painful process. Finally, we must never succumb to the temptation to join our opponents in the gutter,” he added.

He also pointed out that the elite in society were heavily criticized when he said their consensus was about a culture of silence and complicity where everyone remains in his or her comfort zone and where the voiceless majority are allowed to remain where they are.

Citing several statistics and data to buttress his argument of what poverty means for girls and women, he stated that poor education and adolescent marriages have led to serious social and health outcomes.

Giving another example he said the Southwest of Nigeria has less than 20% of its population living in poverty while the Northwest has more that 80% of its population living in poverty.

In the Northeast the figure is 76.8%. Over 90% of the people in Yobe and Zamfara states are living in poverty compared to 8.5% in Lagos and around 11% in Osun and Anambra states.

“Instead of hiding these statistics and being scared of repeating them, what we need to do is bring out even more of these data. These are already published and easily verifiable but not often discussed in the public space,” he added.

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