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A vote for Leah

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Leah Sharibu, one of the abducted Dapchi schoolgirls

There was once a Nigeria when we held our children to communal or common parentage, where a neighbor disciplines your child in your absence and when upon your return you were told, you thanked them profusely for it.

Then we had common values across tribe and religion, we were simply Africans first, nay Nigerians but that was then.

Painfully, not so now, so it makes much sense to me why our cultures largely frown at statistical numbering of one’s children.

My daughters are dear to me and precious too, some are even wives and mothers with their husbands and children enamored with their love and I shudder at the thought of a harsh wind blowing against any of them not to think of a full blown evil wind.

For me, Leah Sharibu will be sole source approval or measurement criteria of the General Muhammadu Buhari Presidency. This will be regardless of who wins in the coming election.

Leah is like the Biblical Daniel in the lion’s den on account of her faith and personal conviction and just like Daniel was untouched, unmolested and even cared for by the lions so I pray for Leah and hope that soon, very soon at the break of dawn, she too will return to the loving arms of her parents and family, community and nation.

The girl child is glue that holds the fabric of society together in attractive patterns that may not be denied.

The girl child is the hope and evidence of our tomorrow, of propagation that ensures man’s continued existence, the girl child is existential to mankind.

That is the reason why Leah is a symbolic opportunity which PMB ought not to waste because, after more than 300 days, intelligence, budgets and all, Leah ought to be home safe by now.

In other climes, a nation would go to war for Leah’s sake or some high ranking officials would have volunteered or be forced out of government.

In this time since her abduction, our pretentious leaders have lavishly given a daughter or two away in marriage.

This is not about President Buhari, this is about whoever desires to lead us as a nation.

The grit of responsibility, of loyalty to the people and the constitution are litmus test of leadership and there is a sense in which it can be said that Leah is a call to lead, an opportunity with humongous electoral capital but what have we done with it?

I cringe at the thought of what our national intelligence budget could be.

We could be spending equal or more than some developed nations as our leaders take no prisoners with their ludicrous emoluments and lifestyles.

My guess is that our intelligence budget is the highest on the continent because our leaders earn many times more that the leaders of economies that perform many times better than ours.

So while other leaders are paid less for doing much, our leaders are paid much more for doing much less, it’s an irony but it is true.

Whoever therefore must lead this nation going forward must seek value for covert and overt operations budgets of our intelligence agencies.

Beyond trans-border crimes, our internal security lapses are sickening. It is more than obvious that our intelligence budgets which may be more than that of the Police are either being diverted to private causes as with those found in the Ikoyi Flat or they are being used against the State.

With over 500,000 men and women in the armed forces, intelligence and law enforcement agencies of government, it is rather sad that initiative is lacking that no officer would take this matter beyond the call of duty, though we boast of some of the world’s best trained and gallant officers.

As citizens, what can we do? Should we fold our hands to watch this assault on our collective essence? The way things stand; we could as well take on the gauntlet to rescue Leah.

We already provide our own electricity with generators – for many of us, many also provide their own security, education, healthcare, water and the list goes on, we all might as well rescue Leah with the many on Forbes Rich list, energetic youth, retired and private security and intelligence non/professionals, dare devils should we not pool our heads and hearts together to take Leah’s matter to the next level from that of pain to challenge and rescue her? Since our paid intelligence cannot even tell her location let alone organize a rescue mission which is long overdue. That is why community policing makes much sense.

In the same sense, that it would be ingenious to adopt the successful whistle blower approach to finding Leah.

Although the buck stops at PMB’s table, First Lady Aisha Buhari’s lamentation is apt, “where are the men?” If indeed we have men, then where is Leah Sharibu? Leah’s abduction takes hostage all our consciences.

She is someone’s sister and someone’s daughter and one day, God forbid any harm come to her, she will be someone’s wife and someone’s mother.

Whether we accept it not, Leah’s captors drive home a point that we all are vulnerable not only in terms of security but in our capacity to fulfill promises, that the rain falls on the PDP as it does on APC and all other contenders, that anarchy is the harvest from injustice and that good judgment is the sense and essence of good leaders. We all seek justice for Leah just as PMB seeks justice and Boko Haram too.

Seeing we all seek justice, we ought to lay down our arms and forgo offensive tactics for a seat at the table of reason to negotiate common boundaries for peaceful co-existence. So my appeal goes to Leah’s captors.

The war that you fight is not only in Nigeria but also in your hearts. I want you to win the one so you can win the other.

When you bring Leah safely to us, you will have peace in your heart while you also win our hearts. With that peace of heart and mind, we all can join in that battle to save Nigeria.

The only way to win this war against injustice in Nigeria is when all Nigerians join to fight the war.

Only a man at peace with himself can fight for justice. Leah has the President over her, a State Governor and a Senator with a Rep Member too, a Local Government Chairman and a House of Assembly Member who between them have earned more than One Billion Naira in Emoluments since the time she became their visible burden.

So cries of neglect, by Leah’s parents beg what role these leaders have played or failed to play in securing her timely release. This cry may not necessarily be for money.

Much more than that, I feel for a family under sclerotic trauma, have the authorities engaged appropriate Psychology Societies to even carry out a study to better understand the psychological state of the victims and also the culprit including the terrorists, and other deviants in our society?

Development is not just about roads and fancy infrastructures, as the Chinese Wall experience clearly shows, definitely not about the meager handouts and shameful parades of Trader or Market Moni which insults our collective intelligence, development also concerns the mental state of those for whom the roads are built.

As the popular American saying goes, “the mind is a terrible thing to waste,” and I must say that all crime and vices, including the loss of our youthful population in horrific emigration forays are vestiges of wasting minds, even Leah in her captors den and all others like her. Not holding brief for nor claiming any space in psychology practice, our Governments must begin to invest as much in psycho social research as they do in scientific research. Simply put, they go together.

I have as many reasons to fear for our country as I have to doubt our current democratic experiment but I trust Almighty God one hundred percent that by the prayers of His people and her own faith, Leah will be reunited with her family, community and all of us or pray, if Leah Sharibu were your own daughter or sister, how should you vote? But she is.

Amagada – ericefea@gmail.com


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