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Chibok girls: Six years of deferred hope

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It’s been six years and some days since the Chibok schoolgirls were abducted in Borno State by terrorists. Indeed, it has been six years of tireless campaigns for their freedom amid promises to bring the remaining 112 girls back home. Ditto for Citizen Leah Sharibu, who is still held captive on account of her faith.

With the newer existential challenge and grim economic crisis terrorising the world, Chibok seems a long time ago. Yet, our missing girls are unforgettable. In the girls’ stories are metaphors of courage, unwavering faith and self-belief that Nigeria needs today more than ever.

On the 14th of this month, a delegation of the Borno State government visited Chibok with relief materials and message of hope for parents, whose remaining 112 daughters marked the sixth year since their abduction by Boko Haram. Attention was drawn to Chibok on the world map with the kidnap of 276 students from the Government Girls Secondary School on April 14, 2014. This deplorable and devastating act of structural violence sparked global outrage and a celebrity-backed campaign #bringbackourgirls, by the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) campaigners.

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But the sixth year remembrance was without the national and global attention. In fairness, the world has changed both dramatically and drastically in the face of COVID-19 existential plague. Nothing else can be more urgent and captivating than a super-contagious pandemic killing over 5000 daily.

However, never to be erased from our consciousness, are the missing girls and attendant failed promises that trailed their captivity. Despite assurances from the government that the search and negotiations for the freedom of the remaining girls are on-going; and that it is doing everything within its powers to rescue the girls, most of the school girls, about 112 are still not home. This is deeply shocking and inexcusable!

Indeed, we are not unaware of the intrigues dotting the compromised prosecution of the war against Boko Haram itself. It is a web of intricacies that is as political as it is economic, though without taking anything away from the soldiers sacrificing it all, fighting the soulless criminals and infidels against all odds daily. There will be a time for proper accountability someday. Most fundamental now is the need for all Nigerians to keep hope alive even in the face of adversity. The Boko Harammaniacs just like the coronavirus are enemies of the human race and so they are evil, which we all must rally forces to defeat. It is the age-long interplay between good and evil, and the former must prevail over the latter. The gallantry of how some of the abducted girls escaped from the grips of their captors is not lost on us. It shows the liberty that awaits humanity – if we make haste and faint not in the battle against evil. We cannot afford to relent in demanding freedom for all and end to terrorism.

It is in the same manner that the totality of humanity must fight against the deadly pandemic as we await the return of our daughters.

As this newspaper once stated, other Nigerian non-state actors should rise up to the situation, and continue to mount pressure and speak up for the rescue of the schoolgirls as the non-release of the remaining 112 Chibok schoolgirls and Leah remains a moral albatross hanging over the Nigerian state’s duty-bearers. This tragedy should not be treated like ‘June 12 1993 election result annulment,’ whereby the country attempted to ‘atone’ for its sins after 25 years. All told, the president should be reminded that part of his campaign promises in 2015 was that he would work for the return of the Chibok schoolgirls. This is a covenant that Nigeria’s leader should not break with the people. Since today is our Chibok girls’ 2,202 day in captivity, authorities in Abuja should not forget that the only way to stop their agonising parents from crying is to bring back their children.

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