Chibok’s eight years of anguish
It has been eight years, but like a festering wound, the national slight that Chibok in Borno State Nigeria represents just refuses to go away, becoming in the process the symbol of the sinister scar that was first scratched into the soul of a country that has never remained the same.
A day of deep darkness
In the dead of night of April 14, 2014, while a country troubled by five frightening years of Boko Haram insurgency was wandering aimlessly in a wounded sleep, Boko Haram quietly made their way to the Government Girls Secondary School Chibok in Borno State where they snatched about 276 female students aged between 16 and 18. The timing of the attack was perfect as the girls were only in school to take their final exams in Physics after the school had been closed due to deteriorating security attacks.
The attack drew a collective gasp of horror from the Giant of Africa, and jarred the world fully awake to the depth of the danger posed by a group that has done only very little since then to conceal the danger it poses.
More than 276 days
As news of the abduction spread, further tipping a country already on edge towards the precipice, there were the usual commitments by the Federal Government, then led by President Goodluck Jonathan, to find all the girls and reunite them safely with their families at all costs. Eight years and two administrations later, the last girl is yet to return.
Charred chances and choices
About fifty-eight of the girls were able to escape immediately after the attack by jumping from the trucks while about eighty of the girls were later released in exchange for the release of some Boko Haram Commanders by the Nigerian government.
The other abducted girls have continued to trickle in since then. While rescue efforts from the Nigerian authorities have borne fruits over the years leading some of the girls to return home, as at April 14, 2021, more than 100 of the girls were still missing.
According to the Nigerian Army, between June 12 and 14, 2022, Mary Dauda and Hauwa Joseph, two of the girls were found. Of course, they each had babies on them, further confirming the fears that the abduction of the girls was Boko Haram’s steamy stab at sexual slavery. While confirming that all the girls remaining in Boko Haram’s captivity were married, they also revealed that more than twenty of their school mates were still in Gazuwa camp in Sambisa Forest.
A reactionary response
As terrorism has continued to rage in Nigeria, disrupting lives with frightening precision, it has been most frustrating to note that the response of the Nigerian authorities has simply not been forceful enough. Of course, efforts have been made and remain ongoing to halt the hydra-headed monster of terrorism which seems to have designs on the complete takeover of Nigeria, the nagging feeling remains that not nearly enough is being done to check the deadly menace, thereby encouraging its spread in the process. The consequences for Nigerians remain there for all to see.
It is also deeply worrisome that in many ways, it is education itself that is directly under attack by terrorism in Nigeria. All over the country, especially in those areas where these terrorists have been known to set up camp, schools remain their favourite stomping grounds. Students whose only desire is to safely go to school and learn have been subjected to the most horrific of attacks.
The continued lack of safety in many Nigerian schools continues to betray the lack of adequate security that the country is experiencing at the moment. It would appear that unless this is addressed, and quickly too, Nigerians will continue to live in palpable fear.
• Kene Obiezu wrote via email@example.com