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Nigeria’s heroine in captivity: Let Leah go


Anthony Cardinal Okogie

Leah Sharibu has become a symbol of Nigeria in captivity. Yet, this powerful symbol is ignored. How does one explain the fact that in the latest scramble for Nigeria’s wealth that the 2019 elections were, not even once was her name mentioned in any speech? No one even said a word about the Chibok girls! What mattered most to our political gladiators was how to win votes, or, to put it more accurately, how to be declared winner. Are these daughters of ours disposable?

The insecurity that led to the abduction of Leah and the Chibok girls was given no attention.  Yet, it was caused by a combination of recklessness and negligence of our political leaders in matters of security. They had an opportunity during the campaigns to tell Nigerians how they would take responsibility for security and for the economy, for education and for infrastructure. But they settled for sophisticated forms of vote buying, dashing pittance to Nigerians whom they have impoverished by their politics. They resorted to the use of violence as potent instruments at the service of their inordinate ambition, using as militia young Nigerians deprived of access to good quality education by successive governments.

The deafening silence on Leah and the worrisome apathy on the Chibok girls confirm what we have always suspected: that the political process in Nigeria does not serve the Nigerian. It only serves our politicians as they cut their deals and betray one another. Some countries are ready to go to war because one, just one of their citizens has been abducted.  But, here in Nigeria, hundreds may be killed, as we saw in the states of the middle belt of Nigeria, while their murderers are rewarded.

We keep hoping that our political actors will stop and ponder and ask themselves if there is any man or woman of integrity among them.  We hope that they will not turn a deaf ear to the voice of conscience, the voice that whispers in every human heart: do good, avoid evil.

Let us not forget Leah. Let us not forget the Chibok girls. Let us not forget those who lost their lives during the recently conducted elections, those whose blood was shed because some of their fellow citizens were scrambling for Nigeria’s wealth. Their blood, like the blood of Abel, accusing Cain, the brother who kills, cries for vengeance. Their undeserved death questions the morality of our politicians and of the fake pastors and false prophets working for them, using the name of God and the sacred text of Scripture at every available opportunity, to propagate falsehood.

While the ruling party, the opposition party, their candidates declared as winners and their candidates declared as losers, cling their glasses and lick their wounds, we Nigerians must not fail to interrogate ourselves. What must we do to prevent a recurrence of this brigandage, the scandalous conduct and statistically impossible results of the recent elections? To leave things this way is to leave our land, our children and our children’s children to a future of instability and arrested development. What can we do to rescue the electoral process in Nigeria? What can we do to rescue Leah and the Chibok girls—symbols of our captivity as a nation? What can we do to rescue our land itself from evil-minded politicians?

We have a moral burden on our back. Ours is an obligation we must not neglect to build a better Nigeria, a Nigeria where politics is service and not robbery, a Nigeria where no region dominates or is dominated, a Nigeria where there is no apprehension because of elections.

To our politicians, now that the elections are over, let Nigeria go. Stop the criminality you call politics, the propaganda, the divisive rhetoric. Take off your sanctimonious toga. For you stand not on a moral high ground but on a land you have corrupted by violence and fraud, a land you have impoverished by your greed and subterfuge. Tow the path of honour.

And to the abductors of Leah and the Chibok girls, wherever and whoever you are, I appeal to you as a man in his old age: in the name of God whose greatness and mercy you profess, let the Chibok girls go. Let Leah go. You have held them for too long. A word is sufficient for the wise!

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