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Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Chibok Girls And The Shame Of A Nation

On the night of April 14 2014, Boko Haram terrorists besieged Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, a mainly christian village in the predominantly muslim Borno state in north-east Nigeria, and carted away 276 girls, aged between 16 and 18, who were preparing to write their senior school certificate examinations.
The news of their abduction broke in the morning, but Goodluck Jonathan, who was the president then failed to acknowledge the mass abduction of these teenage girls until May 1. There are still 219 of those girls missing to date after some of them escaped, and these fortunate girls even visited the presidential villa with their parents and teachers at the behest of Jonathan's garrulous, semi-illiterate wife, Patience, with the final minutes of their encounter resulting in the viral "diaris god o" (there is god) video below.

I was deeply saddened when the anguish and profound pain of the parents and relatives of the Chibok girls were trivialized during the run up to the 2015 presidential elections. President Buhari even promised to find the girls if he was elected; he made many other promises which Nigerians knew would be hard to keep, but in their eagerness to get rid of Jonathan and his "shepopotamus" spouse (the name given to Mrs Jonathan by Nigeria's Nobel laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka) Nigerians joined in trivializing this gravest of crimes against a nation's future. We forgot about the world's outrage at the Nigerian government's foot-dragging and lackadaisical demeanour to the Chibok abductions. We forgot about the viral #bringbackourgirls; some of the missing girls' parents died literally of broken hearts while the Nigerian Army, the Borno state government, and the Nigerian government twiddled their feckless fingers.

There have been rumours of the girls being forcibly converted to islam, married off for (bride) prices as little as $10 to members of the terrorist group, sold to neighbouring countries as sex slaves, and their use as suicide bombers. I have lost a sibling, and can at least begin to understand what the families of these missing girls are going through. They may never have closure and the Nigerian government should stop punishing them further by giving them any hope of finding their girls, and then doing nothing. I suggest they gather the remaining relatives and let them know that the chances of getting back these girls are nearly non-existent at best, and then find ways to give them some closure and get them to move on from this unnecessary and utterly torturous ordeal.
Nigeria's leaders have always reminded us that "the youths are the leaders of tomorrow", but it is clear from the way the whole Chibok girls fiasco turned out, that they have no regards for the youth, nor the future, of Nigeria. As long as they can steal as much of Nigeria's oil money as they can and stash them in foreign banks, the youths can go to hell. 

If president Buhari could be so insincere about such a sensitive matter, I wonder what else he has lied about. Nigerians should really read between the lines here, and wake up and smell the coffee. The Chibok girls are not planning their futures today because their country failed them. They are the victims of Nigeria's twin troubles: corruption and religion. I cannot even begin to imagine what their lives (for those who are still alive) are like right now. We need to lay this to rest once and for all. Any calls to intensify the search for the Chibok girls should henceforth be ignored. Let us accept the very, very high possibility that these girls are gone. It breaks my heart to say this again, as I have done before, but someone has to tell those very bitter truths.

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