Last week marked the third year anniversary since the abduction of Government Secondary School, Chibok schoolgirls in April 2014. Since their abduction, their parents, community, countrymen and sympathisers all over the world have been counting the days and praying for their safe return. Most major newspapers in Nigeria have kept count of the days they have been in captivity, which is 1103 days today.
Special congratulations for tireless efforts go to the Bring Back Our Girls group (BBOG). They’ve endured many years of daily vigil, police tear gas and sometimes personal attacks from people who misunderstand their campaign. But they kept the faith and roused the world, using all media, to look in their direction and to help their campaign in getting the girls released. Oby Ezekwesili, Aisha Yesufu, Hadiza Bala and many other women and men deserve special mention. BBOG group is the biggest prod poking the government’s conscience into action; first that of President Goodluck Jonathan and now that of President Muhammadu Buhari. This year’s tagline is #NoMoreExcuses.
This year, BBOG introduced a new item into its menu of activities, an annual lecture. The keynote speaker at the occasion was the Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II. The emir said, “Today, in Dalori 2 IDP camp near Maiduguri alone, there are over 1,500 Boko Haram-abducted girls who are either pregnant or carrying babies, who have been freed by the military.” He also sought to expand the scope of BBOG by urging them to look at other challenges African women face. Sanusi said, “As we remember the girls captured in Chibok three years ago, we must remember that they constitute only a fraction of the victims of this insurgency. I would urge BBOG, while you keep this issue of Chibok on the table, to broaden your message to cover all girls and boys abducted by Boko Haram and also draw attention to the condition of girls and women in our society in general.”
We believe that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari also deserves commendation for getting 21 of the girls released. We urge it to employ similar tools and efforts to ensure the freedom of the remaining girls. To mark the anniversary, the president issued a statement promising that government would bend over backwards to bring the other girls back. “I wish to reassure the parents of the Chibok girls, all well-meaning Nigerians, organizations and the international community that as a government, we are unrelenting on the issue of the safe return of our children,” President Buhari said.
Neither the campaigners nor the government should fall into the trap and the perils of identified lives versus statistical lives. Chibok Girls have gained so much popularity and prominence because they are identified lives. We know their village, their schools, their names and have seen their pictures. But there are thousands more abducted or missing persons; these are the statistical lives. Adamawa State governor Senator Muhammad Umar Jibrilla Bindow made this observation in an opinion piece published in several newspapers last year: “Over 2.4 million displaced living as refugees in other countries or IDPs in their own country. Over 2000 abducted, majority being female.”
If the statistics by the governor are any indication, the Chibok girls are but 10% of the abducted women. Like many people have pointed out, these lives matter too. And we commend our troops for those that have been rescued so far.
Above all, we mustn’t forget our common enemy, Boko Haram, which has killed more people than even ISIS. According to the Global Terrorism Index, Boko Haram killed 6,644 people in 2014-15, 570 more than ISIS. The Chibok schoolgirls’ travails has been one of the most painful episodes in the long and bloody trail of the Boko Haram war. We urge national authorities and the international community to do all in their power to bring freedom to the remaining Chibok girls as soon as possible.
If you are happy to be contacted by a Daily Trust journalist please leave a telephone
number that we can contact you on. In some cases a selection of your comments will
be published, displaying your name as you provide it and location, unless you state
otherwise. Your contact details will never be published. When sending us pictures,
video or eyewitness accounts at no time should you endanger yourself or others,
take any unnecessary risks or infringe any laws. Please ensure you have read the
terms and conditions.