From Ejike Chinedu
Ongoing campaign to force Nigerians and indeed the international community to accept that the #bringbackourgirls agitation is political and aimed at embarrassing the federal government is not just unfortunate but wicked. The promo running on almost all TV stations in the country pointing out two members of the APC among the bring back our girls campaigners leaves a deep soar taste in the mouth of many Nigerians. It simply trivialized the sad tale that a “group of ragtag miscreants” could take on the giant of Africa, depriving its people of sleep and liberty.
The twist added to the statement of Chief Audu Ogbeh is saddening to say the least. I am not aware of any part of the Nigerian constitution which bars members of the opposition political party from pursuing a just cause. Why should the life of citizens be sacrificed on the altar of cheap, deranged and jaundiced politics? The recent shadow-chase by government has shown why it was difficult to nip the menace of Boko Haram before if caused so much havoc.
President Jonathan and his aides have lived in lies that Boko Haram is a tool in the hands of those who do not want him to enjoy his presidency. Little knowledge of what the country was going through was sort. President of the Senate, David Mark recently said without shame,
“We didn’t realize on time that they have international connections but now that we do, we are already mobilizing all the resources and weapons at our disposals along with needed expertise and intelligence sharing from other countries to frontally tackle the insurgents”,
Nigeria as a country and Nigerians as citizens have borne the shame of the past over 200 days that these over 200 girls were kidnapped from their school in Chibok, Borno state. On that morning of April 15 when the news began to spread, it did not catch the attention of the powers that be. It did not form part of feverish 2015 plot. The Government did not issue any statement; neither did the military authorities utter a word.
Then some individuals began to ask questions raising concerns that the military and the federal government must have compromised its duty. Remember that Borno is one of the three states in a state of emergency which places ALL issues of security in the federal government controlled military.
As soon as some individuals began to gather in a bid to extract some explanations from government about the whereabouts of these girls, government spokes persons rose in unism with the chorus “they are being used by the opposition; they want to embarrass the government.” The government show reasonable doubt over the abduction in the first place. Then government officials requested from those demanding the release of the girls to proof that there was a kidnap. Some asked for their names others needed to see the purported WAEC registration IDs. While all these was going on, no real action was being taken to rescue the young girls and perhaps their abductors had enough time to put them away from reach.
It took the Presidential committee set up in May, about three weeks after the incident and the visit of Taliban survivor, Malala Yousafzai to move the powers that be to even meet with the parents of the girls in Abuja.
Military high command has told the whole world that the location of the girls is known but that the forces are restrained from taking decisive steps to avoid collateral damage. Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh had said in May;
“The good news for the parents of the girls is that we know where they are, but we cannot tell you…But where they are held, can we go there with force? We can’t kill our girls in the name of trying to get them back.”
If only government had listened to the demands of the bring back our girls campaigners and the issues raised, it would have known that it was a call to review the entire military operations in the North East. Nigeria would have been saved the risk of having a rebellious army and perhaps the mutiny trials will not be. Government would have realized that the campaign has nothing to do with the occupant of the office of the President but a whole lot with poor responsiveness to the plight of citizens all in the name of politics.
Now, about five months to the elections and about six months after the girls were kidnapped, negotiations have begun. Suddenly the “faceless group” assumed visibility. President of the Senate, David Mark gave an assurance of the release of the girls ruling out any negotiation.
“We are doing ever thing possible to bring the girls back safe and sound for their parents without any negotiation with Boko Haram.”
Heightened panic to ensure that the release of the girls tallies with the declaration of President Jonathan for the 2015 election is so loud that even the deaf could hear. Most Nigerians wouldn’t mind as long as the bloodletting cease and the families in grief for the past six months find reason to smile again. Indeed, Nigerians are not fooled.