Wednesday, June 11, 2014 4:40 pm
Intrigues, double dealings and unnecessary dithering mar efforts to rescue the Chibok school girls two months after their abduction.
As the days roll by, so do their agonies mount. Before the end of this week, their daughters who were snatched from their schools in the thick of their final school leaving examinations would have clocked two full months in the custody of their deadly abductors. Despite the global attention the abduction has continued to attract, and the repeated promises of eventual rescue of the girls, mostly teenagers, by President Goodluck Jonathan and other government officials, the fact as at the time of writing this story last week, is that no one is sure of when the over 200 children will be restored to their parents.Yet, parents of the abductees, as shown in Lagos last week, have stubbornly refused to yield to even the faintest suggestion that they may not see their daughters again by clinging to the memories they shared together. “Her dream is to be a medical doctor. She used to say that she helps me in the farm to ensure that I would have enough money to train her as a doctor in the university,” one of the over 20 mothers of the abducted children brought to Lagos last week for intensive therapy for trauma told journalists of her daughter’s ambition.
The mothers’ journey from Chibok, Borno State, where the girls were abducted on 14 April, to Lagos was facilitated by three non-governmental organisations, led by the Omoluabi Network. The women were said to have arrived in Lagos penultimate Saturday, terribly sick and in terrible physical and mental shape, a result of the trauma they have gone through since their children were taken away.
Their anguish, seven weeks after the abduction of their daughters, was palpable. Reverend Ladi Thomson, founder, Omoluabi Network, said the women were brought to Lagos for intensive therapy that will aid their recovery from the shock and pains of the abduction as well as to prove that the girls were actually kidnapped. According to him, the initiative is part of Care for Our Girls campaign, an initiative which will focus on restoration of the girls and their parents to their pre-abduction mental, psychological and physical state of being.
“I miss my daughter very much. The day she was abducted, I felt like killing myself or disappearing from the world,” said another mother.
“I am pleading to the government to help. We, mothers of those girls, are in real pain. Those of us you see here are better than those that are not here. Some of us are already having psychological problems, calling our daughters day and night, but unfortunately the daughters are nowhere to be found. Some of the mothers of those girls do not eat. They are suffering internally and physically,” said yet another mother of the abducted girls who was part of those in Lagos.
Just like she said, reports about three weeks ago had indicated that Mary Paul Lalai, mother of one of the abducted teenagers, had died due to the shock of her daughter’s abduction. Aimu Fona, representing Chibok constituency in the Borno State House of Assembly, confirmed the death. Another report indicated that some parents had taken to heavy drinking while a woman has developed a mental disorder due to the trauma of the teenagers’ kidnap.
Three of the 57 students who escaped from their abductors were also in Lagos with the mothers. Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State said in Maiduguri last Monday that the state will employ the services of trauma experts to take care of the students that escaped from their kidnappers as well as put them in schools outside the state.
Yet, there is no doubt that the immediate solution to the agonies of the distraught parents in particular and concerned individuals across the country, will be news of the rescue of all the abducted girls. To this end, Nigeria has continued to receive offers of help across the world to prise the girls from their abductors. Last week, Australia joined the league of countries willing to help Nigeria bring back the girls.
Julian Bishop, Australia’s Foreign Minister, said her country is ready to make the services of its special forces available to help Nigeria to rescue the schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram. “Australian troops, the SAS, are always on standby for contingencies. We have made an offer to the Nigerian government to provide whatever support they need to release the girls. We’ve made a specific offer to our UK and US allies … that we are ready to assist in whatever way we can,” said Bishop, who added that her country has not had a response to the offer from the Nigerian government. Military men and other experts from Britain, France and the United States, three of the countries that had earlier offered to help Nigeria, are already working with Nigerian troops in the search for the girls.
FG Irritated Being Confronted By Its Failure
Ironically, while governments of other countries have continued to express outrage over the sheer scale of the abduction and seeming inaction to rescue the girls, the reverse seemed to be the case with the federal government. Indeed, it would appear that the President Goodluck Jonathan administration is increasingly becoming uncomfortable or irritated with local and global demands for urgent rescue of the girls.
The increasing irritability of the Jonathan administration to the persistent calls to duty as the constitutionally empowered guarantor of security of life and property in Nigeria, according to an analyst, was reflected in the attempt to ban all protests aimed at pressuring it to take immediate actions that will lead to the release of the abducted girls by the Federal Capital Territory Police Command last Monday.
The ban order, unarguably, was targeted at the Abuja family of ‘#BringBackOurGirls’ movement which had, since 30 April, conducted daily sit-outs in Abuja to help keep the issue of the kidnapped girls on the front burner of global discourse. Operating under the aegis of Women for Peace and Justice, the group had literally taken to the streets the campaign which began on Twitter with the #BringBackOurGirls, created out of frustration with government’s initial lack of response to the abduction of the girls.
The Twitter campaign has gone viral across the world, with celebrities and top government officials such as the First Lady of United States, Mrs Michelle Obama and Malala Yousafai joining in. Out of the cyberspace, the group, led by Oby Ezekwesili and Hadiza Bala, has also succeeded in galvanising similar protests, rallies and processions calling for urgent rescue of the girls across cities in Nigeria and throughout the world.
The movement met with the leadership of the National Assembly, Nigeria’s military chiefs and the Borno State governor to demand action on the rescue of the girls. But the federal government became increasingly uncomfortable with the group as the popularity of its campaign for release of the girls grew, especially with the media coverage it has generated across the globe. Before the ban order by Mbu, the police had actually attempted to disrupt the daily gathering of the group.