Five years in captivity – The Nation

  • Govt must do more to return the remaining Chibok girls and Leah Sharibu to their families

For five years, 112 of the kidnapped Chibok girls are still in Boko Haram captivity. That is five years of excruciating trauma for the family. Also, for over a year, Leah Sharibu is still held by a faction of the Boko Haram, following the Dapchi kidnap. Significantly, the families appear to have lost faith in the capacity of the country to rescue their children. So, they handed over their hope to a popular pastor in Lagos, T. B. Joshua, for his spiritual intervention.

The tragic incidents in Chibok and Dapchi portrayed our nation as one  in free fall. A classic case of a failing state, when a non-state actor like the Boko Haram audaciously moved into a Government Secondary School in Chibok, Borno State, on April 14, 2014, took 276 female students captive and drove off into the forest. The Federal Government under President Goodluck Jonathan was so remiss that it spent days prevaricating and arguing whether the abduction was not a hoax. While the government dithered, Boko Haram expanded its conquered territory.

Perhaps that was one major reason the government was sacked at the general election in 2015. President Muhammadu Buhari’s government that took over, promised to do everything possible to secure the release of the Chibok girls. That promise yielded only a partial success, such that five years after their abduction, 112 of the girls are still in Boko Haram custody. Could it be that our country has surrendered the fate of the Chibok girls to Boko Haram, since their status was not even made a campaign issue during the last general election?

That may explain why the families of the girls and their communities have lost faith in the secular power and surrendered their trust to a religious leader. We hope those in authority understand the import of such loss of faith on the psyche of the citizens. While the families of the Chibok girls and Sharibu have resorted to prayers as their self-help, others who have lost faith in the capacity of the state to perform its responsibility may resort to other variants of self-help.

Of note, while the government of President Buhari takes praise for securing the release of some of the Chibok girls, a similar audacious invasion of Government Girls’ Science and Technical College (GGSTC), Dapchi, in Yobe State, took place on February 19, 2018. Agreed, the government moved swiftly to gain the release of 109 out of the 110 girls abducted, the remaining girl,  Sharibu, remains a sorry reminder of that incident.

While the regime of President Jonathan takes the blame for the poor handling of the Chibok kidnap, the present government must take all necessary steps to reunite the remaining girls to their families. After all, the primary essence of government is to ensure security of lives and property of citizens. When a government fails in that responsibility, as it has done with respect to the Chibok girls and Sharibu, then citizens resort to self-help.

The general insecurity in the country is reaching a boiling point, and President Buhari and his government must rise up to the occasion. With kidnappings, armed banditry and killings of citizens becoming an everyday occurrence, we are afraid the country may slip into anarchy. Notably, during a debate on the state of insecurity, the senate demanded for the establishment of state police, which we have also canvassed severally. Stakeholders have also requested for amendment of the exclusive legislative list to give the states greater economic activities.

Without hesitation, Nigeria must chart a new beginning; one in which the citizens can live in peace and harmony.

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