The 14th of this month will make it 730 days, 17,520 hours and 1,051,200 minutes that the Chibok girls would have been under captivity. It would be recalled that on the night of 14–15 April 2014, 276 female students were kidnapped from Government Secondary School in Chibok, Borno State. Responsibility for the abduction was claimed by Boko Haram. Luckily, 57 of the schoolgirls managed to escape making 219 still missing. On October 17, 2014, hopes were raised that the 219 remaining girls might soon be released after the Nigerian army announced a truce between the insurgents and government forces. The announcement coincided with the sixth-month anniversary of the girls’ capture and followed a month of negotiations held in Saudi Arabia. However, the announcement was met with doubt (and later proved futile) as this was not the first time the government had claimed a breakthrough in negotiations with the insurgents.
In May last year, it was reported that the military had reclaimed most of the areas previously controlled by the insurgents, including many of the camps in the Sambisa forest where it was suspected the Chibok girls had been kept. Although many women had been freed, none of the Chibok girls were found. At one point, it was reported that some of the girls had been sold into slavery for N2, 000 and others forcibly married to the sect members. In January this year, the military were reported to have freed 1,000 women held captive by Boko Haram. Alas, none of them were amongst the Chibok girls. Two days ago, our hopes were again dashed when the news making the rounds was that the government had denied reports that the insurgents were demanding $50 million from it as ransom before releasing the abducted girls.
As a parent, a Nigerian and a human, it is a harrowing feeling knowing that these girls are still under the mercy of such a violent group of hoodlums. I can only imagine the emotional state of minds of the parents, guardians and relatives of the missing girls. I can only imagine the psychological torture of not knowing where your daughter, niece or friend is for the past two years. I can only imagine the life of servitude that these innocent teenage girls are going through in the hands of these murderous lunatics. I can only envision the unspeakable cruelties and atrocities that these dastard sect members must have been inflicting on the girls for the past two years. Were in the world are these girls? Reported sightings of them have all proven futile.
For the past two years that the Chibok girls have been missing, they have largely been faceless and nameless. They are hardly identified individually. When referring to them, they are often referred to collectively that is the “abducted Chibok girls”. Their abduction has become a myth and their whereabouts an enigma. These girls have dreams and aspirations, and under the eyes of God and the laws of man, they have every right to pursue and transform such dreams to reality. Amongst the abductees is one Safiya Abdu. What is her crime? Seeking formal education in order to enhance the living conditions of her family, become a better person in life and to contribute positively to national development. Also abducted is one Esther Usman. Perhaps she has a dream of becoming the President like one of her role models – Joyce Banda, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf or the late Margaret Thatcher.
Also abducted is Blessing Abana. She may possibly be nursing the dream of becoming an environmental conservationist, women’s rights activist or a renowned lawyer, such as the likes of the late Kenyan and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Wangari Maathai, or the Grammy Award–winning Beninise singer/songwriter and activist, Angelique Kidjo, or Fatou Bensouda, the Gambian lawyer and the international Criminal Court (ICC) chief prosecutor. Hauwa Balti is also amongst the abducted girls. Perchance, her dream is to surpass the successes of Chimamanda Adichie, the renowned Nigerian female author or Justice Aloma Mukhtar, first female Chief Justice of Nigeria. Juliana Yakubu and Suzana Yakubu are probably sisters still in the den of the dastard insurgents; their hopes and dreams cut short and their families heartbroken.
Fatima Tabji, Eli Joseph, Hauwa Isuwa, Maryamu Lawan, Tabitha Silas, Ladi Joel, Maryamu Yakubu, Zara Ishaku, Lydia Habila, Laraba Yahonna, Na’omi Bitrus, Rahila Yahanna, Ruth Lawan, Ladi Paul, Mary Paul, Esther Joshua, Helen Musa, Deborah Abge, Awa Abge, Hauwa Yirma, Asabe Manu, Mwa Malam pogu, Patiant Dzakwa, Saraya Mal. Stover, Mary Dauda, Gloria Mainta, Hanatu Ishaku, Gloria Dama, Awa James, Esther Markus, Hana Stephen, Rifkatu Amos, Rebecca Mallum, Ladi Wadai, Tabitha Hyelampa, Ruth Ngladar, Na’omi Yahonna, Solomi Titus, Rhoda John, Rebecca Kabu, Debora Yahonna, Naomi Zakaria, Hanatu Musa, Hauwa Tella, Saraya Paul, Jummai Paul, Mary Sule, are amongst the 219 abducted girls still missing. Undoubtedly, they each have dreams and aspirations of becoming doctors, lawyers, scientists, entrepreneurs, civil servants, fashion designers, politicians, actresses, nurses, etc.
In the pursuit of such dreams and ambitions, they need to attain basic formal education which would prepare them for the surmounting future obstacles they are going to encounter in the realization of their ambitions. These dreams and nursed ambitions have been unfortunately interrupted by dastardly, misguided and deluded individuals, under the guise of a supposed “religious belief”. Hence, these dreams and ambitions have been cut short as a result of the lengthy amount of time the girls are spending in the hands and mercy of barbarians. Nonetheless, all hope isn’t lost as long as the girls are hastily rescued and brought back home safely. Kudos should be given to the social media and general campaign for prompt action concerning the rescue of the abducted Chibok girls. It has certainly been of immeasurable usefulness. It has undeniably kept the Chibok tragedy in the spotlight and kept the hope alive that one day, the girls would be brought back home alive.
However, we shouldn’t relent in our efforts, such as the peaceful protest marches and campaigns in compelling and ensuring that the government does all it takes to #BringBackOurGirls alive. We have a duty and responsibility as citizens via our peaceful protest and campaigns to make sure the abducted Chibok girls are not forgotten. Indeed, we should continue to sustain our efforts in ensuring our girls are rescued from the dastard sect. The media attention and sustenance of efforts to get the girls rescued is without doubt the fire that burns and sheds light to keep the government on their toes in finally solving the Chibok tragedy. The war against Boko Haram is not going to be won without the safe return of the abducted Chibok girls.
Hannatu Musawa is from Musawa Local government, Katsina. She’s a lawyer by profession.