Busari local government of Yobe has in the past couple of weeks come under global view particularly Dapchi, the headquarters of the local government. For cheery reasons? No. The insurgent had on February 19, 2018 abducted 110 students of Government Girls Science Technical College Dapchi in one fell swoop.
In what Nigerians have ascribed to as the byproduct of the laxity of our security forces and inability to act on intelligence report over the attack, the Chibok-like abduction has again revealed how much alive the boko haram terrorist group is and its potency to launch deadly attacks in sheer negation of the mendacious rhetoric by the federal government that it has been defeated or is it degraded or decimated? Whatever semantics are being bandied about on the overrated success of the government regarding the insurgency war, it’s now crystal clear that there is so much work to be done. Also, that it is not time for any premature celebration over a pseudo victory against the insurgents who are still holding territories, sacking villages and leaving footprints of agony and tears and fear.
We are happy 104 of the girls have regained freedom from the cave of the seeds of Lucifer and agents of hell on Wednesday March 21, after about 30 days with the descendants of darkness, save for a Christian girl among them by the name Leah Sharibu who has according to reports stoutly refused to renounce her faith in defiance to the insurgents’ unholy demand and five others who died in the custody of the haramites. Of course, just like any other mother, not seeing her daughter among the released school girls put Leah’s mother in confusion and her sisters in trauma.
Leah’s faith however, can be likened unto that of Daniel in the lions’ den. She has like a little lioness in her own right dared the big and vicious lions and enemies of her faith to do their worst. Like Meshak, Shadrach and Abednego she has held tenaciously unto her faith even through the raging furnace. Her faith is uncommon. She has refused to trade her faith with temporary freedom. Leah obviously knows Whom she believes in. That He is able to keep that which she has committed unto Him against that day. This has idolised her among her Christian brothers and sisters. There has been intense special prayer sessions for her release with some using her portriat as display picture in the social media.
But beyond all these, Leah’s faith is a challenge to all us today. From the political class who swear with the Bible and Qur’an to uphold the constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, to treat everyone equally and to serve with integrity but before cock crows he makes an abysmal nonsense of the oath by serving his pocket, that of his family members and cronies, learn from Leah. To you the civil servant who collects bribe to move a file from one office to the other, even from those you ought give, where is your conscience? Learn from Leah. To you the security agent, who by the virtue of the service you have been chosen to render for the corporate good of our society but uses same to oppress, suppress and intimidate and extort, where is your conscience? Learn from Leah. To you the clergyman, who should preach message of unity, love and brotherliness but has turned the alter of God into the fountain of division, hate, jealousy and anger, where is your conscience? Learn from Leah. To you the journalist who has permanently turned your loyalty to filthy lucre while the people you should report about and give a new lease of life lavish in the abyss of hopelessness, where is your conscience? Learn from Leah. To you the judge, who has turned the temple of justice into Yaba market and commodified justice to the highest bidder, where is your conscience? Learn from Leah. To you the potential voter who has concluded plans to use your PVC to collect onions, maggi and tomato in 2019, instead of voting a candidate your conviction trusts, where is your conscience? Learn from Leah. To you the contractor who mindlessly over inflates your job to the detriment of countrymen and women, where is your conscience? Learn from Leah. While we still patiently and ernestly hope for her safe return as assured by President Buhari, Leah has challenged our faith to the very foundation. She is an indispensable model.
Of all the commentaries this reporter has listened to or read so far, no one has shown a scintilla of empathy or at worse sympathy to the plight of the families whose daughters died. If out of 110 girls abducted, 5 died in the custody of the sons of darkness, is that too insignificant to talk about? It reminds me of an Igbo adage that the corpse of a stranger feels like bunch of firewood till your own “firewood” comes. The joy of 104 seems to have totally subsumed to agony, pain and sorrow of 5. While it is not out of place to jubilate over the returned 104, pretending as if 5 is a number that should be discarded to nothingness is the height of insensitivity. That is why this reporters finds the statement credited to the publicity secretary of APC that the party has done what PDP could not do when Chibok abduction happened as not just appalling but nauseating and senseless. Was he referring to the parents of the five girls or thumping his chest over a grave mistake that was abinitio not suppose to happen?
No matter the way we look at it, the joy of the families of the unlucky girls have been brutally fracture. They, like the Biblical Rachel are in pains. Voices are heard in Dapchi, lamentation and bitter weeping; their parents weeping for their children refused to be comforted for their children because they were not (Jeremiah 31:15). They must not just be neglected by both the government of Yobe state and federal government. Even though no amount of consolation can bring back these angels, no efforts should be spared at assuaging the pain and grief in their hearts. That is common sense.
The hibernating Minister of Information told us that the Department of States Service (DSS) brokered the negotiation that led to the release of the Dapchi girls. However, the nature of the negotiation is not clearly spelt out, whether it was just a mere sermonisation that melted the hearts of the insurgents to not only release the girls but drove them into Dapchi town in their convoy from where they abducted them, where the villagers welcomed them as they triumphantly entered Dapchi. In fact the insurgents even preached the message of “peace” and “love” to them before leaving like kings of the jungle. Aren’t they? Whatever the case may be, some Nigerians have expressed concern that the nature of the negotiation that led to the release of the girls would strengthen boko haram to launch more daring abductions of school girls. As Atlanta based Nigerian journalist Farooq Kperogi put it, “it is not a question of if; it’s a question of when. This is a vicious cycle”.
According to Sahara Reporters, five million euros was paid to the Al-Barnawi faction of boko haram. “But a source who also participated in the negotiations with boko haram that led to release of over 80 Chibok girls in 2017 told Sahara Reporters that the federal government not only made the ransom payment of five million euros to the insurgents, but also exchanged some boko haram prisoners in return for the Dapchi girls” the paper reported.
While this may be classified as one of the many half-truths or outright lies the paper has become notorious for, one cannot but wonder the sugar coated motivational speech the government has been engaging with boko haram that makes the insurgents release our girls “unconditionally” as the Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity Femi Adesina puts it. But if it has anything to do with payment of ransom, we are in a bigger mess. As Farooq still puts it, “any country that purchases its peace will perpetually be indebted to war”.
The incessant attacks on our educational formations have continued to make nonsense of the safe school initiative launched in 2014. In recent years, vociferous attacks targeted at school children have only achieved one untoward result; reduction in school enrollment in a society with an already overbloated out of school children figure especially in the North. The kidnap of 6 senior secondary school students of Model College Igbonla, Epe area of Lagos just last year is still fresh in our memory. Who wants to remember the mindless massacre of scores of our boys in Government Boys College Buni Yadi in Yobe state in 2014? Or are you talking of Chibok or the last month Dapchi?
Certainly most of the Dapchi girls may not want to go back to school again like their Chibok colleagues or Buni Yadi or Epe boys. Would you blame them? This therefore makes it imperative for all hands to be on deck to permanently banish insurgency or any form of security threat in and around our nation. The insurgents do not respect our religions or political party. No rule of engagement is observed in their mission for blood and tears. We are all therefore at risk. No one is safe.
Our security forces must also purge themselves of moles in the system whose activities undermine the frantic efforts being made to root out security threats across the country. The recent allegation by a former minister of Defence Gen. T.Y Danjuma accusing the military of complicity must not be dismissed with a wave of hand. The military top echelon must investigate and fish out those unpatriotic elements within it and sanction them appropriately.
No efforts should be spared at permanently bringing this insurgency war to a glorious end and the time to do that is now