BBOG Sambisa

Whatever may be the intention behind it, and despite conceding to government, I do not see the BBOG changing its unique form of engagement. This ‘guided tour’ cannot sway or stop them from their mandate; neither can it help the fighting force in the war front. This is one civil society group that cannot be cowed, shut down, intimidated, and disbanded by overt means or have their spirit broken by any covert strategy.


Last week, the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Muhammed, sent a formal invitation to the BringBackOurGirls (BBOG) to join in the search mission, to the former supposed enclave of Sambisa and a part of Adamawa State, for the rescue of the remaining Chibok girls. The minister said the invitation was in recognition of the ‘unwavering commitment’ of the civil society group to the freedom of Chibok girls and all those in captivity.

The invitation must have taken the group aback, just as it took Nigerians by surprise. The BBOG campaign is not a combat organisation. It is a pressure and civil society group formed shortly after the abduction of the Chibok girls from their school in 2014 and has been unrelenting since then. The BBOG soon gained international recognition and in no time, celebrities and world leaders including David Cameron, Ban Ki Moon and Michelle Obama, joined to demand the release of the girls. It woke a slumbering world back to consciousness, as they began to pledge and commit to the group’s demands on government to rescue the girls. From the foregoing it is obvious they were just a group of civil society activists genuinely concerned about the girls’ plight and have sustained the agitations. The government of Goodluck Jonathan (which even derided them) and least of all the current government of Muhammadu Buhari, had no hands in the group’s formation and so have not been able to halt their activities. The interest their initiative generated popularised the BBOG hashtag (#BBOG) and woke up a government in denial to begin to act to end the Boko Haram terrorist menace. Therefore, there is a marked difference in the mandates of the BBOG and that of government, whose main duties is the security of lives of its people, among others.

BBOG is not about media practitioners who are sometimes embedded with troops to report exclusively for their media organisations and transmit the trajectory of war to the world. BBOG predates this government and may outlive it. Conspiracy theorists even alluded to BBOG activities partly facilitating the victory of the current government against an incumbent then. In recent times, there have been spats between the government and the BBOG, and the chief of army staff was reported to have referred to them as social advocacy terrorists. BBOG had severally been denied entrance and interface with the presidency. It is, therefore, germane to deduce that the invitation was probably initiated to mend fences and reduce the constant friction between them. In any case, the BBOG was finally prevailed upon to be in the North-East, as it equally provided photo opportunity for the government. Except for the group to appreciate government’s efforts, what is the relevance of this visit? What was it meant to achieve? Was the BBOG such an irritant to government they had to be coerced to fall in line?

While trying to make political capital out of their relative success in the fight, and whilst the chit-chat and back and forth was going on, the suicide bombers, including the latest on UNIMAID are still decimating the populace. The weekly media briefings, the confrontation with BBOG, their guided tour and such other inanities are distractions that are actually detracting from the relative victory achieved so far.


Whatever may be the intention behind it, and despite conceding to government, I do not see the BBOG changing its unique form of engagement. This ‘guided tour’ cannot sway or stop them from their mandate; neither can it help the fighting force in the war front. This is one civil society group that cannot be cowed, shut down, intimidated, and disbanded by overt means or have their spirit broken by any covert strategy. Their resilience and commitment is unprecedented, and despite misgivings about their operational style by a cross section of the populace, the group took civil agitation to a new level in their campaigns to free not just the abducted girls, but everyone in captivity.

Protests, agitations, calls to action are part of the BBOG, and they are not going to stop because they have seen the mystical Sambisa. If it is about a mind game, that too is not necessary, because the intention of government to crush Boko Haram is not in doubt. The BBOG and others are only asking them to intensify their efforts to rid the country of terrorists. For such resilient, determined and dogged fighters for whatever they believe in, government can only take them into confidence by giving them information on their activities, and this should be discreet. Making a fuss of and public their invitation is itself invitation to trouble. It could be trouble for BBOG and trouble for field troops and government. What if there was an ambush waiting for them? What about landmines. If anything had happened, government would have been accused of sabotage or complicity. God forbid. Above all, what value has the visit added to the rights campaigns and government’s anti-terrorism campaign?

My perspective is that government is concentrating too much attention on inconsequential things rather than remaining focused in the onerous tasks ahead. While trying to make political capital out of their relative success in the fight, and whilst the chit-chat and back and forth was going on, the suicide bombers, including the latest on UNIMAID are still decimating the populace. The weekly media briefings, the confrontation with BBOG, their guided tour and such other inanities are distractions that are actually detracting from the relative victory achieved so far.

zainabsule@yahoo.com, www.zainabokino.blogspot.com