These schoolgirls must not die, By Zainab Suleiman Okino
If these schoolgirls are allowed to die, Nigeria should willing concede to being referred to as a Banana
More than two weeks after over 200 female students of Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno state, were abducted by gunmen, and government’s inability to rescue them, the heightened fears that trailed the abduction have reached a crescendo. By the last weekend, more chilling and worrisome revelations emerged that the teenagers are
being shuffled within Sambisa, Shuwaram forests and caves. Two, some of them were said to have been married off.
The insurgents were also reported to be using the girls to shield themselves and invariably as cannon fodders in an event of a full scale rescue operations by them and the government forces.
According to the lawmaker representing Munguno, Marte and Ngazai Federal Constituency, Muhammed Tahir Munguno, the girls were taken from Chibok to Shuwaran, a distance of about 200 kilometers; some were married off in an area called Jiri, just 30 kilometres from the state capital. “Everybody knows this; the security operatives are also aware of it. It is not that people are not cooperating, they are giving information and nothing is done”, the lawmaker said dejectedly It is disturbing that in a state under emergency rule and high security alert, the abducted girls were moved around within a distance of 200 kilometres and no one noticed, yet the gunmen escorting the girls from one part of the forest to the other were never noticed let alone apprehended. Just as they came close to the capital within a distance of just 30 kilometres and the military high command did not sight them.
The thought of the teenage schoolgirls being married off evokes awful feeling. In simple term, they will be turned into sex slaves as had been reported of the women they abducted before. On the other hand, using them as cannon fodders and moving them from one place to the other are sophisticated military style strategies in combat war. As
hard as one tries not to accept it, the reality seems to be that the gunmen, insurgents, militia, Boko Haram or whatever name they are called, appear to now have superior combat tactics than the Nigerian military that was once very formidable as well as being the pride of Africa due to their daring exploits in Burma, India and in
peace-keeping in the West African sub region.
With respect to the missing schoolgirls, even well planned hostage taking and trained hijackers could not have done better than what the insurgents are doing with the teenagers, and using them as bargaining chips. My heart goes out to these schoolgirls and their parents. It is understandable to lose a loved one, but to think of them as hostages
in the midst of mindless insurgents is incredulously ludicrous. The psychological trauma for the girls, their parents and any parents for that matter, is nerve-wracking. My body cringes, each time my mind goes there and imagines what the gun-wielding gang must be doing to the innocent teenage girls. It is criminally repulsive and no responsive and responsible government watches and allows this kind of things to happen to one or two teenage girls, not to talk of almost 200.
It won’t be out place if the whole nation marches up to the insurgents to demand for the release of the youngsters. Again we have had enough blame game and more than enough politics. It is true the government did not act swiftly. It is also unacceptable that military men in charge of affairs in that part of the country could not stop this from happening if they were truly on guard or in charge. It is even worse to think that not much effort is put in place to liberate them.
And it is absurd to know that Abuja is sitting pretty while Chibok is mourning. This is a false sense of security.
We are all victims in this mindless orgy of violence. Despite this observed lethargy, we should begin to think outside the box. We cannot give in to terrorists; and we cannot relax just because these girls are not our sisters or children. What affects a part affects all.
In the interim, many have cautioned against the use of force in order not to further jeopardize the lives of the girls. The question to ask is whether anyone is in charge at all. By now, there should have been a rapid response desk to match the expected rapid response approach of all arms of government involved in the rescue mission if any. In other climes, this is taken for granted. Sadly, the ruling class seems to have moved on, to wait for another disaster to strike, only for them to further insult our sensibilities with their worn out phrase of being on top of the situation.
To act and act right is a call to duty and a moral responsibility: these girls must not die. Otherwise there is no reason for the continued existence of this government. If the girls are allowed to die, Nigeria should willing concede to being referred to as a Banana republic. Let’s not forget that the world is watching. A day will come
when neighboring countries will try us for size, and possibly overrun us. Is the leeway not already created?
The government often sets up committees when confronted with matters of this magnitude. The Turaki committee was one of them. Personally I don’t believe in committees because they do not solve problems. It is what Ross Perot, one time American presidential hopeful once called committee on snakes. But I understand there are far-reaching recommendations of that committee that could be useful in the ongoing search for the missing girls. Having come in close contact with the insurgents, they could be used to intercede.
Orji Uzo Kalu the former governor of Abia state, suggested using the American CIA and Israel’s MOSSAD. As a nation, we need to intensify our intelligence gathering, encourage information sharing, and equip the personnel on the frontline to be able to respond swiftly to negative occurrences. At this juncture that the country’s defence
cracks have become conspicuous, the government should consider getting help from outside the shores of Nigeria to break the logjam. Most importantly, we should get the missing girls out of the dungeons before it becomes too late.