Keeping the Chibok Yellow Ribbon Aglow, By Jibrin Ibrahim
Today is the 115-day since over 200 girls were abducted from Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, while they were sitting for their final exams. Today is 100 days since we in the Abuja Family have been meeting every single day to demand of our government and security agencies to BringBackOurGirls. We maintain our stance that we shall not rest until our girls are returned safely.
We tried an experiment at our sit out today to mark our 100 days of struggle. We sealed our lips for one hour. It was a harrowing experience. We were not talking for the period, our minds wondered into what those 219 girls were suffering. Their 115 days of fear and abuse. Their encounters with dangerous living conditions, lack of a sanitary environment and ill health, maybe even snake bites. The oppression and mental and physical torture they have been going through. Their loneliness and possibly despair. As we recounted our thoughts for that hour, many broke down in tears. We must keep our resolve, we cannot forget about the girls, they must be rescued. We used the occasion also to address a press conference.
We argued the world cannot move on while the Chibok girls are in bondage. We articulated our complaint that there is no evidence to back the statements by the Government that all is being done to rescue our girls. We also noted the statements credited to the US Government over sighting of the girls in July 2014. Knowing the location of the girls is a positive development but this is not the first time Nigerians have been told that the location of the girls is already known. We also noted the ambiguity in the statement credited to President Jonathan in Washington DC that efforts to negotiate with the insurgents are ongoing even though the earlier position of the government had been that it would not negotiate with Boko Haram. It is this ambiguity and double talk, which gives our movement great cause for concern about the sincerity of the effort to rescue the abducted girls.
At its meeting on July 30, 2014, the National Council of State promised that the insurgency in the North East will end by December 2014. We call on the Government to provide adequate information on how this is to be achieved considering that the insurgency in the North East has only escalated in the past several months. Previous assurances by the Government and its functionaries have not produced any results. What are the benchmarks to look out for so that we can believe that this time, something is happenning.
It is imperative that the Nigerian Government scales up its efforts in the rescue operation, to ensure that this debacle comes to an end. The separation of the innocent girls from their grieving parents has gone on for too long. Their education has come to a stand still, as they remain in captivity with the insurgents. Worse still, their continued stay in captivity has given room for unfounded speculations about the role the girls are purported to have played in recent suicide attacks. We should all bury our heads in shame that 115 days since their abduction, we have not produced any visible results. Instead, associating them with heinous crimes is victimizing the girls further.
Our press conference emphasized the fact that these girls are our collective trust. Every additional day they spend in captivity testifies to our collective failure as a people, even more so, the failure of our government to discharge its obligation to them. It is bad enough the true condition of these girls is unknown. It is worse to begin to associate them with unspeakable and despicable crime. Our sense of decency and propriety is taking leave of us.
While we continue in our resolve to remind Government of its obligation to rescue the Chibok Girls, it is imperative that we inform the general public that the #BringBackOurGirls Abuja family is in possession of credible information about an imminent attack on the daily sit-out organised by our Movement. We have taken necessary precautions to avoid any planned attacks, but are openly calling on Government and its security agencies, especially the Nigeria Police and the Department of State Security, to provide adequate security for our daily protest as we are not planning to give our protest up. We will persevere in the demand for the swift rescue of the abducted Chibok girls until they are brought back to us, safe and alive.
We concluded on the note of our immense gratitude to all our members, Nigerians, friends of Nigeria all over the world and the media for supporting our Chibok Girls. We must all continue to demand #BringBackOurGirls Now and Alive! We shall not stop #UntilOurGirlsAreBackAndAlive!
Dr. Jibrin, a senior fellow of the Centre for Democracy and Development, CDD, and Chairman of Premium Times editorial board, writes from Abuja