First it was the teachers who were the butt of a diatribe from Patience Jonathan, wife of President Goodluck Jonathan. Accused of attempting to spoil her husband’s chances of reelection by peddling a story that members of Boko Haram had abducted 279 female pupils of their school in Chibok, the only answer they could give in their befuddlement at this turn of events was to answer in the negative. Then the protesters converging daily at Freedom Square in Abuja found themselves harassed, cribbed confounded, bound in by confusing tactics which included attacks from a, “rival movement,” and attempts from the police authorities stop them rallying, “for their own safety”.
From no truth in this story at all, it went to, sorry, there is too much truth and too much detail, we must tamper this down. We need covert action.
So far, little has surfaced on what that approach has yielded.
Money was thrown at rescuing the president’s image; the kybosh put on any further damning utterances from the “mother of the nation.” Malala came, Malala went. A 17 year old, the age of her abducted contemporaries, showed Jonathan the way.
On a trip to London on the eve of the 100th day of the Chibok girls’ captivity Oby Ezekwesili, one of the leaders of the campaign to Bring Back our Girls had a “brush” with the SSS that included a fleeting abduction of her passport, and the conversation went the way it has always gone. It followed the steps of the perennial them and us dance, in which there is no Us, no, ‘We the People’, and describes, the relationship that has existed from ‘time Imo River’ between the governors and the non- governed in this Federal Republic. You would think that a security officer of the Republic would see Oby as an ally in this voice -armed campaign to keep the story of the Chibok girls alive, not as an enemy on the opposite side to be stopped, and questioned and vilified.
You, Oby, are using this campaign as a front to collect money from people. And, ladies and gentlemen, the inference is not that said accused is breaking any law, but that said accused is usurping a “right” that belongs solely to those who allegedly govern and those whose sole reason for being is to protect the leaders against the people. And as night follows day, a group of Chibok parents were summoned to arraign themselves before the president and ‘reportedly,’ money was shared.
This ‘oil’ that soils all fingers ideology, is a living, breathing metaphor. It is an unguent to soothe all pain, even of the abduction of daughters. It is an engine for reworking the truth; it is a substance to ‘scatta’ all matter. Its properties include the power to dissolve all causes, honourable and dishonourable and to paper over cracks and divisions in the polity, nay to make them disappear beyond trace. It is a bond that unites the few from all regions and makes them impervious to good.
The question remains: WHERE ARE OUR DAUGHTERS?
What stage have we reached in our attempts to rescue them and bring them back to where they were taken from? What can we report about how they are faring? What measures, covert or counter insurgency have we employed to glean the facts we need to end their torture and bring them to safety? What further shame must Nigerians endure where nothing can counter the astonishment of foreigners when you introduce yourself as a citizen of this entity, and have no explanation to offer as to why the abducted girls of Chibok have not been found four months after the fact? Or, and this is even more telling, why there is no attempt to maintain a line of communication with the media and the public to assure everyone that the matter is still as urgent as it ever was.
And fundamentally of course the question at the end is: of what value are Nigerians to each other? Beyond the love of tuwo, pounded yam and onunu; beyond the bonds that bind one child of my mother to another child of my other mother; beyond our gratitude to Yobo, Musa, Odemwingie, Enyeama, Babatunde – what will it take for us to look each other in the eye and say: any hurt to you diminishes me; and for that, not graft, to be the spur to leadership of this country?
WHERE ARE YOUR DAUGHTERS?
Our response to each calamity that meets us, be it Ebola; each resource we are blessed with, be it oil; defines us and paints a picture of who we are. And looking at that seemingly impenetrable forest surrounding 219 or so young girls who are the future nurturers and leaders of this nation, it is not a pretty one.
Ms. Ogan, veteran Nigerian editor and recipient of the Wole Soyinka Journalism Centre Award for Lifetime Achievement in Media practice, sent in this piece from South Africa.