Within 24 hours of the Nyanya bus station bombing of April 14, Nigeria treated the world to yet another gruesome theatre of violence. Over 200 girls were abducted from their all girls’ school in Chibok, Bornu State, and driven by lorry into the jungles of Sambisa forest, presumably by Boko Haram which has declared war against western education.
At Chibok, schoolgirls were first stripped of their humanity, and driven into a forest where every bit of their human dignity will be peeled off until disrobed of everything that makes them human. They will be forced to submit to terrorists as sex bounties or else die. No doubt, in the forest of Sambisa are heroic girls – girls who have elected to death rather than submit to sexual indignities. In there are girls who are hoping that their nightmare will end in a successful rescue effort. In there are girls stricken by terror.
If Nigeria were not numb to violence, how does any responsible adult in Nigeria go to bed when the Chibok girls lie awake in terror; many of whom, no matter how this ordeal ends, may never sleep again. How do our leaders not wake up in the middle of the night, shuddering to think what has become of those girls and whether some have become impregnated by terrorists?
We are a nation caught between crass violence and crass corruption. In a country that has not abandoned its conscience, journalists would go about making uncomfortable people whose comfort is not disturbed by the tragedy of the Chibok girls. This is how a nation with conscience goes about its business. It takes committed citizenry; it takes committed leadership; it takes vision and courage; it takes religious leaders and lay leaders; it takes retired and active military officers; it takes every man, woman, and child in Nigeria to send a message to the terrorists that however long it takes, that this is a war whose outcome is certain – that Nigeria has decided to rise from the ashes of her divided past and forge ahead as one country and that after one hundred years, no terror can separate us and no violent politics can kill our will.
That is how you fight and win the war against terrorism. Chibok is not a North-east affair; it is a Nigerian tragedy that should concern every Nigerian from the creeks of Opobo, to the plantain farms of Shagamu, to the groundnut fields of Sokoto. It is a global tragedy of bare faced terror of the worst kind mixed with child abuse rolled into one by a Nation not afraid to mix politics and violence. It is a story whose end was scripted as the truck sped into the forest – the girls would either live as sex trophies or die if they dared refuse and whose rescue depended more on divine intervention than carefully calculated effort at rescue by politicians unwilling to risk their electoral chances for the unlucky girls of Chibok.
Some are of the view that the only chance to save the girls is to negotiate with the terrorists. Negotiation is a give and take between two reasonable parties. Like their counterparts around the world, these terrorists believe that girls should not go to school and that women should only live to amuse men inclined to as many as seventy two virgins. Is this a negotiation Nigeria wants to make? Some believe that anything to make the terrorists release the Chibok girls should be done, including amnesty from prosecution, a separate Islamic Republic, and shut down of all schools in the North where Western Education is taught. Is this a negotiation Nigeria wants to make? Nothing should be off the table, including negotiations, if the terrorists are inclined to offer terms that Nigerians can live by. The whole point of this article is that Nigerians and our leadership are not engaged enough in this crisis. We seem to be waiting for yet another chapter in these serial tragedies to overshadow the Chibok story so that the world will shift its focus.
We need Nigerian leadership to spare no resources until we stand down the terrorists in Sambisa. Anything short of that is a further disservice to these young girls who forever will be a symbol of a Nation that failed them and fails many of her citizens who wake up everyday wondering where the next bloody carnage will happen.
Mr. President, the world wants the Chibok girls freed; their parents want them; concerned Nigerians are not sleeping until those girls come out; and for those little kids – their sun should not set until they hear signs of a rumble, army air crafts hovering over head, army dogs barking, a shoot out here and there, a panic in the captor’s camp, a knowing wink from an infiltrator, any glimmer of hope that after two weeks can give them assurance that the Nation has not abandoned them.
Aniedobe is on linkedIn