By R.A. Ipinyomi
The Nigerian society is seemingly divided into three different groups over the Chibok schoolgirls saga, namely the parents and relations of these girls who are actually mourning the kidnapping of their daughters, the Federal Government of Nigeria officers whose direct task is to rescue these girls from the strong clutches of Boko Haram and the opposition political party members who think they have a case to settle with a perceived weak administration who has failed to rescue these girls. The desired united one force in pursuing the menaces of Boko Haram, capture back our girls or forestall further activities of insurgences at least from Boko Haram. It has been over two months and we feel frustrated and becoming distrustful of rumours claiming to know where these girls are but they could not be pictured or brought home. What would be the consequences of inability to bring these girls back?
Those of us that are parents and have girls amongst them know how hard it is to face these types of challenges. We hear of people who have been raped by armed robbers and those who lost their lives or become maimed. We know homes that have been raided severally by men of the underworld and government’s help didn’t come to their aid. We daily read on the news of religion riots, burning worshippers and the places of worship, kidnapping intentional to extort money and the like and government’s effort seems never to come. Nevertheless kidnapping over 200 school children is a new phenomenon in the annals of evil from man to man in Nigeria history. Just as the death of a father is different from the death of a son, the death of a wife is also different from that of a daughter; similarly the effect of kidnapping of a girl is different from the death of that daughter. Each case has its set of trauma and challenges. The parents, relatives and all the people that have direct memory of these missing girls need special rehabilitation whether or not we are able to bring back some of those girls.
Appeasing Boko Haram at this stage may appear premature because they seem to believe in their course and seeing no other option to live and fight another day. Our unsolicited advice is simply that violence does not pay and will never pay. Whereas our differences could be used as our strength the sponsors of Boko Haram may have kept their own children in far away countries and using other children for evil.
Our second piece of advice for Boko Haram is that they should disarm unconditionally and join in the effort to build our battered and disintegrated society that is nose diving to the full kingdom of darkness where there are no wrong or right norms. In fact by all standards we are already living at the bottom of the abyss where right or wrong have no difference to many people. The society Boko Haram is attempting to sanitise through a religious revolution can better be built if the originators live by examples rather than compelling others to carry a burden they would not lift a finger on. Dialogue, understanding and genuine love for humanity may win the argument over violence and counter violence.
I was gladdened recently when prominent figures like his Eminent the Sultan of Sokoto added his voice to denounce any connection that Boko Haram may claim with true Islam. He made the call for Boko Haram to toe the line of peace in keeping with mainstream Islam in Abuja at a ceremony. We need all of us to be on same side and stretching welcoming arms to Boko Haram for them to return to main stream political life of Nigeria and give us any captives in the possession.
They need to know the futility of living violently, being less tolerant of people who are simply different from you or being obsessed of people who believe differently from you. The common challenge we have now worldwide is the advent of false prophets and false apostles. All of us must be aware of this new development as we enter new centuries. We in the Christian group are not the only group that will be infiltrated by the activities of fascists, look alike, boastful individuals, or outright falsehoods. Nobody has won any war using violence and Boko Haram is yet to define its objectives that may earn people’s support openly for them to win their war.
On the other hand the government that has failed to bring back these girls for over two months seems weak, helpless and failing. Success is sweet and the Federal Government of Nigeria needs to pass some of its tests if not all. There ought to be a robust programme always visible that we can put our faith and hope in as citizens. If over 200 helpless school girls get carted away while government effort is not able to pursue those girls and their captors immediately for whatever reason it would only indicate failure and non-presence of government. Meanwhile our government needs our undiluted continuing support and prayer. Whereas Nigeria cannot suddenly behave as the United States of America or even her colonial master United Kingdom overnight she ought to act in proportion to its ability and constitutional framework. Wrong appointments, corruption, and nepotism have ruined the collective effort and the image of Nigeria that the boots of our soldiers have become suddenly too heavy in war times. Nigeria cannot run past its strength but it is challenges like this that can be used to advance our security and military developments.
Activists in the day and politicians in the night would not bring back these girls. What see is a country that is divided in every sense whether you turn to the politicians, military, police or even the politicians. We also have the impression that Boko Haram may have very strong connection in every sector of our communities. Opposition should work with government to ensure that many headaches affecting the nation are resolved before they themselves take the hot seat they so quest. Every day’s problem is enough for that day. Any support from the opposition party to the enemies of a nation would backfire on the same opposition party sooner rather than later. You cannot live in the vacuum and there is enough opposition in each political party for each party to believe that they should only trade in truth as the only commodity.
If eventually these girls will not be brought back by efforts many individuals and government officials will go deep down. The parents may have to leave the battle to self and many of them will succeed and find their girls later on their own. Right now the ever flowing rumours have it that many parents have travelled far into the juggle harvesting information and making personal efforts since April 14, 2014. This is probably why some of them are being released piece meal. The idea that there is some connection between Boko Haram insurgency and national politics will hunt the two political parties the ruling PDP and especially opposition APC the more. Each political party must come clean and open up how much they know. Otherwise it may lead to a military rule when we shall change the caption to #BringBackOurSenators or something else. In that scenario a maximum leader, hopefully more dictatorial than Abacha, would have ruled. Perhaps the senses of our politicians would open up thereafter seven years in the dark and they would appreciate the beauty of good governance and good democracy.
Prof. R.A. Ipinyomi teaches at University of Ilorin, Kwara state and is reachable on firstname.lastname@example.org