The release of the 21 Chibok girls By Jide Ayobolu

The release of the 21 Chibok girls

By

Jide Ayobolu

The release of 21 Chibok girls by the Boko Haram insurgents on the account of negotiation entered into by the federal government has brought immeasurable joy and indescribable succor to the generality of Nigerians at home and abroad; the girls went through harrowing nightmarish experience, which all good people wished never happened. However, in spite of the wrong impression that has been created that the government was lukewarm about the release of the helpless and innocent girls, but the government is continuously working behind-the-scene to secure the release of the girls. The government is not resting on its oars, it is already working conscientiously to ensure that all other girls are released; President Muhammadu Buhari has said categorically that the war against Boko Haram insurgents cannot end without the release of all the Chibok girls and reuniting with their parents and guardians.  Hence, those have been disturbing public peace in name clamouring for the release of Chibok girls should look for other things to do, undoubtedly, the government is unrelenting and using different strategies to secure the prompt release of these girls.

Only few weeks back, I had cause to write on the Chibok girls and I insisted that, there is so much politics associated with the bring back campaign of the Chibok girls nowadays, the campaigners have met with President Muhammadu Buhari twice and extensive discussions were held and clear-cut understanding was struck, even with the parents of the abducted girls; on the basis of which the government went back to the drawing board, trying to see what strategies to adopt to rescue the Chibok girls without having any of them killed or harmed. It must be understood that, those in government are also parents, who have the milk of human kindness and they are as concerned as any other reasonable Nigerian on the fate of those young, innocent and innocuous schools girls. Since, this government assumed power, not only has the war on terror been largely won, the army has been professionalized, equipped and well-funded, the result is very evident in the reclaimed territories, far less killings and detonation of bombs; as well as the gradual but steady return of peace to the hitherto volatile and violent prone north eastern part of the country. It means the government is actually working, therefore if, the government is not willing to meet the campaigners at this material time, it must be for a good reason, but to forcefully want to see the government officials at all cost, tends to suggest that they is more to the campaigners motives now than meet the eye. Even if the campaigners see the president now, would it translate to the automatic rescue or release of the Chibok girls? So, why resort to public disturbance to make an invalid point. If these campaigners want something from government, there are more ennobling ways to go about it and not constitute themselves into public nuisance, which they obviously have become. The issue of the missing Chibok girls is indeed a very serious national and international matter; so, it should not be trivialized because of any ulterior motive from any quarters, thereby further traumatizing the parents of the helpless and hapless girls. In securing the release of the missing girls, a whole lot of things go into it, and when negotiations and dealings are on-going, usually full disclosure of the behind-the-scene trade-offs are normally kept under wraps; if the contrary is done the whole process could be bungled and this would painfully boomerang. Hence, those who want to turn the street of Abuja to another theater of war should have a rethink; and instead of the arm-twisting and bolekaja antics, they should enter into constructive engagement with government and propose a way forward in finding a lasting solution to the whole shebang.

It is on record that when the Chibok school girls were horrendously taken away by the Boko Haram insurgents, most parts of the country were utterly alarmed; it was a very sad experience that the country would never want to go through again. However, it is imperative to underscore the fact that, there was no swift response by the Nigerian government then to get the abducted Chibok School girls back to the country and to their parents. The Federal Government and Borno State government gave different accounts of how the girls were kidnapped, and both governments traded blames, with obvious communication breakdown. But the manner in which the girls were kidnapped in several buses and trunks without any security interception is really very disturbing and worrisome. This was accentuated by the assertion by Amnesty International that the military had been tipped off about the abduction but they failed to act, this is a glaring egregious error that cannot be explained away under any guise. In all of this, the Nigerian government was very lethargic, standoffish and unconcerned, behaving as though nothing of any significance had occurred. In fact, with the benefit of hindsight and body language of the Federal Government then, it was apparent that, the government then did not initially believe that the girls were actually kidnapped, it carried on as if, it was a political gimmick meant to settle political vendetta, in order to attract undue attention to the political foes of the government. This raised question about the information gathering mechanism of the security agencies and the quality of advice it offered to government. It was only much later that it dawned on the Federal Government that the girls were actually abducted, and president then busied himself by traveling all over the world, even campaigned for elections in these devastated areas; and not batting an eyelid about the plight of the abducted school girls.

Instead of getting to the brass task of rescuing the girls, government then was more concerned about the politics of terror, initially, government treated the kidnap saga with levity, thinking it was a façade, but the general public outcry and demonstrations across the country and beyond, even by very prominent people in the society made the government to come to the realization that it gaffed and made a strategic miscalculation and to this end, took sluggish steps to retraced its earlier stance to no avail. The point of departure in this regard was the reluctant acceptance of global assistance not only to help rescue the abducted school girls, but also to fight terror in the country. This is because Nigeria’s economic wellbeing is strategic to the economic interest and prosperity some economic superpowers. It would be recalled that initially, President Goodluck Jonathan had rebuffed all entreaties to make him accept the offer of the international community to fight terror in the country. The management of the Chibok school girl’s abduction which has now attracted global attention and outrage was a bad advertisement of the country, in terms of how the government cherished and catered for her citizens. This was indicative of the fact that those who claimed to really be in charge of the affairs of the Nigerian State then were indeed not on top of their game. This was further buttressed by the fact that, after several weeks of the unfortunate kidnap saga, the president then claimed not to know the whereabouts of the abducted minors, as if to say, they were been abandoned to their fates.

It would also be recalled that, at that time when the Boko Haram insurgents went to students hotels and killed, maimed as well as slaughtered helpless minors, all the government did was to commiserate with the parents of the departed souls, with no concrete game plans to deal with nagging problem of insurgents and its concomitant effects on the polity, only for such to repeat itself again and again. Hence, the whole war on terror in the country before now, was nothing but an unmitigated disaster, hence, its funding should be thoroughly probed. From all indications, the fear of the Boko Haram was the beginning of wisdom, even in Abuja, schools were shut down, business were closed, people lived in fear and the insurgents were dictating the scheme of things, as the security agencies were apparently confused and clueless, unfortunately the people of Nigeria and the national economy are the worst for it. The information gathering mechanism of the security apparatuses in the country were very poor; and insurgents seemed to have infiltrated the rank and file of the security architecture enabling them to strike at will with reckless abandon and precision. The government is finding it difficult to galvanize confidence and hope amongst the people under Goodluck Jonathan.

Each time the insurgents struck killing hundreds of people, government official just came out talk tough and promise the people that the culprits would not be apprehended, but that such dastardly act will not occur in the country again, only for such mindless attacks to repeat itself over and over again; the people were fed up and thoroughly frustrated. This is compounded by the fact that several countries issued travel warnings and restrictions to their citizens; steadily Nigeria was classified as “one of the axis of evil” in the international community.

It was under this confusion that President Buhari became the leader of the country, and he is of the firm view that the responsibility of putting paid to the ugly insecurity is with the government; and that must government should sit up, and find very, lasting urgent, all-embracing solution to the menace and that trading blames would not take the country anywhere. The government should not only take responsibility but it must show capacity and capability to resolve this quagmire as soon as possible.  The senseless bombings and security challenge must stop, this is exactly what the Buhari administration has done, it has reorganized the armed forces and motivated them accordingly, the counter-terrorism war is now prosecuted with determination and vigour, new arms and ammunitions have been procured, the probe of the $2.1 billion arms procurement is on-going, all the territories previously occurred by the insurgents have been captured by Nigerian soldiers, the rescue of the Chibok girls has gathered the much needed steam, yes, there are still incidents of bomb detonation, here and there, but by and large, the insurgents have been largely defeated and incapacitated, but the government is not resting on its oars, as it is collaborating with the country’s immediate neighbours and indeed the international community to stamp out terrorism completely from the country. The Federal Government is now collaborating and not fighting with the governments of the North Eastern states, as used to be the case; in order to find a lasting solution to the activities of the insurgents in the areas, therefore, it is imperative that the efforts of the government in this regard should be deeply appreciated, after all, the 1999 constitution states unequivocally that the security and welfare of the people shall be the purpose of government. Hence, this is the best of constitutional democracy in practice.

Yes, we are in a democratic setting but the campaigners should not take their luck to far, no government will open its eyes and allow some set of people to disturb the peace of the country, people are really concerned about the missing girls and government should be supported to find them. Now, that 21 of the missing girls have been released, plans to get others out captivity are in the works; therefore, no reckless activities or remarks should be carried out or made, thereby jeopardizing the release of the remaining girls. Yes, we all want all the girls released immediately, but there are processes and procedures to the followed, and if these channels are not carefully and properly followed, the stay of these innocuous girls in the hands of the insurgents would be prolonged. It is one step at a time, and the government must be given the benefit of the doubt that it is working out modalities for the release of these girls. After all, we elected this government and we must hold them accountable and in so doing, the negotiations for the release of the Chibok girls must not be compromised and endangered on the altar of politics or showmanship.

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