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FG, BBOG and Chibok Girls By Tayo Ogunbiyi

Dr. Oby Ezekwesili
Dr. Oby Ezekwesili
 Chibok girls
Chibok girls

April 15th 2014 would for long remain a watershed in the history of our dear nation. On the night of that fateful day, some mindless and notorious agents of darkness murdered sleep when they stormed Government College Chibok, Borno State and abducted 260 girls from the school. They broke into the school pretending to be guards on a mission to rescue the girls from insurgent attack. The dastardly act was met with outrage and wide condemnations across the world. Indeed, some of the leading nations of the world offered to help in rescuing the girls.
In the heat of the girls’ abduction and amid the erstwhile President Jonathan administration’s lackadaisical handling of the situation, a renowned 17 year old Pakistan child right activist, Malala, visited the country to meet with the former President on the plight of the Chibok girls.
Over two years since the sad abduction of the girls, they are yet to be found. Their parents are understandably distraught while some of the groups crusading for their liberation are equally reasonably perturbed. One of such groups is the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) which has been in the vanguard of civil actions aimed at ensuring the girls’ freedom. Without a doubt, the BBOG has been consistent in ensuring that the issue of the Chibok girls remains in public domains. But for the group, the matter could have died a natural death as it is usually the case in our clime.
It could be affirmed, to a reasonable extent, that the activities of the group was partly responsible for the demise of the Jonathan administration. The group was so obdurate in its attack of the Jonathan administration, over what it considered the latter’s amateurish way of handling the Chibok girls’ affairs that some analysts were quick to hint that the group might be clandestinely working for the then opposition APC.
But then, recent development seems to have rubbished such claim as the BBOG is ready to fully bare its pangs on the Buhari administration. Presently, there seems to be no love lost between the group and the Federal Government, FG. Few days back, protesting members of the group led by former federal minister, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili were reportedly bared from gaining access into the Presidential Villa by Security operatives. Since then, the group has been unrelenting and scathing in its criticism of the Buhari led government.
Its leader and Co-founder, Dr. Ezekwesili has been particularly piercing in her denunciation of the federal government. A few days ago, she mockingly denounced a military report which suggested that Shekau, leader of the Boko Haram militant group might have been killed or wounded in military aerial bombardment. She said: “We have heard such news four times over but we are yet to see our girls”. Similarly, Dr. Ezekwesili recently told President Buhari to stop giving excuses on the abducted Chibok girls still in captivity. In another development, Dr. Ezekwesili asked President Buhari to immediately tender his resignation letter, over his failure to rescue the abducted Chibok Girls. Parents of the abducted Chibok girls were equally reported to have expressed regret at voting for President Buhari during the last national election.
Now, based on the foregoing, it is important, at this juncture to highlight certain realities on the subject. One, no one should begrudge the BBOG and other such groups as well as individuals canvassing for the freedom of the Chibok girls. But for their efforts, it is unlikely for the issue to still be in the front burner. Here, we don’t really value the sanctity of the human life. So, the BBOG has done well by keeping the memories of the girls’ plight in our consciousness. It is a necessary thing to do.
Two, the FG should not see the group and other such movements as enemies of the government. Rather, they should be commended for taking it upon themselves to crusade for the girls’ rescue. They are like the conscience of the nation. They should not be silenced. Thus, the FG should be more open minded and creative in dealing with the BBOG and other such groups. Acts such as sending Security Operatives to block them from gaining access to the Presidential Villa should, as much as possible, be discouraged. The least the government could is to decently engage with the group. This is a democracy; the BBOG has a right to its position on any issue of national interest while government is equally entitled to stating its position on such through institutionalized means and platforms.
Having said this, it is, however, very crucial for the BBOG to be more discreet in its intervention over the Chibok girls’ affairs. As things currently stand, needless grandstanding and other such ‘aluta’ acts might not really help. Our nation is currently passing through very tough times, which are in reality not a creation of this present government and, as such, everything must be done to ensure that the polity isn’t unduly heated up. It is important, at this moment, that we avoid all acts that could distract the government from focusing on the herculean task of healing the land.
To me, asking the President to resign over the Chibok girls concern is quite a needless distraction. For one, issues involved in the release of the girls could at best be considered as sensitive. Thus, they are not what government could possibly be discussing publicly. When the American government was to finally nab Bin Laden, it was not done by first discussing with stakeholders or through a referendum. It is strictly a security affair. Therefore, it will be counterproductive for the government to start stating what it is doing to rescue the girls on the pages of newspapers or via the social media.
Second, more than the immediate past government, the Buhari administration has sufficiently demonstrated that it has what it takes to dislodge Boko Haram. It was, indeed, the previous administration’s careless handling of the insurgents that actually complicated the rescue of the Chibok girls. Today, thanks to decisive military operations, Boko Haram no longer has the capacity to strike as it used to. It is to the credit of the Buhari government that no part of the country is still under the control of the group, unlike what obtained in the past.
Therefore, the BBOG must continue to engage the government more tactfully on the issue. Though, it could come up with suggestions on how to rescue our girls, such must be done discreetly with relevant government agencies. Perhaps, more importantly, BBOG must trust the resolve of the Buhari government to rescue our girls. God bless Nigeria.

Ogunbiyi is of the Ministry of Information & Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja.

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