IT is exactly two years since over 200 schoolgirls were abducted from the Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, by members of the Boko Haram sect. For those two years, the girls’ whereabouts have been unknown while their parents, Nigerians and the rest of the world continuously lament the failure of the nation’s security agencies to rescue them and bring their abductors to justice.
It is condemnable that no progress has been made in the efforts to recover these girls and the prospects of their rescue are getting slimmer as the years roll by. The agony of the girls and their families is better imagined than experienced on this second anniversary of their abduction.
We, therefore, urge the Federal Government, Borno State government and the security agencies to double their efforts to get these girls back and reunite them with their families. The inability of the world to rescue the girls in spite of the global hue and cry over their abduction is a shame. Not even the assurances of world leaders, and their promises to help Nigeria on the matter, have brought the girls closer to freedom.
Where, exactly, are the Chibok girls? This is the big question that Nigeria’s security agencies, working with assistance from few friendly nations, have not been able to answer. That the girls are being held in the Sambisa Forest stronghold of the terrorists is just a guess. All hopes that the President Muhammadu administration would rescue them are dimming as the government has admitted having no inkling of their location. This embarrassing situation speaks volumes of the security situation in the country.
A recent report by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on the second anniversary of the girls’ abduction paints a scary picture of what could be their fate. The girls, it said, might have been exposed to sexual violence, forced marriage and sex slavery. Some of them might have been sold or married off. Some might have been used as suicide bombers, not necessarily by their choice, but in their desperate attempts to escape from the terrorists’ den. Their education has also been put on hold while their human rights and freedoms have been infringed upon.
No doubt, the immediate past administration of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan and the government have not adequately addressed the plight of these girls. The Jonathan government did not handle the matter expeditiously, as it initially wasted precious time on political rhetoric over the abduction. By the time it woke up to the reality that the girls were actually abducted, they had been moved from where they could easily be rescued. The new government has also not recorded any success in its efforts to get the girls back.
The search for the Chibok girls has become quite frustrating and the government has a responsibility to get the girls and bring this matter to a closure. With two years already gone, the government must strengthen its efforts to end the untold suffering of the girls, and the agony of their families and the entire nation. We say this because their continued detention by their abductors does great damage to our image as a military force in Africa. It does not speak well of the past and the present administrations. The government should get serious and rescue these girls. It can do so by collaborating more with nations who have experience on such issues.
We do not need the “Bring Back Our Girls” campaigners and other activists to remind the government of its obligation to rescue these girls. It should be on top of government’s priority list at all times. Let government use the occasion of the second year anniversary of their abduction to intensify efforts to rescue them. There is no more time for blame games.
Now is the time to design pragmatic measures to rescue them from Boko Haram. Rescuing the Chibok girls will bring closure to this ugly chapter of Nigeria’s history.