MY Dear returned students, I am so happy to write you this letter, expressing my joy about your release after so many days in captivity. Ha, I am so happy for you, I rejoice with your parents; I rejoice with your school, it must have been a nightmare of an experience for you. I am wondering what would have been going through your minds as they blindfolded you and crossed many rivers, lagoons and raging waters of seas with you. How was life in the creek? What were your fears? Did you lose hope? Did you pray to God? What kept you alive? What did you miss most?
I have been moved to write this article due to your newfound freedom from captivity. I know it is a thing of joy to return into the safe hands of your loved ones. What happened to you could have happened to me or to any kid in this dangerous country we now live in. I don’t even pray it happens to my enemy. May God forbid. I can imagine what was going on in your mind. Let me put myself in your shoes. On the fateful day of your abduction I would have also woken up that day thinking that it was going to be a normal school day ahead of me but not knowing it would be the last day in 65 days that I would greet my parents and probably tell them I would be home soon earlier that day.
When I sit down to think of the whole situation, what you were thinking of when the militants stormed your school and kidnapped you, it reminds me of the old slave trade we read about in history. Like slaves, you were chained, blindfolded and led to the creeks in boats. I am sure it was a terrible experience with you getting scared and wondering whether you are going to die or never coming back into the loving arms of your parents and friends. I know a lot of things were going through your minds. I can’t imagine you staying in that hell of a place for 65 days, eating once a day which I see as impossible in my own world because I eat a lot. My friends can vouch that for me. I can’t imagine bathing once a week which I find so disgusting. I can’t imagine the horror of my abductors teaching me how to swim, dodging aircraft and all. I don’t think the hygiene level was even on the average at all, thinking of where you would defecate and all. It’s such a bad experience which would leave a big scar on me for the rest of my life just as it has done to you, my fellow compatriots.
How was your day and night like in the creek? Were you afraid of the strange environment and being with the kidnappers? Were they friendly or harsh? Were you kept in a particular place or moved about? Were you blindfolded when you were being whisked away? Does it mean you can now recognise a kidnapper when you see one?
I was moved to tear when one of your parents said one of you was a friendly boy before the incident but now, he is reserved and is always scared of little things around. I guess most of you would have given up on life and thinking of death because the ransom demanded is such a fortune. I am sure this experience will live with you forever like scars, like a mighty wound. Yes, you were wounded indeed; you were wounded mentally, psychologically and spiritually. If I had been kidnapped like you, I know my parents too would have been emotionally devastated. Where would they get all that amount of money the kidnappers were demanding? To even pay school fees these days takes a lot of trouble. I know my parents would have gone crazy thinking of their son in the hands of those militants. I thank God for your freedom and reunion with your families.
How are you enjoying your freedom? Do you sometimes dream that you were back in the creek? Haaaaaaaa, freedom, there is nothing like freedom. Freedom is a thing we take for granted, but now, you won’t take it for granted again. I hope you would write a book telling your story and the story of Nigeria, a country that kidnaps its own children for money.
If I were part of you, I would have been so emotionally down and still not believing I am back home to my parents. But let me give you an advice: Take this as just an unfortunate mishap. You shouldn’t let these wounds and bad memories live with you forever. Try and resume your normal life. Don’t be slaves to fear. You have seen the worst. This is the time to move ahead with life. Go ahead and continue to chase your dreams. As I always say, once there is life, there is hope standing. So move on my brothers, do not let this thing weigh you down because we all are the leaders of tomorrow and together we would make this country better. Think positive. Don’t think negative. Thank God for your life, because it could have been worse. Thank God for His faithfulness. Write down your experience. I am sure a creative producer can make a movie about your ordeal in captivity. It is a good story for a movie which will be a box office hit like “Lord of the Flies,” a novel about some school boys stranded on an island by William Golding who won a Nobel Prize in Literature. Make sure you read the book. I enjoyed it.
Nigeria is a land of opportunity; there are so many better ways of making a living other than kidnapping our future leaders for money. Kidnappers are lazy people who just want easy money. I wish they can think of better ways of making a living rather than this criminal way. We thank God that all ended well and you returned safely wearing jerseys of different football clubs. What a thing to do! Did they ask you which clubs you belong to? These kidnappers must be funny.
Who are the heroes in all this? Of notable mention is the governor of Ondo State in the person of His Excellency Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) and his deputy, Mr. Agboola Ajayi for their prompt response to the call in the last minute of rescuing you from the kidnappers. Not forgetting my amiable governor of Lagos State, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, who has put in place a well-packaged welfare for the security personnel and has invested massively on equipment to fight this menace which resulted in locating and bringing the boys home. I say big thank you sirs.
How will I forget the activities and steadfastness of our policemen especially the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris and his team? The Commissioner of Police in Lagos State, Fatai Owoseni and his men for their spirited efforts daily in ensuring the safety of these children. I am very proud of your actions sir. The state government should partner with the police and deploy policemen to all schools in the state for effective safety of the pupils in order to curb this case we are witnessing every time because they say a stitch in times saves nine.
In conclusion, I believe we need to call on God Almighty to intervene and banish these heartless kidnappers who deserve to be kidnapped and imprisoned in the pit of hell. May God truly deliver us from evil, Amen.