Bring Back Our Girls by Aisha Salaudeen

On the night of April 14th/15th 2014, Boko Haram raided the government secondary school in Chibok (Borno state) and abducted 276 girls. As I write today, 277 days after the kidnap, these girls are still not back home. There’s no point telling the whole story again, the whole world is aware. The chibok girls have become a representation of every single thing that is wrong with Nigeria, these girls were kidnapped because Nigeria failed to protect them, and these girls are also not back home because the federal government has failed to bring them back.

This morning a friend called me, he said he was in Abuja weeks ago and that he talked to some families of the missing of the Chibok girls. In his words “they are going through a lot”, he told me some stories and I don’t wish to delve into them at the moment, but I wept like a baby.

How do those abducted girls feel? What is life to someone that has been held captive for over 8 months? What was their offence? Those girls did absolutely nothing wrong! They only wanted to write their final secondary school examination, they had dreams of finishing up and getting into universities. How do you begin to console the families of these girls? The pain they must be going through is unthinkable. What sort of mental, psychological, and even physical pain are those girls going through right now? You cannot begin to imagine how they are feeling, have they been feeding? Will their lives be the same again? Will they ever develop even the tiniest bit of likeness for a country that put them through all this? Will they ever see ‘hope’ as something rational?

So many questions, not many answers. Where exactly are the girls? I have heard so many people in the President’s cabinet utter words like “those girls are not missing, it is all a lie”. Is this what they are feeding the president with? Is this why the federal government has refused to take serious action on this issue? We have seen videos of those girls with Boko haram, we have talked to parents and lovers of the missing girls, there’s proof. So why then is the Federal government not doing/saying anything? Does it mean we do not value these girls? Nigeria is the only country where over 200 girls will go missing and till today the federal government is silent. We thank God for people like Oby Ezekwesili, Hadiza Usman, Aisha Yesufu and many others who have refused to be quiet about this issue. For all those saying we should not blame the Federal government (President) for the issue of the Chibok girls, who should we blame? Is the Federal government not accountable to the people? After all Goodluck Jonathan is our president, he is the commander in chief of the armed forces of the federal republic of Nigeria, we have every right to blame him. We have every right to demand answers from him. If his government had properly equipped the army or if they had taken serious action initially, those girls would be home by now. I recall it took the President almost three weeks to believe that those girls were actually missing. What a shame!

16 days into a new year and those girls are still not back. I wonder how their parents felt on new years day, they probably had hopes that the girls would be back home before then. I urge all Nigerians to join the Bring back our girls campaign, to support in whatever way they can. Those girls need Nigerians right about now. Let it not be that we chose silence at a time our voices needed to be heard. Let us unite, we cannot fail our chibok sisters. Perhaps if we continue to struggle and put in efforts as Nigerians, the federal government will wake up and do the needful.
I have almost lost hope as a Nigerian but there’s a saying that the darkest hour is before dawn. Those girls will be back soon, hopefully.

@aishasalaudeen

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