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The Chibok missing girls: what will take Nigeria and her people to rise to occasions as in other lands? – Fayth Dele Daramola

What efforts have our own governments made to search and rescue the girls that would have attracted the world’s attention?  Why would our government issue statement to Nigerians and the world about all the girls with the exception of eight being rescued when it was an outright lie?  How could and can the world take us seriously when we do not take ourselves seriously? Sample: the president was out campaigning for re-election, events that often seem to be celebrations in Nigeria.

 

At first, I was getting excited believing that the mystery of the lost Malaysia plane would soon be solved by the power of 21st century technology. So, every moment that I had to sit by the Television, it was always tuned to CNN. For the very first day (March 8th) when the news was broken till after a month when I got tired and frustrated, I found myself mega addicted to news about how people everywhere the world over were knocking themselves over and I was fascinated by how scientists and hitherto hidden oceanographic super inventions and theories upon simulations on how the plain got lost and could be found. After 45 days of search, I got frustrated because the news has dominated the world’s air waves 24/7 and yet the plane with 239 people on board, has so far turned up no trace of wreckage from the plane. Reports alleged that over $250 million has been expended so far and the bill is still piling, all in the bid to search for the missing plane with 239 lives in her belly.

Then again, on April 16th, a South Korean ferry sank with students on a study trip to the nearby island of Jeju.
CNN and world news channels pounced on the news with faces of parents grieving, news of the shocking response of the crew to the unfolding disaster and the inexorably rising body counts. As at today; April 29th, 210 bodies have been found while 92 are still missing. The country has been mourning. In the words of the country’s leader, hear the remorseful president as if she drove the ill-fated boat “I am losing sleep as there is no news about saving more lives because there are many families who don’t know whether their loved ones are dead or alive still. I am at a loss for words for an apology that can be enough to console the pain and suffering even for a little while over insufficiency in efforts made to prevent the accident and also in the initial response to the accident,” In conclusion, the president promised “We’ll fix the problems and change our practices so we’ll have safer nation and won’t let them die in vain.”

Watching the images of the almost mad grief of the parents, ready to plunge into the water themselves to find their sons and daughters was like an awful realization of one’s own worst nightmare.There is no such vivid expression of suffering from Borno, only the grainy images sent on poor satellite links showing the familiar devastation of catastrophe that could come from any of countless news reports.

Two days before the South Korean student’s boat mishap, terrorists broke into a girls’ school in Chibok, in the remote state of Borno, in north-eastern Nigeria. They shot guards and abducted about 200 students, who were loaded into trucks and, it seems, taken off into the forest. Two groups of the girls, perhaps 30 in all, reportedly managed to escape. The rest have simply disappeared.

While I will not bore you with so many evil and callous uncaring efforts from our government, I want to wonder aloud:  why is the tragedy of the 273 Nigerian girls not in the news as compared to the missing plane and the sunk ferry? Why is the world not concerned about the girls? After all, Nigeria is the ‘giant of Africa’ and the world’s acclaimed biggest nation with the black race, yet no per-minute- 24/7 reportage about it in the world’s media?  Why are the lives of over 200 missing girls not as important news as those of 239 Korean lives?

The problem is Nigeria and her citizens, leaders and the led. We are complex and very rare. While our leaders arrogantly claim that our economy is the best in Africa, we as citizens have not asked why there’s no security, electricity, etc , not half but in one fifth when compared to South Africa that we sought to edge? Why do we not have a satellite that could beam news as it unfolds, compared to what happens on camera in South Korea that is beamed live and real.

What efforts have our own governments made to search and rescue the girls that would have attracted the world’s attention?  Why would our government issue statement to Nigerians and the world about all the girls with the exception of eight being rescued when it was an outright lie?  How could and can the world take us seriously when we do not take ourselves seriously? Sample: the president was out campaigning for re-election, events that often seem to be celebrations in Nigeria.

In Nigeria, when disaster befalls, it’s ‘to thy tent, Oh Israel!’- victims are left to their fate while for leaders,  life continues as if nothing has happened.. When the international media and their agents fail to care, (even assuming where the satellite pictures were beamed, Nigerian news may not sell commercially), when Nigerian government and their ill-prepared paramilitary lied and failed, when even fellow Nigerians have too many personal surging issues to deal with, group of the girls’ parents pooled resources to buy fuel and set off on their motorbikes into the forest where the security forces  would not care to go in a last despairing effort to save their daughters but only to have to turn back as night fell.

But why is there loud apathy from fellow countrymen not only during the recent tragedy but always?  Would their outcries not force the government to be more caring?

Nigerians are religious chauvinists and anything that supports their faith, tacitly, gets a faint backing. It fuelled concern that the group, Boko Haram, is adhering to the ancient Islamic belief that women captured during war are slaves with whom their “masters” can have their way. True to such concern, report has it that the girls have been married out to the militants!

Again, corruption with its hydra head is a factor to be considered. The Nigerian military is widely reported to have benefited financially from the conflict with Boko Haram, with commanders and politicians rumored to have taken cuts and kickbacks from multi-billion Naira budget allocations intended to fund the government fight back.

Lastly, for selfish political rivalries, Nigerian politicians of every political stripe are silent because they want to see President Jonathan go down and nothing else matters even at the risk of innocent lives being bombed every day.

Critically thinking, the question is where is UNICEF, the Muslim Women in Media Association, Council of Women World Leaders, Women Equality Now, International Council of Women, International Alliance of women, World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scout, Women International League for Peace and Freedom? If any of these girls are not my/your daughter or sister or even niece, factly, they are helpless humans whose lives deserve some dignity of protection and self-pride. Looks like we’re helpless. Sad. Am shaking my head.

 

SUNDAY, MAY 4, 2014.  5:25 a.m. [GMT]

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