Chibok and Other Kidnappings as a Phenomenon in Nigeria/

Kidnapping in Nigeria has become a trade. It is carried out by organised groups or few individuals and it is done all over the country. Many reasons are being suggested from political, pure criminal acts, regional agitations and religious. Unfortunately no one seems to understand the precise cause or provide explanation to why these kidnappings occur whenever each incident is reviewed and that is the sad story so far.

A commissioner in Cross Rivers State was recently released after being kidnapped for 10 days or so. I believe after payment of ransom. In Rivers State as I write a medical doctor is still missing and the security agencies have not been able to rescue him.

Three years ago when the initial incident occurred questions were asked. To date most of these questions have not be answered. However whether questions are answered or not getting kidnapped victims out from their kidnappers should be applauded.  

We know that when the incident occurred three years ago, some managed to escape shortly after they were seized by the Boko Haram group. Twenty one girls were released last year through negotiation. The release of additional 82 girls recently after painstaking and masterfully crafted negotiations is a credit to the current government headed by President Buhari. No one should take the shine away from the government. It is a job well done whether we like it or not. Even if we call it arrangee or not. It has been done well. The most important issue here is parents are soon going to be reunited with their erstwhile kidnapped children they have not seen for three years. As a parent, I am happy for the parents and the country as a whole. I pray that the rest will be brought back soon rather than later.

I have read a few posts online highlighting some questions about the circumstances surrounding the Chibok saga and I cannot help but look again at these questions. Whether we like it or not a number of Nigerians have doubt not to the fact that there was a kidnap by definition but what exactly are the circumstances surrounding the whole episode?

For instance since the release of the current eighty two girls there have been many insinuations about how well looking they looked compared to the previous twenty-one. Of course, you trust Nigerians. We must ask questions and answers will be provided with explanations and justifications. The SSA to the President has provided explanations as to the reason the girls are looking that well.  That is who we are and you can’t take that away from us. But behind any question there is a bigger question. And behind any answer there are likely to be more questions especially if political players are involved.

A friend of mine while discussing this issue pointed out to me that I should remember when people are kidnapped, they are specially fed with the hope of recovering expenses. That this set of Chibok girls may have been under special care in a comfortable environment. That the next set to be released may even speak Queens English. Wao! What came to my mind is how kidnap victims look in other parts of the country when they are released. Shekau and his team must be very good hosts in the face of hostile bombardments by our indefatigable Military. However, I have come to realise that nothing is impossible in Nigeria and in the words of Gen Bali anything goes.

We must make the best out of our situations. We must not because of politics blunt the future of these girls. Afghanistan with the help of the Western world made Malala a Nobel Laureate.

I am concerned that since the release of the first twenty-one we have failed to make one Malala out of them. We do remember how Malala following her being shot and threatened was show-cased to tell her story. The Talibans are still feared and operating in Afghanistan. So why are we hiding our girls from speaking with the press and telling their story. The BBOGs group are doing a lot to project the case of these girls but don’t we think the girls can talk? After all they were in their final year doing SS3 examinations. What are we afraid of? I am not unmindful of the need to respect their privacy and ensure they receive adequate physical and psychosocial counselling for them to fully reintegrate with their families. But for how long will this embargo remain? At least we can start with the first twenty one released over 6 months ago.

A Phenomenon is a fact or situation that is observed to exist or happen, especially one whose cause or explanation is in question. This Chibok saga whether we like or not has become a phenomenon.

The conspiracy theories will continue until we as a people decide to put an end to it without politicising a deadly crime against our children and fellow Nigerians. We must find out the circumstances that led to their abduction and prevent such for future occurrences. We cannot do these without the girls telling their stories. It would even be opportunities for the girls to be supported in writing books. After all our politicians who are spoiling the country are writing books. This the opportunity for the Adeniyis and the Abatis to write for us to read with the help of investigative journalists.

From Jonathan to Buhari is there anything against the run of play in the Chibok saga? Where are the investigative journalists we have in Nigeria? Believe me Chibok kidnap is a gold mine.

I agree the Chibok kidnap over shadows all other kidnap events but it is evident we have problems with our methodology of getting out kidnap victims. The government needs to do something to ensure safe return of the many thousands of women, and girls, men and boys who have been abducted by Boko Haram or other groups in other parts of the country. Otherwise kidnapping will remain a Phenomenon.

Finally, may I suggest to the Federal government to reduce the politicisation of the Chibok saga. Do what you can to support their health and improve their confidence to live along with their families. The earlier they are integrated into their various homes the better. Let us use the opportunity to make Malala’s out of these girls. Destiny beckons on them.