StandPoint

December 31, 2014


NVS Man of the Year: The Missing Chibok Girls

Today, December 31 2014 marks the 261st day since a group of Boko Haram militants on the night of 14–15 April 2014, broke into the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, Nigeriaand took away a large number of female students who were in their final year of school. According to the police, approximately 276 children were taken in the attack, of whom 53 escaped. Houses in Chibok were also burned down in the incident. 

The reaction of the Federal Government of Nigeria has been a mixture of denials, indifference, annoyance and even brutalization of those calling for Government to take decisive action to bring the girls home.

  • The initial reaction of the government was to deny the account of the kidnapping. 
  • Over the 19–20 April weekend, the military released a statement claiming that more than 100 of the kidnapped girls had been freed. The statement was retracted when evidence surfaced to discredit it. 
  • In September 2014, the Nigerian government backtracked after saying the girls had been released and were being held in military barracks. The government had, once again, raised and dashed the hopes of the girls’ return.
  • On 17 October 2014, the FG raised hopes that the remaining girls might soon be released after the Nigerian army announced a truce between Boko Haram and government forces following a month of negotiations with representatives of the group in Chad. But on November 1, a video appeared of the group's leader, Abubakar Shekau saying no ceasefire had been reached and that the girls had converted to Islam and had been married off. Meanwhile, duped into a false ceasefire, the government had ordered its forces, which had been on the offensive against the terrorists, to stand down. This lull enabled Boko Haram to regroup and seize more territory in bloody raids.

The government has been busy pointing fingers everywhere. When the Nigerian government is not complaining about insufficient foreign aid, intelligence and guns, it’s busy intimidating the #BringBackOurGirls movement for continuing to bring daily attention to the unresolved issue of the kidnapped schoolgirls.

The kidnappings also brought to light how utterly compromised Nigeria’s military forces have become. Soldiers without decent weapons and armor, shortchanged financially by superiors, and deprived of able generalship, have been fleeing battles. Several battles have been lost to the questionable calls of ill-prepared and distracted commanders. Soldiers now carry out open mutiny against their generals, and write open letters to media houses. The Nigeria Military are now seizing newspapers on the streets and denouncing media houses in press conferences. By now, the Nigerian government ought to have been persuaded that it needs to overhaul an institution that is short on motivation and the equipment of modern anti-terror warfare, an institution that is clearly struggling in its battle against Boko Haram.

As the year draws to a close, the happy ending that the whole world is praying for the Chibok girls has not materialized, and it has become clear that the girls will not return as a group since the opportunity for a mass rescue has been lost. Not even the added motivation of an upcoming election has raised any realistic hopes of retrieving the girls. 

Beyond the predicament of the Chibok girls and their families, the abduction has highlighted Nigeria’s miserable leadership failure, the crass irresponsibility and uncaring attitude of Nigerian leaders, and the government’s inability to protect its own people. The lingering travail of the Chibok girls and their families is also an indication of our military’s loss of face and trust, despite unprecedented offers of assistance from the world’s most powerful governments.

The fate of the kidnapped schoolgirls haunts Nigeria and all its affairs. For this reason and many more, the Chibok Girls are Nigeria Village Square’s People of the Year!

** NVS StandPoint has as far back as 2011** warned and condemned in strong fashion, the tepid, indecisive response of President Jonathan to terrorist acts in the country.See previous editorials on this topic:

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