Bring back our girls: The worst and the best of times

May 8, 2014
3 mins read

NOT since the OCCUPY NIGERIA demonstrations of January 2012, against the Jonathan administration’s hike of petroleum products prices, has an event shocked and united Nigerians like the on-going #BRING BACK OUR GIRLS manifestation.

Like wild fire in the veld, a nationwide movement has triggered an international momentum. Nigerians are joining hands across fault lines political actors opportunistically exploit to access power. The abduction of the Chibok School girls in Borno state has troubled the conscience of all of humanity.

Those who profit from the disunity, docility and acquiescence of Nigerians in their oppression are shocked to the marrows by Nigerians’ united response: man-woman; old-young; North-South; Muslim-Christian! This national mobilisation has also swept the world. And for the first time since the emergence of the Boko Haram insurgency, the Chibok abduction has interrogated the dominant narrative and exposed the inadequacy of governance.

The girls were abducted on April 14th and President Jonathan responded only in the past one week. Goodluck Jonathan couldn’t find the time to visit Chibok to commiserate with the families, nor reassure the Borno people of government’s determination to bring home the girls. On the contrary, they have attempted a cruel, irresponsible and cynical attempt to spin the story and cast doubt in the minds of Nigerians.

When PDP Women’s Leader Kema Chikwe expressed doubt that the girls were abducted, it was the first shot in a campaign to shift blame; set up straw men and find scapegoats. It was this cynically manipulative politicking that incensed Nigerians. The narratives were hitherto simple and effective: Boko Haram was a Northern conspiracy against Jonathan; the other line presented an elaborate Northern Muslim scheme to wipe out Christians.

They were divisive enough; and Jonathan can conveniently sit on his hands and do nothing, beyond the perfunctory. Boko Haram’s excesses have occasioned very hollow governmental responses. It is a scandalous, Trillion Naira annual defense budget that has not dented the ferocity of the insurgency.

But above all, Nigerians have become frustrated with the serial inability or outright refusal of President Jonathan to be presidential: dormitories killings in BuniYadi, Yobe State, and neither president, vice president nor education minister showed up at the scene; the same with the Chibok abductions. In the USA, President Obama was always one of the first callers whenever children are caught up in tragedies.

That is a genuine show of leadership. Its absence in Nigeria, under President Jonathan was so cruelly expressed and exposed in his response to the Chibok girls’ abduction. Nigerians’ anger triggered the #BRING BACK OUR GIRLS movement! Nigerians are expressing themselves as owners of the country, putting the administration on notice: BRING BACK OUR GIRLS! There is no other way! The belated fact finding committee three weeks after the abduction underlines Jonathan’s handling of the situation.

The belated effort was clearly in response to the international dimension of the mass movement for the girls’ return. The Neocolonial Jonathan administration fears the wrath of the Western powers!


It is looking like Mrs. Patience Jonathan, President Goodluck Jonathan’s wife, is leading the effort to find scapegoats. She has consequently gone beyond her remit to summon Federal and state government officials to a meeting at State House.

They have attempted to twist the story by launching an offensive, in response to the worldwide movement. Patience Jonathan railed against the Borno Governor’s wife, who didn’t attend the belated meeting of Sunday 3rd May.

When Patience Jonathan “directed” women to stop demonstrating because the Borno governor’s wife did not attend the meeting, I wonder where she got the power to summon state and federal officials to such a meeting. She is overstepping her remit and deploying powers that have absolutely no recognition under Nigeria’s constitution. As a matter of fact, in law she will be described as a busybody! But here we are; she even had the temerity to order a democratically elected Borno state governor to secure the girls’ release or risk a march on the Government House in Maiduguri, led by her!

Beyond the empty bravado, it would have made comical relief to see Patience Jonathan leading such a demonstration; but the Chibok girls’ abduction is not a joke! Mrs. Patience Jonathan is apparently incensed because the pressures from around the world are getting to President Goodluck. She must be reminded that presidency is more than the lucre that they seem so enamoured of; Noblesse Oblige! Privilege entails responsibility and the first duty of government is the security of lives of the citizenry.

It is the failure in that job by the Jonathan administration that the abduction of the Chibok Girls has underlined. That is why Nigerians have built up the #BRING BACK OUR GIRLS movement; that movement has struck the conscience of the world. Scapegoating the leaders of Borno state will not win Mrs. Patience Jonathan and her husband’s administration a respite, until they #BRING BACK OUR GIRLS!



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