Chibok girls’ freedom and duty conferred on Nigerians

Chibok girls’ freedom and duty conferred on Nigerians

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A bout two years ago, members of the murderous Boko Haram terrorist group kidnapped over 200 girls from the comfort of their school in Chibok town, Borno State. The ugly development stirred outrage across the world. It was the beginning of what would become a long and tortuous experience for both parents of the girls and the nation at large.
In the aftermath, several efforts to free the abducted girls have been made. While the attempts were ongoing, opponents of the present administration interspersed the efforts with a lot of politicking, suggesting that government was either not doing enough in securing the release of the girls or that the girls were never abducted in the first instance.
Some concerned citizens, who were determined not to rest until the girls were re-united with their families, launched a social media campaign to galvanise support for the search. That led to the Bring Back Our Girls campaign, with the hashtag, “#BringBackOurGirls.”
Since the abduction of the girls during the tenure of former President Goodluck Jonathan, billions of naira had been spent, especially in equipping the military, with a view to making the school girls regain freedom, to no avail.
However, last week, respite came the way of some of the girls, as 21 out of the 219 originally taken hostage were released and later reunited with their parents. This was as a result of a painstakingly planned and executed negotiation process with the leadership of the Boko Haram sect.
Already, according to government officials, talks are on to see through the release of another batch of 83 girls from their captors.
Though the number of the released girls seems minuscule compared to the total taken hostage, we commend the efforts of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration and others, who played active roles in the circumstances that led to their freedom. This, no doubt, is no mean feat.
Since the release of the first batch of the school girls, however, opinions have been vast and varied, with some Nigerians and the opposition picking holes in the negotiation process and the circumstances involved in freeing the girls from their abductors. Rather than praise the effort of government that had, during its campaign, promised to bring back the victims, the complainants have vilified the government.
While we understand the grandstanding and quest to know some undisclosed details of the negotiation process among the opposition, there is a need for every Nigerian to be cautious and avoid making utterances and inflammatory statements that could jeopardise ongoing negotiations to see to further release of the remaining girls.
At this point in time, it is absolutely unnecessary to trivialise or politicise the circumstances that paved the way for the release of the hapless girls, more so when there are strong indications that some of the remaining girls may also soon breathe the air of freedom.
It is of course international standard, especially in other climes, to swap prisoners to secure citizens’ release from abductors and hostage takers or to achieve long lasting peace. The world’s largest democracy, the United States of America would do anything humanly possible to liberate any of her citizens held in captive either by terrorists or any other similar organisations anywhere in the world. So, if the Federal Government had swapped prisoners for the girls, as it is being insinuated in some quarters, it may have done the right thing under the given circumstances.
The release of the first batch of the girls should be seen to symbolise a broader struggle in diversity, rather than be used to further pull us apart as a country.
Of greater importance is the fact that the released girls should be sufficiently monitored, rehabilitated, possibly debriefed and re-integrated into the larger society.
The released girls need proper education and orientation that would erase from their memories and consciousness, the horrors perpetrated against them by their captors, who must have had them violated before indoctrination. The government must also not shirk in this responsibility.
Recall that on the day of their kidnap, the girls were preparing to take their exams. On that day, they had their dreams for a better life through education suddenly shattered.
To this end, government must, as top priority, also take the education of the girls seriously. Education, it is believed, remains a valuable strategic asset in the fight against abject poverty and extremism, now sweeping across the world.
In hindsight, the Chibok girls of today have become a symbol of the conflict in Nigeria. And their total rescue from the hands of the blood-sucking religious extremists, Boko Haram, will go a long way in underscoring the importance that civilised societies place on individuals’ lives.

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