BOKO HARAM AND NIGERIA’S LOST CHILDREN
Somewhere in a Boko Haram stronghold, one of Nigeria`s gravest modern tragedies lives on in the experiences of girls of Government Girls Secondary School Chibok, stolen from their school in 2014.
Immediately the girls numbering in their hundreds were abducted from their school, the name ‘’Chibok’’ became an international headline synonymous with insecurity and chaos in Nigeria.
Now, more than seven years later, scores of the girls are yet to return home. Some of the girls recently escaped or were released by their abductors and they duly came home with innocent children born to mindless Boko Haram killers. Although there is relief that the returning girls are no longer in captivity, their return has opened fresh wounds.
In 2009, Boko Haram escalated its campaign of terror in northern Nigeria. Prior to that time, the killer terrorist sect which hypocritically deplores the supposed depravity of western education but freely and shamelessly enjoys its benefits operated mostly quietly, doing the groundwork to achieve its goals of destruction and death. In 2009, the sect came full circle, spreading its tentacles of terror and leaving death and destruction in its wake.
Since then, Nigerians have known neither peace nor respite from the activities of the terrorists. Terror is usually very prolific and wastes no time in putting its fruits and seeds far and wide. In Nigeria`s case, even the Nigerian diaspora has not been spared. Entire villages have been sacked, razed to the ground by Boko Haram; entire families have been slaughtered; countless livelihoods spanning multiple generations have been wasted in minutes. It is no exaggeration to say that life has been sucked out of northern Nigeria by the enemies of the country who want their flawed and faltering theocracy to replace the country`s fledgling democracy.
Emboldened by Boko Haram’ s successes, criminals of the same ilk have emerged from their long shadows to join the killing frenzy. Bandits, herdsmen, kidnappers have all come forward to engage Nigeria in mind games, while slaughtering innocent citizens for good measure.
In the face of Boko Haram`s riotous rage at the Nigerian state, keen watchers have been aghast at the government`s occasional signs of being overwhelmed. News channels never run dry of gory stories about terrorist attacks; security forces always have to update their casualty list. Heartbreakingly, those communities devastated by the insatiable bloodlust of Boko Haram and their co-criminals constantly have to count the cost of being Nigerians.
It is a cost the family of Leah Sharibu who has since become the face of the Dapchi abductions has been counting since 2018. She refused to renounce her Christian faith and adopt the creed of her tormentors. She looked terror in the eyes and rebuked it. She has remained in the hands of terrorists.
The abduction of the girls opened a fresh page of pain in the battered book of Nigeria’s chequered history by marking an unprecedented assault on Nigeria, her children, education and women. Till this day, words from that page, constantly updated by vicious attacks on schools across the country, continue to mock Nigeria’s sovereignty, and indict its response to insecurity. The page remains open and other expertly coordinated raids on schools by criminals since then belie the belief that Nigeria would soon close this dark chapter.
For many Nigerians, life as they knew it has been shred away from them. Families who lost their daughters in 2014 and in the years after have not remained the same; the schools which have lost students have been changed forever; for the farmers who cannot freely go to their farms and relish the work of their hands, hunger is the least of their problems.
The die has been cast and now, Nigeria must throw everything but the kitchen sink into confronting this mortal enemy. The frustrations of those who have lost everything to Boko Haram`s chilling ruthlessness has been ratcheted up by the government’s sometimes half-hearted battle cries. The nauseating attempts to reintegrate supposedly repentant Boko Haram members into the society have seemed more of an embrace than a rebuke. Nigeria and Nigerians certainly deserve better.
While the country continues to look down the road for the return of its girls like a mother awaiting the return of her lost children, the country must do more to ensure that the misguided vultures are tamed.