Saturday, March 24, 2018

The journey from Chibok to Dapchi

The journey from Chibok to Dapchi
February 28
17:11 2018


Borno and Yobe States in the Northeastern part of Nigeria have been the theatre of an ongoing insurgency perpetrated by the terrorist group ISWA (Islamic State in West Africa) since 2009. ISWA evolved from the Jamā’at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Da’wah wa’l-Jihād (more popularly known by its alias – Boko Haram).

Chibok and Dapchi are both rural towns situated in Borno and Yobe States respectively. A road trip from one to the another would take approximately four hours over a distance of about 275 kilometers. Both towns have schools. Those school have girls. That, however, is no news. Both towns have had scores of girls abducted from schools on a wholesale basis by ISWA.

This article is really not about a road trip from Chibok to Dapchi, but rather about how a nation went from a mass abduction in one town to an exact same occurrence in another town, the only differences being the number of abductees, the date and the location. Oh, okay, and the government in power. All other factors remain constant.

As it is said, the more things change the more they stay the same. This is especially so in Nigeria. Different leaders, same disposition. Different parties, same politics. Different Service Chiefs, same (or maybe different) Shekaus. We can go from here to there and still be in the same place. That is primarily because we seem to never learn from the past. Again it is said, those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. This truism has befallen Nigeria in a most agonizing way.

It the name of the town was redacted, one could copy reports and reactions from three years ago, when the Chibok girls were taken, and paste them in today’s papers and you would think we were talking about Dapchi. How sad, how pitiable, utterly unfathomable!

Besides the disgraceful cycle of denial, acceptance and blame-trading, what is most shocking is the numbness of our society to such issues. The bizarre becomes too easily mundane in our society. Some comments on Social Media are as inhumane as they are unreservedly insane. Hundreds of missing girls and we carry on as though they merely went on an excursion through the Savanna? Where are the Ministers of Defense, Interior, Youth, Education, Women Affairs, Police Affairs??? Or is this not their affair? Someone enlighten me.

Do we care less because this is taking place in far-flung northeastern villages? Do we not realise that our daughters, sisters and nieces are also at risk? It may be but a long distance from Chibok to Lagos or from Dapchi to Auchi, but may what has traveled in one direction not travel in another. We need not wait for that. Every Nigerian must join their voices in crying hard and loud until our land is finally rid of this scourge. We should keep our children away from school for a day as a silent but loud message to government that we will no longer accept that any girl or boy child be forcibly taken from the sanctum of their academic premises to a place nobody knows. Not anymore! This horrific journey will not go beyond Dapchi. We must insist on adequate protection for schools, regardless of where they fall on the map.

Our leaders must not merely give self-congratulating political sing-song to the decimation of Boko Haram. We will not dance to that tune any longer. They are not defeated until there are no more kidnappings, no more suicide bombings, no more bloodletting. We salute the effort of our men in uniform, some of whom have paid the ultimate price, but victory cannot be by mere declaration – it has to become a living reality.

Regrettably, again we have to say, #BringBackOurGirls!


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