Nigeria’s scandalous architecture of insecurity recently yielded the two remaining students abducted from (Federal Government College) FGC Yauri in 2021. The “giant of Africa” is very much a country that cries out for its girls.
In 1914,as Lord Lugard pulled off what is yet one of the sorest points for Nigeria’s pugnacious historical polemicists, to amalgamate the northern and southern protectorates to form Nigeria, it was his wife who was to christen an infant country.
In 1960, Nigeria got her independence. At every juncture of what has been a difficult journey for Nigeria, women have always been near at hand – as wives, mothers, nation builders. Indeed, Nigeria is a flaming testament to how just how exquisitely women can shape a country.
Yet, a country that knows the joys of beating the paths only women can carve out is also ironically a country at crossroads. In Nigeria, many of the girls who would be women and should be women face an existential danger from the monster that insecurity is.
In 2009,as the PDP’s corrupt hand faltered, a novel threat arose out of the forests of Borno State. However,Boko Haram’s unflinching cruelty soon belied its novelty. In a matter of months, charred lives and livelihoods had forced the international community to take notice of the nascent but potent threat that was springing up from Nigeria’s northeast.
With the international community slow to absorb the minatory message coming from a terrorist group that clung to the creed that Western Education is a sin, the threat was emphatically rammed home in April 2014 as the country stood on the cusp of critical elections.
On the night of 14-15 April 2014, armed Boko Haram operatives stormed the Government Girls Secondary School Chibok in Borno State, and abducted more than 276 girls. The scale and audacity of the abductions sent shockwaves across the country and finally jolted a slumbering international community awake to the immeasurable danger that was slithering out of the Giant of Africa.
The abduction of the girls brought a wave of condemnation but also a wave of mobilization as the influential Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) campaign group was formed to campaigns for the return of the girls. Their efforts have borne impressive results over the years, even though some girls remain in captivity.
If the abduction of the Chibok girls jolted the in international community into action, it also gave Boko Haram the publicity it craved. The terrorist group was to move again abducting female students from Dapchi in neighboring Yobe State,Jangebe in Zamfara State and Yauri in Kebbi State.
On June 18, 2021 armed men stormed the Federal Government Girls College in Yauri where they abducted about a hundred girls and their teachers. While some girls escaped, Dogo Hide, the notorious kidnap kingpin who had planned and carried out the abduction, held on to 11 of the girls until ransom was paid.
Last month, the last two of the girls remaining in captivity were released but only after the sum of 45 million Naira was paid in ransom.
If Nigeria did not know whether to celebrate or lament the return of the girls who have spent about two years in the captivity of Boko Haram with their innocence shredded.
First, as much as the relieved families of the girls must no doubt be grateful that they returned alive, they must no doubt worry about what the future holds for their girls whose excruciating experience at the hands of ruthless Nigerians must also undoubtedly worry about the time it took for Nigeria to do something concrete about the girls who needed to be rescued immediately they were taken.
Nigeria must continue to guarantee the future and safety of its girls. In a country where the percentage of girls enrolling into school at all is disastrously low, the last thing Nigeria needs is an added reason for girls to stay away from school.
Nigeria is a signatory to the Safe schools Declaration, which guarantees that schools are safe and protected from armed conflict. However, Nigerian schools have been anything but with the bandits terrorizing the Northwest fine-tune their specialty in abducting students and either collecting ransom or turning them into sex slaves.
In captivity, Leah Sharibu, the lone remaining girl of the hundreds of girls who were kidnapped from Dapchi has become the face of resistance against a criminal gang that has been scything through the region with reckless abandon.
Insecurity has got Nigeria firmly on the knife-edge with vulnerable groups including women, children and young girls especially feeling the lash.
The Nigerian government must consider it an insult that non-state actors can take Nigerians hostage within the country and keep them for years without any headway made in efforts to rescue them.
It Is clear that unless Nigeria becomes rid of criminal gangs, improving its security along the way, Nigerians can never really have a country they can be proud of.