Different strokes in Brussels and Chibok – Part 2
Continued from yesterday
The most criminal of all the negligence was failure to bring in experts. Even in a war situation specialists still operated in any case, was there war in Chibok?
Who has been there? No Okada riders; if it was deserted soon after, surely it is not still deserted. Our soldiers tell us they could not fight Boko Haram because they had no weapons yet the military bosses stole billions with no conscience for 246 girls. Are we to assume that Boko Haram is still operating in Chibok? Obviously not, if the schools have now been rebuilt, thus disturbing further the crime scene.
The only thing that is certain in Nigeria is that where there is money Nigerians will convert it. Chibok is part of the insurgency and the history of Nigeria’s response to that insurgency is despicable. Let us not go into the bigger issue of the insurgency. Let’s be specific about Chibok, a national disgrace. It was, apparently not a singular incident: kidnapping of girls had been going on and is still going on. That seems to be the extent of our knowledge and involvement. Where are the pastors and mullahs of the area? They have no information. There are no neighbouring villages. I remember meeting several maigads (night watchmen), who came from Chibok and who were housing their relatives in Lagos. I interviewed them. They told me about the general horrors of the North East and how they have now a network where they keep their people in Lagos and elsewhere.
I am appalled at the failure of the Press – print, radio and television as to what happened in Chibok. Not one journalist I know has been there – admittedly it is not safe and is in a war zone. All the news and information we get about North East and especially, Chibok is from foreign journalists who have been there. Where are the interviews with the parents of these girls, the follow up? Have they all left Chibok? Of course not!
Now a new racket has begun on the so called IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) where again there is money and some will disappear under this scheme? We have centres for them all over Nigeria – Yola, Abeokuta, Oyo and Osun, etc.
Back to Chibok – what does that event tell us about Nigerians? No one mobilised the country to express solidarity with those who suffered in Chibok. We did not even go there or hold services and prayers for them daily. There are no places for us to go even outside Chibok to express our solidarity, to send a message that they have not been forgotten. All we hear are excuses, they may be married. Last week the Sunday Times in London revealed that they found 91 of our girls and reported to the authorities who did nothing. There has been no mobilisation; no way to express our feelings of the loss of our children. No solidarity, no intelligence – in fact the girls have been forgotten, no hope of closure.
Instead we blame MTN and impose a ridiculous fine on them for not helping in Chibok and Boko Haram. How is that fine justifiable when we have not freed one of our children captured? Every now and again we have our security people tell us they know where they are but cannot free them for fear that the girls would be killed. What preposterous rubbish! Our message on Chibok should be that we are unified with you, we suffer with you, we will free you; our enemies cannot and will not defeat us. Where are our civil defence forces who love to appear at parades in their resplendent uniforms like castrated popinjays? Their uniforms are better sown and fit better than our military uniform. Do they not have a role in Chibok?
Are we really that callous? Is this a national trait? It must be. We can fit tens of thousands of applicants in a stadium, each paying N1000 for a form to apply to join the immigration service. That exercise killed many young people – no inquiry. The minister did not resign, etc. In the UK when Liverpool football fans died from a stampede similar to that of the immigration applicants – the minister, Police Chief, etc. resigned – the inquiry took several years but closure came eventual after 11 years. Instead of our leaders covering their heads in shame – they are in armoured convoys of 12 to 15 cars, sirens blaring as they move at speed to nowhere meaningful.
In Brussels, within days, they found the bomb making factories, have named the suspects and are on a man hunt to pick up the last one. Can any one imagine this happening here? Boko Haram detonates roughly a bomb every week or fortnight. Where are these bombs made? Much can be told about the manufacture of a home made bomb because the maker leaves a footprint telling where he learned his craft, sometimes how and who taught him.
Nigeria prides itself on its African tradition which above all else is based on the family, both immediate and extended. When these girls of Chibok were kidnapped there was no feeling of outrage. The rest of the world felt the terrorists attack as an intolerable breach of human right and the right of children, and in world-wide disgust for Boko Haram. The Nigeria government would have sympathised more had we lost 246 cattle. The intelligence was zero; no trackers were employed, no specialist, not even mercenaries when we knew of the location of 90 of these girls. No questions about the girls abducted at Chibok have been satisfactorily answered and none seem to be forthcoming.
Dr. (Ambassador) Patrick Dele Cole, OFR, wrote from Lagos.