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ANOTHER X-MAS WITHOUT THE CHIBOK GIRLS…



It’s four days to Christmas. But, it’s no merriment for majority of our citizens. The reason is not hard to tell: No cash. Everywhere is tight. Naira is not just falling against the almighty dollar and pounds sterling, but also doing an incredible somersault that has left the people watching with utter stupefaction.
To be sure, when the naira falls, everything rises: Food stuff prices, fuel, rents, consumables, just anything. Even, the blood pressure of many take a hike to the rooftops. And like we all know, the weak, spineless naira has been flat­tened prostrate for a while now, and we all have been quite saddened.
But, it’s Xmas season. And trust Nigerians to find a way to make merry, even when all roads appear blocked. Even when hardship ties its ugly hands around the necks of many. Life must go on.
Life goes on indeed, but surely for the Chibok girls abducted in the past 616 days (today), life hasn’t gone on smoothly. Life indeed has been one hell of an experience. And as humanity celebrates Xmas, the uneasy question keeps recurring: Will they ever return home? When?
Surely, everyone has heard of the Chibok girls? The young, schoolgirls, who were captured from their school hostel and forcefully taken away by the goons from hell or wherever, called Boko Haram. It’s 616 days after, yet no word, no release, no freedom, nothing except unsubstanti­ated snippets from a few escapees, telling frightening sto­ries of sexual abuse, mental and psychological torture, and all kinds of privations. Yet, 616 days after, Nigeria moves on as if nothing has happened. As if we have no sense of feeling, as if we have been drained of milk of humanity. We all move on with the daily grind of our various activities.
In countries where life means anything to anyone, noth­ing will ever be the same again until the girls are freed and return home safe and sound; until a definite and definitive solution is found to the rescue of the girls!
Apart from the strident campaigns of the Bring Back Our Girls Group during the Goodluck Jonathan administration, the music seems to have been muted. The fire in the voices of the campaigners appear subdued. What happened? Until victory is attained; until the girls are out, the Campaigners can’t afford to rest on their oars.
Some have said, no Chibok girls existed in the first place, that it was just a weapon of campaign to dislodge Jonathan from the presidency. I don’t know. It is difficult to believe that such high calibre Nigerians involved in the campaign would embark on this journey of deceit just to score cheap political points. But, the best way to silence those who ac­cuse the group of raising the false alarm in the first place, is to keep the flame burning and the tempo high. Even higher than it has always been. Because the more they stay with their captors, the less their chance of rescue. Certainly, we all shall be happy when the girls return.
Indeed, this will be the fourth or so article I have done on the unfortunate incident. And the reason is obvious: It’s an incident that questions our collective humanity. It raises issues as to how low our country has sunk. It questions the state of insecurity in our country.
We truly live in dangerous times, where life has been reduced to the Hobbesian state of nature: Short, nasty and brutish. Where you are constantly looking over your shoul­ders, as you drive home in the evening from work. Where you are afraid that someone will knock on your windscreen, asking you to wind down and surrender your phones and other valuables. Where being stuck in traffic, strikes fear in your heart. I am talking from experience, having been robbed and dispossessed of cash and other valuables in La­gos traffic robbery!
I am writing this column on the last Sunday before Xmas. I am happy and sad at the same time. Happy for humanity about to celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace and hope, and sad for humanity’s inhumanity.
I’m thinking of Chibok and the over 200 girls, who do not know it’s Xmas. What’s the meaning of Xmas or any festivity to someone in captivity? What’s Xmas to young girls violently yanked from their school by strange guys, for whatever strange reasons? How do you wish the parents, family and relatives of Chibok girls, happy Xmas or sea­son’s greetings, when the girls are still in the firm grips of their captors, with no inkling of when they would breathe the air of freedom?
We can’t imagine the hell they have seen and been through. Will they ever be the same again, even after they, hopefully, regain freedom from their callous captors? Not likely. Will they ever have love or kind feelings for a coun­try that was unable to protect them from their abductors? Not likely. Even these will be secondary. The primary task at hand now, is how to get them out. We can worry later about how to solve the post-abduction trauma.
But, 616 days after, as I write this column, the nagging questions remain: Where are our girls? Where are our sis­ters? Where are our daughters? In the bowels of Sambisa? Somewhere in Cameroun, Maiduguri, Kano, Chad, Niger or wherever? No one can tell. Are they alive or dead, or have they been sold off as Shekau once threatened? We can’t tell. All we have are assurances from government that they will soon be brought out alive. We pray so. We hope so. To imagine or contemplate otherwise is not even an option.
We can’t get tired writing about the Chibok girls until they are released, with all the strands of their hair, their limbs and their teeth intact. We can’t stop kicking Boko Haram, the group of marauders making life tense for their nation and the world, until the girls regain freedom and are locked in the warm embraces of their families.
We should never stop reminding the Buhari administra­tion to do something, anything, faster to get the girls out, in keeping with his campaign promise to rout Boko Haram and free our girls at the earliest possible time. True, he’s doing his best, but the girls have to get out before we can appreciate this best. If Jonathan couldn’t do it, Buhari must not let us down by not getting them out.
It’s Xmas, and I’m deeply concerned about the future of the future leaders of tomorrow. I’m worried about the growing incidences of child rape and sexual abuses. I’m worried at violence meted to children and other minors in our country. The number of children being trafficked for sex and domestic slavery is simply benumbing. What kind of future are the leaders and government officials preparing for the future leaders?
But I haven’t quite lost hope that all will be well in our country. The darkest part of the night, as the saying goes, is usually before dawn. We have had all the evils that could possibly befall any nation happening to us. What else hasn’t happened here? We have fought a 30-month civil war; we have had a head of state killed in office; we had another snuffed out after a bite of apple, another slipped from ill health to permanent coma. We have had a credible elec­tion annulled, and witnessed massive riggings at different periods; we have witnessed ethno-religious crises; a letter bomb explosion as far back as 1986; churches and mosques have been bombed; buses and residences, schools and just anywhere have gone up in flames, with hundreds of human casualties. Police and army posts have been razed by insur­gents. Even the UN building in Abuja was not spared attack, at the time the central police headquarters was bombed.

After the Buni Yadi attack, where some schoolgirls were first abducted, the Boko Haram surpassed its record of in­famy by abducting over 200 girls in Chibok, Borno State, triggering global outrage. Just what else is left in our na­tional diary of the tragic and absurd, where over 12,000 per­sons have lost their lives, according to unofficial statistics to terrorism and other violent crimes? If we have survived all these and still wobbling on, then Nigeria can survive just anything. From darkness, comes the light of emancipation. This I believe!