2019: Boko Haram, Chibok, Dapchi, Girls & General Elections
Not Again! Not Again!! Not Again!!!
This is what a silent voice is echoing in the hearts of many Nigerians, as the feeling of déjà vu stares us face to face.
A distance of 275 kilometres (about 4 hours, 5 minutes via the Damaturu-Babangida-Dapchi-Gashua Road), lies between Chibok and Dapchi.
This distance has melted away as members of both communities taste horror and pain.
Why Always Northern Nigeria?
My experience in Borno State makes me wonder if there is a lie or are being manipulated as a people?
Nigerians woke up on April 15, 2014 to the news of the abduction of over 200 girls from Chibok and what followed were protests and more protests even outside the shores of Nigeria.
That abduction happened one year to the General Election and it was believed to be politically motivated to the extent that the administration of Goodluck Jonathan took long to believe that girls were actually taken.
No major deliberate rescue was made except for those released through negotiations and undisclosed payments and prisoner swap deals by the Buhari administration.
The ones the military brought back were found wondering in some forest while on counter-terrorism-operations.
Four years down the line, our Nation is again in the news for the same story of girls’ abduction, but this time the location shifted kilometres away.
Government Girls Technical Secondary School in Dapchi, Yobe State, was the target and at least 110 girls are missing, according to government figures.
The coincidence of the time - barely a year to the 2019 presidential election - just like the 2014 Chibok abduction has left a bell tolling in my head.
The only thing that we may not see, is the kind of meeting between the wife of the president then, Patience Jonathan, and some affected women including schools’ officials, where she cried and birthed a viral video that popularised these axioms: “Na only you waka come?" and "There is God Oh".
What I find difficult to understand is how the current administration lost the only praise plot it has left.
In an interview with the BBC published on December, 24, 2015; President Muhammadu Buhari said "Boko Haram has reverted to using improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
"Indoctrinating young guys... they have now been reduced to that.
"But articulated conventional attacks on centres of communication and populations.. they are no longer capable of doing that effectively.
"So I think technically we have won the war because people are going back into their neighbourhoods. Boko Haram as an organised fighting force, I assure you, that we have dealt with them."
So, Are The 'Gods' To Blame?
Blame games have started between security operatives and the government of Yobe State.
While the state government blames the army for withdrawing security personnel few weeks before the abduction, the army has fired back at the Governor, Ibrahim Gaidam, reminding him that the army cannot protect all schools in the region.
This same absence of security personnel in Chibok environment when the girls were abducted ensured that Boko Haram succeeded in taking our girls away.
While most of the girls abducted have not returned or seen since then, the fate of the Dapchi girls is hanging in the balance.
What To Expect In Coming Days
There was an uproar locally and internationally that birthed the #BBOG campaign for the return of the girls.
More groups will spring up in coming days to protest and push the current administration to go after the girls and rescue them.
This again will further whip up sentiments and issues around whether this is not more of an abduction aimed at scoring political gains than of a push for an Islamic State by the allegedly 'decimated' sect.
This fight against these insurgents has cost Nigeria so much and more funds will go down into tackling insecurity than developing the nation's infrastrcuture.
Some critics, one of them, the Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, had kicked against this withdrawal, but the government seems to have found a justification that Nigerians will now see. This war is not over.
But whether the total sum spent would be accounted for is something that remains to be seen.
Let us not forget that funds also voted for arms purchases during Jonathan’s era is what the current government in its anti-corruption war is accusing the past administration of embezzling.
It is for that reason that Colonel Sambo Dasuki is still in detention.
Our girls are out there somewhere, but are these Boko Haram members unseen spirits?
I was in Borno State in December and I travelled to different communities where Boko Haram had attacked.
I looked for bushes and could not find any thick bush that individuals could hide without being seen.
All I saw were Neem Trees and other small trees standing tall and scattered over the vast arid land.
Each time we stopped in a community, I moved away from where people were just to have a better feel of the area.
From where I stood, I could see beyond 700 metres, except for locations that were not on a level land.
Even though the terrain in Yobe State may be different, it will not be much different from what I saw in Borno.
This leaves me wondering where Boko Haram could go through with this large number of girls without being seen.
Sambisa forest is out of it, if we must believe the military which said it had largely cleared the area.
It is so sad that we are going round the mountain in the fight against these deadly insurgents to the point that on a daily basis it appears to me that it is a penchant put upon us for a reason far beyond the ideology of creating an Islamic State.
Let us not forget that each time these crimes happen and people are not punished or arrested, younger generation of Nigerians see it as a norm.
WATCH THE UNTOLD BOKO HARAM STORIES IN BORNO