On the night of 14th April 2014, 276 female students were kidnapped from their dormitories in Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State. Boko Haram, a terrorist group which has carried out several attacks in the West African sub-region, claimed responsibility for the kidnappings even as 57 of the girls managed to escape from captivity due to the fact that the vehicles their captors used to ferry them away was overloaded and the brave ones among them jumped into the bush while the vehicle was in motion.
This was the incident that birthed the Bring Back Our Girls Campaign led by Mrs Oby Ezekwesili, a former Minister of Education, and Mrs Aisha Yesufu, a social activist. I commend the BBOG campaigners for their single mindedness and their tenacity of purpose despite insults, name calling and intimidation from government security forces, for not allowing the issue to be swept under the carpet as is the norm in Nigeria, and for their partial success evidenced by the return of half of the captured girls. The fact that they are still involved in the campaign despite a change in government at the federal level has also debunked rumours which made the rounds that they were sponsored by the then opposition All Progressives Congress to bring down the administration of Former President Goodluck Jonathan.
However, i think it is time for the BBOG campaigners to consider a change of strategy in line with the current realities if they are truly desirous of actualizing their aims and objectives. I say this in view of the clash between the Police and the BBOG campaigners when they (BBOG) attempted to march on the Presidential Palace. While i condemn all forms of brutality by the police, if indeed there was any, the BBOG campaigners especially Mrs Ezekwesili, who has been in government before, should have known that a march on the Presidential Palace is a security risk and it would be a failing on the part of the Police and other security agencies if they failed to stop the marchers. There is nowhere in the world where protesters are allowed to march onto the grounds of the Presidential Palace. Not even in America, where they have an open, free and liberal democracy. How much more Nigeria which is bedeviled with a plethora of security challenges, left, right and centre? The Police was also wrong to have arrested the protesters since they committed no crime. Those in the administration who ordered the arrest of the BBOG campaigners should not fail to remember that they were the major beneficiaries of the campaign as it is an open secret that the issue of the Chibok girls was the Achilles heel that led to the downfall of the past administration.
They (BBOG) should be patient with the government seeing that the government has secured the release of half of the girls in captivity, has promised to free the remaining 112 girls, and has renewed the fight against their captors. They should also lower the bar of their expectations since recent videos posted on the internet by the insurgents have revealed that some of the girls are now married to their captors with children and have expressed a desire not to return back to their families in Nigeria. It will be extremely difficult for the security agencies to secure the release of some of them who have been brainwashed into becoming fighters for Boko Haram or those who are currently experiencing Stockholm Syndrome. BBOG campainers should be mindful of the fact that the recent resurgence of Boko Haram with attacks on several villages and communities, can be attributed to the alleged release of some Boko Haram leaders in prison coupled with a large amount of money (several millions of dollars) in exchange for the released Chibok girls.
BBOG campaigners can camp out, carry out rallies, campaigns, grant interviews and engage in advocacy rather than attempting to march on the Presidential Palace every now and then. They should be less antagonistic towards the government but should collaborate with them as partners in progress in securing the release of the remaining Chibok girls.