The Forgotten Girls of Chibok
The greatest challenge faced by a long-standing problem is staying relevant. In a world of news, every issue has a pitifully short time in the sun, which means, unfortunately, that most of them never get the necessary closure.
In a country like Nigeria where, at the best of times, the carpet is liberally peppered with the lumps of unresolved issues swept underneath it, the situation of the Chibok girls is a particularly sad one. It is over 120 days since their abduction, and the probability of their rescue is getting bleaker by the day. As time goes by and other also significant events happen in the country and around the globe, it is becoming almost impossible to keep the kidnapping in the news as well as keep the interest alive in the minds of the citizens. As if the seemingly lackadaisical attitude of the government towards their rescue is not enough to contend with, there is a new and equally deadly face of terror in the country, which is none other than the deadly Ebola Virus Disease.
From the moment the news of the presence of Patrick Sawyer, the only known importer of the virus into the country, broke, the whole nation has been buzzing with all sorts of information and panic about the virus. The government was impressively quick in responding and in disseminating information about the etiology of Ebola and precautions against it. Whether they are honest in their claims of contact-tracing and quarantining suspected victims is another matter; the point of note is the rapid response and action taken.
This makes one wonder if the apparent sluggish attitude towards the missing Chibok girls and indeed, the other acts of terror perpetrated by Boko Haram up north is not intentional. There are a good number of similarities between results of the infiltration of the Ebola virus and Boko Haram: both are harmful to the society, fatal and preventable. The glaring difference between the responses of the government to both issues tells of one of two things. It is either the powers that be do not recognize that the end product of either plague is the same, which is highly unlikely, as any blind person can see this, or that the abduction of the Chibok girls is still not being taken seriously by the authorities.
We are told daily that there are a number of behind-the-scene activities on the road to rescuing the girls that the general public is not privy to. Even if this is so, this handshake has gone way past the elbow and has evolved into a headlock. A hundred and twenty days is a ludicrous amount of time for any serious government to leave their abducted teenage citizens in the custody of ruthless terrorists. If any covert operations are underway, should we not be seeing, at the very least, the hint of results by now? Even with allowance given for the late reaction by the authorities to the Chibok crisis, isn’t it high time something gives?
It is not surprising that by now, majority of the population are emotionally dissociated from the kidnapping incident. There is only so much amount of time that one can hang on to compassion, not to mention the myriad of other issues Nigerians are having to face these days, the least not being the petrifying presence of Ebola virus. But we have a duty to these children and the families who pine for them to not forget them, to create room on the front pages of our newspapers for these displaced girls. No matter how constant a headache is, it remains uncomfortable, and even if a bellyache joins the fray, the headache is not forgotten.
We cannot afford to put them on the back-burner for any length of time, because these are human beings whose lives should be invaluable to us as a nation. The possibility of these children being used as the tools of terror is quite high, what with the sudden upsurge of female suicide-bombing incidents in the country. We cannot stand by and watch innocent girls become fashioned into weapons of mass destruction. Not only are the girls at risk, but the lives of others who happen to be victims of these suicide bombs are hanging in the balance as well.
While we focus on the new problems rearing their ugly heads, let us not forget about the existing ones, not until we solve them.