Thursday, 16 October 2014

Chibok Girls: No Silver Bullet

Chibok Girls: No Silver Bullet
Today makes it sixty-five days since the Chibok girls were abducted on the 14th of April, 2014. Even though there were wishes in many a Nigerian quarters that the girls were recovered and recovered soon, it is doubtful if hopes were high on their timely recovery. This doubt is not unconnected with the frustration and despair that have become the lot of Nigerians as a result of many disappointments amidst so much possibilities and opportunities. The guess is that in actual fact, Nigerians have never expected their government to “bring them the moon”; instead, they have only wished to see that government, at all levels, is moving in some positive direction and they will be willing to follow and wait for the kind of result they expect, no matter how long. Therefore the whole thing about the bring-back-our-girls campaign was actually in a bid to nudge the government into some positive action instead of having a president wait for almost three week before speaking to such an issue. But this is issue for another day.
The moment, however, America and other countries came into the fray of the Chibok girls, hope that the girls would be recovered and very soon too became very palpable in the Nigerian streets. The problem with that expectation is that it was rather na├»ve. Even from the very outset, the Americans made it clear that they were only going to support the quest for the girls’ recovery by way of intelligence support. But even if they were to put boots on the ground in Sambisa, it was not going to be a magic wand affair.
Only a few weeks ago, an American soldier, Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who had been “abducted” and held captive by the Talibans in Afghanistan was released to his government. He had been held in captivity for five years and his release was made on grounds of a swap: America had to release five prisoners held in Guantanamo Bay on allegations of terrorism to the Talibans. Sergeant Bergdahl was held for five years! America has had boots on the ground in Afghanistan; in fact it is their war! They secured his release with a swap of five persons! These facts should tell us some hard truths.
For some it is already becoming confusing, or even frustrating, that up until now, even with the presence of the foreign powers, the girls are still at large. Well, if it took America, with men on the ground, five years to get only one man, a soldier, back, to expect 276 ordinary girls released by now because of foreign presence or involvement will only amount to expecting a miracle. But, even though we live in a highly religious country where people expect miracles in spite of the obvious, such miracles don’t just happen like that.
Also, the fact that America had to swap five prisoners for their one soldier should be instructive here. Afterall, even before the law, should not a hundred guilty people be free instead of having one innocent person suffer? Negotiation should be a possibility and it should be pursued expeditiously, especially as Boko Haram is also suggesting the possibility of a swap. Right now as it is, the profile of Boko Haram in the global comity of terrorists, as Jideofor Adibe noted in his column of last Thursday in the Daily Trust newspaper, is already high with the mere declaration of it as international terrorist organization. The presence of foreign intervention in the saga now also provides another opportunity for them to hold out some more and accrue even more respect from amongst their ilk. You do not want to wait until a terrorist is over-confident before you begin to negotiate. Again Nigeria must act fast.
Finally, even against our imagination as to the fate of the abducted girls in the hands of the terrorists, we are only left with the option to pray for them where ever they are that they are safe and that whatever trauma is their lot is remediable. Again this looks like asking for a miracle, but we will not tire.

BLUEPRINT Newspaper; June 19, 2014

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