Thursday, 16 October 2014

On Kema Chikwe and the Chibok Girls

On Kema Chikwe and the Chibok Girls
Last week, Dr Kema Chikwe, the PDP National Women Leader and erstwhile Aviation Minister, received some very blistering scathes on account of comments she made during a prayer session of the PDP women. In her remarks, she asked the questions: “how did it happen? Who saw it happen? Who did not see it happen? Who is behind this?” She also went ahead to say “Our hearts are bleeding, not just broken. Please God send the Chibok girls home to their mothers and families. We plead with the school authorities to release their names and their pictures. Let God touch the hearts of those who know and have perpetrated this heinous action.”
The first salvo came from the Gov Shettima of Borno State, upbraiding the ex-minister for the questions she raised, thus portraying her as attempting to cast doubt on the reality of the kidnap, which amounts to insensitivity to the immediate families of the victims and the nation at large. He retorted and boasted that they are able to provide the names and pictures of all of the girls.
The APC also jumped into the fray. The Nigerian Tribune, on May 2, reported thus: “In a statement issued in Lagos by its interim national publicity secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party expressed concern that such an incautious and insensitive statement could be made by a woman, a mother, a grandmother and a top official of the ruling PDP over an issue that was undoubtedly the worst tragedy and biggest embarrassment to Nigeria.” Lai Mohammed was quoted as saying “It has been said that politics should not be brought into issues of national security. How can anyone keep quiet in the face of this glaring assault on the sensitivity of a whole nation by a supposed leader of the ruling party, who, indeed, is attempting to politicise a national tragedy, undoubtedly the worst in the history of our nation, if not the PDP?”. As usual, many Nigerians reproved the lady along those lines rather mercilessly.
But come to think of it. By way of an analogy, only last Saturday a friend of mine parked his and went into church only to come out and be confronted with an empty spot; the car had been stolen. He had had to park outside, as with other parishioners, because of the insecurity which has made the church authorities to keep all vehicles outside the church’s perimeter. By the time I called him, he was at the police station to make a report. The police naturally asked him many questions, ranging from the brand of car, its colour, other specifics, to the time in between when he parked the car and when he discovered it missing. They also must have sought to know if he noticed any suspicious movement when he parked the car. These are valid questions if the police must make any headway in the attempt to help my friend recover his car.
To the best of my knowledge, Kema Chikwe was the first to ask any intelligent question since the Chibok abduction; most of us went emotional, reveling in our grief and forgetting how these girls had to be found, after the recanted ruse from the military that most of them had been recovered – which was quite demoralizing. Only for her to be laid on the slab…?!
The fact remains that at every point in time, a society must construct a narrative that captures its reality especially in difficult moments such as Nigeria finds itself today. Whether or not these girls are all found and in whatever condition, this nation must have a narrative on this issue and unless the questions that Kema Chikwe raised are frankly answered, we can never tell the true story. This about Memory; it is the only way by which sound public policies and national pathways are crafted.
It is curious that it would take the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Borno, to come up with a list after almost three weeks of the abduction. It is also curious that the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic would reveal, during his presidential media chat, that he had asked for names and pictures of these abductees and was told that because of their Muslim background, most of them would not have their faces revealed only for him to later realize that 80% of them were infact Christians. It is curious that the number-one citizen would accept that yarn, under whatever impression, when the girls registered for and were sitting for WAEC examination. It’s strange!
Everything in this saga reeks sinister. Therefore, inspite of whatever her motives could have been, by Kema Chikwe and her questions should every Nigerian stand.

Published on BLUEPRINT Newspaper, May 8, 2014

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