On April 14, 2014 in the remote town of Chibok, Borno, trucks belonging to the insurgent group Boko Haram invaded the Government Secondary School and abducted 276 schoolgirls from their dormitories and taken to the Sambisa Forest, the group’s infamous hideout.
What soon followed was a spark of widespread condemnation and outrage, first in Nigeria and then around the world. The #BringBackOurGirls movement took over social media, a massive campaign that advocated for the return of the girls and put pressure on political stakeholders to take action. Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai called for their release in public statements, and the then-US First Lady Michelle Obama made a special plea for their safety and urged the Nigerian government to act.
It also drew the attention of world leaders, celebrities and other interest groups. Essentially, the #BringBackOurGirls campaign was a global phenomenon. But seven years on, what have we learned as a nation? Prior to the abduction of the Chibok girls, Boko Haram has remained a constant terrorising force in Northern Nigeria, carrying out lethal attacks ranging from suicide bombings to raids. ”Western Education Is Forbidden” is the mantra the group espouses, and they have succeeded in driving fear into the hearts of citizens.
In 2017, 82 of the kidnapped Chibok girls were released by Boko Haram as part of a prisoner swap deal with the Nigerian government. There have been reported cases of some girls escaping Boko Haram captivity. There have also been many rescue attempts made by Nigerian troops. Be that as it may, some girls are still held in Boko Haram captivity. To make things worse, the government has failed to beef up security around the Northern region.
Like the Chibok abduction, the Dapchi kidnap saw an uproar from Nigerians and the international community. This was back in 2018, on February 19, 110 schoolgirls were kidnapped by Boko Haram from the Government Girls’ Science and Technical College (GGSTC). Leah Sharibu is among the girls, and the news that has tricked in about her have been harrowing, especially on the birth of her second child while still in captivity.
Both the Chibok and Dapchi kidnap has spawned other school kidnaps in the last couple of years, large numbers of schoolchildren abducted and held hostage. In all these, it is evident that the government has failed to provide security in preventing further cases of abduction. While the government has been accused of terrorism financing, leveraging it to cause political instability, there seems to be no solution in tackling the Boko Haram menace.
Be that as it may, we can only continue to remember the Chibok abduction and the girls it has devastaingly affected and strenthning our politcs to prioritise the wellbing of the girlchild.
When Bernard Dayo isn’t writing about pop culture, he’s watching horror movies and reading comics and trying to pretend his addiction to Netflix isn’t a serious condition.