BY FEMI FANI-KAYODE
Now that the operational leadership and visible face of Boko Haram, in the person of the filth called Mr. Abubakar Shekau (aka Darul Tawheed), has finally admitted that they were responsible for the abduction of hundreds of our school girls and that they intend to ”sell them in the market like slaves”, it is pertinent and necessary for us to consider some of the emerging, though uncomfortable, facts.
This will enable us to understand the nature of who and what we are dealing with and allow us to consider what the appropiate response ought to be if we really want to solve the problem. Permit me to share the following.
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has told us that 90 per cent of the girls that were abducted from their school at Chibok were christians.
The President himself alluded to this yesterday during his media chat when he said that ”the majority” of girls that were abducted were christians. The following have also been brought to my attention:
1. That the majority of the girls that either ”escaped” or were released by their abductors were muslims.
2. That the Governor of Borno state refused to accept the counsel and abide by the directives of WAEC that the exams should not take place in Chibok due to the precarious security situation and instead he insisted that the exams should take place there and that he would guarantee the security of the children.
3. That the girls that have been kidnapped are being raped up to 15 times a day by their captors and that those amongst them that have refused to convert to islam are having their throats cut (read the testimony of one of the girls that ”escaped” on page 8 of the Vanguard Newspaper, 5th April, 2014).
4. That there was not a single adult in the school grounds watching over the 278 girls that entire night apart from one security man and that there was no electricity, no generator, no principal, no matron, no house master and no house mistress in the grounds with them.
5. That the children were all alone in their dormitories that night in the blistering heat and deepest darkness before the Haramites arrived to carry them away into captivity.
6.. That two of the ladies that met with the First Lady on 4th April and that held themselves out as representatives of the families of the abducted children did not in fact have any link with the children or their families at all and hence they were arrested for impersonation.
7. That the soldiers that were guarding the school in Chibok were redeployed a few hours before Boko Haram launched their attack and abducted the children.
8. That this was a predominantly christian school and that Chibok is predominantly a christian town and community.
In my view these facts are relevant and instructive. When one considers them, the picture of what really happened at Chibok on that tragic night, what the real intentions of the abductors and their secret sponsers were and what is really going on now is getting clearer by the day.
Ordinarily whether the children are christians, muslims, pagans or atheists really should not matter because, regardless of their faith, we want them all back and we must fight for them all to be returned to their homes and loved ones.
However the fact that 90 per cent of them are christian adds a sinister and frightening dimension to the whole horrific episode and it is glaring evidence of the fact that christian girls are now being targetted by the islamists and that those girls are being ”sold in the market”, being forced to convert to islam and being turned into sex slaves.
Let me put it on record that I am of the view that it was a monuemental error for the police to arrest the two ladies that were part of the delegation that went to see the First Lady on April 4th despite the reasons adduced for doing so. That single action was an uneccessary distraction and an abuseof power. Worst still it left the Federal Government and the Presidency itself open to a lot of criticism and accusations of insensitivity and high-handedness.
This is especially so given the fact the fact that the two ladies, from what I have been told, are both very prominent members of one or two of the groups that have been agitating for the release of the girls. Those that ordered their arrest are making things far worse for the Government and it is increasingly clear to me that as a consequence of this single action they are fast losing the little goodwill that they may have left with the Nigerian people. If the war is to be won such errors must be avoided and the government must work hard to win back the confidence of our people.
I am one of those that believes that the Federal Government has failed woefully in their primary duty to protect the Nigerian people and I have enunciated that position more than anyone else in this nation in numerous essays and contributions over the last three years. However I honestly believe that today the problem has become so serious and pronounced and that the conflict has reached such a critical stage that criticising and lambasting the government alone will not help. The truth is that such an approach has certainly has not achieved much in the last three years because nothing has changed.
I believe that it is time for us to change tactics in order to achieve better results even though we must not relent in demanding that our President and his security and intelligence agencies do their job properly and provide the necessary security for our people. We also need to understand and appreciate the fact that this matter goes way beyond politics. It goes way beyond whether you are for or against Jonathan.
It goes way beyond whether you are in the APC, PDP, APGA, Labour or UPN. It goes way beyond whether you are a progressive or a conservative. It goes way beyond whether you are a christian or a muslim or whether you are from the north or the south.
The bitter truth is that regardless of wherever you come from, whatever your faith is and whichever side of the political divide you stand, we all have a duty to get to the bottom of this matter, join forces, close ranks, find out what is really going on and bring this nightmare to an end. We must join hands with all men and women of goodwill and, together, we must fight this insidious evil that seeks to envelop our land and overwhelm our people.
To be sure there is only one thing worse than failing to protect your people and that is when you organise and mobilise some misguided and mentally unstable miscreants to use religion as a political tool and get them to blow up, kill, abduct, rape and maim innocent men, women and children in an attempt to destabilise the country, spark off a religious war, change the status qou, pull down the government, induce a military coup, dismember our country and cow the Nigerian people into submission.