On the night of 14–15 April 2014, 276 female students were kidnapped from the Government Secondary School in Chibok town, Borno State, Nigeria.
Boko Haram, an extremist and terrorist organization based in northeastern Nigeria claimed responsibility for the kidnappings.
The then sitting president, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan came under severe criticism for the manner in which his administration handled the matter.
It soon became a major campaign issue by the opposition All Progressive Congress (APC) sequel to the March 28 presidential election in Nigeria, with the party pledging to rescue the girls in the shortest time possible, if voted into power.
A movement known as the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) group co-founded by Oby Ezekwesili, former federal minister for Education was at the fore front of agitation for the release of the kidnapped girls, organising protests many of which the then Jonathan administration found ’embarrassing’, an utmost negative publicity in an election year.
Going by the energetic drive and astute pursuits of the BBOG group, not a few persons were of the opinion that Oby Ezekwesili was indirectly working for the opposition APC to oust the incumbent People Democratic Party (PDP) administration of Dr Goodluck Jonathan.
Then came the presidential elections on the 28th and 29th March 2015.
As Nigerians expected the presidential election results from Borno state, President Goodluck Jonathan in a historic concessional phone call, congratulated the APC presidential flag bearer, Muhammadu Buhari.
While the APC had 15,424,921 votes, the then incumbent PDP scored
12,853,162 votes equivalent to 53.96% and 44.96% respectively.
It’s been well over a year since President Muhammadu Buhari was sworn in, yet the kidnapped girls are yet to be found in spite of repeated protests by the BBOG group.
The military high commands recently stated that they are not aware of the exact location of the girls, putting out the little ray of hope, hitherto clinged on to by the aggrieved parents.
On Monday 22nd August 2016, the BBOG staged yet another protest but were denied access into Aso Rock, the seat of the Nigerian government, by security officers who barricaded the entrance.
This led to a shouting match between Ezekwesili and CSP Chuks Obasi who insisted that the protesters would not cross the human barricade put together by the security operatives.
Ezekwesili was quoted to have made uncomplimentary remarks about President Buhari over the manner he has handled the rescue of the kidnapped girls since his assumption of office, at the recent altercation.
The Tribune quoted her as having said that PMB is “not fit to be president”!
Though, she has denied using those exact words, recent pronouncements from her showed that she is indeed “disappointed’ at President over the manner he has handled the plight of the kidnapped girls thus far, pointing at lack of political will.
No sooner was she quoted to have made those derogatory remarks than critics went to town, making jest of her for daring to condemn so openly, a personality she inadvertently “worked for” en route power!
While there’s no concrete evidence that Ezekwesili worked for the APC, the activities of the BBOG as championed by her was obviously one of the heavy blows that sent President Jonathan out of the power ring of Aso Rock.
But then, even if she had supported Buhari in his quest for power, could she not look at him in the face and criticise him if she thinks her idol is performing below expectation?
Rather than make a mockery of Ezekwesili, I think she’s indeed worthy of celebaration for being constant in her quest, irrespective of who occupies the Presidency.
This is where many of us miss the point.
There’s nothing wrong in openly supporting a candidate prior to elections. However, if that candidate eventually wins and fails to deliver, it amounts to heroism, criticising him after the manner that we supported him.
To continuously drum support for a political office holder simply because we do not want the opposition to make a ridicule of us is tantamount to lampoonable generational treachery.
Now, parents of the kidnapped girls have withdrawn from participating in protests organised by the Ezekwesili’s BBOG group, saying that they do not want to further “annoy” President Buhari in the quest to secure the release of their girls from the dreaded Boko Haram terrorists!
How so paradoxical; that the PDP and over 12 million Nigerians who voted for Jonathan see Ezekwesili as an ‘enemy’ who was “used” to oust their hero, the parents of the kidnapped Chibok girls now see her as an overbearing Amazon who should be avoided as not to further complicate the search for their missing girls, while the APC cum Presidency see her as a busy-body trouble maker, a South-Easterner who is crying far more than the bereaved North-Easterns, with the Senior Special Assistant to the president on media and publicity, Garba Shehu, advising Ezekwesili to form a political party to run for presidency if she feels Buhari is not doing well.
For me, Oby Ezekwesili is a victim of the jaundiced millieu of the Nigerian state where sentiments dwarf excellence.
For me, Oby is a hero!
*Thomas-Wilson Ikubese is a Medical Practitioner and a Social Commentator.