Lest We Forget The Chibok Girls - by Jeff Okoroafor

“Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than the ones you did.” -Mark Twain

Imagine a scenario where a feared terrorist organisation descends on your community, takes a large number of young girls, four of which are your own biological sisters. Over one hundred and thirty days after, you’ve not heard from them nor about them…what would you do as a brother, or sister? And if you are a mother or a father, what would you do?

The things that make us human isn’t because we live and breathe, but because we understand when our fellow brothers, our sisters, friends or even enemies are in pain, in need of our love and/or support. Empathy, not sympathy, is the only instrument that guides our sanity towards the consolidation of our God-given emotion to care, and to love not ourselves alone, but others as well.

On April 14, Deborah Sanya, an 18-year-old girl from Government Secondary School Chibok, Borno State, took a tremendous risk and bolted from the hands of her captors, the dreaded Islamic sect popularly known as Boko Haram. Through the night, she and two other friends who were also abducted by the same group, from the same school in the same community, ran for their lives, eventually reaching safety in a village. On that fateful day, over 200 schoolgirls were abducted from their hostels by the Boko Haram insurgents who after their raid, went away unchallenged. The police did nothing, the security agents did nothing, the military did nothing, THE GOVERNMENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA did nothing, even Nigerians, the very affected, did nothing nor said anything.

Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has”.

In Nigeria today, there’s a fire whose wood has kept burning, one lit up by a small group of thoughtful, highly committed Nigerian women (and men) on April 30, the same month the Chibok schoolgirls were abducted by the Boko Haram insurgents. This small group of Nigerians, the Abuja Family of #BringBackOurGirls has inspired more hope and motivated more Nigerians than any group in the history of Nigeria, to fight for what they believe in based on self-conviction. Nigeria has successfully remained where she is, growing bad leaders in a geometrical manner simply because no one is ASKING and no one is DEMANDING.

About 57 boys were slaughtered in their hostel rooms by members of Boko Haram, no one took it up and it died there; the government stated categorically that it knew the identities of those sponsoring Boko Haram and their activities, no one took it up and it died there; over N3.3 trillion has been expended on security in the last three years yet there is little or no security at all in Nigeria, no one took it up and it died there; the mastermind of Nyanya bomb blast confessed and even exposed his fellow accomplices, no one took it up and it died there…but for the relentless efforts of the #BringBackOurGirls advocacy group, by now, the abducted Chibok schoolgirls would have also been a thing of the past. This group of less than three hundred people has continuously challenged the convention in Nigeria. The members, despite the odds that faced them, have constantly stood their grounds, refusing to proceed with BUSINESS AS USUAL but bent on dealing in BUSINESS UNUSUAL. A business setting where Nigerians ask questions on topical, national issues and refuse to go until they get answers; a business setting where the government gives what they promise and the people in return, carry out their fundamental civic responsibility in obedience to the law; a business setting where transparency, equity, good governance etc, become the lifelines of our democracy. This is the group that has brilliantly and non-violently engaged the Nigerian government for the past 130 days on the issue of the over 200 abducted schoolgirls from Chibok community. Anxiety, pain, sadness, depression, agony, confusion, abandonment etc, are all what the Chibok girls are probably feeling right now. Girls who are kept in a place where they cannot eat when they want to, sleep when they want to, partake in festivities at will or do anything without being permitted to…130 days since these girls were taken and the government has not been able to SHOW Nigerians, evidence or results of her rescue operation.

One hundred and thirty days, mothers have not felt the warm hug of their daughters and fathers have not smiled for the pride of seeing their daughter grow into womanhood; Over 130 days and the government has not been able to bring back these girls even after stating that it knew where they are kept. If they are your children, your sisters, your nieces, would you STILL BE SILENT, NIGERIANS? Truth is, a small group of Nigerians is setting the pace for a “new Nigeria”. A small group of Nigerians is redefining moments and re-creating positive chains of events in Nigeria. A small group of Nigerians is making history…the question is, what are you waiting for? If I’m it, the last of my kind, the last page of human history, like hell, I’m going to let the story end this way. I may be the last one, but I am the one still standing. I am the faceless hunter in the woods on an abandoned highway. I am the one not running but facing. Because if I am the last one, then I am humanity. And if this is humanity’s last war, then I am the battlefield. Only that this time, I am battling for the #ChibokGirls and the betterment of Nigeria, for the Nigerians in it today, and the ones that will be born tomorrow. Injustice to one should be injustice to all.

Okoroafor is the Founder, OpinionNigeria, Garki II, Abuja.