Kidnappers, who abducted students and workers at the Nigerian-Turkish International School, Isheri, in Ogun State, 11 days ago, have just set them free tonight. According to the police, the eight victims were dropped off at the back of the school. The police had earlier today told reporters that the victims would regain freedom within 24…
I am writing this column on Christmas day. There are so many ideas buzzing in my head, to write on: The harsh economic reality, which has made the season particularly bleak; President Jammeh’s recalcitrance; Sambisa and the final onslaught against Boko Haram, among others.
But, what do you want to write on Christmas, when it’s pretty obvious that for majority of our citizens, “over 80% have no food on their table, says Bishop Kukah in his Sunday Sun interview,” it’s no merriment? What do you want to write on Christmas, when the man you meet on the streets has made the book of Lamentations his constant companion for a while now?
The reason is not hard to tell: No cash. Everywhere is tight. Naira is not just falling against the almighty dollar and pounds sterling, but doing an incredible somersault, that has left the people watching, with utter stupefaction.
To be sure, when the naira falls, everything rises: Food stuff prices, fuel, rents, consumer items, just anything. Even, the blood pressure of many rises to boiling point. And like we all know, the weak, spineless naira has been knocked prostrate for a while now, and we all have been quite saddened.
But, it’s Christmas season. And trust Nigerians to find a way to make merry, even when all roads appear blocked; even when hardship ties its ugly hands around the necks of many, life must go on.
Life goes on indeed, but surely not for many of the Chibok girls, yet to be freed from their cruel abductors, almost 1000 days after their capture (by next couple of weeks). Life surely has been one hell of an experience. And as humanity celebrates Christmas, the uneasy question keeps recurring: Will they ever return home? When?
So, on Christmas day, I chose to remember the Chibok girls, still entrapped in the dangerous forest of Sambisa or wherever. Surely, everyone has heard of the Chibok girls? The young schoolgirls, who were captured from their school hostel and forcefully taken away by the goons from hell or wherever, called Boko Haram. It’s 987 days after, yet not all of them have been set free; for the lucky few, who are savouring the joy of freedom, life can’t be the same. You can then imagine the fate of those still in the bosom of the strange, deadly fellows.
So, while we celebrate, we must spare a thought, a prayer, supplication for our dear sisters, daughters, relatives and compatriots, yanked from us and kept away for no logical reason other than the obsession of the bigots to have their way against the rest of the society.
We must never forget them. Not only at Christmas, but all the time. They are part of our humanity. When we carry on in our daily grind as if they don’t matter, something is drained of our humanity; animals in their kingdom cringe in embarrassment and shock.
Like I once noted in this column last year, in countries where life means anything to anyone, nothing will ever be the same again until all the girls are freed and returned home safe and sound; until a definite and definitive solution is found to the rescue of the girls! But not here, where people are carrying on, as if the life of the other person doesn’t matter. Once we are not the victims or our relatives or someone we know are not directly involved, we care less. It’s terrible!
Indeed, this will be the fourth or so article I have done on the unfortunate incident, because it raises issues as to how low our country has sunk. It raises questions as to how we should never treat security matters in our country.
I’m thinking of the yet-to-be freed Chibok girls, who do not know it’s Christmas. What’s the meaning of Christmas or any festivity to someone in captivity? What’s Christmas to young girls violently taken from their school by strange guys, for whatever strange reasons? How do you wish the parents, family and relatives of Chibok girls, happy Christmas or season’s greetings, when the girls are still in the firm grips of their captors, with no inkling of when they would breathe the air of freedom?
We can’t imagine the hell they have seen and been through. Will they ever be the same again, even after they, hopefully, regain freedom from their captors? Not likely. Will they ever have love or kind feelings for a country that was unable to protect them from their abductors? Not likely. Even these will be secondary. The primary task at hand now, is how to get them out. We can worry later about how to solve the post-abduction trauma.
We can’t get tired writing about the Chibok girls until they are released, with all the strands of their hair, their limbs and their teeth intact. We can’t stop kicking Boko Haram, the group of marauders making life tensed for their nation and the world, until all the girls regain freedom and are locked in the warm embraces of their families.
We should never stop urging the Buhari administration to do something, anything faster to get all the girls out, even as we commend him for the efforts in rescuing some of the girls. When they are all free, we can then give a full pass mark to the government.
It’s Christmas, and I’m deeply concerned about the future of the leaders of tomorrow. I’m worried about the growing incidences of child rape and sexual abuses. I’m worried at violence meted to children and other minors in our country. The number of children being trafficked for sex and domestic slavery is simply benumbing. What kind of future are the leaders and government officials preparing for the future leaders?
But I haven’t quite lost hope that all will be well in our country. The darkest part of the night, as the saying goes, is usually before dawn. We have had all the evils that could possibly befall any nation happening to us. What else hasn’t happened here? We have fought a 30-month civil war; we have had a head of state killed in office; we had another snuffed out after a bite of apple, another slipped from ill health to permanent coma.
We have had a credible election annulled, and witnessed massive riggings at different periods; we have witnessed ethno-religious crises; a letter bomb explosion as far back as 1986; churches and mosques have been bombed; buses and residences, schools and just anywhere have gone up in flames, with hundreds of human casualties. Police and army posts have been razed by insurgents. Even the UN building in Abuja was not spared attack, at the time the central police headquarters was bombed.
If we have survived all these and still wobbling on, then Nigeria can survive just anything. It’s the season of hope, isn’t it? The birth of our Lord Jesus Christ raises the hope for mankind, including our beleaguered country!