by Tobi Adebowale
It is 100 days since 276 girls of the Community Secondary School in Chibok, were abducted. 57 escaped but up till now, at least 219 are still with their captors. They have been there for 100 days without rescue.
As Nigerians stand in solidarity with the girls and the Chibok community on this occasion, here are 10 quotes from a cross section of Nigerian and global citizens on the issue.
1. President Goodluck Jonathan
First is Nigeria’s president and commander-in-chief who after a slow response from is administration, wrote an opinion article for the Washington Post on June 26, 2014. He said: “My heart aches for the missing children and their families. I am a parent myself, and I know how awfully this must hurt. Nothing is more important than finding and rescuing our girls”. He then adds in the same article, “The abduction of our children cannot be seen as an isolated event. Terrorism knows no borders.”
2. Dame Patience Jonathan
Enter, the president’s wife, Patience Jonathan. After the persistent pressure mounted by Nigerians, the First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan threw her weight and began an inquisition in which she concluded on Monday, May 5, 2014, that no girl had been kidnapped. That intervention led to one of the most widely circulated quote since the abduction. The first lady cried in front of the cameras, “Chai! Chai! There is God o… there’s God in everything we are doing, continue!”
3. Senator John McCain
Vietnam veteran and former Presidential candidate for the Republican Party wanted urgent action. Granting an interview to The Daily Beast on Tuesday, May 13, 2014, he said “If they knew where they were, I certainly would send in U.S. troops to rescue them, in a New York minute I would, without permission of the host country. I wouldn’t be waiting for some kind of permission from some guy named Goodluck Jonathan.”
4. Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili
Concerning President Jonathan’s refusal to visit the Chibok community where the incident occurred, Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili said at a symposium on ‘Citizens, Accountability and Democracy’ on May 29, 2014 in Abuja, that “The inability of President Goodluck Jonathan to visit Chibok shows the insensitivity of the Federal Government, to the plight of the relatives of the abducted girls”.
5. Chibok Parent
While speaking with Journalists on June 7, 2014, Esther Yakubu, one of the affected mothers whose daughter, Dorcas, 16 years old, was one of those kidnapped said “Anytime I remember her and what she could be passing through, I really can’t express how I feel. She is not an ordinary child; I carried her in my womb for 10 months before giving birth to her. I took good care of her because her father is an orphan. I assist him in taking care of our children because we believe they have bright futures. My daughter says she wants to be a teacher, her little sibling says she wants to be a doctor. But now, I don’t know what will happen to all that dream. Before she left home for school, she said to me “mama, I am going to school, I will be writing my final paper, please pray for me to be successful and become something in life. That was the last conversation we had.”
6. Chibok Escapee
Though their identities have remained cloaked, a few of the girls who escaped spoke to some foreign media outfits. One of them sadly expressed her phobia for school now.
“We would rather die than go back to school,” she told CNN on May 12, 2014.
7. Professor Wole Soyinka
In his keynote address at the opening ceremony of the 2014 World Book Capital in Port Harcourt on April 23rd, the Nobel laureate reacted to the slow response of the military in mounting rescue efforts for the Chibok girls, “We must take the battle to the extremists. An army that sits in the barracks in the face of enemy attack is no army at all but a sitting duck.” He had some words for the President too who was in Kano, the morning after the girls were kidnapped for a campaign rally where he danced with party supporters. Soyinka said: “Would you think that perhaps in place of a dance floor, a nation’s leader should have been holding round the clock emergency meetings on the recovery of those children; mobilizing the entire nation, including the encouragement of volunteers for back up duties to the military and enunciation of complete wrought of the long season of denial, the total transformation of leadership mentality in the nation.”
8. Asari Dokubo
Former militant leader and staunch supporter of President Goodluck Jonathan, Asari Dokubo argues on his part that Chibok the abduction never happened but was a script being played out by the President’s detractors. He proclaimed on May 12, 2014 at a protest he led that, “No girls were abducted from Chibok. It is a hoax to make President Jonathan look bad.” On July 1, 2014, he also put up a post on his Facebook page: “Dis Chibok School no get uniform…so na mufti dem dey wear snap passport for SSCE? Pass the message. No girls are missing…Chibok is a scam”
9. Michelle Obama
While delivering the White House weekly address on May 10, 2014 to mark Mother’s Day, First Lady of the United States of America focused on the Chibok abduction in her speech. It was the speech which really sparked a wellspring of foreign support: “Like millions of people across the globe, my husband and I are outraged and heartbroken over the kidnapping of more than 200 Nigerian girls from their school dormitory in the middle of the night. This unconscionable act was committed by a terrorist group determined to keep these girls from getting an education; grown men attempting to snuff out the aspirations of young girls.”
10. Malala Yousafzai
The Pakistani teenager was in Nigeria on her 17th birthday on July 14, 2014 and met with President Goodluck Jonathan as well as campaigners for the return of the girls. In her speech, she said “Luckily, the President did make two promises to me and to you, the people of his country. He promised the government will do its best to bring back the girls alive and safe. The second promise he made that is important is that he will meet the parents of those girls that were abducted.” She also had some words for Boko Haram, “Release your sisters. Release my sisters and release the daughters of this nation. Let them be free.”