by Babatope Falade
Its 500 days since Boko Haram kidnapped over 200 girls in Borno State, Nigeria. This created a lot of outcry in Nigeria and in the international community. It surely put Nigeria in a bad light. It marked the previous administration as eternally incompetent and unable to protect its citizens.
The #BRINGBACKOURGIRLS campaign no doubt gained so much weight and pulled the earth slightly from its orbit. Such was the impact it had, that many celebrities, politicians and opinion leaders globally identified with the situation in Nigeria’s far, hot and troubled north.
I see the kidnap of the girls as a marker of what I call a prelude to historical time bomb explosion. The time bomb of course was put together by years of neglect of the north and poverty in the country for many year’s pre and post-independence periods. It also doesn’t exclude the remnants of the feudal structures in the north, where the almajiri’s strut the streets of the north with nothing except their Islamic education and unfortunate beggarly livelihood.
All round, the sad event tells us something with the reasons why it happened, how it happened and what followed what happened. The obvious causes of why it happened are under-development and poverty. Just imagine a lad that has not seen 10,000 Naira been offered dollars or a greater lifestyle. That will be his own good life, not to talk of a miseducation that promises virgins after death in Jihad.
How did it happen? The girls that were kidnapped in their pursuit of education had to write WAEC and for some reason people in charge of security didn’t deem it fit to move the girls to safer places, such as Maiduguri to write the exams, at least it’s safer than Chibok, which characteristically will be underdeveloped and prone to successful attacks of insurgents. The rest they say is history. The girls were abducted!
What happened afterwards, the President didn’t believe as he thought it was a ruse, the Nigerian army wasn’t even on ground to salvage the situation and none of the principal officers had their kids abducted and so many things that represented poor leadership and negligence played up.
The #BringBackOurGirls movement have tried their best and this is not the time to rest. However, the message must change. It’s not only the Chibok Girls that were abducted. Many people in the north have been abducted. Many people are being killed in the middle belt regularly. These people are people. Men, Women, Children (Boys and Girls).
Many Nigerian children, boys and girls don’t have education. The US Department of State reports that 61% of Nigerian children are out of school. What does that mean for our future? Even the ones that are educated don’t have relevant skills for the knowledge economy.
To think that many kids in the north are still going through dangerous religious miseducation, this guarantees a steady pool of recruits of fighters for the terrorist group.
My advice for BBOG is to evolve. They have the weight now, they have access and the ears of Nigerians. If the over 200 abducted girls mean anything to them, they need to evolve to help the endangered millions of Nigerian kids children that our poor systems have stolen and sold into academic and opportunity recession. This kids upon their birth belong to the past, because their future has been bleak from day one! It’s good to mourn the girls, we must find a national mourning day to keep them in our minds and to push government to do something about safety and see possibilities to find them. However, the millions of children out in the cold need a blanket. BBOG can be that blanket.