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Betty Abah: Alas, the lost women of Chibokland

This week the world is filled with the aura of the celebration of womanhood. Yet in Chibok, North Eastern Nigeria is our eerie reminder: the scarred debris of Chibok Secondary School where the dreams of great womanhood lay burnt and littered from the fiery-furnace-touch of a meaningless extremism.
More than 330 days after their abduction, the Chibok Girls are not home and who knows if we will ever get to celebrate them as grown, great women. And, what was their fault? They wanted, against all odds, to become women the world would reckon with, women the world would celebrate. On the way to the path of greatness was the rustic four-walled learning centre called the Chibok Secondary School in the sleepy, forgotten Chibok Town where they would acquire life-enhancing and greatness-inducing formal education. Their dreams became their albatross.

Chibok girls released by Boko Haram last year in Hijabs.Eleven months after the mindless abduction of more than 200 Chikok school girls, most Nigerians seem to have moved on. After all, shortly after that, our beloved president went dancing in Kano, and many have unashamedly and callously called it a ruse. Amazons like Dr. Oby Ezekwesili who have continued to scream for their return have been vilified and out rightly demonized. When recently the abduction clocked 300 days, it took the 17 year-old Malala to awaken the conscience of the world (after having awakened our president as to the need to see her parents earlier). I have read many say we should move on, after all, the world has moved on since the mysterious disappearance of victims of MH370, the Malaysian airliner which dived to the bottom of theINdian Ocean and is yet to be seen.

But how could the world forget? Or, more pointedly, how would History forgive? Forgive for the security that was not provided as constitutionally provided? Forgive the security officials who allegedly put hurdles on the way of their rescue for their own selfish gains? Forgive the mules in the Army who fed information and arms to our enemies? Forgive, again, the President who, even after so many missteps in the response (as in most other things), rebuffed an offer by former President Olusegun Obasanjo who reportedly was to have facilitated the release of about 100 of the girls in order to avoid appearing as not ‘being in charge’? How could History forgive this gross injustice against the daughters of peasants who would, who knows, have brought glory to the fatherland, if their dreams were left untampered by the mad extremists, rag-tag extinguishers of destinies?

And so we see, recently, the government trying to bribe History in advance. They sent Finance Minister Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iwuala to Chibok to lay the foundation for the rebuilding of the damaged school and to meet with parents of the kidnapped girls. Methinks that was nothing but a political exigency at the eve of election which I think means nothing, inspires nothing and leads to nothing other than the need to #BringBackJonathan. No, it has nothing to do with the globally echoed #BringBackOurGirls, and the elders of Chibok have rightly spoken: bring back our girls and not the school structure. How could History forget in a jiffy that President Jonathan never bothered to mention them in his New Year broadcast, went to Maiduguri but did not bother with mentioning them among other mind-bugling indifference on their matter? After all, they are nothing but inconsequential children of equally inconsequential peasants. Mrs. Okonji-Iwuala’s visit, compatriots, is all about THEIR 2015 goals, it’s not about OUR 219 girls.

Again, while the 2015 International Women’s Day (IWD) offers opportunity for the celebration of great women, over 200 of our own potentially great, women and aspiring future amazons are still held in Sambisa forests or in the rickety huts and caves inhabited by the rag-tag terrorists. They are held in shackles and today, dreams die, prospects wane and girlhood is forever lost. Alas, the wails of these daughters of Nigeria are drowned by the music and praise singing at political campaign grounds waxed passionately by artists and ‘celebrities’ with consciences up for sale.

Today, the lost amazons of Chibok represents every girl, every woman abducted and continuously violated by Boko Haram, and survivors that would have to leave with lifetime scars. They represent the several lost dreams of our land. They represent the many children who are displaced without hope, the many orphaned without comfort.

Aslso, the Chibok girls’ saga reveals so glaringly the progressive loss of our humanity as a nation and the many lives whose issues have become politicized. The Chibok girls saga remains a timeless indictment on our government, on their complete apathy to children’s welfare, rights or safety a stab on the dignity of our women (just as the stunning response to the brutal killing of innocent young boys at the Buni Yadi school and the ensuring dance party).

Chibok’s amazons-in-the making are not here in this boisterous period. Who knows whether they can make it back to reclaim their place and be celebrated in a few years’ time among the amazons in future International Women’s Day commemorations? Who knows.

Meanwhile, alas, the dance parties, the apathy and politicking continues!

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