By Azeezat Fadekemi Sulaiman
For over four weeks, over 250 girls have been missing from their homes.
That’s 29 days since over 250 young girls saw their mothers and fathers, that’s 29 days since over 250 girls last saw their siblings, 29 days since over 250 girls last slept in their beds, 29 days since over 250 girls felt safe, 29 days since their dreams of having an education and a future was ruthlessly squashed by armed terrorists who yanked them out of their beds as they slept in their dormitories, whisking them off into destinations unknown, away from their loved ones, away from civilisation and away from sanity.
Anyone with children can only try to imagine the anguish of their mothers, but no one can truly understand the pains of the families of the missing girls until you try to imagine that it was your own daughter who was kidnapped by unknown men, then you might begin to understand the gravity of the situation.
We do not know how life has become for these young girls but we can imagine that everyday goes by in fear and trepidation. They will wake up every morning not knowing if they will see the end of the day or if deranged Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau will decide if today should be their last before violently snuffing the life out their adolescent bodies.
They will wake up everyday aware of the fact that these men may abuse verses of the Holy Quran to take advantage of them, marrying them off to strangers, using them as sex slaves when they’re barely into puberty and forcing them to take vows that as children, they are far too young to comprehend or keep.
Every single day that passes, these girls will wonder if they will ever see their mothers again. Little things that we take for granted will become the only thing that keeps them from insanity.
Everyday luxuries like having a bath in the privacy of their own bathroom, eating at their own convenience, playing their favourite games, even gossiping about teachers and other students like themselves will all seem like a luxury now.
Yet, it took the Nigerian government (and Nigerians too) over two weeks to come out of their coma and realise the real danger these girls were in.
Even as the social media campaign gained prominence, the Government were still dithering on the issue, with many high-profile government officials wondering what the fuss was about, after all, this wasn’t the first time Boko Haram would kidnap women or girls.
It was business as usual.
Not anymore, never again.
The #BringBackOurGirls campaign has shown that Nigerians CAN be united to bring our leaders to account if we chose to do so.
The Jonathan Government never saw this coming. As a President who sees social media as a tool only used by his critics and detractors, Goodluck Jonathan will probably not understand that Social media has brought down regimes, propelled revolutions, hence why he underestimated the power of the hashtag.
With just one hashtag, Nigerians have forced the microscopic lense of the world on our lack lustre leaders and their ineptitude at running a country with resources so vast, it’s incredulous how there’s still so much poverty.
For the Jonathan administration, the #BringBackOurGirls was a smear campaign being spareheaded by people who do not want him to return in 2015. That’s all they care about right now.
Not until the international community and media picked up the story and started asking questions which jolted the comatose president out of his self-induced sleep did he realise that this was bigger than him or any election, this was about children who were kidnapped for going to school to get an education and are being punished because the government that was supposed to protect them didn’t.
The ensuing drama after this revelation exposed the Jonathan administration for what it was; a government run by people who had no business leading a country that is now the biggest economy in Africa.
The first lady in an attempt to take a decisive step to clear up her husbands mess made a mockery of the Nigerian leadership, showing the world that she was as unrefined and uncouth as they come.
Where else in the world would a first lady who has no constitutional right call a session akin to a courtroom and restlessly grill fellow women who dared to defy her husband’s government to protest that the government address a matter of national importance.
In her ignorance, she obviously wasn’t aware that basic human rights trump any affiliation to any authorities. Freedom of speech and free movement allows anyone to voice their opinions even if it might not be the same as yours.
We have since watched the shocking and appalling display of ignorance and arrogance by the President’s spokespersons as they were quizzed by some of the world’s leading media houses on what exactly they are doing to ensure that the girls are rescued.
It is clear that we are being ruled by people who do not give a fig about our welfare or that of our children.
For years, we have let ourselves be ruled by such calibre of people and even allowed them dictate and select for us who should rule us while elections are shamelessly rigged to ensure that their ‘chosen ones’ get to power.
Nigerians, we deserve better.
2015 cannot be business as usual. We have seen what we can collectively achieve if we chose to act rather than continue to stage arm-chair protests and do nothing.
It is also obvious that the international community is willing and ready to help Nigerians demand more of their leaders. They have done more to expose the country’s leaders for the frauds they are than local Nigerian media who cannot criticise the government for fear of victimisation.
With elections just raound the corner, there’s still no clear contender against the incumbent who’s been running laughable pre-election campaigns under various guises comparing himself with inspiring and charismatic leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr and Nelson Mandela.
Your vote is your right, don’t let anyone buy it or dictate how you should use it. Let’s use it to at least vote people who know what running a country like Nigeria entails, let’s use it to vote in people who have a vision for the country, let’s use it to vote in people who have the knowledge, charisma and drive to fight for us and ensure that wherever in the world we are, we can hold that green passport in pride and not hide it away in shame.
To my dismay, the problem is that I’m not sure such people exist at the moment, such a dilemma we’re in isn’t it?