Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Between Technical Defeat of Boko Haram and the Chibok Girls
By Timawus Mathias
Nigeria Daily Trust
Feb 9 2016 8:45PM

Technical defeat of Boko Haram as averred by President Muhammadu Buhari and the cold case verdict on the abducted Chibok girls given by former President Olusegun Obasanjo are the trending topics in Nigeria today. I think the economy comes right after and the boring long tale of practices of corruption of the Goodluck Jonathan administration.

On the abducted Chibok girls, the pattern seems evident. In the midst of counter terrorism you hear hints of “credible” information on the whereabouts of the unfortunate girls. This is then followed by a flurry of covert moves by popular pedlars of intelligence sometimes called negotiators with contacts inside Boko Haram. Then the stake outs in red at Eagle Square Fountain, as if receiving some nudge, get into a frenzy of advocacy (in many shades).

They put pressure on the Government reminding of the girls and underlining their theme, the failure to get the girls is the failure of Government. They have earned my respects, I should not be misunderstood. Power tends to become complacent if there are not public spirited citizens risking a devoted life of passionate picketing to get results. Power is kept on toes. Then along come Borno lawmakers and some itinerant elders dropping verbal bombshells of sometimes bizarre information, often putting to lie, every truth Federal Government and Military Authorities have told Nigerians about the war on terror.

Then for good measure, Boko Haram sets off a few bombs carried like pregnancies in small innocent looking pretty girls, made to believe it was duty for a faith, even when the target is worshipers of the one true God in a mosque! Or a band of insurgents raze an unprotected settlement killing indiscriminately.

There then follows a media hype of criticisms of Government over its failure to address insecurity and tackle the insurgency. Of course negotiators meanwhile reach their contacts in Government, peddling “inside” information. Media is again manipulated with inundation of faction and fiction.

When the cacophony dies, a checkmate has been reached. Of course you do not hear about it - some geeks are seeking hefty funds to negotiate truce and show where the girls are. It is believed that President Goodluck Jonathan and his team lost huge sums of money, time, and effort in these fruitless schemes that only enriched partly the shadowy characters, but mainly the insurgents.

President Muhammadu Buhari from “inside” information could not be impressed by this type of hoodwinking and announced to a bewildered Bring Back our Girls activists that he had yet no credible information on the whereabouts of the girls! What of the video they were purportedly in possession of that attested to the existence and the proof of life of the girls? Obviously neither the purported Boko Haram credible contacts known hitherto to Government, nor the video flick of the girls impressed President Muhammadu Buhari and he without any emotions told Nigerians so.

Now it is former President Olusegun Obasanjo who has said that all hope of bringing back the Chibok girls alive after about two years of being captured by Boko Harram militants may be considered to have been lost finally. Obasanjo without ruffled feathers,  asked Nigerian leaders to “stop deceiving the populace for Chibok girls cannot return again”. According to the former president, the immediate past administration is to blame for the fate of the Chibock girls, and attributed the non discovery of the Chibok girls to a non-challant attitude of the previous leader. It is a view held by President Obasanjo  and expressed a long time ago that had the right action been taken immediately after the abduction, there may not have been an impediment to their return. Said Obasanjo recently, “72 hours after the Chibok girls were abducted was too late for their rescue, talk less of its getting to two years by April. Vintage Obasanjo, “So if any leader is promising bringing back the Chibok girls to Nigeria, he is lying”.

While President Buhari’s shocker that he had no credible information on the girls caused some “negotiators” to throw media tantrums which may have indeed blown their cover, Obasanjo’s own has the BBOG activists up in arms with some not so kind words.

The #BringBackOutGirls Group stating that it still believes that the girls could be rescued, considered President Buhari’s position more optimistic and said it  stands with the President when he spoke at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France where he stated that he would not rest until the girls were brought back.

Buhari and Obasanjo are battle tested Generals that have seen many wars, some of them genocidal. One can understand the apparent lack of emotion or empathy in their pronouncements. It is soldiers talking from being fed more information than we may ordinarily know. Their positions on the painful issue, particularly President Buhari’s must have been informed by the meaning of the technical defeat of Boko Haram which in truth has been degraded to being unable to engage in formations. Cleared from much of the decertified northern Borno, cells operate in uncoordinated modes in city suburbs and defenceless settlements. The abducted Chibok girls could hardly be anywhere under the sun and in a group. We should credit Boko Haram with enough intelligence to have dispersed the captives into many locations.

No matter what becomes of the technical defeat of the Boko Haram, the case of the Chibok girls can not be written off by Obasanjo’s brutal assumption. As a parent, I am still hopeful that my protégé Peter Tawhegola Mathias lost on the night of the 1984 Yola Maitatsine crisis will walk into our home today that he is 42, or would have , and this after 30 years brings teardrops from my eyes. How much more of small town families that lost 200 and more promising girls? Without accounting for those girls dead or alive, Nigeria will have a forever scarred greatness.


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