Editorial: #BringBackOurGirls, Last Chance for Nigeria’s President?

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Written by Paul Adepoju

American music superstar, Chris Brown added his voice to those of Piers Morgan, Mary J. Blige, Russell Simmons, Keri Hilson, Taraji P. Henson, Common, Emeli Sande and others calling on the Nigerian government to find more than 200 female students of Government College, Chibok, Borno state, Northern Nigeria, who were kidnapped from their school’s dormitory April 14.

Unconfirmed reports said many of the girls had been married off to the kidnappers in neighboring countries and some had died of snake bites in the forest. This is the latest in the escalating security challenges that Nigeria is battling.

As a result of the inability of the security operatives and the government to make authoritative and categorical statements on the whereabouts of the children, agitations are rising. April 30, parents and others were forced to protest to the federal legislators sitting in Abuja.

Insecurity More Than a Political Issue

Will Ross, BBC’s correspondent in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city, said “the demonstration was small – just a few hundred people – but emotions were running high.”

The protesters returned with more empty promises that are not backed with affirmative actions on what has been, is being or will be done to ensure the girls who were forced to miss their final exams get home safely – and not in body bags.

Insecurity is the major challenge of Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan’s administration. This year alone, more than 1,500 people have died – not from malaria, HIV/AIDS or heroin overdose – but from the activities of the Boko Haram terrorist group that started their onslaught in Maiduguri, Borno state to several parts of northern Nigeria.

It is therefore not surprising for many to note that the girls were taken from a school located in the city where the crisis first got everyone’s attention, suggesting the opening of a new chapter in terrorism in Nigeria.

A Social Media Uprising 

Unlike the already familiar cases of killings: church and car bombings, successful and botched prison break attempts — the latest chapter is obviously the last. If the government cannot end it, it may end the government.

Today (May 1) for instance, a new trend surfaced on Twitter — #GEJResign — where citizens are asking the Nigerian president to either find the girls or resign.

The rising tension could however be lowered if the government — especially the president — says something truthful and useful to the perturbed parents. Citizens expect to know the whereabouts of the girls and want questions about the state of intelligence gathering in Nigeria answered.

Some years ago, Liberia’s former president, Charles Taylor was on exile in Nigeria, Calabar to be specific. But when the rest of the world asked Nigeria to hand him over for trial at The Hague, he went missing prompting the president of Nigeria at that time, Olusegun Obasanjo to issue a deadline for the security operatives to find Taylor. Lo and behold, they found him in what looked like the way the U.S. Navy Seals killed Osama Bin Laden.

That was just a man who could have been anywhere, especially in a very big country that has the world’s largest population of black people. If he could be found within a few days, why is it difficult for security officers for find over 200 girls?