In an interview with BBC Hausa on Tuesday the 8th of September, President Buhari’sstatement on the whereabouts of the missing Chibok girls seemed to suggest that the government has little or no hope’ in finding the girls. “They have scattered them, and are being guarded at dispersed locations. Most of the girls are Christians and were forced to embrace Islam. And the sect’s cruel leaders have married some of the girls, obviously against their wish. Others have been left to practice their religion but their condition could hardly be ascertained,” he said.
In April 2014, 276 girls were forcibly taken from their school in Chibok, Borno State. The abduction revealed the reign of terror of the Boko Haram sect, putting them on a global stage. Consequently, this prompted a global outcry and campaign for recovery and justice, represented by the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls. Late last month, Nigerians marked 500 days of the missing school girls. Campaigners marched through the streets of Abuja and Lagos Nigeria in commemoration of 500 days without the girls as social media campaigns were also in full swing.But as mentioned, each day comes with less of hope.
While it seems like Buhari has abandoned his promise to bring back the girls – “We cannot claim to have defeated Boko Haram without rescuing the Chibok girls and all other innocent persons held hostage by insurgents … This government will do all it can to rescue them alive” – this might be the best move. Recently, a widely speculated account emerged about Tabitha Adamu, a released captive from the sect’s camp who said that the girls have been converted into terrorist fighters.
Boko Haram has heightened its scheme of attacks, given the number of bombings resulting in hundreds of deaths and casualties recorded from January till now. Not to mention the hike in the number of female child suicide bombers; over 30 females, age 14 and below have taken their lives, and the lives of hundreds by suicide bombing this year. Recently, the groupattacked a refugee camp in Yola and Madagali town, Adamawa State, killing about a dozen individuals, including a toddler. Their tactics are shifting, and they continue to show with each incidence that they’re not backing down any time soon.
A bird in hand is worth two in the bush. If President Buhari thinks it is time for a redirection, then perhaps he is right. The missing girls have been exposed to terror, and the survivors who remain in Boko Haram custody drift further away each day. If the search for these girls is futile, like the President insinuated on Tuesday, as hard as it might be to accept, the government’s strategy for defeating Boko Haram has to consider more than the high profile kidnapping, and focus more on the immediate threat Boko Haram continues to exercise in the north.
Source: Hadassah Egbedi, Ventures Africa