I am writing for our daughters.
Every time the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls appears on my mobile screen tears well up in my eyes but they don’t fall. Internally I weep for our 234 daughters abducted from their school in Chibok, I weep for their mothers and finally I weep for Nigeria. I weep because history will always recount how Nigeria failed our daughters.
Towards the ending of 2013 and the beginning of 2014, the world placed a spotlight on Nigeria. The country was hailed as an emerging market and formed part of the MINTs, a term coined by Jim O’Neil to denote the prospects of Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey. In a statement that dates back to November 2013 O Neill wrote,
I spent last week in Indonesia, working on a series for BBC Radio about four of the world’s most populous non-BRIC emerging economies. The BRIC countries — Brazil, Russia, India and China — are already closely watched. The group I’m studying for this project — let’s call them the MINT economies — deserve no less attention. Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey all have very favorable demographics for at least the next 20 years, and their economic prospects are interesting.
I vividly remember reading an article and the writer carefully discussed these new economic giants. The writer described the reasons why the economies had been grouped in this way by considering their location, their potential to develop their own economic hubs, their wealth and the fact that they are commodity producers and classified these reasons as key factors. I remember being so proud of Nigeria because despite the odds stacked against her , ( e.g energy problems) she was proving herself financially on an international stage . Then I remembered Nigeria’s political struggles and doubts crept in. I remembered its questionable governance and I remembered Boko Haram. Even with my doubts, I never thought that the insurgencies of Boko Haram would eclipse the prospects of Nigeria as they have today.
Today the world is placing a different spotlight on Nigeria and the focus is revealing something sad about the country. The reason why I mentioned the ascension of Nigeria is because I am puzzled by the investment in economy and infrastructure but the lack of investment in the people.
I am writing for our daughters.
Before I decided to write this article I wanted to load myself with the facts and so I began to peruse the internet in the hope that something would get my attention and then I stumbled across an editorial on the New York Times . It detailed the pain of a young girl who managed to escape and return home. This 18 year old girl described the trauma she experienced the day she was taken away from everything she knew along with 233 other young girls. She returned home not as a result of the country sending out rescue missions and this fact is extremely significant; it paints the picture of Nigeria’s failure.I read that feature a few days ago and still these quotations resonate within me:
“Nobody rescued them…. I want you to stress this point. Nobody rescued them. They escaped on their accord. This is painful.” “….their only offense, it seems, was attending school.”
This quotation taken from the Guardian also resonates,
“How can 200 girls move around undetected for nearly three weeks? There is no doubt in my mind that I am lying down in the same camp, eating in the same mess hall, and fighting next to some people who may be wearing the same Nigerian army uniform but who have been brainwashed and see this as a religious war.”
I started asking my own questions.
How does one begin to marry the image of a new Nigeria as suggested by the growth in its economy with the image of a Nigeria that does not feel obligated to protect its civilians, particularly the youngest and most vulnerable of its citizens? How does one celebrate the growth in markets and then ignore the wailings of the mothers? Why has Nigeria forsaken its people like this? Why do we not help our own? How is it that the government did not even succeed at getting a clear count of the missing girls? Where is our official search party?
The silence from Nigeria has been deafening and yet the international support has been remarkable. The twitter response has been inspiring, thousands are rallying in support of the #BringBackOurDaughters campaign and yet Nigeria’s silence still deafens me. The entire debacle in Chibok reveals the relationship between the government and its people. A placard carried by one of the protesters in Lagos communicates this fraught relationship in a few words, “Nigeria is burning, Jonathan is dancing.” (this quotation was taken from the Guardian http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/may/02/nigerian-mass-abduction-chibok-boko-haram )
Recently, Senator Ahmed Zana, a Nigerian politician for Borno state, said that our daughters have been moved to Chad and Cameron where they have been forcefully married off. My retort to that is, why did they not control the borders? The conflicting rumours suggest that Nigeria is well versed in pushing out information (however true or untrue) but is incapable of providing solutions. This is no longer about religion; this is about the country’s ineptitude.
History will always recount how Nigeria failed our daughters.
Our daughters are still missing.
Chibok is in tears. Nigeria is burning.
Love Cris x p.s
Please pray for Nigeria