Children are crying; women of different climes, tribes and religion are wailing; parents of the girls are in agony; government is pained; professionals are downcast; religious leaders are speechless but upbeat with strong faith in God that the girls will return. They clergymen are calling on the people to take the matter to almighty God in prayers.
Prayer summits are being organized in various cities, praying grounds and places of worship, (churches and mosques), by Christians and Muslims, seeking God’s intervention for the rescue of the Chibok girls. The mood of despair and gloom still pervade the land; but messages of hope from religious and business leaders still hit the media expressing faith in God and optimism that these girls will return. For Nigerians, it has been a nation in pains since April 14. Never has there been such a painful national fever that gripped the citizens as this one in recent times.
A coalition of international forces and intelligence officers are combing the dreaded Sambisa Forest (where Boko Haram use as base to launch attacks in Bornu State) in the border town with another country Cameroon; and other countries…Tchad, Togo, and Mali. The Americans are Israelis are involved, so are English and French Forces. Where are these girls? Everybody is asking.
The #BringBackOurGirls campaign is still running in the social, digital and terrestrial media. Women and human rights groups have sustained civil protests in the streets in Nigeria. They enjoy primetime news slots on television and radio, and front page lead stories in the newspapers. They insist the civil protests will continue until the girls are rescued.
Meanwhile, the terrorists are unrelenting in their attacks with bombs and gunmen, killing innocent citizens and increasing the degree of pain and anguish on the people. They have since launched renewed attacks in Abuja and Jos cities, all in the north of Nigeria, killing and destroying lives and property. When will these be girls be rescued? When will this violence stop? Who is sponsoring these terrorists? The questions are many; there are no answers.
As I write this piece, May 27, 2014, the girls are yet to be rescued. No clues or leads are available to the people about the search and operations. Government continues to assure citizens that it is on top of the game, and the armed forces with international counterparts are doing their best and are closing in on the terrorists to rescue the girls.
Government continues to explore the window of negotiations with the terrorists for the release of the girls. But it has made one thing is clear; it will not trade off the girls’ release for the release of jailed terrorists and others in police custody.
Government is beginning to get sympathy and understanding of some sections of citizens. They believe this is the handiwork of politicians opposing the government in power, who are using this kidnap to blackmail the government for whatever reasons or even bring it down from power. The government supporters say people should not criticize the armed forces involved in the search…the battle against terrorism should not be left for government alone…all citizens should join in the fight and free this country from the clutches of terrorists.
This hastag still rings loud and clear in the social media, print and electronic media in Nigeria. The global outrage against this kidnap is yet to ebb. Government is getting more support and sympathy from the civil populace in this rescue mission. Women are still crying and begging for their release. The citizens seem not to be weary in this demand.
Expectations are high for their eventual rescue. People are upbeat that the coming of foreign forces will just get it done for this nation to #BringBackOurGirls. It is a collective demand irrespective of faith, religion, or tribe.
Security chiefs as at May 27, which is observed annually as Children’s Day in Nigeria, say they have located where the kidnapped girls are kept. But they have ruled out use of force in rescuing the girls to avoid casualties. The ‘soft’ approach of negotiations is being pursued steadily to get the girls back alive.
Nigerians, indeed the whole world eagerly awaits that day.
(2 July 2014)
Eric Okeke is a CSR specialist and strategist in brand marketing and mobilizing support for corporate and social issues. He is the brand storyteller, writer, speaker, author and media consultant, with training in chemistry, marketing and business journalism. As a business writer and speaker, he has recorded a good career in media consulting and journalism which he started at The Guardian, Lagos.
Eric’s communications niche is storytelling which he is now using to empower professionals and improve business returns in Nigeria. Email him at, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org Tel +234 803 301 4609; +234 817 301 4609.