Terrorists are masters of propaganda. When it appears the country, indeed any country has moved on or appeared to have moved on, they jump in the cause another discussion of their devious acts. The tragic and unfortunate news of the mass abduction of another set of schoolgirls like it was Chibok in 2014 broke on February 19 and the subsequent safe return of 104 of them less than a month after, Nigerians were encouraged to nurse the hope that the only remaining girl in the custody of the abductors would soon regain her freedom, too. But that was not to be. It must be remembered however that unfortunately, five of the schoolgirls that were part of the 110 initially abducted died in the stampede that ensued during the kidnap and exhaustion following their precarious journey to the unknown.
Today, it is nearly six months since the incident. Leah Sharibu the remaining girl still with the terror group from the school in Yobe is still in captivity. Reports had it that she rejected the faith of her captives preferring to stick with her Christian faith. Leah is a student of Government Girls’ Science School, Dapchi in Yobe State who were adopted by a faction of the Boko Haram terrorists. In the interim, all kinds of conspiracy theories have gained ascendancy, making hope to give way to despair and even the possible fear of her death.
Reassuringly, a recent proof of life video of her plea for rescue released to the public through an online news portal has left Nigerians with hope of her possible rescue. The young schoolgirls were abducted from their dormitories and carted away to their abductors to whatever hidehout without any detection or resistance whatsoever. The Dapchi abduction was executed almost the same way the over 200 schoolgirls were abducted from the Government Girls’ Secondary School in Chibok, Borno State. It was a big blow to the nation’s resolve to ensure security of lives and promote the girl-child education.
Now that a video of Miss Sharibu has surfaced in which she made a passionate plea to President Muhammadu Buhari and all concerned to come to her urgent rescue and help her regain her freedom. Nothing could be so numbing. Here is a kid who went to school but got kidnapped by terrorists who knows not reason or compassion. More so in a region that badly need to encourage kids and even more girls to go to school. Thus the Federal Government must do its best to rescue her. The picture of Sharibu in the video was heart-wrenching and depressing. The only glimmer of hope though, is that the video, has confirmed that she is still alive. Her parents have affirmed that the image seen in the video and the voice heard on it belong to their abducted daughter, Leah Sharibu.
We know that it is the corollary thing to say, but the government should be more creative in the way it says some things. By revealing that government is, indeed, in the process of authenticating the video to conform that the person seen in it is Leah Sharibu, makes mockery of the confirmation by Leah’s dad. Shamefully, government has not uttered another word hence. While we accept that the verification process is necessary, especially in dealing with the insurgents, we advise that government must not waste this latest window of opportunity to rescue the young girl and end the abduction saga. Whatever it will take to so do, FG should go ahead and do it.
Although the motive of the abductors for releasing the video is not known, there are speculations that they might use it to negotiate and make more demands from the government. We say this in view of the timing of the release of the video. Perhaps it is primed to exact maximum pressure on government to achieve a predetermined end. The demands of the terrorists often leave government and its intermediaries with difficult options. Government must find a way to remain on top of the situation. The life of Leah Sharibu matters. The Buhari administration must be seen to be doing its utmost to rescue the girl.
We accept that this government has made giant strides in the fight against insurgency and in particular the release or rescue of abducted people, yet we expect more, because there is more to be done. Negotiation to free Leah Sharibu will demonstrate government’s premium on life. The rescue will equally show that the terror group that sought to divide us through religion by releasing other captives because of their faith but holding on to Leah because of her different faith has failed.