Day 93 without the return of the Chibok girls and the situation in Nigeria appears to move deeper in to the unknown.
On Sunday, a bridge linking Borno to Gombe State was blown up by suspected members of the Boko Haram, making it impossible for people heading to Maiduguri from Biu to pass.
On Monday, many villagers near the Sambisa Forest were killed, after an attack by sect members armed with explosives, anti-aircraft guns, and rocket launchers.
Victims of Boko Haram insurgency have offered a chilling perspective of how their lives have been affected. “Life was terrible in the bush with Boko Haram. We were treated like slaves and always hungry,” said Abu, a 10-year-old boy who managed to escape Boko Haram captivity in May 2014.
In the middle of continued terrorist attacks in Nigeria, Malala Yousafzai (pictured right, top), the young Pakistani blogger and activist who was shot in the head by the Taliban for being an advocate for girl child education, conducted a three-day visit to Nigeria, proclaiming that she visited during her 17th birthday to be a voice for her “Nigerian sisters” and highlight ongoing issues expressed by the parents of the abducted Chibok girls and stories from girls that escaped.
Watch news coverage of Malala’s visit to Nigeria here:
During the tour, Yousafzai met with President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan to express the urgent need for the President to meet with the parents of the children abducted by Boko Haram. She also used the opportunity to speak to him about the frustrations of many of the escaped girls, who are calling for the government to provide better safety and security. As a result of the meeting, President Jonathan promised to meet with the parents of the girls.
The meeting, which was scheduled for Tuesday, ended up being canceled, though, after the 12 parents and five students who escaped the terrorist organization withdrew, according to the BBC.
According to reports, the meeting with the President was canceled because the meeting was seen as disingenuous and unplanned. Since the meeting with the President only called for the aforementioned group who met with Malala to meet, the group reportedly considered the meeting to not be representative enough of the more than 200 girls that were abducted.
Further, statements also reveal that the chosen group thought it would be disrespectful to meet with President Jonathan because it was not discussed with the larger group of Chibok representatives. Therefore, the group wants to meet with the President at a later date.
Either way, Yousafzai announced that the Malala Foundation will donate $200,000 for the education of Chibok schoolgirls who were abducted by Boko Haram.
The scores of individuals — in addition to the efforts of Malala Yousafzai — supporting the #BringBackOurGirls campaign exemplify why we cannot give up. Safety and security must be restored.
While some critics say it is an embarrassment that it took a visit from Yousafzai to put a meeting with the parents on the President’s radar, it does prove that the continued pressure of citizens, civil society groups, and non-governmental organizations is vital to ensure that the government does more to curb terrorism and renew their commitment to bringing back the girls.
It must be noted that the government did not pay attention to the growing insurgency and abductions prior to external pressure.
As we approach 100 days, we hope for a major breakthrough. In the meantime, keep speaking, keep letting your voices be heard, and if you are in Nigeria, join the #BBOG group at the following places:
- Abuja – Unity Fountain, Daily, 3 p.m.
- Ibadan – Dugbe Cenotaph, Saturdays, 5-6 p.m.
- Lagos – Marina, Saturdays, 11-2 p.m.
If there isn’t one near you, feel free to start your own. You can check Enough is Enough Nigeria’s Facebook and Twitter pages for additional BBOG updates.