When yesterday I sought to interrogate the reasons offered by the accidental mascot for the opposition who sometimes sits as governor of Ekiti State, for denying the existence of the Chibok girls and their release, I had expected that many of those who drink from the same cup as he, would at best only offer him the defence of an entitlement to his own opinion.
However to my amazement, his keen supporters, ordinarily intelligent folk who even sometimes profess a burning spirit of nationalism, did the opposite – they accused him of making sense!
But they did not stop there. Digging deeper into trenches apparently dug by the fervor of unspoken primordial emotions about which the civilized world must continue to be deceived if they are to accord us any respect, they added some more questions, in response to which they concluded that the whole unfortunate incident of Chibok was a scam!
I shall make a quick list of perhaps the smartest of all these questions and attempt to hold the mirror to the faces of the inquisitors with the hope that, by God, they would see some ugliness.
i. How can girls who were supposedly sitting for physics exams barely three years ago be unable to speak English?
ii. Why do the girls look so healthy, so well dressed?
iii. Where were the girls being kept, since Government claims to have cleared Sambisa forest?
iv. Why were the girls not released to journalists for questioning?
v. Why is this release in May, just a few weeks to the 2nd anniversary of PMB’s government?
For the avoidance of doubt, my position is that in other societies where life is shared and truly worth more than ethnic, religious or political persuasions, the questions, three years after the event, by themselves would advertise our irresponsibility, unconcern for our shared humanity if not outright hatred.
In climes where citizenship is the best representation of brotherhood, the story of the theft of 276 children from their parents in any part of the country which has lent them such shared identity, cannot be a rumour that would last more than a few moments.
The spirit of national brotherliness would simply take the life out of any false claims of a kidnap. The concerned girls would have been appropriated by the rest of us as our own sisters of whose protection we were sworn by blood. We would know them by name and by face.
We would know their families. We would know their neighbours. There would be national revulsion and we would build mementoes made of their photographs and names, to their remembrance in each of our own homes and burn candles of hope and vigilance as we await their return. And when a story emerges of the rescue of one, it will be our reality, not a rumour.
We would see them, know them and we will with our favourite pens, encircle in our memento between loud sighs of relief, the photograph of the rescued. We would know our children through their strengths and weaknesses of which we are already familiar, and would not doubt their paternity simply because by standards of other lands their weaknesses would question their claims.
This is partly why Fayose’s questions should represent for us the shame of official indifference and represent a bigger danger than we should be willing to readily acknowledge.
The Governor of Borno State is Fayose’s brother governor. He sits at meetings with him but our beloved governor doesn’t care to know by access and engagement with the Borno Governor, of the people and pain of Chibok, let alone commiserate with them – people who, as with his own Ekiti people, are citizens of one nation sharing the same humanity.
Instead he insists that it is the federal governments obligation to convince him that Nigeria citizens have been kidnapped. And then if the federal government falls short of his warped expectation, he denies the existence of the pain and burdens of Chibok.
Does he for a moment stop to think about how his ignorant screeches hurt the suffering people of Chibok or causes deep seated bitterness from the governor and people of the state? Should we allow reckless utterances of our so-called leaders continue to drive wedges between us in this country?
But perhaps, I come too late. Our division, fanned by his likes, may have already been too deep to countenance what I try here to communicate. And so I will now meet Mr Fayose’s questions on their own logic, leaving out the lofty matters of love, humanity and responsibility, in the following questions:
i. Why is there no doubt whatsoever in the north that in fact the girls recovered were the kidnapped Chibok girls? Why is there no denial from the families of the Chibok girls who should ordinarily protest the claims that their yet missing children have been returned to them under the skin and weight of other overfed children? Or are we saying that there is a grand conspiracy that includes the entire Chibok and BBOG communities, the latter of which is led by the respected and mostly weeping Oby Ezekwesili for no obvious personal benefit to her?
ii. Why is there no denial from Shekau, who would ordinarily scoff braggadociously at any false claims of a release of the girls? Or is Shekau also part of the charade? Did Shekau (and his band of bloodsuckers) who, killing over 20,000 Nigerians in fact runs perhaps one of the most dangerous terrorist cults the world has ever seen, even surpassing Osama Bin Ladin’s al-Qaeda, take so many lives only so that he could pick a role in a soap opera the object of which is simply to give PMB something to gloat about in a few days, at his 2nd anniversary speech?
iii. Were the event to have occurred in Lagos or Ekiti State, will it be more real to us by reason only of venue?
iv. The object of the supposed scam as argued by its canvassers is that the federal government seeks to take the nation’s attention from the President’s ill health. But how does it do that? How far are we ready to make the argument with some sense, that the national consciousness is only capable to engaging one topic at a time?
v. If the release was negotiated as is being claimed by the federal government, what is wrong if the need to announce an achievement on the 2nd anniversary pushed it to perhaps accept a deal it had otherwise initially declined for its exorbitance? What is wrong, I ask, with wanting to take some reward for your effort? Are we going to begrudge a man his result sheet?
We should be ashamed, all of us. Ashamed that a claim which the former President had come to famously regret after he had offered it as excuse for fiddling for 17 days in the midst of a full bar while Boko haram rode deeper into the bushes, is being allowed to be resuscitated by Mr. Fayose and his band without any indication that he had stumbled on better security information than that availed the erstwhile president.
We should be ashamed. Very ashamed that we now seek to mock as fake, Dame Patience Jonathans tears in between wailing confessions that ‘‘Diaris God,’’ over the blood that they were ”sharing” in Borno.
If nothing else, the questions posed by Fayose as all his supporters would be unfair to the judgements and assessments of the previous first couple, even if we leave out the tacit indictment of the esteemed couple as being originators, or beneficiaries by huge financial allocations, of the supposed scam!
But I do not think they would wish to go that far!
Akporugo Jr., a lawyer and journalist
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