Oh! The sight of those embrace, hugs, kisses, singing, dancing, and overwhelming emotions. As I watched the television screen, I felt a cold chill run through my body. I had to hold back tears of joy as they began welling up in my eyes. In my mind, I bet that whoever was around there watching the girls embrace their parents must have shed tears, or at least felt deep and genuine empathy with the girls and their parents.
After three years of agony, longing, dreaming, wishing, praying and even desperation, the long-lost girls finally got to meet their parents again. My thoughts went to mothers, fathers and other very close relatives of the girls who did not survive to see their daughters return. Some parents may have developed psychosomatic problems, illnesses and probably gave up at some point. However, for those who lived to see their daughters return, you could see so much appreciation expressed to God and to the effort of the Federal Government of Nigeria and all those who made it possible. For a believer, this is something ONLY GOD can accomplish.
Does your mind not also go to the steady cry and protests of the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) campaign group? Oby Ezekwesili, R. Evon Idahosa (Esp), Aisha Yusuf and their team, supporters and well-wishers; their street marches, advocacy, personal sacrifices and discomforts, and constant reminders to the nation that we cannot give up on our lost girls. Such resilience, persistence and perseverance in the face of the seeming hopeless circumstance has indeed been inspiring, especially in the light of this return.
I must confess that at some point I even said, “You mean this group is still so hopeful of the return of the girls?” I feared and had my doubts. No! Not the campaigners! Not the government! Not the parents of the girls! Not the Red Cross Society! They kept hope alive, and that faith and hope have now been justified by the return of our precious young ladies; they are our mothers, sisters, friends and fellow citizens of Nigeria.
It is great to think that with the return of these eighty-two (82) girls, hope for the return of the remaining girls has been rekindled. Let all doubters put their doubts aside and pray fervently for the return of the remaining girls. Reports have it that there are still over 100 girls out there whose parents, relatives and friends await their return. For these persons, the agony and longing continues!
Now, there has been persons who have confidently expressed a certain view point regarding the lost girls. All these past years after the Chibok girls were abducted, did you like me, come across someone who vehemently argued that the “so-called abduction of the Chibok girls was never a reality; that nothing like that ever happened. It was all stage-managed”? And they go on, linking it to political games and the like. Now, I do not stand to say if what they express was right or wrong. I only want to ask such persons what their thoughts are about the reunion of these girls with their parents. Do these persons still think that it is all a stage-play? Perhaps they know something we do not know.
I think that some persons just hear certain opinions from someone else and they too begin voicing it without any logical reasoning to their argument. Perhaps, it just seems like a wiser point of view to be associated with. I just wonder. Ndi amam ihe! Why not think for yourself? The view point that the Chibok abduction did not happen could be a statement of insensitivity for a parent who in agony looked around and did not find his or her daughter. Whatever the conspiracy theories are, convincing as they are to you, we leave the facts to those who know it.
As much as you are entitled to your opinion, it is important though to form opinions based on the right information regarding a situation. We all err in this regard from time to time; expressing opinions as though we had all the FACTS of the matter at our finger tips. This is often not the case. Life generally calls for humility and some reservations, because we do not know it all – story for another day.
Mere imagination could convince you that these young ladies have been through hell and back. Over three years of captivity must have been traumatic, to say the least. Hence, various aspects are already being considered and catered for, and needs to be kept in focus. According to individual needs, these include: Rehabilitation services, one-on-one counselling, psychotherapy, psychosocial support, ongoing and personalized medical attention and follow-ups, preparations towards exams and writing of exams (like WAEC and JAMB), some financial support, education, skill-learning and/or capacity-building opportunities according to their areas of interest.
Their ongoing rehabilitation and general well-being would need to be monitored and evaluated on an ongoing basis. We do not want to be a nation that abandons its own as soon as the media highlights and social recognitions go off.All in all, the girls and their families need to be fully accepted by the society, treated with dignity and provided with the right support system to enable them make positive sense of their lives and future again.The effort of the Federal Government, individuals, private companies, organizations and philanthropists towards a well-rounded rehabilitation of these girls will indeed go a long way towards putting their lives and future in better stead.
The girls who got lost are not just Chibok girls, they are OUR girls. They are fully part of our social, economic and national life. Now that some of them are back, their contributions to our nation will touch each of us, directly or indirectly.
Every person has a right to her/his freedom and this freedom must not be denied anyone. More and more girls/children need to be released by their captors. There are children out there who still need to come back home. There are kids in your care who may be treated like they have been abducted; that excessive beating, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, physical abuse, verbal abuse, early marriage, and denying that child the opportunity to get educated. These are all ways you have allowed that girl/boy’s abduction. Free that child and help him/her get educated, learn a skill and fulfil their destinies in life.
May all persons, families and communities affected by the Boko Haram insurgency regain their freedom, peace and happiness.
May individuals involved as Boko Haram, collaborators and sponsors have a change of heart, come home and contribute to building the nation again.
God bless our Girls!
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria!
By Linda Asimole Ellah