The First Lady and Leah Sharibu

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IT is disheartening that the First Lady, Mrs. Aisha Buhari has not been pushful in word and indeed for the release of citizen Leah Sharibu, the only remaining Dapchi schoolgirl still held hostage among 110 schoolgirls abducted on February 19, 2018 by Boko Haram terrorists.  They were abducted from the Government Girls Science and Technical College (GGSTC), Dapchi in Yobe State.

At different times Sharibu, her parents and other concerned Nigerians have cried to Mr. President to rescue her. It would be recalled that in 2018, this Christian girl, still held by Boko Haram terrorists in a trending audio message begged President Muhammadu Buhari to come to her rescue. Similarly, Sharibu’s parents and community leaders and other concerned individuals and groups have cried to the President to ensure a safe and speedy release of this Christian girl; and Mr. President has made several unfulfilled promises on the release of Sharibu. She marked her 16th birthday in captivity recently. The alibi on state helplessness concerning Sharibu has been incredible.

For instance, in October 2018, Buhari consoled Sharibu’s family and assured her parents that the Federal Government would do its utmost for the safety and security of their daughter. Then, the president was quoted as telling the mother: “I convey my emotion, the strong commitment of my administration and the solidarity of all Nigerians to you and your family as we will do our best to bring your daughter home in peace and safety.”

So, at various times, the Nigerian state has made promises to rescue Sharibu alive, but till present, they are mere political statements. The unfulfilled promises show that our political office holders are just ‘‘lip servants’’ and hypocrites, who lack compassion and milk of human kindness; only paying lip service to human development.

Sharibu’s plight has exposed the hypocrisy of our political office holders ‘‘speech making talk shops,’’ where they constantly tell citizens that the security of lives and property’ are the primary responsibility of government. Such speeches that are not matched with action show that they are only committed in the head not in the heart. And that is the crux of the matter: the reason citizen Sharibu is still held in captivity.

What is worse than the fact that Sharibu has reportedly given birth to a baby in captivity? This is a reproach to the Nigerian state. As such, the Sharibu albatross still hangs on the neck of government as the hapless girl is still being held captive and her parents are in distress. The prolonged agony of Mrs. Rebecca Sharibu has made her desperate for the release of her daughter to the extent that she said on her (Leah’s) recent birthday: “I will take Boko Haram as in-law if Leah will be released.”

From her words, Mrs. Sharibu has lost faith in the Nigerian state and she is somewhat traumatised by the unfulfilled promises of Nigeria’s leader. In fact, her hope is beginning to wane. So, what could be responsible for the deafening silence over Sharibu? Is it incompetence, heartlessness or lack of compassion? Would the story be different if Sharibu were the child of our political office holders, who are sitting aloof because they have their children under their roof?

Specifically, that Nigeria’s First Lady has not been pushful in word and indeed for the release of citizen Sharibu is curious and unfortunate. The bold First Lady who has received plaudits for her boldness in criticising a powerful cabal and even corruption at the State House Clinic cannot show cowardice on a classic humanitarian issue such as man’s inhumanity to Sharibu. As the mother of the nation, she is supposed to see to the well-being of women and children, which she has committed to through speeches and other engagements at various national and international fora. Or was she just trying to be politically correct at such fora? Madam First Lady, why turn a blind eye to the plight of Sharibu and her mother?

This is simply an appeal to our amiable First Lady to take up the gauntlet and do all that is humanly possible to put the issue of safety and release of citizen Sharibu on the front burner and as an issue of urgent national importance.  From her exploits so far, she possesses the capacity to galvanise various professional, religious and cultural women groups to demand the Nigerian state to facilitate the release of her agonising ‘‘daughter’’ without further delay. Yes, she can rescue that pearl from the swine inside that evil forest called Sambisa.

To the entire women of Nigeria, the case of citizen Sharibu, should no longer be the concern of #Bringbackourgirls movement, which the current Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Ms Hadiza Bala Usman, was part of in the beginning. It has been strange that she too appears to have joined the heartless lot in Abuja. Rather it should be the business of the women folk, including UN women country office. As for the NPA boss, what will she be remembered for? She will only have her name on the positive side of history if she uses her network to complete the unfinished business of rescuing Sharibu from captivity to show Nigerians that she is an authentic campaigner for justice and freedom.

This newspaper feels that the plight of Sharibu and her mother should be the concern of all Nigerian women; irrespective of their political, ethnic, economic, religious and cultural divides. They should rise up to the occasion because they have a place in Nigerian history as exemplified by the famous Aba women protest of 1929. Women should rise up and face the nation on Sharibu. They should close ranks, work hard and engage various duty bearers to ensure the release of citizen Sharibu.

The media should remain resilient and continuously hold government to account, until citizen Sharibu is released from captivity, instead of remembering her case only on her birthdays or whenever her mother talks. Sharibu should not be allowed to die in the wilderness because she is a Christian. That will be another avoidable stain on the garment of the Buhari administration, which has been smarting from sundry accusations that it doesn’t care about Christians, after all. – The Guardian

– June 04, 2020 @ 17:40 GMT |

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