Time has marched on in Chibok. Yet much remains unknown about the whereabouts more than 200 school girls from Chibok who were abducted from the dormitory beds in the middle of the night over a year ago. The various twists and turns in this kidnap saga has left many questions unanswered: Where are the Chibok girls? What happened to them? Why were they kidnapped? Where are they now? Are they still alive? How are they faring? Why have the girls not been rescued? Who would rescue the girls? Would they be rescued? Indeed, a year has gone, we are no closer to the truth.
We have followed the accounts of the protests across the world, and the various comments being made by the Bring Back Our Girls movement. We see from the local and international media that the search for missing girls has so far proved fruitless. Is there something the international community can do about the plight of the girls? Was there a global conspiracy against Nigeria over this incident? What should have been done?
We have asked questions about why girls in the Northern region of Nigeria lack equal access to basic education (in the NE region of Nigeria where these girls lived, girl enrollment is reportedly 22% – the lowest in the country). How has the incident affected school attendance for girls in Chibok and other threatened areas? We need to know what the Nigerian and Borno State government is doing to ensure that children can study in a safe environment. We need a response in the form of NGOs and governments working together to increase girls’ enrolment, retention and transition to secondary schools in Nigeria.
We need to know what security measures are in place to prevent gender-based violence and to protect female students. What is the level of Inter- gency cooperation among security agencies and government institutions? What are the state’s government’s roles and responsibilities in reducing the insurgency level in the states? How willing are the state governors to provide information to the security agencies and the federal government?
Sadly, eleven of the group of grieving parents have died; many of them from stress and trauma-related conditions connected to their daughters’ kidnapping. What measures are the Federal and Borno governments taking to address the traumatic stress the parents and families of the kidnapped girls are going through? Since the government claims they know where the girls are, is there any form of comfort or compensation they are providing for them pending when the girls are rescued? How is Chibok faring without its girls, its daughters, its future mothers? Where would Chibok’s young men find “educated” Chibok wives, if hundreds disappeared in one night? What would recovery mean for residents of Chibok? What happens to Chibok if the girls return, and if they do not return?
In Chibok, we have been asking questions. Now is the time for answers.