PRESS STATEMENT: DAY 1000 of consistent, daily #BringBackOurGirls advocacy.

One thousand days ago — April 30, 2014 — our movement started with a march by over two thousand citizens from all walks of life in the city of Abuja demanding rescue of hundreds of girls alleged to have been abducted by Boko Haram terrorists from their dormitory at the Government Secondary School, Chibok Borno State.
The world was later to learn from the findings of the Presidential Task Force set up by the preceding federal government that 276 schoolgirls writing their final certificate examination had been forcefully taken on the night of April 14, 2014.
The findings stated that 57 of the girls had escaped variously as their captors hauled them on the long journey into the Sambisa forest leaving 219 missing by the time the news of the abduction reached the public.
Social media starting reacting  from April 15 when the news of the abduction broke even while the traditional media in Nigeria was not reporting the tragedy. One week later on April 23, 2014 the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls emerged and became popular on social media as the widely used message of demand for the rescue of the abducted school girls.
Fifteen days later and with still no acknowledgement nor action by the federal government on the abduction, diverse citizens were convened using reach outs of all types to participate in a solidarity march for the abducted girls. That march of April 30, 2014 adopted the social media hashtag  #BringBackOurGirls as the message of the protesters. The citizens that gathered walked from the Unity Fountain under heavy rains to the Nigerian National Assembly to demand for government rescue of the school girls.
That march awakened much more people to the tragedy and in a rare demonstration of global empathy, many people organized marches in several cities in Nigeria and around the world calling for rescue of the abducted girls.  That first march went on  to become a daily “sit-out” campaign in Abuja and a weekly “shout out”  in Lagos and various advocacy activities in cities like Oshogbo, New York, Washington DC.
At the beginning, members of our movement made a promise to our #ChibokGirls couched in a question that is part of the movement’s chants: “When shall we stop?” The answer is simple: “Not until our Girls are back and alive! “Not without our daughters! The two pillars around which our advocacy was framed for 1000 days are our  shared humanity with our #ChibokGirls and the social contract between citizens and their government.
As a citizens movement, our priority has been to awaken our government to its responsibility of protecting lives and properties of its citizens like our #ChibokGirls. Our activities invariably also awakened global awareness of and some action against the cruel action of the Boko Haram terror group. Staying above the fray of politics and change of governments, our movement has remained resolute in the singularity of purpose of demanding and compelling necessary government action to rescue the Chibok girls.
That our movement — a citizens’ advocacy in Nigeria —  has lasted 1000 days is traceable to the core values on which it  is founded. Interestingly these core values make up HUMANITEEDS: Hope, Unity, Motivation, Affability, Nationalism, Integrity, Transparency, Empathy, Equity, Discipline, and Sacrifice. These are the  values that have shaped the thought processes, decisions, and actions of the movement.
Lending our contribution to solutions has also been part of our modus operandi. In 1000 days, we have not only advocated on the matter of our girls but also delivered solutions to our government and people. Below are some of the Solutions we worked on:
–         Citizens’ Solution to End Terrorism
–         Verification, Authentication, and Reunification System (VARS) document
–         ABCs of Our Demand
–         Missing Persons’ Register (MPR)
–         Chronicle of false narratives by the Nigerian government on the rescue of the Chibok schoolgirls
–         Options Note on Rebuilding the Northeast
These are available on our website
Key milestones achieved by BBOG include:
  • Ignited the ultimate acknowledgement of the tragedy three weeks after by the then federal government following one week of our movement’s sustained advocacy.
  • Catalytic to multi-nation meeting convened in Paris, France in May 2014 to find the abducted girls and build a sub-regional counter terrorism response.
  • The offer of leading member-nations of the UN Security Council to help rescue our ChibokGirls,
  • Crystalized the advocacy for #ChibokGirls by key global figures and the global community.
  • Saw a strong commitment made by then incoming president – Muhammadu Buhari-  that the return of our girls and other abducted citizens as the indicator of defeat of the terrorists;
  • Compelled our federal government to prioritize the effective and efficient use of resources provided for prosecuting the war and providing security more broadly. In the process, our troops in the battlefront confirm improvement in the tools necessary for war.
  • Shone the light on the scale of humanitarian tragedy that has befallen millions of our internally displaced citizens as far back as 2014 when the North East destabilization was escalating.
However none of those milestones  compared to the sense of progress that the movement celebrated when the first  Chibok girl — Amina Ali Nkeki was found by the Civilian Joint Task Force and the military on Tuesday May 17, 2016.
Subsequently two other Chibok girls — Maryam Ali and Rakiya Abubakar were also found at different times due to the activities of the military. The largest set of girls – twenty one- were released by the terrorists on October 13, 2016 following a successful negotiation with the Federal Government, the Swiss Government and the International Committee of the Red Cross. That 24 of our ChibokGirls have been given the  justice of freedom from terrorists is considered a testament that our citizens’ advocacy for them was valid despite the stiff attacks and opposition our movement attracts for our steadfast stance.
Furthermore, by making our #ChibokGirls the symbol of all other victims of Boko Haram –many of whom lost their identity in the course of the tragedy in the North East– it compelled the Nigerian military to achieve the rescue of thousands of these other Nigerians.
We also highlighted and advocated on issues related to military welfare, demanded for presidential pardon of soldiers who were wrongly sentenced to death upon being court-martialed for refusing to fight without arms. Some of such unjust sentences were later commuted to life imprisonment.
Adopting our #NigerianHonourOurHeroes initiative, we continue to champion the cause of our soldiers and their families for the risk they take at the war front and for the gallantry they show whenever any of  them die at the battlefront to safeguard people and nation.
In the last 1000 days of our advocacy,  we have become a model for the effective expression of the #OfficeOfTheCitizen which promotes demand for democratic accountability from their government.
Our movement has seen the emergence of other citizens’ advocacy groups on related issues of good governance, philanthropic and humanitarian efforts, citizens interventions and such like. The idea of the informed, engaged and active citizen is no longer a dream but already being acted upon by ordinary citizens across the country.
Our singular issue was the rescue of our Chibok girls, but it did not take our movement time to see how the lack of good governance and demand for accountability failed them on that night they were abducted. It is reason our movement insists on Good Governance.
On this tragic DAY 1000 of our advocacy, we again celebrate the efforts of our men and women in uniform who continue to place their lives on the line at the frontlines of the fight against the insurgency and in the search for our Chibok girls as well as other persons who have been abducted by Boko Haram.
Today as we ponder  the colossal tragedy of the non-return of 195 of our girls on day 1000 of daily #BringBackOurGirls advocacy, we renew our  commitment to never stop  demanding until all the remaining 195 of our missing girls are rescued. It is why we today ask the federal government to accelerate the effort it assures is being made to successfully negotiate the release of another set of 83 of our ChibokGirls.
As a movement, we do not wish to see DAY1100 without all our ChibokGirls back. #BringBackOurGirls!
For and on behalf of #BringBackOurGirls

Chibok Girls: Painful memories of a thousand days – By Oby Ezekwesili

On that 30th April 2014 when diverse citizens gathered to march in solidarity, no one could have imagined that any out of our 219 Chibok Girls abducted from their secondary school in April 2014 would remain in captivity of terrorists 1000 days after the tragedy. One recalls pictures of distressed parents supported by local hunters foraging through the path they were told that the terrorists had hauled away their daughters. Meanwhile, their government was missing in action cynically indifferent to the cries for help. 

One of the parents said he was desperate to find his daughter by walking off into Sambisa Forest before the Nigeria Army prevented them, because the future of the entire family depended on that daughter finishing school and taking care of her siblings. How can we not be moved by such decisiveness on girls education in a region that topped both then and now, the chart of poor school enrollment and worse parity ratio of four boys for every one girl in school compared to the rest of the country? 

Nations that have bothered to know the value of having all their girls in school have since discovered the multiple and diverse benefits. More than ever before in history, the economic health of a country depends upon the skills, knowledge, and capacities of its people. Research validates that countries which have made dynamic progress in the last century, are also the ones that help each of their citizens – male and female- to acquire the human assets of values, skills, knowledge and capacities that education bestows. 

In addition to the obvious productivity and income earning benefit to the girl-child and their families, some of the data that validate a diverse range of benefits have global relevance. According to UNESCO, the “Children of mothers with secondary education or higher are twice as likely to survive beyond age 5 compared to those whose mothers have no education. Improvements in women’s education explained half of the reduction in child deaths between 1990 and 2009. A child born to a mother who can read is 50% more likely to survive past age 5?.

We are products of the values that shaped us. A Value that some of us imbibed while growing up is that nothing makes a female child inferior and so nothing should keep them from being educated. Those of our parents that held strong to such value bequeathed them to us by sending us to school despite our being female. Like the parents of the 219 ChibokGirls, our parents overcame all barriers that are known to limit educational opportunities available to girls around the world or even more specifically, our various regions in Nigeria. 

For the forward thinking parents of the abducted girls, they desired that their daughters would not be part of the statistics of out-of-school adolescent girls. A recent report on Girls Education in Nigeria by the United Kingdom’s British Council found that in the North East, 54% of adolescent girls are out of school. In the North West, it is 53%, in the North Central, it is 21%, in the South South it is 9%, in the South West 6% and in the south-east, it is 4%. The ChibokGirls parents understood that at an individual and family level, the benefits of offering education to their daughters outweighed the associated social, cultural, religious, physical risks and economic constraints. 

What they did not imagine as part of that calculus was that the physical risk to life for those who dared to show up in their Chibok school has risen substantially to certainty. Boko Haram terrorists are driven by the hideous determination to make knowledge abominable thus challenging our civilization. None of our ChibokGirls parents could however have imagined that neither their own government nor those of the rest of the world would defend the dignity of endangered lives of their children if anything like abduction happened.  None of those parents could have imagined that the lives of their daughters would not be protected by the Nigerian nation-state which has a constitutional duty of providing for the security and welfare of citizens- especially its young ones. None of those parents could have thought that having their daughters show up from their various schools in that local government to take their certificate examination with peers in that Government Secondary School Chibok,  would become a fatal choice between being educated or staying alive. 

Doubly tragic is that as we mark #DAY1000 since the worst nightmare of those Chibok Parents materialized, two successive governments have completely failed to be as bold as the parents of our missing ChibokGirls. From the initial self-preserving coldness, indifference, mockery and tentativeness of the immediate past administration to the “cannot-be-taken-for-their-word” hubris, lethargy and inertia of the current one, any discerning observer can see a common thread. It is the same we-don’t-give-a-damn attitude that is making their successors who assumed office on the back of a strong promise to commit their utmost to rescuing the girls within six months in office;  to repeat history. 

What is the cause of this empathy-deficit toward citizens by those that govern,  regardless of their political symbol and hue? The disconcerting answer is that among our political class,  citizens – whether dead or alive – have no bearing on the incentives that drive the quest for the right to govern them. Unlike those countries where leaders set their country Development vision on their citizens’ values, knowledge, skills and capacities, our own “rulers” place their stewardship quest not on the lives of citizens but on the certainty that oil will flow. Oil will flow and the public purse will flourish whether a citizen dies or is missing. 

The logic is simple: As long as the proceeds from oil are guaranteed, the nation can afford to leave its children with terrorists for any length of time. For as long as oil flows and with that, the proceeds, the cutting short of any Nigerian life has no effect on the country.  It therefore has not mattered as much to any of the two successive Governments of Nigeria that losing our ChibokGirls is a loss to our national stock of human capital. That our Governments prolonged the time it is taking to give justice to children who were abducted in the course of their search for knowledge is a statement on the things we value. 

Should any think this assertion to be farfetched, all they need do,  is, compare the swiftness with which our governments -regardless of which political crew run it- responds to any threat to the flow of oil in the Niger Delta. For our governments, the cynicism towards citizens- who with a certain measure of education are converted to human capital- is that they are of less value than a barrel of oil. 

This is where the parents of our ChibokGirls have more than a lot to teach our political leaders. These parents may not have any “political clout” – part of the reason that many adduce for the way their daughters have been neglected by our government– but they know something that our political rulers are yet to graspNo commodity but our human beings like Chibok Girls, other abducted citizens, hundreds of Nigerians needlessly killed in distressed conditions in the North East, Mainland and South Kaduna, Agatu, Aba, Enugu, Onitsha, Jos, Keffi, Abuja, Lagos and such other places, can guarantee us the swift passage to economic development. 

The slight redeeming prospect of the President Muhammadu Buhari led government as far as the specific matter of ChibokGirls rescue goes, is that in the last three months, it has managed to bring back 24 of them mostly through negotiation with their terrorist abductors. For our freed school girls and their peers in all the internally dislocated peoples’ camps in the North East, it is the duty of the Government’s – Federal and State- to place a premium on their education and skills acquisition to ensure that Nigeria speeds up the accumulation of our human development scores. The education of the girl-child benefits not only the girls and their families but their communities, states and nations. 

Following its inauguration in May 2015, the administration was trapped in more than 15 months of numbing indecisiveness on how to rescue our ChibokGirls, whether through military option or by negotiation with the terrorists. Twenty one of them were eventually released on 13th October 2016 to our Government by the terrorists and embraced by their exuberantly joyous parents. Just a few days ago, another one of the girls returned, having been accidentally found among terrorists and their victims that the Nigerian Army captured. She returned after 997 days in the stronghold of terrorists clutching an innocent baby,  rather than the certificate her parents hoped for when they took a risk to send her to school. 

The tragic irony is that one of the reasons parents send their girl-children to school is to help delay marriage and child bearing while they acquire life skills for a better life. Rukiya Abubarka Gali’s parents while rejoicing at the return of their daughter yesterday, must be regretfully wondering like not a few other parents, whether it was worth it after all, to have made the choice for knowledge for their daughter. 

That DAY1000 is upon us with still more than 80% of our Chibok Girls still captives of terrorists, the only person that can assuage their deep regret is the President and the Federal Government of Nigeria. The way it can do this is to ensure that not one more day goes beyond the one thousand days of suffering of our young daughtersThis Federal Government must realize that the more it makes promises and fails to immediately back them with decisiveness and results-focused actions, it risks completely eroding its fast depleting stock of credibility and goodwill. 

The inability and perhaps unwillingness to learn from mistakes is reason this Federal Government has again relapsed into inertia, lethargy, contradictions and silence on the status of its public pledge last October that another 83 of our girls would be back “soonest”. Our ChibokGirls have always been a symbol of several other victims without identity that are captives of our common enemies or those whose lives were wasted needlessly across the country. Now is the time for our President to find the courage to accord the highest value to the Nigerian life regardless of their region, religion, ideology, political persuasion, social and economic status above any other thing in this country. 

We must not allow more deaths over and above 18 of the brave mothers and fathers who sent their girls to school.  The hope of those deceased parents and the ones alive  was that their girls would go on to become part of our more enduring capital. They did so, trusting that their Government cares about the dignity of life. It is time for the remaining 195 daughters of these courageous parents  to return. 1000 days are already too long. Mr President, we want more results! It is time to bring back home our girls now. And alive!!

Ezekwesili is co-convener of #BringBackOurGirls Movement 

#BringBackOurGirls: FG needs to do more to rescue remaining Chibok girls

The #BBOG has urged the federal government to do more to facilitate the rescue of the abducted Chibok schoolgirls.


This was contained in a press release by the chairperson, Strategic Team of the #BBOG group, Mrs Aisha Yesufu, yesterday.


Mrs. Yesufu said, “The 13th October is a most memorable day for the #BBOG group, as there are pleasant news of the return of 21 of the 218 abducted chibok girls.”


Similarly the chairperson of the group, Dr Oby Ezekwezili, said, it was, indeed, a remarkable event as Nigerians, and the entire global public shared an emotional state, as they watched pictures of the girls re-unite with their parents.


“Two weeks after our monitoring commenced, precisely on the 13th October, we received the pleasant news of the return of 21 of our missing 218 #ChibokGirls. Like the rest of the Nigerian and global public that have shared solidarity with our girls, we were delighted to see emotional images of the 21 girls as they reunited with their parents. We welcome the assurance by the federal government that it is working assiduously to bring back the rest of our girls. So, while we continue to celebrate the return of now 22 #ChibokGirls within the last three weeks, we urge the government to speed up efforts for the rescue of the 196 girls on or before the end of 2016.


“We will as usual keenly play our vigilance role as a citizens’ movement and support the government as it seeks to achieve this objective,” it said.

#NigeriansHonorOurHeroes: BBOG holds event to celebrate Nigeria’s Fallen Heroes tomorrow.

As earlier announced, tomorrow 12 November 2016 between 5 and 7 pm there shall be a special event to honour the patriotism and sacrifice of Nigerian troops who have passed on, most especially those fighting the counter-insurgency war in Northeast Nigeria. This is to demonstrate how much we Nigerians appreciate them and their families, for effort and sacrifice to keep us protected.

This event shall hold at Unity Fountain Abuja. Formal invitations have gone out to the Ministry of Defence, the Defence, Army, Navy, Air force, and Police headquarters, as well as their respective officers’ wives associations. We are also working with the various associations of ex-servicemen, and non-governmental and civil society organisations (NGOs/CSOs) involved with activities of honouring our heroes.
The key features of tomorrow‘s event include tributes to our heroes by families, friends, colleagues, and citizens. There shall also be prayers, and close with a candlelight procession within the venue.

Kindly make arrangements to attend and invite others. Please share as many images along with names of our departed heroes with the hashtag #NigeriansHonorOurHeroes to show appreciation and honour their memory.

Sesugh Akume
#BringBackOurGirls Spokesperson

Groups Accused Of Profiteering From #BringBackOurGirls Contradict Selves

The two associations denounced by the #BringBackOurGirls campaign on Monday made contradictory claims about contacting the #BBOG group before embarking on a controversial fund raising program.

In separate discussions on the matter, one of the groups, Africa Support and Empowerment Initiative, said it tried contacting #BBOG leaders to no avail. The other association, Peace Corps of Nigeria, however, said the #BBOG group was never considered a part of the fund raising program.

The two groups on Monday organised a program with the theme: “Official Inauguration and Signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the Chibok Girls Endowment Project” at the headquarters of Peace Corps in Abuja.

The President of Africa Support and Empowerment Initiative, Hadiza Buhari Bello, daughter of Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari reportedly received a N3.5 million cheque from Peace Corps’ National Commandant, Dickson Akor, as part of a Memorandum of Understanding.

At the venue, a banner was placed on the wall explaining the theme of the program.

The banner had the #BringBackOurGirls logo written in red, with people also dressed in red around its premises.

However, no representative of the #BBOG group was present at the event.

The #BringBackOurGirls group in a statement signed by its co-conveners, Aisha Yesufu and Oby Ezekwesili, denounced the groups as well as the said program.

Read More:

#BringBackOurGirls demands apology from IGP over harassment

Following declaring by the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Kpotum Idris, that the #BringBackOurGirls (BBOG) group was a security threat and the hostile treatment levelled upon it by the Nigerian Police during it’s march to the Villa, the group has demanded an apology from the IGP.


Briefing the press yesterday during the group’s Monthly Monitoring Report, one of its members, Veronica Bakam stated that the IGP’s statement was a deliberate attempt to pitch the group against fellow Nigerians without any evidence and also demanded official retraction to all the statements levelling allegations and accusations against the group.


We want the IGP immediately tenders and widely publishes his unreserved apology to our #BringBackOurGirls movement for violation of our individual and collective rights and freedoms, causing inconvenience to us, orchestrating a hate campaign and disseminating false accusation against us with the intention of tarnishing the reputation of our movement,” she said.

She also demanded the IGP makes a public pledge and commitment to never again infringe the Nigerian constitution by using the Nigerian Police as a tool of oppression against the group and other citizens and civic organisations.


The IGP should also forthwith tenders unreserved apology to the parents of our Chibok girls and the Chibok community who were part of our procession; for using officers of the Nigeria Police to disorganize our public event on Tuesday 6 September, 2016 and in so doing, causing these already distraught citizens even more distress.


He should also immediately tenders apology to the Nigerian and the global public for misleading them in the aforementioned public announcements and pronouncements, causing unnecessary and unwarranted inconvenience to motorists on Shehu Shagari Way on Tuesday 6 September, and indeed for portraying the Nigeria Police Force in extremely bad light by their words and actions,” she said.

#BringBackOurGirls: That show of shame by ‘Buhari supporters’ – Jude Egbas

When the ‘Bring Back Our Girls’  (BBOG) advocacy outfit set out for the presidential Villa, Tuesday; like they’ve promised to do every 72 hours hence, they were accosted by a pro-Buhari  group who promptly told them that the call to rescue the over 200 girls still in Boko Haram custody was a scam.

A sense of sickening déjà vu doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt when I first read the news of all that transpired.

I can deal with the police always cordoning off the BBOG movement and demanding for a protest permit even when the officers know the group has been permitted by the courts to march around town peacefully.

I can handle the police calling on tanks and personnel each time the BBOG movement embarks on its routine peaceful marches.
Bring Back Our Girls group marches to Aso Rock on August 22, 2016 play

I can even handle sniggering APC faithful and online Buhari ‘overlords’ who now regard the BBOG movement with disdain—the same group they festooned with accolades only a year ago. The same group they cheered and urged on only a year ago under a different landlord in Aso Villa.

But what the heck is ‘With Buhari we stand’? Who paid these jobless band of renegades who carried placards and who were spoiling for a fight with an advocacy group that has done a good job of keeping the subject of the rescue of the Chibok girls on the front-burner for 3 years now?

“Buhari is a man of peace, stop frustrating him”, the pro-Buhari group chanted.

They should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves if they know what it is to feel an ounce of shame.

The BBOG group has sent out a notice that they’ll be embarking on their marches every 72 hours. And just as well.

That resolution was reached after video tapes emerged showing that the Chibok girls are still alive.

The group has braved the rains and shine to demand for the rescue of the girls. They’ve been met with tanks and uncouth police bosses and they’ve been tagged a political outfit when it suits shameless political jobbers.

I’m ready to wager that we all would have moved on with our lives if Oby Ezekwesili, Bukky Shonibare and Aisha Yesufu weren’t out there on the front-lines, advocating that government should speed up efforts to rescue the abducted girls while it is yet day.

We can regard Ezekwesili, Shonibare and Yesufu with disdain today because we are sympathizers of the government and party in power, but sending hecklers after them is beyond the pale.

And if the presidency has a hand in this show of shame; if it is now in the habit of hiring protesters like was done in the past, then the ‘change’ Nigerians voted for may just be the scam some have said it is.

BringBackOurGirls Group Hits Back At Presidency

BringBackOurGirls group said yesterday that the statement by the presidency a few days ago, in response to its assessment of the federal government’s effort to rescue the kidnapped 218 Chibok girls — since its engagement with the President in July 2015, was a misrepresentation of the group.

The advocacy group in a statement signed by Aisha Yesufu and Oby Ezekwesili last night, said that contrary to the presidency’s insinuation, the movement could not be insensitive to the loss of lives and livelihoods of other Nigerians, as well as the plight of those facing the humanitarian tragedy, saying its members absolutely reject the ‘’false labelling’.

Presenting its monthly monitoring report for July 2016, BringBackOurGirls said that July 15 was 27 months to the sad day in April 2014, when the Chibok girls were abducted from their dormitories in Government Secondary School, Chibok, adding that 822 days later, 218 girls remain in captivity.

‘’We present this as part of our monthly monitoring of the efforts to rescue our girls and bring an end to the Boko Haram Insurgency’’, the group added.

‘’In a continuation of recent trends, the last month marked the liberation of thousands of our citizens and the opening up of more access routes. We also recorded a declining number of insurgent attacks within our shores and witnessed peaceful Eid celebrations in the capitals of the North East for the first time in over five years.

‘’We continue to commend our security forces for these successes which have inspired renewed hope and conviction in the capacity of our troops to #BringBackOurGirls and ensure an end to the insurgency. Sadly however, the period brought to light the scale of humanitarian crisis in the North East occasioned by acute malnutrition among children and adults, and the real threat to survival of an entire generation of our people.’’

The advocacy group added that nothing reinforced its repeated call for urgency and a more visible, deliberate and result-based humanitarian response to the insurgency than the submission from a July 8 statement by the UN Secretary-General and Regional Humanitarian Coordinator, Toby Lanzer, who said, “A failure to act now will result in deeper and broader suffering, unlike any seen to date in Nigeria’s North East and a steeper bill for all concerned to alleviate suffering and stabilize the situation.”

The group added: ‘’We shudder at the possibility of more suffering for our fellow citizens in the North East, especially knowing what they have been through in the last few years”.

‘’Since the abduction of our girls we have led several initiatives, often times in advance of government. We crowd sourced the Citizens Solution to end terrorism early on and highlighted the need for improved military welfare and a comprehensive de-radicalisation program, among others.

‘’We anticipated the need for a system of handling the movement of affected communities and designed both the Verification, Authentication and Reunification System (VARS) and modalities for a Missing Persons’ Register.’’

The group said it had also mobilised relief materials and campaigned on behalf of the Internally Displaced Persons and Refugees in neighbouring countries, going on to warn of an impending humanitarian tragedy for many months before any action began.

Credit: Thisday

BringBackOurGirls Campaigners Insist On Meeting Buhari

BringBackOurGirls campaigners and the parents of the over 200 girls that were abducted in Chibok, Borno State in April 2014 on Thursday insisted that President Muhammadu Buhari must grant them audience.

Buhari had earlier sent a government delegation led by the Minister of Women Affairs, Aisha Al-Hassan, to receive the protesters on his behalf at the old Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

But the highly infuriated leader of the group, Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili, told the government delegation that consisted the Minister of Defence, National Security Adviser and the Chief of Defence Staff that they would not speak to any other person apart from the President.

When all efforts made to pacify the protesters did not yield any positive result, the government delegation sent a message to the President.

Buhari was receiving the visiting President of Benin Republic, Boni Yayi, in his office while the drama was playing out.

Immediately Yayi left, the President changed his mind and decided to meet the protesters personally.

The message was thereafter passed to the protesters.

At the time of filing this report at 1.30pm, security and protocol officials had been quickly drafted to the venue to prepare for the President’s arrival.

Meanwhile, before the President resolved to meet the protesters, Ezekwesili had had a confrontation with the Minister of Women Affairs whom she accused of not being fear to the parents of the abducted girls with the way she spoke to them.

She said the minister was busy chiding the already traumatized parents in her choice of words.

This, she observed, was unlike the Minister of Defence, NSA and the CDS who she said their tones connected with the parents.

Credit: Punch

FG Still Tracking Chibok Girls – Lai Mohammed

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has restated commitment of the Federal Government to tracking and locating the missing Chibok girls.

Mohammed said it was important for the military to adopt less lethal procedures compared with the drastic measures employed by neigbouring countries along the Sambisa Forest.

He said the public should commend the military and provide needed information to further decapitate the insurgents.
Mohammed, who spoke to Channels TV via phone, stated that, “We are a bit constrained. I know that some countries have set certain fire around the Sambisa forest in order to smoke out the Boko Haram insurgents but we are being careful because we are still looking for the Chibok girls and we do not want unnecessary collateral casualties.

“I know that many of our neighbours like Mali and Niger have employed certain procedures because of our major objective that we are still looking for the Chibok girls, so in some parts of Sambisa forest, we cannot adopt such drastic approaches.”


The 235 Chibok girls were declared missing for about 300 days, while efforts were made to ensure their safe arrival.

The Minister stated that prior to the assumption of the current administration; the entire north east was almost taken over by the insurgents.

However, he restated need to applaud the military for recovering about 20 local governments from the entire councils lose to the sect.

“People must own the war. They must report suspicious movements and complement efforts of the military. How many bars or football viewing centres in Lagos can you secure? No, but if you have enough information to beef up the security, it would help,” he added.


“That is absolutely incorrect. It is possible for insurgents to lay ambush on the road. It doesn’t mean that they are in control of those local governments. I travelled 89 kilometres from Maiduguri to Bama.

“We are not saying we are going to route or eliminate ambush or attacks overnight. It’s never done in any insurgency but what we are just giving the fact, less than a year ago, the entire north east was almost in their control, today they don’t have that kind of command. It’s just about one local government that they have swayed at all,” the Minister said.

He emphasized that the public should complement efforts of the military by contributing to intelligence gathering.

We Located Chibok Girls But Couldn’t Rescue Them– UK Envoy

The outgoing British High Commissioner to Nigeria Dr. Andrew Pocock yesterday said the abducted Chibok school girls were located but it’s practically impossible to rescue them safely.

He also said his county was not advocate for dialogue with the Boko Haram sect, believed to have abducted the girls from their hostels last year.

Pocock who visited Kaduna state Governor Nasir El-Rufa’i made the remarks at an interactive session with journalists.

He said “Our ability to return the Chibok girls is very limited. Well, after the abduction for some
months it was clear that substantial group of girls were together. It was also clear that they were by no means all of them. It might be a group of 50 or 80; it’s very hard to tell. It presented a terrible dilemma to everybody, attempting to rescue substantial group of girls has two obvious problems; the risk to the attackers and to the girls.”

He said “It was possible that Boko Haram would have killed those girls. And I am not sure whether the military capacity existed for the rescue of these girls. So even though it was possible to say where some of the girls might have been, they were beyond rescue in practical terms. I think the only way for the return of the girls in my personal opinion is through the defeat of Boko Haram.”

He said deployment of security forces to the North-East to deal with insurgency was not enough adding that government must apply economic measures.

The High Commissioner said it was not a better option to invoke dialogue with sect because they didn’t constitute a legitimate government.
“I don’t think we will advocate talking to people that abduct innocent civilians and cut peoples throat on video and show it to the rest of the world. But what we could be talking about is disarmament and rehabilitation process for those who are willing to put down their weapons,” he added.

President Buhari To Meet With #BringBackOurGirls Group

The #BringBackOurGirls campaigners on Tuesday secured a meeting with Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari, a month since his assumption of duty on May 29.

The convener of the group, Obiageli Ezekwesili, via twitter, said a presidential confirmation of the meeting had been received by the group.

She said, “WE @BBOG_Nigeria have received confirmation of schedule of OUR MEETING with @MBuhari & FG on our #ChibokGirls for July 8th 2015 @ 12 noon.”

On assumption of duty as Nigeria’s president, the group had written requesting a meeting with Mr. Buhari.

The #BringBackOurGirls movement’s several attempts to have such meeting with the past administration failed.

The past administration led by Goodluck Jonathan was criticised over its handling of abduction of the Chibok girls.

The meeting, the group said, will enable the group express their deep anxieties at the failure of the Nigerian Government to rescue the 219 Chibok girls kidnapped from their hostels at a government secondary school Chibok in Borno State.

Read More: premiumtimesng

Photos: US Congresswoman Host 6 Girls Who Escaped From Boko Haram Captivity

US Congress women led by Representative Frederica Wilson yesterday June 10 met with 6 Nigerian girls who escaped from Boko Haram captivity. The Congress women all wore red which is the color code for the Bringbackourgirls campaign.

They later filed outside the congress building carrying placards with the message”Bring Back Our Girls”. Some Congress men also came out to lend their voices. More photos below…

Read More:
Follow us: @kevindjakpor on Twitter | KevinDjakporBlog on Facebook

Stop Your Hate And Antagonism On My Person – Gen Olukolade Writes Oby Ezekwesili, BBOG Organizers

Spokesperson of the The Defence Headquarters, Gen Chris Olukolade has sent out a letter to the convener of the Bring Back Our Girls group, Dr Oby Ezekwesili and other members of the group, Mrs Hadiza Bala Usman and Bukky Shonibare, appealing to them to stop what he termed the “hatred and mindless antagonism” the group has launched on his person since the advocacy for the kidnapped Chibok girls started in April last year.

Gen Chris Olukolade, in the letter, stated that he had a life after the military and would be on fair for the group to “work purely for the purpose of destroying my reputation and years of committed and unblemished record of service to my country. Read the letter after the cut…

The letter in part reads;

“Being in the forefront of the efforts to disseminate information is a job I do with passion and sense of responsibility. I do not deserve the hatred and mindless antagonism your organization has continued to unleash on me. I certainly have a life out of here and it is unfair to work purely for the purpose of destroying my reputation and years of committed and unblemished record of service to my country. Despite the regular focus and disdainful reference to all communication from me as prompted by those who are so determined to ruin other people’s name and career, I have maintained the restraint required of me both by training and upbringing. Indeed, I am also conscious of the enormous power you wield.

The belief is that your organisation has the determination to ruin the name, career, and reputation of some targeted military officers among whom I have been specifically marked for such cruel treatment. I can only leave such matter to God and the good judgement of people who read or hear you. I am so sure I will enjoy the blessing of being vindicated at last. Meanwhile, I wish your team will consider my point here and spare me and the Nigerian military the undue attacks we have continued to be subjected to in the name of monitoring or calling for accountability.

We call for fairness as against the present campaign that is fraught with calumny and promotion of one man’s malice against us and anything government. I will not be surprised if this appeal draws more or fresh vitriol from your organisation, especially at the prompting of the hawks in your midst who are the disciples of that prominent member and proponent of the malicious campaign. This is more likely, considering the determination and unhidden hatred of those who have been acting with a view to drawing me out for a street fight. I can assure you that I will not react or join issues under whatever provocation. I will be leaving all such sworn enemies to their conscience and God if they believe in Him at all. To you as an organisation, please save your platform from being used to perpetrate this injustice as inspired by the prominent and phony member of your BringBackOurGirls campaign.” he said

Acknowledging that the group and the military can work together to achieve more result to finding the girls, Gen Olukolade appealed to the group to stop its “hate campaign”. He denied claims that the military was engaging in propaganda in any form

“Indeed, there is still room for more merciful and robust engagement or interface between you and the government and security agencies in the drive to secure the return of our girls. Enough of undue hate campaign and antagonism. I have followed your activities with due interest. I personally have nothing against your organisation or its advocacy concerning efforts to recover our girls from captivity of terrorists. I believe that someday, both your efforts and that of the Nigerian military will be duly understood and appreciated. It is unfortunate that some have sought to equate our efforts to give accounts of activities on the nation’s war on terror as propaganda or cover-up. This is not true. We know the difference. The fact is that the battle situation around could be very fluid and susceptible to rapid changes. The situations around the battle could also change accordingly in an inexplicable manner. This trend is also compounded by various perspectives that have been employed to seriously polarise the understanding of the situation along the line of all kinds of sentiments and biases prevailing in the environment. We cannot engage in a shouting match with those who have other motives. We can only try to explain situation to the best of our understanding and available information. The report we present on situations are based on the available information and observance of the elements of propriety, security, policy and accuracy, which has remained our guiding principles. It is really not true as you have been made to assert repeatedly that the Defence Headquarters and myself are the only sources of information on the operation.

The sweeping judgement and insistence that we must do things in a particular way or your claim that we do not follow best practices as well as your remarks comparing our approach to that of other armies is very unfair. Indeed, you must know that no two military operations are the same, and the conduct must endeavour to reflect the realities and peculiarities being confronted in the field. Your allegations or claim that we lack transparency is definitely not well informed neither is it being expressed in good faith.” He stated that no one was being restrained from going to the restive areas to carry out their independent verification of facts presented by the military.

He said the only concern of the military is the safety of anyone who wish to carryout such exercise “Be assured that nobody has been restrained from accessing the mission area in the ongoing operation except when there is clear case of undue interference with safety and operational environment. Infact, occasionally, we conduct the media on tour of the operational area. Our concern remains the issue of safety for anyone in search of information. Much as we want to assist genuine seekers of information, we do not feel obliged to devote scarce resources to satisfying the fancy of pleasure seeking adventurers or the curious and mindless critics who just want to roam around with questionable motives. We should not be blackmailed into compromising the security of information and operations in the name of undefined idea of transparency. We have strived to keep the populace informed in the best way possible in the circumstances we find ourselves.”

Source: The Nation Online

#BBOG Group Marks Anniversary Of Chibok Girls Abduction, Starts Search For #ChibokGirlsAmbassadors

The #BringBackOurGirls group will soon commence activities to mark the one year anniversary of the abduction of over 200 schoolgirls forcefully taken away on April 14, 2014 by Boko Haram insurgents.

According to a release signed by the group’s coordinators, former Education Minister, Oby Ezekwesili and Hadiza Bala Usman, the group will, from April 8, start a Global Week of Action to usher in a number of activities to commemorate the day.

One of the activities planned for the commemoration is a search for 219 Chibok Ambassadors who will be presented to the world on April 14 as they join the #BBOG all around the world in the #GlobalSchoolGirlsMarch to march for the girls in Abuja.

According to the organisers, the Ambassadors who should be girls between the ages of 10 – 18 would serve as goodwill ambassadors acting as advocates of the abducted girls.

“It is a strategic initiative that pulls in more deliberately, their generation into the cause of our Chibok girls,” the statement said.

Read the rest of the statement below:

“During our Special Global Week Of Action commemorating our #ChibokGirls’ abduction, we shall like to have all our friends across Nigeria and the world to join in and support our activities in their different communities, cities and countries.

The effort of every man and woman, far and near, in this particular period will be critical in driving the required renewed demand and pressure to find our girls and bring them home to their parents.

Wherever you are, we call on you today to join in; to rally afresh and to mobilize resources to bring our #ChibokGirls back on the front burner. A day in the captivity of terrorists is agonizingly dreadful enough. One year is too much and too difficult to imagine. Our #ChibokGirls are innocent global citizens that the world must ensure are #NeverToBeForgotten,” the statement said.

The group called on Pres. Goodluck Jonathan and Pres.-Elect, Muhammadu Buhari to the rescue of the Chibok girls at the very top of their agenda as power changes hands between both leaders.

“While congratulating both the current president and incoming one, the president-elect, we demand that both prioritise the rescue of our missing 219 #ChibokGirls as a topmost agenda during this transition period, and to work together in assiduously in unison to see that our missing girls return before the handover date of 29 May 2015,” it said.


Find below on our website the Program of Action and how you can participate:

There is also the Chibok Girls Ambassadors. Schoolgirls aged 10 -18 who would volunteer to stand for our missing Chibok girls. Details are available at this link:

Schools would also be able to participate by organizing marches called the Global School Girl March. Details are available at this link:

Credit –

#KakandaTemple ~ It’s Christmas in Chibok, Mr. President!


You know what this is about. But, have you contacted their family to understand the meaning and depth of sorrow? Which family? This is the reason for this reminder.

While you feast, in the spirit of this sacred season, sharing love with your political family, especially the billionaire donors, there are, somewhere in the hinterlands of this country or between the borders of the country to Niger Republic, Chad or Cameroon, innocent citizens condemned to a slavery that can only be imagined by us.

I’m talking about the innocent school girls abducted at a government secondary school in Borno State. For these girls, Mr. President, December 25 doesn’t mean anything, having been held captive by savages to whom any Christian values and even the values of peace-building Muslims represent a threat they seek to exterminate, a fantasy for which they have killed thousands of your subjects, and which you seem to take for granted at our peril.

The question that your loyalists who proudly, actually shamefully, parade themselves as “Jonathanians” always ask is, are the girls of Chibok the only abducted since the wake of this insurgency, in their attempts to discredit the #BringBackOurGirls campaign and group? The answer to this has been proffered by members of the group from the incredibly energetic Mrs Aisha Yesufu whose resilience has been an inspiration for faint-hearted and absenting advocates of the movement like me to the courageous Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, on the back of whose charisma and audacity the campaign rose to the attention of the world, and now continues to dominate the discourse of man’s inhumanity in global politics.

The answer to this stubborn refusal to let go of this campaign and continuous call for the rescuing of Chibok Girls, as understood by all who still believe in the cause, is that it not only calls for you to bring back the missing girls, but any thinking person knows that any mission initiated to rescue the girls of Chibok will definitely result in the liberation of not just all the citizens abducted so far, but also the country itself from operations and oppressions of these ragtag agents of the Devil.

You see, #BringBackOurGirls is more than just a campaign, more than just a hashtag, more than just a sit-out, more than just a congregation of the nation’s finest minds, it defies the criticisms of all employed by you to frustrate and discredit it as a result of nothing other than this very singularity of the campaigners’ exact purpose: #BringBackOurGirls.

That this advocacy has survived all brazen fabrications and conspiracies against it, becoming the longest ever in Nigeria, is a tribute to the power of what the advocates themselves refer to as “the singularity of purpose” – keen focus on the efforts, reported those are, to bring back the 219 girls. This advocacy survived being dismissed as partisan, that it’s a tool of the opposition party. But even an excited APC chieftain, Mr. Audu Ogbeh, who, in his praise of the advocacy, tried to link it to the opposition party had to issue a press release at once, retracting his statement, and apologising for the mistake and embarrassment caused.

What I really don’t understand, Mr. President, is this: that your people’s daughters and sons and mothers and fathers, citizens of the country you’re elected to protect, have been in captivity without any update on efforts taken to rescue them, without any sobering, even if pretentious, assurance that they will be home soon, with their grief-stricken families. YET, here you are, again, asking for their votes, proud of your under-achievements and acting as though nothing has gone missing, not even the billions, because your family or interests are not affected. I just don’t get it.

Mr. President, if you actually believe the propaganda that places you on the same platform with the Mandelas of this world, which seems to have given you the audacity to ask these betrayed people for another opportunity to rule, to mismanage this animal farm, then your case is more than just political, it’s psychological. Or is it that I don’t really get it?

But, let’s agree that I don’t get it, can you give me, a curious subject, just one reason to cast my vote for you? You may be a good man in the closet – introverted, soft-spoken and ambitious, but your political decisions and even communication over these years, with this retinue of indecorous media aides you employ to insult citizens asking genuine questions, have only damaged you.

I know you may get elected again, a reality no sane citizen wants to ponder, because beside the few million agents of change whose decisions are based on the outcomes of their brains, there are several millions of victims of maladministration too hungry to use their brains, some, having been indoctrinated by certain political, ethnic, religious or regional overlords, are already possessed by dangerous sentiments.

You may empty even the nation’s foreign reserve which is now, I learnt, in red, but history will remember you as it does those who occupied the office before you: harshly. Wait, if the problems of this country are beyond you as shown, why desperate to remain in that Office?

While, to you, politics is a game, it’s a matter of life to us. The #BringBackOurGirls campaigners are immune to the partisan sentiments of your handlers and that of your opponents, are only interested in a nation under the leadership of a human being who is, not just a Muslim, not just a Christian, not just a Yoruba, not just a Hausa, not just an Ijaw, not just a northerner, not just a southerner, but responsible! For this, Nigerians across all divides, owe this group immense gratitude, if not for anything, for amplifying the voice of the ordinary Nigerian. The group has travelled the country and the world spreading the word of our miseries and keeping the reality of our hopelessness on the headlines of both local and international media, print, broadcast and online.

On Christmas Eve, while we empty shopping malls in our grand cities, and while you decorate the State House for another of your many fanfares, living as though all is well with the territory you have vowed to protect, members of the group, already known for their identifications of deficiencies at our squalid camps for the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), were in action in Adamawa State to launch #ChristmasForIDPs campaign to excite the lives of those subjects of government that is everything but responsible. This humanitarian cause was led by another incredibly amazing advocate, Mrs. Bukky Shonibare.

And do you, Mr. President, know that Mrs. Shonibare, despite her schedules, have been posting photographs of herself holding a placard that reminds us of the days our girls have spent in captivity as she counted down to Christmas, optimistic that you may surprise her, and make the girls of Chibok and all in captivity return home to mark this Christmas with their loved aways, safe from those indoctrinating them, and protected from the monster they are being turned into? Thanks to this group which your media aides, in whose skulls that mass of tissue called brain is absent, once referred to as “psychological terrorists”, we learnt that this Christmas is the 255th day since the abduction of the Chibok girls, 255 days of miseries for over 200 families. I just want you to know, I just want to remind you that among other things missing, also #BringBackOurGirls. And for this horrifying reality, I may change the antagonist in my weekly prayer for the first time ever: may God save us from you!

By Gimba Kakanda

@gimbakakanda on Twitter

Police Stop #BringBackOurGirls Protest in Abuja

Policemen yesterday, disrupted,  the  protest organized by  #BringBackOurGirls, BBOG,  movement as they distributed  fliers to motorists to remind them of the plight of the 219 Chibok girls still in Boko Haram captivity.

The policemen numbering about 20 barricaded the Shehu Shagari Way, Abuja with their vehicles at the junction to the  Presidential Villa, a move that enraged some of the activists. The coalition members had initially walked to the National Assembly gate where they condemned the lawmakers for proceeding on Christmas holidays while the abducted girls are suffering in captivity.

According to one of the Co-coordinators of the group, Oby Ezekwesili,  “The lawmakers should be ashamed of  themselves for going on break while the Chibok girls are with wicked men in the bush.”

After spending a few minutes, the group left and as they walked towards the Presidential Villa junction, the policemen in four vehicles quickly drove to the junction and blocked it, to prevent the protesters from heading that way.


Open Letter to my Fellow #BringBackOurGirls Campaigners: While we Wait…

My dear fellow campaigners,

I greet you in the name of the struggle.

I decided to write this open letter with the hope that it gets to you, and other colleagues around the world. This letter is necessitated in view of recent happenings regarding our abducted daughters and sisters, especially with the October 17th announcement of a supposed ceasefire, and the hope that our girls will be back soonest. Whether our hope is yet again dashed or not, time will tell. But while we wait for time to take its natural course, I deem it imperative to write this letter to you – the crux of which you will decipher as you read on. Please oblige me.

My fellow comrades, recall when we started this advocacy over six months ago, none of us, not even our leaders, thought we would still be demanding #BringBackOurGirls 197+ days after. I believe we have kept on because of several reasons, one – if not topmost – of which is the HOPE that our cry would yield result someday. When the struggle kept on longer than we anticipated, remember how we had to develop ‘Core Values’ to guide and constantly remind ourselves why we are doing this, especially as it became obvious that our consistency beats the imagination of some Nigerians, who we would not blame, because showing empathy and compassion towards someone and something that does not directly affect us is not a culture we are used to. This is why there’s been several failed attempts to confine us into several boxes that fit their ideology, interpretation, and understanding of what we are about, without realizing that we have since chosen to defy all odds and shun all sentiments, interests, affiliations, and biases in standing together, unwaveringly, for this cause. Remember our ‘Core Values’? H.U.M.A.N.I.T.E.E.D.S. – Hope, Unity, Motivation, Affability, Nationalism, Integrity, Transparency, Empathy, Equity, Discipline, and Sacrifice. You see, HOPE is the very first!

My friends, let’s dissect ‘Hope’ a bit so we are on the same page. As simple as that word – ‘hope’ seem, it carries a lot of weight. Hope is never sensible. Hope defies every iota of human reasoning and calculations; it crushes the concept of tangibility. In fact, hope is only meaningful in its intangibility. When there is something visible to hold on to, hope looses its relevance. Hope says: ‘against hope, still hope.’ Gladly, hope never puts one to shame (the Bible). You know, just as I do, that our hope has become so vague in view of several unfruitful attempts to #BringBackOurGirls. Besides, with the indicting Report by the Human Rights Watch on violence by this deadly sect against our girls and women, coupled with the incoherent information, and now silence, from government quarters, as well as firsthand detailing of on-the-ground realities by fellow citizens in the North East, not leaving out the continuous attacks and abductions, you would agree with me that except a miracle happens soonest, we seem to have no choice but to keep praying, believing, and hoping something divine happens. In fact, several logical calculations have summed up to opine that the agreed truce may actually be a hoax. Who wouldn’t think so when attacks and abductions have continued, making it uncertain that the said ongoing negotiation will yield our most desired expectation? But, my friends, asides obvious government ineptitude, don’t forget that the sect we are dealing with has an ultimate goal they are striving to achieve, and one of their strategies include a bid to scatter our ‘language’ and divide us; yet, unfortunately, some gullible and selfish politicians are playing out this script – latching on our collective pain in their bid to score cheap political points. This is why it is important that you and I are not unconscious tools in aiding them. So, you see, in this instance, while we are well within our right to be hope-less based on antecedents and current realities; my friends, it is better that we choose to still unify in the face of this absurdity so much so that if our girls are not brought back in the instance of the said ongoing negotiation, we would be found erring on the path of optimism and hope as against pessimism and despair. We loose nothing by so doing. We are strengthened in unity, and weak in division. We must deliberately disregard the tendency to prove that we are right and ‘they’ (the government) is wrong. This battle against our common enemy is one that requires our collective strength and efforts.

My fellow activists, now is each of our core value, especially the first – hope, put to test. Shall we fail? We’ve come too far to goof, you know? And in passing this test, it is not so much about vocalizing or chanting that we hope and hold tight to our core values, it is much more about acting, communicating, exuding, spreading, and holding other ‘unbelievers’ up with the same values with which we choose to be defined. We gain nothing doing otherwise; rather we subject the girls we claim to love to yet another 24-hours of horror when we do the contrary. You may ask ‘how’? You see, my friends, we, #BringBackOurGirls campaigners and our supporters, are the voices that amplify the pains of these girls, not only because we publicly clamour for their return, but our thoughts, words, and actions carry enormous authority, such that when ‘released’, a universal conspiration immediately ensue to bring our thoughts and words to reality. That sounds spooky, right? Let me explain: when we say something out of the abundance of our thoughts, it begins a ‘life’ of its own, so much so that what we think will happen is said in our words, and this eventually manifest because we have released it. Thoughts and words – negative or positive – are so powerful that they eventually become reality. This is not to put the blame on us or excuse government ineptness; rather this is to ensure we are not found wanting in any of the parts we have to play in this quest; even when, in so doing, we defy logicality. I know how difficult this is, but herein is the ‘law of conspiracy’ explained – negativity begets negativity; positivity produces positive outcomes. I am particularly concerned for the parents who, since the announcement of the ceasefire, have been meeting and preparing for the return of their girls. This is why I have chosen to tow the path of optimism, hope, and positivity, even in the face of nothing tangible, that this just has to be true and fruitful. You will be right to say I’m consciously shutting down the reasoning part of my brain, but I’d rather do so than otherwise, because we must not have more parents join the two that are now hospitalized for high blood pressure, a resultant of over anxiety. Besides, these poor, helpless parents have waited long enough. This just has to yield positive result. So, because I want that positive outcome, I choose to think, say, and act positively.

My friends, I crave your indulgence to allow me chip in this slightly unrelated concern. Forgive me if this comes across as insensitive to the depth of our current anticipation and pains; this is me trying to use one stone to kill several birds. Kindly bear with me. My friends, I am quite worried about the nose-diving reputation of our dear country, especially in these trying times. Permit me to remind you of Section 24 (b) of our Constitution; which states that: “it shall be the duty of every citizen to help to enhance the power, prestige, and good name of Nigeria, defend Nigeria and render such national service as may be required.’ The part of enhancing the ‘good name of Nigeria’ kind of hit me; and I said to myself that despite the fact that our government has not done well in showing exemplary leadership in protecting the dignity and honour of our name, particularly with respect to the abduction of our Chibok girls, we must never allow ourselves to be pulled into that state where we also contribute to dragging the name of this country in the mud, albeit unconsciously. For instance, in Abuja where I live, there are tens of foreign journalists on ground, all waiting for either the positive breaking news or otherwise about the fate of our girls. Should we not get the positive news that we all anticipate (God forbid), I fear the gravity of shame and reputational damage this would further cause us as a nation. But the choice is left to you and I to ensure that if this becomes another failed attempt, we would still uphold the dignity of our motherland in our words, responses, and comments without stopping to demand good governance, accountability, and, most importantly, that our girls be brought back swiftly. Believe me, I know how difficult it is to uphold the fourth line of our National Pledge in the face of untold failed expectations, corruption, and other vices; but, my friends, this is the allegiance we owe our dear land, which obviously does not have conditions attached to it as to when we should uphold our unity or not. In and out of season, we just have to, no matter how difficult it seem. Please, let’s try.

In conclusion, my fellow crusaders, I do hope that the tone/pattern of your texts, Facebook posts, tweets, articles, conversations, actions, etc will be such that convey hope, optimism, and positivity and not otherwise, because this is not about us, but the innocent girls we represent, who keep languishing in pains and horror each time it becomes known that the constituted authority is not pulling sufficient weight to bring them back or when there is another failed attempt. We must never allow any circumstance make us unintentionally deviate from the nobleness of our motive. I love the part of the Scriptures that admonishes that ‘… having done all to stand, STAND.’ Now, in the face of uncertainty, having done all that we know and is within our purview and power, we just have to STAND – wait for God to breathe on our unrelenting efforts and cause a miracle to happen. iBelieve! Do you?

I so look forward to meeting you on the streets, sometime very soon, when we will all be singing, dancing, and cheering on the gallant return of our girls.


Bukky Shonibare

Statement Issued By Hadiza Bala Usman

I have watched, with keen interest, recent attempts by some principal officers of the Federal Government of Nigeria to discredit me and the #BringBackOurGirls group. This is not new. It has been the case since we commenced our citizens-driven advocacy movement. My initial reaction was to ignore the chatter and concentrate on the noble work of the #BringBackOurGirls campaign. Unfortunately, my humble silence is being taken as license to further dissuade and divide the populace by spreading inaccurate information, through advertorials, thereby tagging the #BringBackOurGirls group as an affiliate of the APC.

I am a card holding member of the APC, and there has been no time I have hidden this fact or tried to mask it. But let’s be very clear, when I worked to mobilize women, men, and Nigerians at large tocome out on April 30th to protest that the Government should intensify efforts to #BringBackOurGirls, I did so not as an APC member, but first as a HUMAN BEING, as a WOMAN, a MOTHER, and as a NIGERIAN.

It was never about politics or political affiliations; it was rather about our shared humanity as human beings. As a mother, I have experienced the trauma of not knowing where my child is for few minutes; does it then surprise many why I would be moved to act on behalf of mothers who are yet to see their daughters for 2 weeks (at the first instance) and now over 190 days after? I came out as a concerned citizen of Nigeria, one that is very interested in the unity, growth, and development of this nation; one that knows the important role an educated girl-child would play in contributing to the success we all anticipate for our dear country. That these girls dared education in the face of terrorism, insecurity, and other life-threatening circumstances, is a rare display of courage, doggedness, and hope.

This is why I, alongside other #BringBackOurGirls campaigners, have been advocating daily for 175 days today to make sure that these girls are not forgotten, but that they are rescued and returned home to contribute their quota to national development. I came out as someone who, from a very young age, watched my (late) father always advocating and standing up for what is right, no matter the cost. These are values he passed down to me and there was no way I was going to sit down, keep quiet and get on with my live while 276 girls are abducted and held in captivity by a terrorist group.

If my father was alive today he would have lent his voice to the Chibok girls. No one should be denied the right and opportunity to express their natural sense of empathy because of interests and political affiliations. When we allow such divisive narratives as that being peddled by people paid with taxpayers’ money to fester in our national discourse, we must see that rather than gain, we lose instead. Rather than come united, we become disunited.

This moment offers for us a rare opportunity to stand united as a nation, whether you are in PDP, APC, or any political party; Christian or Muslim; from the North or the South. The issue of the abducted Chibok girls is an opportunity to UNITE and not DIVIDE – to stand against insurgency, terrorism, and every common enemy that seeks to divide us as a people. We must unite to ensure that every girl and boy in Nigeria has equal access to education. We must unite to change the narrative that no matter one’s tribe, gender, religion, social strata, interests, and politicalaffiliations, we can all come together as one to build beloved nation.

I, Hadiza Bala Usman, choose to tow the path of UNITY.I will not be intimidated by anyone, and I will continue to stand for the Chibok girls regardless of my tribe, religion and political affiliation.

Views Expressed are Solely Author’s

#BringBackOurGirls Protest in New York

Alicia Keys held a protest in New York City on Tuesday to raise awareness about the 200-plus Nigerian schoolgirls who were kidnapped by Boko Haram militants in April.

Tuesday marked six months since the girls were abducted. Keys kicked off a protest with 30 others at the consulate general of Nigeria, holding signs that read “We Are Here” and “Safe Schools Now!”

bbg PANews+BT_P-0d99ba63-4483-43e6-82b3-52203a2eab22_I1 628x471 people-alicia-keys

They chanted “Bring back our girls” and “When do we want them? Now! Now! Alive!” as New Yorkers walked up the street during lunch hour, while others stopped to capture photos and video.

Keys, who is pregnant, said in an interview that she felt touched to take action because she is a mother.

FullSizeRender (44) FullSizeRender (45)

#BringBackOurGirls at Aso Rock

Protesters demanding the release of more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped six months ago by Islamist militants, demonstrated in front of the president’s home on Tuesday, urging the government to do more to free them. Around 60 people in red T-shirts that read “Bring Back Our Girls” marched to the residence of President Goodluck Jonathan in a leafy part of the Nigerian capital, which was guarded by more than 150 armed police. Scores of other protesters were prevented from joining the rally by other police lines at the top of the street.

“I want the president to try and bring back my friends,” said Rebecca Ishaku, who managed to escape from the clutches of the Boko Haram militants, she adds that, “I can’t even imagine what’s happening to them.”

A leader of the organisation of Chibok parents, Hosiah Lawan, struggled to hold back tears as he addressed the crowd, some of whom were also crying. He said government reassurances of an imminent rescue had originally given him hope. “That hope is now fading fast,” he said.

Jonathan sent his minister for lands and housing, Akon Eyakenyi, to meet the protesters, who were chanting “Bring back our girls now, and alive!” and waving banners. “The president will do something …. by the grace of God the girls will be brought back home,” Eyakenyi said.


#KakandaTemple ~ The Dangerous Shows for 2015


As the period running up to the 2011 presidential election portended omens of tragedy for intuitive citizens, the current period, four years later, should rattle even those who were then indifferent. This must be a phase for overcoming whatever instigated their moral dilemma.

My concern about Nigeria became disturbed this week on sighting a Borno Express cross-country bus with a poster of Governor Kashim Shettima, seeking re-election, seemingly seeking another term of terrorised living in office. How is it that our politicians, crying that their Office threatens their existence and sanity, are desperate to remain in that same Office? It must be a sort of greed for the trappings of State Power.

The main culprit of this dangerous greed is the President, under whom the country has lost its bearing, so much so that even his most indecorous media aides, confused in the social media, are now calling on “God”, advising citizens to “pray” for an end to what such aides’ principals were elected, and granted enormous State resources, to curb. And for lack of explanations for their principals’ legendary cluelessness, they’ve been tweeting verses from the Bible, to appeal to the sentiments of the gullible.

But a show of greed and shame, even more indicative and damning than the President and the Governor’s desperate bid to remain in power is clearly that of the citizens “procured”, as Dr. Oby Ezekwesili once said of hired protesters, to champion the re-election campaign of the same President Goodluck Jonathan whose administration, for seeming incapability, has not heeded the plea to rescue the hundreds of his subjects who have been in captivity for the past 150 days! And to highlight their inhumanity, these procured protesters launched #BringBackGoodluck2015 billboards, signs and hashtags to ridicule the demands of unrelenting #BringBackOurGirls.

That unpardonable blasphemy drew the outrage of the civil society, the main opposition party and even the fence-sitting observers. But it was Washington Post’s globalisation of the undermined citizens’ outrage in its coverage of that PR blunder, referring to it as “the most inappropriate political hashtag of the year”, that finally jostled the presidency, forcing the President to react – to lie, that is – that he was ignorant of that well-publicised campaign for his re-election, even though the campaign was officially recognised by the Presidency, having been fanatically promoted by the President’s politically rash Senior Special Assistant Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe.

What further frustrates the possibility of ousting the cunning government or having citizens forming alliances against it, are the divisive publications on the complicity of some friends and allies of the government revealed by an Australian named Stephen Davis, and uncritically popularised by some prominent elements of the main opposition party, the APC.

Instead of having Davis’ so-called revelations adopted for careful analysis, Nigerians, including a prominent and prominently diminutive member of the opposition, contributed to the confusion by not only endorsing the Australian’s claims that certain people, both Muslim and Christian, were responsible for funding of the Boko Haram insurgents, but that the sect also has political and Christian variants, backing the claims up with lame inferences that can only appeal to the senses of a unintelligent conspiracy theorist, an unthinking escapist.

Sadly, some of these people practice, or have backgrounds in, Law. This makes me wonder, why would a lawyer, trained in challenging facts, also embark on adopting uncorroborated claims, conspiracy theories, as proofs or confirmations of certain suspicions? Even in the court of law, circumstantial evidences are not adopted as unchallenged proofs, so sharing inferences as proofs is a clear mischief. You don’t spend these five years in the department of Law, and then memorably torturous months at the law school, only to end up going against the ethics of your training in such an outrageous way. I thought lawyers should be our models in obsessing about evidences and the absence of them, even in our public discourse?

If a lawyer’s mindset had been employed in assessing these confusing claims, even Davis wouldn’t have made a newspaper headline. And this instinct would’ve challenged us to ask whether Boko Haram that operates in secret, would reveal the sources of its funds to a negotiating stranger – especially to a white man who, as Christian or atheist, western, and believer in liberal democracy, is a portrait of all they aspire to crush? The Boko Haram didn’t remain elusive this long by being tactically stupid, as portrayed by Davis. And if its leaders were as careless with details of their operations as also portrayed by Davis, they would’ve been crushed long ago!

There’s a need for us, and especially the opposition party, to employ reason, instead of sentiments, in promoting some of these embarrassingly petty conspiracy theories. The opposition must understand that if you fight this government with flawed statistics and hearsays and polarisation, you’re just making the return to Aso Rock easier for GEJ. If they want to replace GEJ, whose Ph.D I now suspect is in divisive politics, on the back of polarising sentiments, then they must be very prepared for an embarrassing defeat in 2015. What keeps APC going are sympathies, sympathies of a people in need of change, sympathies of a people willing to give them a chance despite obvious flaws. But it needs men of model conduct representing its interests in the media.

My only fear, which has become a looming apparition now, is the memory of the gory revolts that followed the announcements of the results of 2011 presidential election in the north. We must not prepare these impressionable members of the lower-class for another horror history, which is what some of these politicians do by promoting unverified claims to gain relevance and be seen as “rights ambassadors”, whereas they’re everything but selfless in their pursuits of political power.

But the underclass is not the only trouble with electing ideal candidates in Nigeria. While poverty dispossesses the underclass of ability to be rational, sycophancy ravages the middle-class. This way, with these syndromes, the sycophantic members of the middle-class contracted by the government to form about 8000 pro-Jonathan campaign groups, also procured the cheaper under-class as foot-soldiers of Transformation Actors of Nigeria, which they prefer to call “Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria”, and other 7999 groups.

Today, in its nearly 64 years in existence, the main thriving industry in Nigeria, with productivity higher than the Oil industry, is Sycophancy. It represses existing and proposed political resistance. The poverty of the underclass and the sycophancy of the middle-class are the reason idealism is DOA in Nigeria. Sometimes, in pursuits of idealism, you go out campaigning for core visionary leaders, and return home only to realise that your lunch was made with “gifts” by, or bought with money given, by a fraudulently prebendal politician.

This is how the two social classes betray promising leaders.

The last time Gani Fawehinmi aspired to lead this country, our rejection of his bid was almost unanimous. And I doubt if there has ever been a politically awakened individual who had stood up for the masses, in the race to the Office of the President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, comparable to the model civil rights advocate.

In fact, if our politics is sincerely all about “personality”, Buhari himself cannot beat Gani, who resisted even the military extremisms of the Buharis. We’re in a country where idealism is a myth, but this shouldn’t be an excuse to allow hired paupers and contracted sycophants forestall our struggle for change.

So, we need to task our presidential candidates to offer us something other than romanticisations of their personalities, something concrete, an implementable development plan for redeeming this changing Nigeria. This “I did not steal a kobo” campaign is beginning to sound like GEJ’s “I had no shoes” scam of that unfortunate 2011. May God save us from us!

By Gimba Kakanda

@gimbakakanda on Twitter

We Cannot Afford To Move On Without Our Daughters – Oby Ezekwesili


Today marks 136 days since April 14, when 219 daughters of Nigeria were taken captive from our midst at close to midnight while we all slept. The Presidential Fact-Finding Committee on Chibok Abduction which was set up evidently to validate to those who doubted the tragedy, helped confirm that our daughters that went to acquire knowledge were forcibly taken by terrorists. In all, the report stated that 276 school girls were abducted from Government Secondary School, Chibok on that fateful night and that fortunately, 57 of them courageously took the risk of self-rescue and are since reunited with their families.

After many weeks of tentativeness arising from indifference, doubt, visible irritation and buck-passing, a rescue effort was finally launched by the Federal Government, supported by countries that include the United States, Britain, France, China, Canada, Israel and Australia. However, after four months and with no news of their rescue or any glimmer of evidence of actions being taken to bring them back, the desperate reaction of all who empathize with the girls and their families has become “where is the result from the rescue effort?”
For some others, despondent and yet willing to hold on to the tiniest ray of Hope, the demand is that the Federal Government offers Nigeria the whole truth on the matter of their rescue effort. Why so? There have been too many discordant and contradictory pieces of information on the status of the rescue of the girls by our government. Those who ask for the truth, therefore do  so mindful of the need to not compromise intricacies of operational strategy while yet insisting that our government can act and convey with sincerity a series of confidence-inspiring measures it is taking to resolve this massive scale of human tragedy. Like we say in life, parents and other citizens would rather be slapped with the truth than be kissed with lies.

There are after all three well-known options that are possible in the rescue of abduction victims— first, military action; second, negotiation/dialogue which may be direct or indirect; and third, a mix of both military action and negotiation. Anyone who has mapped and analyzed all the statements ever made by our Government since we were informed by the Chief of Defence Staff on May 24 that they had located our girls cannot but wonder what to believe. In the quest for truth it does not help that when the dots are connected, drawing from diverse statements made by our government at various times, dismissing each of the options for one reason or the other, nothing tangible remains. Could it be that the evident complexity of their rescue has led to inertia or paralysis that surely portends grave danger to our #ChibokGirls …our daughters? Could this be the reason many more people now think we should be silent, move on and allow “whatever” is being done about their rescue to “quietly” continue?  If it is, then there is no better response to give than: “Not without our daughters”.
For, indeed, the 219 girls of Chibok are our daughters. Anyone who is a true parent and real human being would admit that it is almost impossible not to think of the fate of these girls in personal terms. It is impossible not to think how deep their agony would be should children sired in their loins or carried in their wombs experience what these innocent young women are suffering. Most of the empathetic gestures given to their cause have been framed especially by women advocates who are mothers as simple acts of humanity because they do see the faces of their own daughters whenever they look at the pictures of the abducted girls. They knew they had to lend a voice to the cause once they started seeing and connecting to the girls not just as pieces of news from some remote region of the country or the world, but as flesh and blood that could have been their own daughters. These are the women and men who today out of deep empathy continue to stand and to speak for our girls even after the rest of the world moved on to other issues buffeting our troubled world.
The second resonant point of convergence for those who advocate for the cause of the girls is the sadness that all things considered, these girls are merely victims of a society that failed them. Our Chibok girls are victims in every sense of the word; suffering serious injury for no fault of their own. The sad but true reason our ChibokGirls continue to languish in the den of our common enemies more than four months after their abduction is that many among us see their vicissitude as one of those tragedies similar to what others have suffered in our country.   
The known fact is that in the fifty-four years of our independence, too many of our citizens have been victims of our society, suffering all kinds of tragedies and situations alone. Victims abounded in events leading up to, during and after the Nigerian civil war. Did we care? No, we simply moved on. We created another set of victims during the decades of military rule. Did we care? No, we again moved on. In the last fifteen years of our nascent democracy since the 1999 transition, we have kept on creating victims. Have we cared? Not really, we have to move on.

Within the last four years that bloody insurgents have launched a most vicious  attack against our citizens, abducting, maiming and killing in thousands, have we really cared? Not really. Those it does not affect may not even give a passing thought to the victims just like it was in the past. So, are we just going to keep moving on for as long as each tragedy does not affect us, ignoring the new sets of victims of our society to “take care of their own pain?” I have seen, heard and known how our society victimizes the victim. Can a people survive and sustain this manner of distribution of suffering in which the strong at any point in time disregard the pain of the victim? No. A society where everyone carries the wound of having once been a victim that was abandoned to suffer alone can neither last nor achieve greatness.
How then can we not see that there is something about the present travail of our Chibok Girls that presents us the best opportunity to awaken our deadened souls that have since our coming together missed out on the wholesome value of empathy? How can we not see that the only and true victims in this abduction saga are our 219 daughters of Nigeria? How can we possibly move on without our daughters? We must not move on. We must give everything possible to save them. They can become the symbol of our catharsis – our purging – our cleaning from the accumulated toxin of bitterness and wound spread across our country from all manner of tragedies and injustice of the past.

By all agreeing not to move on without our daughters, we make a statement that as a people, we are determined to confront our common enemy together. By refusing to sacrifice our daughters that we can save, we send the strongest signal to our common enemies that our society will fight to defend our humane values and the right to life of our children, our women, our men, our young and our old regardless of their religion, politics, language and culture. By staying determined to stand with our endangered ChibokGirls, we as Nigerians would measure up to the standard of Ghandi’s words that “The True Measure of Any Society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members”
If we all did everything possible to bring back our daughters from the clutches and den of evil erected by our common enemies within our own territory, our ChibokGirls will become a historical break from our shameful past as an uncaring society of people. It will be a statement of a united people of the kind we see every day we gather for their cause at the Unity Fountain in Abuja and loudly declare that  “we are from Chibok”—regardless of our ethnic, political, religious, and ideological persuasions.

When we do so, it is not because we are unaware of past and other present victims. It is that our daughters are in a special category of being alive and can be saved. It is a protest against the idea that the suffering of other people does not matter and can therefore be denied, ignored and even mocked. It is a kick against the lack of empathy that reflects in the poor choices over several decades that have stagnated and kept us as a tottering country that has never fully evolved into a nation. History teaches and research validates that when a country of diverse people evolves into a nation, the probability of achieving development that benefits the largest number is significantly higher.
The combination of these two factors- daughters and victims – should imprint on the mind of everyone that we could all be the biological parents of children who due to no fault of their own became victims of a deadly danger. As one very involved with the formation and leadership of the #BringBackOurGirls advocacy that is championing the citizens advocacy for the rescue of our daughters, the two factors steadfastly give me perspective regardless of what other people may think or say.

Personally, I have advocated for our ChibokGirls since the 15th April when news of their abduction broke. On the 23rd April a demand one made to have everyone at the UNESCO event inaugurating Port Harcourt as the 2014 World Book Capital stand in solidarity and demand for their rescue, resulted in our social media hashtag #BringBackOurGirls. The march for them on the 30th April inspired by Hadiza Bala Usman and the daily “sit-out” in Abuja by incredibly sacrificial Nigerians who are there even today for the 120th of such gathering is a testament to the irony of the divine quality of our suffering Chibok Daughters.
These days, when members of our movement are taunted with questions like “when will you realise the futility of your advocacy and stop?” Like the typical Nigerian, we have learnt to answer questions of this sort with some simple questions of our own. Interestingly, one question to which not even the irredeemably heartless has ever been able to answer without shame is: “did the 219 girls also willingly offer themselves to be denied their freedom and their lives?” If they did not, why then should we make victims out of children who already are victims? Another is: “Would you want us to stop if any of them were your daughter?” 
We cannot afford to move on without our daughters. Everyone who can raise a voice to compel action for them should really do so without feeling embarrassed. Everyone who has the power to act decisively and quickly to rescue them must not consider them a secondary priority. The three possible options of rescue are narrowed and clear to all. Until our Federal Government demonstrates that our ChibokGirls are not being abandoned—by showing that it is taking any of the three options and that we shall no longer move on and forsake victims of our society as we have previously done in the last fifty-four years—there will always be voices, if even just one, demanding that our daughters must be rescued from our enemies. So, when next time you hear or read that chant #BringBackOurGirls and ever go on to ask “when will you stop?” there are two answers you can be sure of: #UntilOurGirlsAreBackAndAlive and—the better of the two— #NotWithoutOurDaughters!


* Mrs. Ezekwesili, former Vice President (Africa) of the World Bank and former Minister of Education, is one of the leaders of the #BringBackOurGirls movement.


#KakandaTemple ~ The Hysteria of a Malfunctioning Robot: A Response to Muhammad Mahmud’s Misinterpretation of Texts


Dear Mahmud,

I think you have just made it into the Guinness Book of Records as “the most sophisticated illiterate ever identified in the history of public discourse”. For this, I ought to have sent you a private mail congratulating you for this ignoble accomplishment. However, I feel that your education should be done in public and to the records of especially the social group whose emotions you have appealed to. Before we get into this response to yours, I strongly advise that you start with the prelims–go and read my earlier essay, “Scholars of Misinterpretation, Misquotation and Blackmail” (Blueprint, August 9, 2013). It will prove to be foundational since it was aimed at reactionaries like you, even if slightly more distinguished, who approach texts with the sole aim of misunderstanding them. It will, at least, enable you read what I have written below as opposed to reading what you think I must have written.

Now, I will list below your more intriguing distortions and then provide the actual statements set out in my piece “A Letter to that Nigerian-Palestinian”, which was a wake-up call to that citizen whose empathy has not roused him to stand in solidarity with the victims of tragedies going on in his house, but is now involved in the pro-Palestine campaign:

First, I wrote my letter to “that Nigerian-Palestinian”, did you notice the particular definite article used–that? Go back and read the title and note my refusal to pluralise the definite article. To pluralise, to use “the” for example, would mean generalising and you ought to know that that was deliberate, but your emotions seem to have dispossessed you of the elementary grammar chanted by kids–Singular and Plural. But then, that’s of lesser importance.

Of that Nigerian-Palestinian’s hypocrisy, I wrote: “You see, it’s not the way you internationalise your empathy that disturbs me, it’s this seeming pretence that all is well in your backyard while you weep over the blazing fire in faraway Gaza.” In self-defence, and stubborn exhibition of your trademark ignorance, you wrote: “You assume that my call for the world to stop the genocide in Gaza is a direct contradiction of my efforts, which you seem not to be aware of, to stop atrocities in my country.” Further, you state that “(w)e have been more than half as passionate about our problems than the happenings in Gaza.” Dear Mahmud, thank you very much for being just a little above HALF as passionate about Nigerian happenings as compared to Gaza’s. Surely, since you have not pretended that all is well in Nigeria, since you have even gone further to feel half as passionate about local happenings, you cannot yet be that Nigerian-Palestinian my letter is addressed to, can you? Did you miss the simple logic of this, Muhammad Mahmud? You also mentioned Pakistanis as examples of grieving people who stand up for Gaza, without acknowledging that they are not like “that Nigerian-Palestinian”, for they have never stopped fighting for the redemption of their country, and their famous daughter, Malala, who came to Nigeria as an NGO owner, even took a bullet to protect her country from the pervasive ideology of some psychopathic members of our “brotherhood of faith”.

Second, in your bid to rebel against being referred to as “humanist”, you exhibit a fifty kobo sophistry, claiming “I am not a humanist. I am a Muslim whose religion… revere(s) and sanctif(ies) every soul, be it that of human or animal,” ignorant that humanism is a term for all acts of kindness done either as Muslim or non-Muslim. Islam extols humanism, so all the good things you have done to those “souls, human or animal”, as you are enjoined to as a Muslim is humanism within an Islamic framework. If you understand my explanation, can you now see why the sophistry of your submission is off-putting? Your allegiance to a “Brotherhood of Faith”, admitted by your own mouth, is humanism within an Islamic framework, yet you failed to grasp this simple relationship. How did you fail to grasp this, dear Muhammad Mahmud? Was it in your hurry to write a response to my letter? Or are you simply exhibiting the symptoms of that intellectual shallowness, often seen among your members of social group, those set of persons who have seen Islam as an ideology that must be exclusively opposite to other social ideologies?

My third note identifies your intellectual insularity: it is your tragic deconstruction of the simple word “antisemitism”. I had warned against antisemitism, especially from those shallow-minded fellows who co-opt the entire Jewry as foot-soldiers of Zionism, disrespecting the Jews who have stood up against the genocide in Gaza in the process. In your words: “It looks more likely that you are more in need to read more than me. You need to understand that the Palestines (sic) are also Semites.” Haba! Antisemitism doesn’t mean “anti-semites” or “the hatred of Semites”, it’s not a term for racial, but sociological, labeling. It means, as you would have seen if you had bothered to check it up, “prejudice, hatred of, or discrimination against JEWS as a national, ethnic, religious or racial group.” Obviously, with this embarrassing gaffe, you’re more in need of one book above all and should you send me your postal address, I shall buy you one–a dictionary. But this gaffe is typical of you and your ilk and in the case that you do not understand how you came to such an embarrassing error, let me explain your process to you simply. You activated the literalist mindset which you adopt in interpreting religious texts, in your understanding of common “antisemitism”. Do you see the ruin of herd-type methodology?

But your literalist bias does more damage to your reputation than the serious one of ignorant understanding of simple words. You go on to make this dangerous confession, but as if it was an accusation: “If you have been reading and understanding the Qur’an, you wouldn’t have wasted time trying to exonerate some Jews from the horrors of Zionists. I don’t think there are a people so accused in detail, in the Qur’an, like the Jews.”

This is the difference between you and me, my ability to recognise contexts in reading the Qur’an. Your declaration here brings to mind a debate I had with a Christian some years ago. It was on a verse in the Qur’an, a verse that has become an anthem sung by terrorists who bask in the hallucinations of Jihad:

“(Q9:29) Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.”

My Christian friend shared in a crime with the terrorists–a destructive intellectualisation of ignorance. Deliberate or otherwise, ignoring context in the interpretation of a verse from either the Qur’an or the Bible is equally an act of terrorism, perhaps deadlier, for the mental mischief is the very inspiration for actual terrorist activities. I started with the popular events that preceded the revelation of the verse; one was an order by the ruler of Persia directing his commander stationed in Yemen to kill the Prophet. In another swish of hostilities, the Prophet’s messenger to a tribe of the Roman Empire, Al-Harith bin Umayr Al-Azdi, was tied up and beheaded; a diplomatic botch-up that led to the Battle of Mu’tah, in which the Muslims were defeated. But, the hostilities continued. Return to Sayyid Sabiq’s Fiqhu as-Sunnah, Vol. 3, p. 80, for an elaborate commentary on this!

This verse and the others in which the Jews are mentioned, are not justifications of antisemitism, as you have interpreted them. They were directives for the Prophet of Islam to protect the Muslim nation from a particular tribe of Jews. Similar verses are also found in the Bible with defend-your-ambience undertones. In one, Jesus Christ says:

“But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me. (Luke 19:27) – King James Version (KJV)”

In the other, God Himself instructed Saul through Prophet Samuel:

“Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass. (1 Samuel 15:3) – King James Version (KJV)”

I restate, ignoring the historical context that necessitated the verses above is terrorism. You see, insurgency as the one unleashed by Boko Haram is born by deliberate distortion of what Jihad, the Islamic precept, entails. It’s a perverted attempt to cleanse, to fight for Allah who has clearly declared hell for such criminal engagements, repeatedly in the Qur’an.

You’re still holding on to the primordial sentiments that scholars all over the world have addressed without obeying Allah’s command that “And no bearer of burdens shall be made to bear another’s burdens.” [35:18], which is a warning that the sin of the father should never be visited upon the son. Yet you put the burden of the ancient Jews, or Zionists in specific, on all the Jews. Do you even know Professor Norman Finkelstein, whose academic scholarship has been largely on the Israeli-Palestinian conflicts, is among the world’s most outspoken critics of the unsympathetically monstrous Israel? He’s a defender of Palestine. Yet your literal understanding of the Qur’an makes Finkelstein too your enemy. You’re clearly in the category of the Muslims referred to as “superficial literalists” by columnist Adamu Adamu.

Another of your unpardonable accusations is the declaration that the #BringBackOurGirls campaign is a “Christian affair”, ignorant that the campaign, which you really need to praise for finally revealing the miseries of the people of northeastern Nigeria to the world, was a brainchild of Nigerian women dominated by Muslim ladies, including Malama Hadiza Bala Usman, who is the coordinator, Barr. Maryam Uwais, Mrs. Sa’adatu Mahdi, Mrs Aisha Yesufu, among others. May Allah forgive you for this malicious accusation of His subjects. Again, also with no measure of respect and decorum, both virtues of an ideal Muslim, you assaulted the sensibilities of the Nigerian Christians, saying that “they are the ones who only condemn attacks on churches and Christians. But we, Muslims, never did that. We condemn attacks on any human being.” Do you know that it’s the corruption of an insidious ideology from our own religion that has caused them this suffering? There can’t be a spiteful remark more dangerous than yours here. Don’t you think it’s virtuous to commend the wisdom of the Christians who resist the polarising stunts and speeches of the hateful President of Christian Association of Nigeria, Ayo Oritsejafor, and refuse to take up arms to form a terrorist cult against innocent Muslims and escalate our troubles, as the Christians in the Central African Republic have done? Wait, in internationalising your empathy, why have you been quiet over the killings of the Muslims in Central African Republic? Are they lesser in spiritual worth than the Arab Muslims?

But why would I be surprised when you have, quite unfortunately, religionised the Palestinian struggle, which you refer to as a Muslim campaign, tele-importing your bigotry all the way from Nigeria to the land of a people whose most foremost intellectual advocate was their Christian brother, the renowned literary theorist Edward Said, of blessed memory. Kindly obtain copies of of Said’s “Orientalism”, “Culture and Imperialism”, “Power, Politics and Culture”, “The Question of Palestine”, and even his memoir “Out of Place”, to properly shape your understanding of the Middle-East politics and plural societies. Add that to the list of texts I am advising, for your education.

You boast that Palestine is your second home, being the location of the “third most sacred places (sic) of my religion”–do you, possibly, mean Al-Aqsa Mosque? If you have really been reading your books, especially the history books, which is why I recommended Edward Said’s, you wouldn’t have forgotten that there’s no place called “Al-Aqsa Mosque” in the geographical expression known as Palestine. The place you call Palestine, as a basis for your obvious privileging of Gaza twice above the northeastern Nigeria, is not a religious space and has no religious sites at all–not in Gaza, not even in the West Bank. It’s simply an entity in danger of Israeli encroachment secured to the small extent that it has been by the political struggles of oppressed Arabs of both Muslim and Christian identity. Palestine, like the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, is a legacy of European colonialism that came into existence in the first half of the twentieth century, about a millennium and a half after the advent of Islam. I’m sure you’re one of those who see the entire landmass of those former colonies as sacred, elevating them to the spiritual state of the holy sites in their political maps. So, I am now at pains to point out the obvious, arising from simple geography, to you my dear sir. Your claim to being Palestinian (your second home) on the basis of the location of Al-Aqsa is silly, because Al-Aqsa is in the Israeli city of Jerusalem. The mosque you ignorantly refer to as your second home is actually jointly managed by Jordan, Israel and Palestine. But then, this makes you, lucky man, a citizen of multiple nationalities: Nigerian, Israeli, Jordanian, Palestinian. Congratulations!

You wrote, and I quote, that “it is not true that the Nigerian situation is similar to that of Palestine,” dismissing that comparison as delusional, but my comparison is even an understating of the situation because we’re actually in worse mess in Nigeria, being that we have no clues to what’s killing us, nothing to approach for a ceasefire and there’s no attempt by us to blur our lines of differences in confronting the politicians who have turned this country into a chessboard. Even in death, the Palestinians have more dignity than the north-eastern Nigerians. Their deaths are being televised, their identities fully revealed. As expressed elsewhere, there’s no inhumanity as having the news of a people’s misery and deaths denied, played down or unsympathetically politicised. The only tragedy worse than this may be the lack of strategy or, as some have said of the ongoing counter-terrorism, of the “will” to end these many killings. The areas of Borno occupied by Boko Haram is worse than Gaza because the eyes of the world are on Gaza, while there’s no media coverage as our people in the northeast lay dying in the den of the ideologically hollow insurgents. It is only thanks to the #BringBackOurGirls campaigners who you accuse of being discriminatory, the world loudly learnt of the happenings in the northeast, rousing a global outrage and solidarity.

You also thought that I did not recognise the efforts of outstanding northerners in counterterrorism. What distortion! If you have read my letter carefully, you wouldn’t have missed where I praised the Civilian JTF, and that my anger is not a “criticism of the northern establishment”, which of course includes the clerics and prominent figures murdered by the insurgents. Saying we’ve not done enough is a self-criticism, which may even be taken as a criticism of your unfortunate statement that #BringBackOurGirl is a “Christian affair”: bigotry. And asking you to prioritise your empathy is not a criminalisation of your pro-Palestine campaign, or romanticisation of Zionism. It is simply what it is: a call for active involvements in domestic affairs, in extinguishing our burning House. Do you, sir, know the number of our people killed and the villages no longer safe for habitation? Is it not our responsibility to document those statistics for the sake of history, just the way Hamas and its sympathisers do in their Palestine? Do we have, or are we members of, neighbourhood defence corps in our respective places of residence? Have our humanitarian supports to the victims of Boko Haram been reaching remote villages in the northeast? There’s clearly a lot we still need to do!

Sadly, the biggest challenge to debating an issue of humanitarian interest through the prism of religion is the usual blackmail by the self-righteous party that a dissident exists “in a bid to please the West, whereas the modern civilisation is not western. What you call western civilisation is an evolution of the collective efforts of renowned scientists, explorers, inventors and scholars from different races and continents. So your boast of being a shariah-compliant Muslim is an everyday arrogance that no longer shocks me; yours was meant to slant or stifle this debate. But of course I won’t let you achieve either of these aims. I know for a fact that you exist in a political space of western-type liberal democracy, perhaps as an interest-earning customer of a Guaranty Trust Bank, one whose savings are being invested in forbidden ventures, conditions that mock your claims of being shariah-compliant. Herein lies the typical hypocrisy of it all.

Islam is being misunderstood largely because of the activities of fellow Muslims. The Muslim World has retrogressed over the years, with the rise of vastly ignorant, illiterate and intolerant followers who have given Islam a bad image in their operations as terrorists and unruly protesters. This decline is tied to generations of Muslims refusing to heed Allah’s “Afala ta’qilun”, stated in thirteen verses in the Qur’an, while pretending they are submitting themselves to Him.

Many Muslims who venture to discuss social realities and challenge impositions of divisive ideologies have all been called names, dismissed as apostates and hypocrites by these mobs who are ever unwilling to tolerate dissenting views. The irony was even experienced this week: a good friend of mine who once labelled me an apostate, challenging that I made a clearly un-Islamic statement in a piece, has also been declared an apostate. For endorsing the rumoured report of Inspector-General of Police’s ban on hijab, a type of which wasn’t specified, in public places. I sent him a congratulatory message for finally discovering the danger of debating Islamic legislations in a society this insular. On Facebook, some deluded Muslims even threatened that Boko Haram would be a “child’s play” if the IGP goes ahead with the reactionary decision, without even bothering to confirm the report and then employ civil engagement in expressing grievance. Are these dangerously programmed robots your idea of “shariah-compliant” Muslims?

This is why I expected you and other “true” Muslims who have not been labelled apostates, to write instead to the robotic Nigerian Muslims, of whom that “Nigerian-Palestinian” is a member, who embark on vandalising and burning structures in their hometowns on learning that some relevance-seeking cartoonists in faraway Denmark has published a caricature of the Prophet, that an inconsequential Indian-Pakistani author has published a blasphemous book or that a prominent leader of another religion has disparaged a practice of the Muslims.

Islamophobia, which is a hatred for Muslims, just the way Antisemitism is of the Jews, is a result of the behaviorally flawed such as the Nigerian-Palestinian and crime-minded malcontents such as those that comprise pseudo-religious mobs. Intellectuals should not, pandering to sophistry or any lowest common denominator, give such people a pseudo-ideological impetus to do things that are clearly unislamic and criminal.

I’ll leave you with the emotional outburst of my friend, Aminu Adnan, an indigene of Kano who, on reading the debates generated by my piece on Tuesday, shared this depressing commentary:

“I find it hard to understand. 18 terror attacks were recorded in Kano in the last 52 hours, although most were averted, but more than 15 people died. In the same time, more than 56 people were killed in different attacks in Adamawa State. These are happening under our noses and we don’t find empathy for that? Yes, the Gazans are Muslims, therefore our brothers; but what about the brothers that are closer to you? Are the Palestinians better Muslims because they are Arabs? The way most of us think really sickens me. I am sure the casualties of Boko Haram from the last 3 years alone outweigh all the people killed since the start of the Gaza conflicts, but I don’t see them carrying ‘pray for Borno’ placards. Say what you want but wallahi your priorities are with your brothers closer to you before those that don’t even know you exist. You see the Gaza violence on TV, but yesterday my cousin lost both legs in the explosion in Hotoro, we are not even sure he’s going to live, and you have the guts to play the universal humanity card in my face? I feel sorry for you and your inferiority complex.”

I hope to read another of your highfalutin rejoinder soon, because I have a lot more to say. Wait, you also cast doubts on my belief in prayers without bothering to know why I signed off all my essays with “May God save us from us”? As much as I pray, I believe that prayer is not a substitute for inaction, and no civilisation has ever been built by amens!

Yours sincerely,
Gimba Kakanda.

By Gimba Kaknda

@gimbakakanda (On Twitter)

#KakandaTemple ~ A Letter to that Nigerian-Palestinian


Dear Friend,

Before you accuse me of finding nothing worth praising about you and yours, let me quickly empathise with you, and of course myself, over the killings in Gaza. You, as a humanist, one whose empathy has no border, are a citizen of the world, one of the reasons the earth is still habitable by the sane. It would be morally irresponsible for anyone to frown at your frantic advocacy which seeks an end to the killings in Gaza, only that commonsense demands a man whose house is on fire to rush for the extinguisher for his own dwelling first, before attending to a similar fire elsewhere.

London stands up for Gaza, because London is not bereaved. New York Stands up for Gaza because New York isn’t being threatened by hurricane-somebody now. Palestine would not stand up for Chibok because they also have a strip of misery in which they are just as worthless: Gaza. And the young Malala Yousafzai who came and roused the conscience of her fathers in Nigeria, was not here as a Pakistani as you have announced in defending your geographically insensitive activism from my “secular advocacy”. She was here as a Birmingham, England-based NGO owner, to stand with the girls of Nigeria in whose education Malala Fund has invested thousands of dollars. She has, as the news says, even “offered to partner with the UN efforts to mitigate the impacts of the abduction and help the girls (whose welfare is a responsibility of her NGO) return to school.”

You see, it’s not the way you internationalise your empathies that disturbs me, it’s this seeming pretence that all is well in your backyard while you weep over the blazing fire in faraway Gaza. If you, and others like you, had been half as passionate and emotional in your reaction to local tragedies as you are over the killings in Palestine, the troubles in the northeastern Nigeria wouldn’t have escalated to its present extent. The Palestinians, and their global solidarity soldiers, have gone berserk over the burning of 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khudair, their citizen, and you, amnesiac activist of a burning nation, have also been losing sleep over Khudair, ignoring the tens of Khudairs who die in your backyard every day!

It’s not the internationalisation of your empathies that disturbs me, it’s your lack of wisdom to understand that Khudair has his fighters — and he’s fully named, his age too revealed –while all the killed and abducted Dantalas and Asma’us and Johns and Naomis of Yobe and Borno are seen as mere statistics, unworthy of collective advocacy by you.

Ours is not a criticism of the northern establishment, but that of its hypocritical allegiance to “brotherhood of faith”, which is what you say in your solidarity with the Palestinians, ignoring that we’re just as bereaved here, and unknowing that Palestine is also a home for non-Muslims. But, wait, what sort of a human being is responsive to the tragedies that fall upon just the people of his faith?

Ours is a criticism of the collective, not of a specific group. This is a reminder that we have not done enough, not a declaration that we have not done anything at all. It’s a criticism of me and you who, safe from the bullets of Boko Haram, have not done anything comparable to the emotions shown in the sensitivity of our countrymen to the happening in Gaza. Are you, my dear global citizen, trying to say that we, especially resident northerners, need CNN and Aljazeera to remind us that there are carnages going on in our backyard before we acknowledge them?
Haven’t we all lost friends and friends of friends and relatives and relatives of relatives in this madness? What media is more effective than being actually bereaved? The most effective media is our emotions, and on this I dare say that we haven’t shown and done enough. My participation in #BringBackOurGirls shows me the hypocrisy of our Muslim brothers and sisters who, dismissing our hashtags as a gimmick, are now loud champions of #FreePalestine.

See, we are as bereaved as the people of Palestine and it’s quite ironic that, instead of gathering our lots to empathise with ourselves first and demand solutions and justice, we pretend as though all’s well in our house. Why are the people of Palestine not empathising with the people of Borno if our “brotherhood of faith” is actually reciprocal? Why? I repeat: why aren’t the people of Palestine extending their “brotherhood of faith” to us in the hours of our bereavements? The Palestinians have never stopped fighting. They have their men up and running against oppression. Who’s up fighting for us, especially for Chibok and the larger northeast? Why leaving these campaigns against Boko Haram’s terrors to just the members of Civilian JTF and #BringBackOurGirls campaigners?

You even said that no atrocity is more than that going on in Gaza, and I ask: is there an experience worse than having minors abducted, savagely raped and impregnated by terrorists? Saying that no atrocity is as bad as that in Gaza means that the sanctity of a Palestinian’s life is higher than that of a Nigerian’s. And that, fellow countryman, is an unfortunate and disturbing utterance.

Similarly, you have to be really careful in your advocacy. At least get relevant history books to properly understand the religious and political complexity of the territorial conflicts that have turned Gaza into a prison-mortuary. Your alignment with the Palestinians, your brothers-in-faith, may lead you into something called antisemitism. And you also need to understand that it’s the peak of such misguided hatred that resulted into the formation of a racist ideology that once sought to promote the “Aryan” German race as the best of humans. Nazism, consequently, championed the killings of the innocent Jews, who were considered threats to proposed German nationalism.

In your analyses of the happenings in Gaza, you have, quite sadly, pandered to a way of the Hitler-led Aryan racists who considered the Jewish race abolishable pests.

Do have restraint in understanding that the happenings in Israel is not a crime perpetrated, and supported, by the whole of Jews. It’s a crime perpetrated by a monstrous ideology championed by a people of Jewish identity, just the way Nazism was not supported by the whole of Germans, but by a small but powerful National Socialist party clique. If you’re to adopt this form of flawed thinking in portraying ethnic or religious groups, obviously the whole of Muslims should be similarly persecuted for the crimes of Al-Qaeda, Al-Shabbab, the Taliban and even Boko Haram who all pretend to be advocates of rights for the Muslim!

Hate the Israelis who, under zionism, did to Palestinians what the Nazis did to the Jews, but do not go close to hating the whole of Jews. Saying I hate the Jews means I hate some significant figures that shaped me, mine and the larger world. Saying I hate the Jews means I hate Jesus, who in my theology is Isah (AS), needed to authenticate my belief; saying I hate the Jews means I hate Moses (AS), similarly needed; saying I hate the Jews is an ingratitude to Albert Einstein’s contribution to science; saying I hate the Jews is an ingratitude to Sergey Brin, the founder of Google, whose invention has redeemed me in ways I’m incapable of repaying; saying I hate the Jews is also an ingratitude to Mark Zuckerberg whose innovation is the reason you and I are “friends” – even though we’ve never met – sharing thoughts on the ways of the world.

As long as you’re on Facebook, and employ Google to aid your quests for knowledge, both creations of inventors of Jewish identity, declaring that you hate the Jews is a contradiction, a joke clearly on you. And, as Muslims, your faith is threatened the moment you withhold your love for Jesus and Moses.

Don’t let a criminal be a representative of his race, religion and nationality. This approach, this dangerous stereotyping, has been the reason for these many conflicts we are still unable to resolve in this damned world. We must embrace our humanity, the only thing we all have in common, if we’re indeed interested in resolving our racial, religious, political, regional, territorial and ethnic conflicts!

Unlike you, whenever I see a group of people, the first identity that strikes me is the human, not the religious, not the political, not the racial, and obviously not the ethnic. Aside from my immediate family, my next closest family are the righteous people, people always in pursuit of Justice without discrimination, and of their other identities I’m unmindful.

I’ve long overcome the naiveté of hating a people based on the crimes of a group of which they are non-compliant members, just the way I don’t owe any non-Muslim and southerner apology for the atrocities of the Boko Haram. I only owe them explanation, defence, solidarity and empathy. My seeming silence over the killings in Gaza is simply because I’ve also been mourning, and also holed up in a mess of immeasurable depth. The Palestinians, I know, have global solidarity soldiers fighting for them. But, beyond hashtags, who are actually fighting for the redemptions of this place in which we don’t need a visa to reside?

This week, at our Abuja’s #BringBackOurGirls sit-in, as I listened to Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, a woman whose public service records never really attracted my curiosity, but I’ve come to like as a humanist and patriot of impressive resilience, lament on the fate and conditions of the abducted girls and the dysfunctionality of the system in charge of our safety, something within me collapsed. So I withdrew from the crowd, hoping that could stem it, but I still couldn’t fight the tears. And that was how I left the sit-in, broken. This is because, in the cruel politics of migrations in this century, I have no home other than Nigeria, and the tragedy that befalls a fellow countryman, irrespective of his/her religious and ethnic and regional affiliations, is a shared grief.

I’m not inconsiderate to your reference to “brotherhood of faith” in standing for the people of Gaza, but I will never ever stand for them simply because we’re of the same religion. My own version of that excuse of yours is: “faith in the universal brotherhood of Man.” I only empathise with them because of a shared humanity. As for those who rightly explain that humanity has no border, which I also endorse, my belief in yours may only be confirmed if you also recognise the conditions of the Iraqi Christians who’re now fleeing Mosul, for they have been told by the ISIS animals to convert to Islam or lose their lives. Many of you are in Abuja, but participating in #BringBackOurGirls is seen as a “waste of time”, insulting those who defy the tasks of their 9-to-5 daily to be a part of the campaign, ignorant of the impending dangers, the danger of becoming refugees in your own city!

Yet, some of you have sought to typify my refusal to label corpses in order to know which deserves my empathy as simply a bid to earn a medal from the non-Muslims I’ve been struggling so hard, according to you, to impress; some of the same non-Muslims who, in a spark of mischief, have in their turn called me an “Islamic propagandist”, whatever that is, for condemning the profiling of northerners in the East, for endorsing a Muslim as presidential candidate… But I’m indifferent to their malicious labeling just as I’ve been to yours because you’re both incapable of denying me the rights to such expressions.

Humanity is still a joke because of this army of cerebrally malfunctioned brothers and sisters to whom we’re seen as hypocrites merely trying to impress the non-members of our group, for exposing a form of oppressive hypocrisy. Well, my dear friend, I don’t write to influence or change you; my writing is a sport that seeks to prove that I don’t think the way you do, and that the way I think is independent of yours. I hope this would be taken in good faith. May God save us from us!

By Gimba Kakanda
@gimbakakanda (On Twitter)

#KakandaTemple ~ A Unity of Classes at Abuja’s #BringBackOurGirls Campaign


I have been writing, possessed by a fantasy, about elitism, lamenting its destructive effects in my bids to identify with the sufferings of the masses. For, if vulnerability to political oppression and social injustice is the qualification for membership of the masses, I’m a frontline member. This has been my understanding. I’m not just a statistic, I assure myself. I’m a voice of reason; I’m a name that seeks to unify the religiously hateful and ethnically bigoted citizens, who are the bad products of this uncritically embraced politics. For this, I have been dubbed a “hopeless populist” by those who correctly understand my position, people I still refer to as the pro-establishment. But to the masses, whose sufferings I highlight, week in, week out, enduring the scorns of the fairly criticised elite, I’m also an accomplice in the rape of this country!

In the weeks past, in private conferences with friends who are the most prominent critics and observers of this generation, I was deconstructed as a pretentious advocate of the masses. “If a revolution begins in Nigeria right now,” my big brother Alkasim Abdulkadir declared in one of such gatherings, “You will be killed!” I had been absent-minded, not following the argument. But when I looked up, bewildered, there was an answer: “Because you have a car and an iPad!” I didn’t have to contest that. It was an epiphany I had deliberately refused to acknowledge. A car and an iPad are, to the people who survive on Fanta and Bread, garri and groundnuts, credentials of elitism, thus making their owner too a symbol of oppression, an ambassador of the treasury-looting Cabal they have been struggling, restlessly, to embarrass. In words. And, to some extent, in action.

So, I was not shocked, only demoralised this week when on Wednesday, Abuja’s #BringBackOurGirls campaigners were physically attacked by the same “masses” whose vulnerabilities we seek to protect – actually by a rented crowd tasked by the government to disrupt the cause at the venue of our daily sit-out, Unity Fountain. Two ironies are noted on this day: one, the undemocratic assault was on the eve of our Democracy Day in the presence of the Police who let them, perhaps for also being members of the family of the rented citizens, being that, to the comedians among us, the acronym of Nigeria Police Force, NPF, also stands for Nigeria Poor Family; two, that the venue for the sit-outs where the clash of classes took place, where the exhibition of disunity took place, where the dramatisation of a people’s gullibility took place, is called Unity Fountain! Ours, sadly, is a unity of disunity, a unity of the nation’s biggest troubles. It was a government-sponsored comedy show!

In my review of #BringBackOurGirls, obviously done to justify my participation, in my piece “Finally, Our Deaths Will be Televised”, on May 9, I wrote this about the campaigners: “The success of Abuja’s #BringBackOurChild campaign is attributed to various factors of which the social class of the campaigners is the top. A friend of mine playfully dubbed the campaign ’The Ajebota Awakening‘; but in all fairness, these are the only people, largely members of the (comfortable) middle-class, worthy to be listened to by the government of which they’re either beneficiaries, previously involved or with whose functionaries they’re friends or relatives.”

But in spite of my confidence in these revolutionary Ajebotas, I was disturbed on the day the elite comrade, Dino Melaye, addressing the campaigners, quoted a dead white man, thus: “One day the poor will have nothing to eat except the poor.” It was both a contradiction and a prophecy by a Dino who owns a fleet of exotic sports cars numbered one to ten, and perhaps more, as evident in the numbers on the ones he had driven to the sit-out, scandalising us, the unqualified Ajebotas, who survive on salaries that aren’t enough to cover our bills.

The disunity of classes at Unity Fountain was a part materialisation of Comrade Melaye’s prophecy, and I was sure he understood that he’s overripe, being extravagantly “wealthy”, for consumption by “the poor” referenced. We have been revolutionarily insular for not involving the the larger class, the worst hit victims of all forms of oppression ever designed by the ruling elite. For me, an acceptable criticism of #BringBackOurGirls may be our inability, even though it’s a cause deserving urgency, to “de-elitise” the campaign. By having the masses properly sensitised, not exactly involved, because bringing them to Abuja, I fear, may also be a form of renting. We need to show them that the security arrangements also threaten their existence. But who am I fooling to assume that the masses aren’t aware of the threats, which had consumed them, twice, in the Nyaya blasts?

As much as I wish to condemn the poverty that has formatted the brains of the poor Nigerians, I’m not ignorant of their resistance to involvement in, and suspicion of, whatever passes for activism. Mob violence is often the result of their attempts to protest an injustice, where anything grand sighted in their march, even structures unrelated to the government, structures owned by private entrepreneurs, are seen as oppressive, and are hence demolished or set on fire. So the thoughtless philosophers must have, listed in their jeremiads, the near impossibility of having the poor and hungry involved in such “idleness”—which is exactly what such struggles, and activism of all forms, are to them. How did I know this? I always highlight my participation in #OccupyNigeria as an experience that further exposed Nigerians as their own worst enemies.

Minna, a town with the most colourful contrast of the rich and the poor, being the residence of two former presidents, both scandalously rich, and the poor abandoned in its many slums even denied the benefits of good governance, is not a greenhouse of activism. In fact, it finds such demonstration of grievances over an unpopular policy as sponsored. As an initiator of the campaign, I had to go round Minna with a few loyal friends to convince the people about the fraud that was the fuel subsidy removal, and why their participation can have the inhuman decision reversed. Their responses varied from the suspicious, down through the understandably indifferent, who had already concluded that the existence of government was just nominal, to those who assaulted our sensibility, saying, “How much are we going to be paid if we show up for the protest?”

They would not acknowledge our lecture that #OccupyNigeria was a campaign that sought to fight for their rights and welfare. They would only lament about the fuel price hike and its dreaded consequences at their neighborhood “parliaments”. The most honest of the groups we approached gave this condition for their participation, one we could not accept: they wanted to show up for the protest armed, because, according to their spokesperson, the police might intercept, which they actually did, and their only alternative was, in their words, “caccake yan-iskan” – “butcher the bastards.” The bastards being the Police!

We discouraged all who had promised to “butcher” the police and even those who expected payments from showing up for the protest. The only groups we encouraged to take part were the ones that didn’t ask for too much: something to eat during the procession. And even they, too, still wondered who had contacted us, their guess being the opposition party, to challenge the government. They didn’t understand how, by occupying the streets of Minna with placards held high above our heads, a government in faraway Abuja would be responsive to our plights, and demands. In spite of our sensitisation!

The first protest in Minna’s #OccupyNigeria campaign was on January 8, 2012. It was on a Sunday, and on being intercepted by the Police we devised a means of deconstructing the conspiracies of armchair theorists who had dismissed the campaign as an initiative of the “Muslim north” to frustrate the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian and southerner, by guarding a church. The guards were all Muslims, and theirs was in solidarity with nothing other than humanity which was what we all had in common!

In the following days, we reached out to the unions in Minna to join, support and lead the campaign instead of grumbling in their bedrooms and offices, suffering and smiling as Fela said of the average Nigerian. The members of unions and associations contacted, most of whom had interests in the government, of which they are beneficiaries, turned down public participation with excuses that confirmed their sycophancy. In a final bid, we allied with like-minded groups to organise a manageable march.

Three days later, Minna was on fire: the campaign was hijacked, and nobody knew who the rioters were. I got my things and returned to Abuja, not ready for the SSS who had called to have a “chat” with me. I was angry not only because we were betrayed by the “enlightened” citizens, but because the rioters were creations of the self-serving policies of our ruling elite. After that experience, I registered that unless significant public figures, citizens whose patriotism and conscience are genuine, are involved in a campaign, I’ll not be even a kilometer close!

And #BringBackOurGirls is not an exception. The campaign gathered this global momentum simply because of the personalities of the people involved. I could not have organised and sustain the campaign. I do not have the clout of Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili who, in the Nigerian dictionary, being a one-time Minister, is a Big Woman, an Oga Madam, even to the cruelest policeman. If the police see a hundred Gimbas as heads of #BringBackOurGirls, the first question may be “Who are you?” The answer is a definite call for tear-gas, and brutalities of all forms. This campaign for the freedom of abducted Chibok deserves urgency. Asking the campaigners to have the “masses”, whatever that really is, lectured and convinced and lured into participation is like asking a person whose house is on fire to consult neighbours before going for an extinguisher.

Revolution should be initiated by a people capable of sustaining it, people with a thing other than just anger: alternative blueprint. If 50 million politically naive, angry citizens, denied the privilege of education and decent employments seize the country today from the autocrats in power, what and who would be their alternatives? This is the lesson we have learnt from our brothers in Egypt and Syria and LIbya. If idealism has failed functional countries like Egypt, it must serve as a warning to us, aspiring revolutionaries. The only practicable solution for rescuing Nigeria right now is for the Oby Ezekwesilis of every region, ethnic group and even religion to rise up and lead a campaign against perceived oppressive systems. Let this debate begin. May God save us from us!

By Gimba Kakanda

@gimbakakanda (On Twitter)

Chibok: Why are our female legislators M.I.A? – Ayisha Osori


What differentiates the 20 female senators of the United States Congress who signed a joint statement in support of the #BringBackOurGirls campaign and the 34 collectively silent women in Nigeria’s seventh Assembly?

According to the New York Times, within 2 weeks of the campaign for the Chibok girls going global, female US Senators had also met with Secretary of State Kerry to push for sanctions on Boko Haram and surveillance support for the search. Senator Susan Collins, who co-spearheaded the effort, marveled at how easy it was to get the women together, “There was no need to convince, or cajole, or persuade. These girls cry out for a voice”.

Unfortunately, the female legislators in the National Assembly do not collectively feel the same way and it is important to ask why.

One possible explanation is that regardless of party, female Nigerian legislators cannot empathize with the public. Increasingly benumbed by daily reports of deaths and abductions, the argument could be, that if nothing was done in February when 59 boys were murdered in school, this abduction does not warrant special reaction. Fair enough considering the body count of over 2000 Nigerians killed by Boko Haram since Jan 1 2014. But Chibok is different because there is a solution which is to get the girls back. If the stories of abductions since November 2013 were not alarming, then the impunity of moving into a school and carting off hundreds of girls in the care of a government that was under a State of Emergency should be considered a game changer.

The second theory for their silence has been that the women fear alienating their parties and sponsors. We are 10 months away from the general elections and for those in PDP and APC everything is about 2015. But this is why there is safety in numbers. Using the Violence Against Persons Bill, currently languishing in the Senate, the respective chairs of the Committee on Women Affairs – Senator Esuene and Hon. Alaaga or even by Hon. Khadi who represents Jere constituency in Borno, could have galvanized all the female legislators. They could have shown agency and taken the opportunity for bi-partisan, joint house showwomanship to push for a bill that has been in the system for over a decade.

The lack of reaction is symptomatic of a larger malaise that infects all arms of government: a disconnect from the public, an increasing unwillingness to identify with social issues and/or recognize tipping points and a lack of accountability to citizens which stems from the doubtful legitimacy of those elected into office. That is the heart of the matter concerning elected representatives who are not concerned with issues which impact over 70% of the population.

While there is a global campaign to increase the representation of women in government in the belief that more women translates to sustained development, under Nigeria’s current political system and structures, it is unrealistic to expect this result. If we run a political process which is based not on valid votes but on rigging, violence, vote buying, security agency manipulation and compromised electoral officers, then we cannot expect to have men and women in elected office who are accountable to us.

This explains the problem identified in a Washington Post article where the authors pointed out that ‘the growth of women in African governance has not necessarily translated into real influence’ (‘nor translated into gains for women and children’). It also explains the silence of our female executives.

Some think that one of the biggest flaws of any feminist movement is the belief that women have an innate bond. Perhaps. But there is undoubtedly an empathy line that lights up once in a while. Sometimes all humans get the tug but there are situations, which are especially poignant for women, and loosing a child is one of them. The individual statements of a few female legislators and any behind the scenes support for the campaign are not enough. ‘I think when women come together across party lines, it is very powerful and effective,’ US Senator Landrieu said explaining why they acted. ‘When women stand united on an issue like this, we can bring tremendous amount of moral authority to the issue.’ It is a shame that our female legislators are incapable of understanding this.

It will be an even greater shame if we cannot change our political system to ensure that going forward, only the most capable and caring Nigerians get elected into office to represent us.

#KakandaTemple ~ Finally, Our Deaths Will Be Televised!


There’s no indignity as having the news of a people’s misery and deaths denied, played down or unsympathetically politicised. The only tragedy worse than this may be the lack of strategy or, as some have said of the ongoing counter-terrorism, of the “will” to end these many killings.

The past few weeks have been peculiarly Nigerian – a condition I liken to a nightmare. The most frightening, especially to the ruling class, was the ease with which Abuja was threatened, its security arrangement openly undermined, not once, nor twice, in a short time: the attack of the headquarters of our biggest intelligence-gathering agency in broad daylight and the bombing, twice, of Nyanya, a suburb of Abuja. Outside the marble corridors of Abuja, it was actually the abduction of almost 300 schoolgirls that has sparked a fashionably viral hashtag campaign – #BringBackOurGirls.

The online campaign turned into physical protests, attracting the attention of the international community and the active participation of conscientious people all over the world. In Abuja, the nation’s second largest hub of internet users after Lagos, the campaign has become a daily convergence for a series of meetings – and so far two marches to offices of concerned security chiefs have taken place – where deliberations on the fate and freedom of the abducted girls were made. The success of Abuja’s #BringBackOurChild campaign is attributed to various factors of which the social class of the campaigners is the top. A friend of mine playfully dubbed the campaign “The Ajebota Awakening”; but in all fairness, these are the only people, largely members of the (comfortable) middle-class, worthy of being listened to by the government of which they’re either beneficiaries, previously involved or with whose functionaries they’re friends or relatives.

All the revolts against the establishment ever initiated by the masses were discriminately crushed by the security personnel, their bodies and rights trodden underfoot. The only revolution a hungry people know is called riot. It’s destructive, and costly. Because they’re immediately possessed by anger the moment they take to the street to protest an injustice. So, statistically, a successful revolt of the masses is impossible, in fact unthinkable, in Nigeria. This is why it’s advisable to applaud the efforts of the “middle-class”, the similarly oppressed people, now strutting to challenge the authorities to #BringBackOurGirls.

This is also why I do not understand those who have condemned the participation of former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar’s wife and daughter in the #BringBackOurGirls campaign. What we call activism is actually a campaign against, or reaction to, perceived injustice, social and political. It’s the responsibility of everyone of us; even those unaffected are indirect victims.

I really do not understand the “I wish I were an activist” armchair critics to whom a rise against national threat is a responsibility of a few, of “activists.” See, activism is not a profession, it’s an instinctual response to a failed system. And if you’ve not been really rattled by the happenings in Nigeria, that’s because you’ve run out of compassion!

The participating Atikus are, in my understanding of ethics, more responsible and relevant than their critics tweeting from bedroom and offices in this dangerous time. You may call their involvement a publicity stunt, but publicity, attracting the eyes of the world to our wounds, is what we need in this search for healing, this agitation for purpose, for the meaning of being (a Nigerian). Thankfully, our misery has been noticed, and promises to intervene already pledged by the real countries of which the involvement of one, the United States of America, known for marked double-standards, has further polarised the citizens.

There’s something painfully hypocritical about the Nigerians now condemning the United States of America’s offer to support us in curbing this escalating terrorism, having all understood that our indigenous counter-terrorism measures have failed.

At least, with foreigners involved in this fight, there may be less ranting over our government’s complicity in fueling terrorism in the north, over cheap and unverifiable propaganda and conspiracy theories. I welcome the Americans because, for a start, there’s no hope of a triumph over the terrorist cult in locally politicised security arrangements.

I don’t understand this: you’ve accused Goodluck Jonathan of being an Abubakar Shekau masked, and even ridiculed the efforts of the understandably unmotivated Nigerian soldiers dying to protect you in the northeast. In a bid to end this mischievous conspiracy, the accused accepted the offer of “neutral” forces – and by this I mean neutrality in the politics of our ethno-religious rivalries, for Uncle Sam’s interests aren’t that petty – to intervene. Suddenly you feel the President has been innocent, and that it’s actually the expected Americans, through their compliantly evil CIA, who have been messing up this polity all along. I wrote against our hypocrisy on the Boko Haram when some of us became uncritical disciples of Governor Nyako-promoted conspiracy theory.

I do not, and may never, believe in conspiracy theory. At least not when and where there are many unexplored clues. I think doing so is a misuse of our intellect, an absolute abuse of human wisdom and the power of reasoning. Conspiracy theory ought to be the last deduction, and final intellectual resort, of any thinking person. That we do not understand doesn’t mean we must embrace cheap escapism or accuse an easy target of perpetrating an only partially investigated crime.

So spare me the history lecture, I don’t mind having this godforsaken country colonised again, with every damned institution under a racist Conrad, every school under an erudite missionary – a bumpy reverse into a century past.

Are we the only race ever possessed by these crises of spiritual, ethnic and national identities? Have we no wisdom to manage diversity? Why are we so innately savage? As long as we’re incapable of running an institution, there’s no shame in “stepping aside” for the actually sympathetic savages to assist us. Of course, this too is a conspiracy theory – a script of the American “occupiers!”

The hypocrisy of expecting a government you accuse of being complicit in sponsoring terrorism to stop the trend is a disturbing misuse of intellect. While the foreigners have already offered to assist us, our government, from all I’ve gathered so far, has no tangible clues about the whereabouts of the missing girls, so they chose to inaugurate a committee, a needless fanfare to waste national resources and time.

With the rate at which insanity consumes our leaders, especially the occupants of Aso Rock who seem to have run out of conscience, there’s a need to have Henry Ross Perot’s wisdom permanently engraved on a wall in the offices of high-ranking public servants and politicians in Nigeria. Even in Mr. President’s “Oval Office” or whatever he calls that relaxation chamber that is his office. Perot has said, and we have acknowledged without heeding:

“If you see a snake, just kill it. Don’t appoint a committee on snakes.”

Our girls have been abducted by the most dangerous of snakes ever witnessed in the history of this country for destruction, both medically and psychologically, yet you set up a committee to gather and drink champagne and laugh over the delusion of rescuing them? Because they’re children of nobodies? Just look at the way FEC meeting was cancelled some days ago in honour of VP Sambo’s deceased brother by a president who could not cancel a political rally in honour of Nyanya blast victims. Because they’re nobodies. They’re just statistics. Worthless. Like our rebased GDP!

As for those who have already prophesied a catastrophe as the aftermath of foreign interventions, what would be more catastrophic than having minors continuously abducted by the terrorists, and savagely raped, without a means or will of rescuing them? Nigeria is already a catastrophe for those who have stopped living in denial; and with the coming of foreigners, I guarantee that our deaths are now going to be televised, documented and no longer seen as lies and propaganda by mischievously insular politicians and their polarized supporters. We must now begin to seek for ways to end the hashtags, for every day is an unbearable torture for our sisters and daughters in captivity. Hashtags don’t cure; they don’t even prevent. They only inform. And that has already been achieved.

May God save us from us!

Gimba Kakanda
@gimbakakanda (On Twitter)