On February 19, 2018, Boko Haram terrorists abducted 110 schoolgirls at the Government Girls Science and Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe State. The Federal Government showed concern and negotiated with the terrorists and in March 2018, the abducted girls were released except Leah Sharibu.
The terrorists refused to let her go because of her Christian faith. Her released schoolmates said they pleaded with Leah to renounced Christianity and returned home with them. But that she refused. She was quoted to have told his classmates, ‘I’m a Christian.’ She watched the other girls go home, but she refused to renounce her faith for freedom. While she was alone with the insurgents, she would have been threatened with execution but she refused to renounce her faith.
Leah is with the terrorists but life continues as usual for everyone. Initially, there were those fervently campaigning for her release but who suddenly lost the zeal to continue as politics took over in the last quarter of last year and early 2019. For Leah, she seems alone in the wilderness. Sadly, everyone continues to do what they are doing, while Leah continues to languish in the terrorists’ enclave. President Muhammadu Buhari and government functionaries continue to attend events and enjoy perks of their offices.
The elections have come and gone. The winners across all the elective positions have been declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission and President Buhari has been re-elected. But beyond all these events is a big task before Mr President. His first-term tenure ends on May 29 and a new one will begin same day. But before that day which is a just a month’s away, Mr President must do all he can to secure the release of Leah. That will ultimately be a crowning glory to whatever feats his government will want to lay claim to in his first term.
The Federal Government should do everything to obliterate the impression that seems to suggest that it doesn’t care about the release of the girl in captivity. It is not enough to say it is doing something about her case. It is instructive to let the world know what it is doing about her case.
There is nothing sacrosanct about any negotiation for her release which cannot be disclosed to the whole world .The Federal Government should give updates on the developments concerning her release.
It will not be out of place to refer to Leah as a prisoner of conscience. She is the conscience of our nation. The National Assembly must also join forces with the Executive to see how Leah can taste freedom again. She didn’t force the incident on herself. It was caused by the country’s pitiable realities forced on the Nigerian child. The international community should mount pressure on the Nigerian government to doggedly press for her release. The United Nations should pass a resolution about her situation which will ensure her release from captivity.
The President should urgently raise a committee to negotiate the release of Leah if he has not done so. The committee should be given a time frame to secure the freedom of the girl. Before the President is sworn in on May 29, 2019, what will make the day colorful is the release of Leah from captivity. It would not be interesting to use the fresh mandate given the President to offer fresh promises for the release of Leah. A year is enough to solve the puzzle surrounding her captivity.
The Christian community should not fold its arms. It should do whatever it can on the matter. Prayer is good but it needs to be backed with action. Action unites successful people on earth. Why can’t all Christians in Nigeria stage a protest to demand the release of the girl? The church needs to sensitise their members not only in Nigeria but worldwide to demand Leah’s release from the Federal Government and the terrorists.
By now, there should be a movement calling for Leah’s release. Let pressure groups and human rights activists mobilise to vehemently demand the release of the girl who would have been psychologically disturbed by the agony of not seeing her parents for more than a year.
I don’t want to imagine the trauma of Leah’s parents. The ordeal of waiting for a child whose arrival date is unknown can be demoralizing. I hope that their pains will be wiped soon when they are reunited with their daughter. This is my prayer for the Sharibus and I pray it will come to pass in no time. As we all await May 29, for Buhari’s inauguration into office for second term, the glamour of that day will be full if Leah is among us. This is the task that Mr President must achieve before that day.
Arikanki is a motivational speaker and life coach