The deafening sound of silence
by NKECHI CYNTHIA ENUMA
On March 8, 2014, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 took off from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. One hour later, the plane disappeared with 239 people from 14 countries on board. The world has been riveted and, every day for the past 6 weeks, there is a mention of the search for the plane. Countries joined hands looking for this plane. Every day, there has been a press conference to address recent developments. The country has been blamed for a sloppy job.
On April 14th, a ferry carrying 476 people capsized in South Korea. The story was all over the news wire. That country watched on live TV as rescue attempts were made. There have been press conferences addressing the rescue and investigation. The Prime Minister Chung Hong-won has resigned with apologies: "Witnessing the sorrows of those who lost their loved ones and sadness and anger of the people, I felt the right thing for me to do was to take all responsibility as the prime minister.”
On April 16th, Boko Haram abducted 230 school girls in northern Nigeria; 43 escaped and 187 are still unaccounted. What have we heard from the country? SILENCE! Four days earlier, in the same country, Nigeria, the nation watched on live TV the wedding of Faith Sakwe, the adopted daughter of President Jonathan.
I have wondered what kind of country keeps silent when 187 of its daughters are abducted by a known terrorist group. I know Mr. President being a father must know what the families are going through. Those families at the present time must feel abandoned by its own leaders and fellow citizens.
Why do I come to this conclusion?
I have not seen any outcry from the nation. I have not heard daily press conferences addressing the search for these girls, if there is any. I have not seen any outreach to the families of these children. I have not seen a nation cry out and console these families. It is as though, since they are not our blood daughters, we just go about our daily business.
What kind of people are we?
Boko Haram is a terrorist group which has been allowed to take hold in Nigeria for a variety of reasons.For the northern politicians, it was expedient to ignore Boko Haram for the political gain of making the country ungovernable for President Jonathan. To them, Boko Haram was the problem of the government, and we could comment on how ineffectiveness of the administration.
For the administration, offending the political north necessitated that we treat Boko Haram with kid gloves. We even offered to negotiate and give amnesty to terrorists. Today, like the proverbial genie that is out of the bottle, Boko Haram has become a nightmare for the country, north and south alike.
The handling of Boko Haram has been bungled from the beginning. If we needed any examples, we should have looked no further than Afghanistan. The Taliban started slowly at the mountains and eventually became a national nightmare.
We are following in the same footsteps. We pretend they are not serious, and our leaders tell us “Boko Haram will be a thing of the past soon.” This is a dangerous combination of wishful thinking and ineptitude.
A leader asking for help to solve the problem of Boko Haram is not failure. It is actually courage because the safety of citizens comes before national pride. Nigeria is important to the world and cannot be allowed to become a terrorist den. The world would respond to us if we are actually serious about getting rid of Boko Haram, but the question is: are we?
Mr. President, please think about those children. Think about your own daughter and how proud you were to see her get married. Do the parents of the 187 girls deserve any less?
If your daughter were abducted, you would have done anything to get her released. Those 187 girls deserve the same.
If your daughter were abducted, you would appreciate a government that gave you comfort and updates about the search. The parents of the 187 girls deserve the same.
If your daughter were abducted, you would appreciate a country where all the citizens cried out with you and comforted you. The parents of the 187 girls deserve the same.
Oh Nigerians, please cry out at the pain of these families. Give those 187 girls a voice. Shout, demand and speak for those 187 girls, they deserve that much.
Do not let the deafening sound of silence prevail.