OPINION BY BUKKY SHONIBARE: IKORODU GIRLS, ESE ORURU, CHIBOK GIRLS, AGATU, AND THE REST OF US!

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Bukky Shonibare

 
My mind is very restless. I am very worried about us. I am concerned about who we truly are – what we are made of; what we now are – what we have been unconsciously forced to become; and the outcome of ‘us’ – the nation we may eventually birth.

What now defines us is less of the positives and, sadly, more of the pains – large and small-scale abductions, especially of the vulnerable; several communal clashes and massacres; ritual killings; kidnappings and hostage taking; etc. ALL largely under reported. Truth is, I now circumspectly scroll through my FB page for fear of stumbling on another beheaded child, mutilated bodies, or burning alive of human beings. Gosh! What has really happened to US?
I wonder how many Nigerians like me did not know about the Ese Oruru case until some days to the eventual ‘rescue’ of the minor. Several still do not know about the abducted 219 Chibok girls, while some who do dismiss it or claim it is a scam. Now the schoolgirls in Ikorodu have been abducted for 3 days now; while some don’t even know about it, those who do either ‘God-forbid’ such happening to them or simply just dismiss it. Really, what has become of us? We were not always like this!
In Agatu, hundreds of fellow citizens are being killed – boys, girls, young, old. The humanitarian crisis is becoming heightening and alarming. People have been killed; several displaced. And what do we do? Look and pray it doesn’t come near us? I thought the pain of one should be the pain of all? Isn’t that what humanity means?
Must protesters take to the streets before relevant institutions respond? Must we create embarrassing hashtags before an ‘IG Arase’ ‘rescues’ another ‘Ese? Ese was with her ‘abductor’ for six whole months before it filtered through the social media space, thereby forcing the expedited action. SIX WHOLE MONTHS!!! I mean, in sane societies, the media would be agog, forcing people to react, and relevant institutional actions. SIX MONTHS is long enough for an ‘Ese’s value system to be altered such that she becomes angry with a nation that failed to protect her and act timeously. SIX MONTHS is long enough for an ‘Ese’ to prefer to ‘stay’ where she feels ‘loved and cared for.’ I mean, if she had been left 3 more months, she would have become a mother before her ‘rescue.’ Or, how do we undo these harms done to this poor naïve and vulnerable teenage girl? Yet people castigate her for not wanting to return and for coming back pregnant! What did we expect? Even when the news became popular, some days ago, spinning the narrative across religious, ethnic, economic, and political lines was so saddening that one would literarily weep for Nigeria. Now, with what happened to Ese in 6 months, the fate of the Chibok girls – who are almost 700 days in abduction – can now be better visualized. My heart aches!
Truth is, we failed! We failed as a people! We failed Ese Oruru just as we are failing the Chibok girls. We failed several other unnamed and unreported victims. And now, we are failing the ‪#‎3IkoroduGirls‬, people of ‪#‎Agatu‬, and several others. Unfortunately, our continuous pains have made some so unpatriotic that we’d rather use a transparent blue-white-red flag as profile pictures, in solidarity with France, and fail to do same for Nigeria.
My outrage is not to pass blames. We all must take responsibility for where we dropped the ball – individuals, communities, CSOs, religious institutions, media, government agencies, and… the rest of us… all of us!
BUT, it is never too late to be what we might have been. We must WAKE UP! Nigeria is our land and we must fight for it. We must avoid the unconscious temptation to be numb to these festering affronts against our collective humanity. Those who abduct and kill our children, relatives, and fellow citizens are against what makes us ‘US.’ This fight against our collective enemy should not be left to a selected few, neither should we blame advocacy groups for not acting. It must be a fight by US…. ALL OF US!
No nation thrive without the collective effort of her people. Sitting on the fence is not an option. Endless prayers without works is a sheer lazy way of abdicating responsibility to the One who has given us the ability, mandate, power, and knowledge to make our lives reflect what He and us desire. And… keeping quiet is a fake and coward way of being humble. Silence on issues that affect our humanity is not golden, please!
I desire a nation where my children are safe. A place I can sleep with my two eyes shut. A place my children can go to school, play in the community, mingle with others, eat with others, and coexist without fear.
Nigerians, let us ARISE and fight for our nation. We must call our leaders to order. We must demand accountability – not just of resources, but also of lives – OUR LIVES!
While I apologize for where I may have failed as a citizen, I continue to stand with the people of Chibok and all that the Chibok girls represent.
I stand with Ese Oruru and all other ‘Ese’s!
I stand with the people of Agatu!
I stand with ALL who are victims of our systemic failure.
How about you?
Don’t just stand; ACT!

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