October 31, 2014.
By: Joe Onwukeme
My Chibok Sisters,
I am forcing back tears as I write this letter considering the agonies you all are facing daily.
Today, Friday, 31st October 2014, makes it 200 days you all have been in captivity in faraway Sambisa Forest in North Eastern part of Nigeria.
It will be recalled that on the night of 15th April 2014, more than 200 female students (you all inclusive) were kidnapped from the Government Secondary School in the town of Chibok, Borno state, by the dreaded Boko Haram sect. According to report, about 53 out of the over 200 girls that were abducted escaped from the den of the sect.
It was because of your quest for knowledge and the zeal to excel in your West African Examination Council (WAEC), that made the school authorities to call you all from different schools and join the students of Government Secondary School, Chibok, to write the exams since schools in other neighbouring communities were shut due to incessant attack.
The news of your abduction went viral. Religious bodies, civil society groups, activists, youths, children, young and old all over the world took to the streets to protest; many held banners and placards bearing “Bring Back Our Girls” inscription.
First Lady of the United States of America, Michelle Obama, on 10th May, 2014, tweeted a photo of herself holding a placard bearing #bringbackourgirls hash tag. This triggered more support for the campaign as other top celebrities followed suit.
Here in Nigeria, we didn’t relent. While the Federal Government made attempt to wane the new of the abduction, with the military coming out publicly to lie that the girls have been rescued, Nigerians took to the streets to join your parents to cry on the Federal Government to redouble efforts in rescuing you.
The revered former Minister of Education, Dr Oby Ezekwesili, with other good spirited Nigerians that quite understand the kind of agony you all and your parents have been through, coordinated the #BringBackOurGirls hash tag and campaign.
Mrs. Ezekwesili and her group of committed and concerned Nigerians have been in the streets of Abuja since 30th April 2014, despite pressures and attack from our security agencies to end the #BringBackOurGirls campaign.
Let me not bore you all with the kidnap saga controversies; let me update you all on recent events and activities that have taken place in the country since you all were abducted.
It is a pity and ironic that the WAEC you all risked your life to write had its result released and your fellow students all over Nigeria recorded mass failure. Did someone just ask if you peoples result was released? Never mind, you all will know soon.
On the political scene, as 2015 general election approaches, it has been one controversy to another. Politicians are declaring interest for the general election and defecting from one political party to another.
On the issue of Security, our hopes were raised on October 07, 2014, when the Federal Government announced that arrangement and plans have been concluded to secure your release as the Boko Haram group has announced a cease fire agreement. The cease fire agreement like other agreements in the past died on arrival. For now, I don’t want to sound negative, am optimistic you all will soon be free from the hands of your abductors.
I wish to continue writing but let me not intensify your anxieties. I hope my letter brought back the nostalgic feelings you all have been denied for the past 200 days. Weep not! My Chibok girls, your day of freedom is close. My earnest prayers have been for you all to be rescued unharmed. I have refused to listen to the gory tales of some of you being converted to Islam and into forced marriage with members of Boko Haram. I and other good spirited Nigerians are optimistic about your well-being.
As you all mark 200 days in captivity today, I encourage you all to remain strong. Federal government, security agencies, civil societies, foreign countries etc are all negotiating for your release through different means.
Nigerians are solidly behind you; you all have paid the ultimate price for the unity of Nigeria. We have never been this united in the fight against terrorism. You all sacrificed your life for other girls to lIve and go to school. You all are heroine and will not only be celebrated in Nigeria but all over the world.
Considering the circumstances surrounding your kidnap, the least Nigerian government will do for you all is to sponsor your education to any level and any country of your choice in this world. This is just a tip of the iceberg; let me not let the cat out of the bag yet till you all are freed.
I wish to continue writing but my power system is almost off. I will end here for now while I join the world in the count down and await your return.
Your Concerned Brother & Friend
Joe Onwukeme wrote from Enugu