It’s been a month and a day since 200+ were abducted by the terrorist group #BokoHaram in Chibok, Borno state in what has to be the most dastardly and daring act of the terrorist group. In that time, there has been a lot of advocacy from groups and individuals within and outside Nigeria for the release of these girls.
The outcry that greeted the abduction of the girls is not what the government expected. Just like during #OccupyNigeria the Nigerian Government has been caught unprepared about “the masses'” reaction. Until #BringBackOurGirls went viral, there was very little response/reassurance from the presidency to calm people. The “mother of the nation” did not appear on national television with tears in her eyes to appeal for the release of these girls. Instead, there were half-truths and outright lies about the status of the girls from the government. There was even some talk about the abduction stories being false.
Just like at the #OccupyNigeria campaign , the government’s seeming lack of empathy has angered Nigerians everywhere. Time and time again, this administration has failed to show that it has an inkling of how people feel. It is hard to see the government as having a human face when they seem not to care about the yearnings and aspirations of the average Nigerian or to have regard for their lives.
While it is not expected of the government to divulge every minute detail of military and covert operations, there has to be a perception that something positive is being done, not just to #BringBackOurGirls, but also to defeat #BokoHaram. Giving vague, evasive answers won’t just do.
While it is regrettable that some have used this national crisis to pursue a political agenda, it is sad that the government has chosen to wallow in self-pity and go on the defensive on the #BringBackOurGirls campaign. Disrupting peaceful protests, clamping down on activists and other forms of diversions are not going to bring back the girls. They are counter-productive and will only serve to further alienate the government from the people. With Nigerians’ historical fear of the military, it is impossible to ask to #SupportOurMilitary while using them as tools of intimidation. The #Hashtag Generation may seem like naive immature bumblers but we cannot deny that apathy, vindictiveness and self-pity are childish traits that nobody will want in a leader.