Beyond Rescuing The Chibok Girls | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Beyond Rescuing The Chibok Girls

Posted: May 27, 2016 at 2:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

The recent rescue of 19 year old Amina Ali Mkeki, one of the more than 200 Chibok girls, abducted by Boko Haram insurgents on April 14, 2014, has rekindled the hope among Nigerians that the other girls could also be rescued. Questions however remain on whether or not there is any proactive plan by government to rehabilitate and reintegrate these girls when they are finally rescued.

Interestingly, one of the basic things President Muhammadu Buhari promised during his election campaign was that his government would ensure that the Chibok girls are rescued and brought home safe. Soon after assuming the presidential office, he had also assured the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) group, led by the former minister of education during the Olusegun Obansanjo’s administration,  Dr. Oby Ezekwesili that his administration would do everything possible to ensure that the girls are brought back. To be fair, however, President Buhari’s continued show of unwavering determination to rescue the Chibok girls seems to be looking positive as evidenced by the recent rescue of one of the girls.

Apart from the rescued Chibok girl, many other girls who are victims of Boko Haram abductions have also reportedly been rescued by the military operations in the Sambisa forest, where the Boko Haram insurgents are believed to have located their base.

There is no doubt that after spending quite some time, and over two years, in the case of the Chibok girls in captivity, under harsh living conditions in the Sambisa forest, the lives, perception, emotion and psyche of the girls would have been greatly truncated, leaving them traumatized. Of course, they would have been assaulted and raped as many of them are found with pregnancies and children. Besides, they could also been radicalized and could pose security threats to people around them.

We recall that not too long ago, a nine-year-old girl, who was among 65 young girls rescued by Nigerian troops from Sambisa forest reportedly embarked on hunger strike, saying she wanted to go back to the forest to be with her Boko Haram husband. This implies that she may have been discriminated against in her community, and perhaps, seen as a dangerous person and synonymous with the Boko Haram insurgents. This could also apply to many of the other rescued girls.

This is a pointer to the fact that beyond rescuing these girls, there is need for government to proactively design a clear and well thought out plan on how they are to be rehabilitated and reintegrated into their communities. They would need to be given their lives back.

Gladly, as President Buhari has promised that the Federal government would be fully responsible for the education and upkeep of Amina Ali, the rescued Chibok girl, as well as seeing that she gets the best medical, psychological and emotional care, we commend him for his swift response and attention to the girl.

But beyond this, and considering that there are many of the other girls who have been, hitherto, rescued and who have not been fully cared for and properly reintegrated and the high hopes that the remaining girls could also be rescued, there is an urgent need to have an inclusive and formidable care and reintegration plan for them.

It is unfortunate that in Nigeria there is an endemic culture of waiting for things to happen before actions are underway. As it were, there is need to plan ahead. The Boko Haram insurgency and its attendant victimization of innocent girls is a national issue. Therefore, ensuring that the girls who have been violated as a result of their sinister activities get adequate care should be treated as a national problem.  Perhaps, a care and reintegration committee could be set up by government to work out a robust plan to cater for these girls who are being rescued in the interest of their physical, mental, social and emotional wellbeing.