Yobe Abductions: Imagine if your child was in Dapchi

March 6, 2018 Nigeria , Opinion , OPINION/NEWS

Michael Fleshman photo



Prince Charles Dickson



“No truth can cure the sorrow we feel from losing a loved one. No truth, no sincerity, no strength, no kindness can cure that sorrow. All we can do is see it through to the end and learn something from it, but what we learn will be no help in facing the next sorrow that comes to us without warning. – Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood.


Boko Haram, the Islamist terrorist group, after being ‘technically’ defeated has struck. On Monday, February 19, the group, whose name often translates to “Western education is a sin,” stormed a girls’ school in the village of Dapchi in northern Nigeria to abduct students. Of the 907 schoolgirls who were in the school the day of the attack, more than 100 are still missing.


The entire drama is akin to that of the Chibok girls…


It took Boko Haram’s massive kidnapping of 276 schoolgirls at a school in Chibok, Nigeria in 2014, and the shocking announcement that the girls would be sold in the “marketplace” as “slaves” or forced into marriages to raise global awareness. Four years later, many of them have been released, but more than 100 are still missing.


Some three years ago I wrote under the title “Coming To A Cinema Near You–‘Yobe State'”. And indeed just like then, I can say that it really has come.


Three years ago it was the Yobe tragedy, the Yobe state massacre, the Yobe killings and all the headlines, the reactions, from outrage, to rage. Then it was Jona as Mr. President and his explanations and assurances came to naught.


I gleaned to catch knowledge from commentaries, all I saw was largely a repeat episode. Nigerians asked what would have happened if the kids massacred were those of the Atikus, Tinubus, Buharis, or Jonathan.


We have been told that the army left few hours before the Boko Haram guys struck, the army saying it was given false intel. Defending itself, saying X, Y and Z occurred. Again in 2018 it is the same story!


Nigerians say they would March in March, that they will protest in ‘protember’…others are praying, but few really understand. Why do we always get it wrong?


As all these killings were taking place, life simply went on, nothing halted. Centenary awards, 2015 politicking and strategizing went ahead, APC screaming blue murder accusing the President; but the truth sadly is very few of us know sorrow. And today the reverse is the case, 2019 politicking going on, PDP crying wolf, and the sorrow of Yobe continues.


Sorrow: a feeling of deep distress caused by loss, disappointment, or other misfortune suffered by oneself or others.


Nigerians are not sad enough, we have not shown that we are unhappy, the nation is not dejected, beyond all the prayers of God will confuse them (Boko Haram), God will punish our leaders et all.


Nobody really is in deep regret; we only have a handful of depressed people.


There is despondency, and despair, permit me to add desolation, gloom, and heaviness of heart for those directly concerned and that’s all. We have lost our sense of feel, our ability display deep distress.


We are not truly sad, we cannot feel sad, be miserable, or be despondent, we cannot despair, or see the suffering, and ache because last night we tucked our kids in bed, kiss them good night and sweet dreams, and with a big smile we answered to their “good morning daddy, good morning mummy.”


All the drama, we cannot agonize, or anguish, be wretched, be dejected, be heavy of heart, weep, shed tears, or mourn. Really because we took our kids to do the movie at some galleria, mall.


How can we lament, or wail when our children are running about the neighborhood without fear.


In ‘Eat, Pray, Love’, Elizabeth Gilbert said, “Do not apologize for crying. Without this emotion, we are only robots.”


‘It is not about leadership, it is about you and me, we cannot see because we cannot weep’ is a phrase in Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables.


The Yobe state attacks have become serial; at the last count 4 of such, and more 1than 20 students and about the same figure abducted. There was also the Government Secondary School, Mamudo, Potiskum local government area, about 90km from Damaturu where 29 students were slaughtered in a midnight attack. The College of Agriculture in Gujba local government area was also a target with some two-dozen students killed, also at midnight.


As you read this, even as Journalists we have failed, maybe not on intent, but out of fear, we have skipped details, details like these kids; don’t they have names, why is it that the news of such dastardly acts get stale so quickly?


In 2018 students were abducted, their names, and figures became politics; who confirmed the abductions, what the government has done or is doing became political. Don’t let me share the Boston experience, where a city was locked down to get suspects.


How do we tell ourselves that meat that touched the mouth disappeared and we don’t know how?


I am not a military tactician, I love education whether western or eastern, I am not a terrorist, Islamist, puritan or otherwise. Whether the Cameroonian border is closed or Niger Republic gate is fixed with barbwire is not an issue. The question is what would be different if your child was in Dapchi?


The essence of Boko Haram whether it started as a revolution, or sponsorship is from Timbuktu or arms are coming from tripoli or fivpoli. The current administration, like the one before it, has not been entirely honest about Boko Haram, and that their technical defeat, and if we all keep mute, the movie called Yobe is coming to a cinema near us, how brutal, while we scream Allah forbid–only time will tell.






Prince Charles Dickson

Currently Prince Charles, is based out of Jos, Plateau State, and conducts field research and investigations in the Middle Belt Region of Nigeria with an extensive reach out to the entire North and other parts. Prince Charles worked on projects for UN Women, Search for Common Ground, and International Crisis Group, among others. He is an alumnus of the University of Jos and the prestigious Humanitarian Academy at Harvard and Knight Center For Journalism, University of Texas at Austin. A doctoral candidate of Georgetown University

Born in Lagos State (South West Nigeria), Prince Charles is proud of his Nigerian roots. He is a Henry Luce Fellow, Ford Foundation grantee and is proficient in English, French, Yoruba Ibo and Hausa. Married with two boys, and a few dogs and birds.

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