Chibok Girls: Symbol of a nation

April 22, 2019 Nigeria , Opinion , OPINION/NEWS

Michael Fleshman photo



Prince Charles Dickson



Boko Haram insurgents invaded a village at Chibok, Borno State, on Sunday last week, wreaking havoc, exactly five years into the abduction of 276 girls from the Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok.


A witness told SaharaReporters that activities to commemorate the fifth anniversary were still ongoing on Sunday when residents learnt of the invasion of Kwarangullum village by the insurgents.


So, it’s five years and still counting, the Chibok girls have now become a symbol of the nation and her wayward ways. Chibok, a community discussed as an ethnic, as a faith based, party based, politics laced, hate colored discuss, symbolizes everything that we stand for in many ways.


Chibok has no electricity, no good roads, health is on a leave of absence; the only bank for a long time was simply an agency. Chibok had but that only secondary school. Chibok is Nigeria, and Nigeria is Chibok. Chibok since Chibok has been raided some five times, averaging one attack per year.


While our leaders were in Rwanda, physically present commemorating the genocide in that country; Chibok in our backyard was relegated to a tweet matter.


In the five years that has been Chibok, I have done a sizable amount of work on not just Boko Haram but also the Chibok girls, killings, abductions and Nigeria’s conflict torn Northwest region. I have visited Chibok four times, I have spoken to a few of the girls that were released, spoke to one that escaped, I have spoken with several of the parents, and that includes a few that are now dead.


For the purpose of this admonition let me quickly share what I would like to call some quick facts of the matter as it is and reminders. I do not expect it to go down well with many, but truth be told, what’s the essence of an opinion if it is tailored to go down with everyone?


Some of those quick facts, include but are not limited to the following: That girls were indeed abducted from the Government Secondary School in Chibok, and that the figures are conflicting, it is even safe to conclude that no one knows the exact number of girls abducted not even the government, even Boko Haram has lost count of their damage. Today after years of pressure there is semblance of a list of Missing Persons but it’s not even accessible and very conflicting.


Before Chibok, Boko Haram had established a tradition of abducting girls and women, for countless reasons, the authorities were quiet, the media reported a few it could, and let me tell us many parents equally kept quiet and took it all in their stride.


This writer had interviewed several girls and women who were victims; they escaped one way or the other.


I equally know that for a fact many believe that Mr. Buhari and the ‘North’ however defined was and is Boko Haram, and that with Buhari as president, the girls would be found. And many still don’t understand the whole Dapchi Episode and Leah that was left behind. It certainly is not a People’s Democratic Party PDP or All Peoples Congress APC stratagem and now with Jonathan almost forgotten, what will only be remembered is his failure as charge de affaire of the government when it happened.


While the late Abacha is credited to have propounded that theory of “if killings go on for so, so and so time, the government knows about it or are behind it.” This is one of such gone terribly sour because the government has little in terms of credible intelligence, currently it says they are working with the Swiss; whom have we not worked with on the Chibok matter? Recall, the drama of what I call the international week of Boko Haram—the week where the United States, UK, France, China, Togo, were all willing to help, and how the drones were droning. Nothing happened!


I recall the dramatic negotiation and Chadian ballet between Modu Sherif, Idris Derby and Jonathan, for a fact it simply occurred to me that we are not really a serious people on matters that we should be serious. Fact is, one simple answer, many of our tales of nationhood is Chibok like…


The cruel fact is that several hundreds of girls that are victims of this terrible group have paid the ultimate price, a few have escaped with almost irreparable damage, others have become part of them, and we have not done much.


It is equally a fact that one of the many reasons that Boko Haram may continue for a while is because many still do not know what the group is all about, does it have an ideology, what really is it about…a CIA conspiracy or a thing about poverty?


I also know that based on what is out there, many experts on the subject matter are foreigners and one wonders, but a Salkida, and a few who are mentioning names do more harm than good. I do not always believe former Olusegun Obasanjo, but I agree with him when he asserts, “many, most, half of these girls will never come back…” That is a fact! A sizable number have passed on, sadly so! And yes did I add Salkida also affirmed, I concur too.


The questions are many, but as we continue to run commentary on the #bringbackourgirls advocacy, reminding us of the Chibok girls, I cannot but feel for the real parents, how many are now making money out of them. How a part and not all of the campaign has become like many a CSO thing–a source of income, with the Nigerian factor at work.


The Chibok parents continue grieving and mourning, but really it is more of bewilderment and pain, as they do not know exactly the situation of their wards. There is no, may never be any closure, and that fact is gruesomely scary.


Five years we have lost men and officers, more villagers have been killed and loads of propaganda, half-truths, misinformation and sheer falsehoods, fight between now opposition PDP, and governing APC, even the Airforce has accused the Army of taking their shine. The army has had a mutinous situation, local media vs. foreign media, and Christians/Muslims. But fact is that we do not have the Chibok girls.


The Boko Haram group in all their splinters, continue making all sorts of demands, releasing videos, and creating more confusion, but the fact is that some girls just disappeared. They were abducted because our institutions are not working the way it should, the girls’ will/may not be found because we are not sincere people, and because many of them are dead, and because we are largely and easily divided by our selfish motives.


Finally there are those space and security won’t allow me to mention their names because they have remained dedicated to the cause–true men and women they are. And as it is tradition, we again will engage in blame games, but let us remember that the longer we are on this Chibok saga it reminds of us of who we really are, will we be talking Chibok by December 2019, or will we hear the real story, the true story—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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