Opinion: Chibok girls and the rise of civic consciousness

by Jibrin Ibrahim

Bring Back our Girls protest in Abuja on Wednesday 30 April 2014

When the First Lady of the country harassed and got a member of the community arrested for telling the world their story, the community defended her and the truth in spite of threats. 

The Abuja #BringBackOurGirls Movement concluded its Rally on the 30th Day after the abduction of the Chibok girls at 12:30 a.m. this morning. We are now in the second month and our government and our armed forces have still not brought our girls back. And this is the point about our movement, as citizens we demand that our government carries out its constitutional responsibility of providing for the welfare and security of Nigerians.

We now know they are not doing that and we have decided they must become accountable and carry out their constitutional tasks. We the citizens of this country have resolved that we will not allow them to do nothing. WITH CHIBOK, THE EPOCH OF CIVIC CONSCIOUSNESS HAS COMMENCED.

In our review of the movement, two things stood out. The movement emerged and grew into a world movement because people learnt through the social media that 273 Nigerian girls were abducted by armed terrorists for the purpose of turning them into slaves and for weeks the Nigerian Government did nothing.

The social media buzz grew into a movement when the members of this small, hitherto unknown community marched on the National Assembly demanding that competent Nigerian authorities #BringBackOurGirls now and alive. And then, a young Nigerian woman, Hadiza Bala Usman organised a march the following day to say the same thing, all Nigerian women, and even men, want these girls back and alive now.

The message most participants repeated again and again is that we are all united – across ethnic, religious and political divides with one message, our state exists to provide for our security so they should do their work and rescue the girls immediately.

It was befitting that members of the Chibok community participating in the Rally all concurred that following the emergence of the movement, they now all have confidence that the Nigerian people expressing itself through the movement has created hope and a unity of purpose that in the emerging Nigeria, we can all have confidence in our adage of unity in diversity. They pointed out that leading members of the Nigerian ruling class told the world that the abduction was a false story but the Movement believed their story was indeed true and today, the whole world has seen photos of some of the girls.

The Rally commended the brave citizens of Chibok who were intimidated by the Nigerian State to shut up on the tragedy that befell them so as not to embarrass the President but they stood up to say we must demand the the State #BringBackOurGirls. When therefore the armed forces declared a day after the abduction that the girls had been found, it was the Chibok community that came out to say it was a lie, and immediately after, the security agencies confessed that it was indeed a lie that they told the world.

When the First Lady of the country harassed and got a member of the community arrested for telling the world their story, the community defended her and the truth in spite of threats. The Chibok community has taught Nigeria a lesson on the importance of civic consciousness and telling the truth to power. We salute their courage and civic consciousness,

The Rally expressed its commendations to the Chibok Community for their civic consciousness, which awoke the world.  Their story has so far elicited 3 million tweets and has trended in fifty cities around the world.  In so doing, the elements of civic consciousness awoken among Nigerians are as follows:

1)   If the State does not carry out its constitutional responsibilities, citizens must come out and make demands and force them to act.

2)   Citizens must always monitor what the State is doing or not doing and commend or reprimand them as the case may be.

3)   Democratic accountability mechanisms only work if citizens make demands and monitor and react to responses to their demands.

4)   The #BringBackOurGirms Movement is growing into a mass movement that is uniting Nigeria on the basis of citizens compelling government to carry out its responsibility.

5)   Lets all work harder to make the Movement stronger and more accountable.

This Movement initiated by the brave people of Chibok and amplified by concerned voices round the world is creating a new path for ordinary citizens and civil society activists to create a new Nigeria. As the World joins Nigerians in making accountability demands on our Government, we thank them for the solidarity and reaffirm our struggle for democracy and the rule of law. Long-live Nigeria as it strives for democratic accountability.


This article was written with permission from Premium Times

Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.


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