YNaija Editorial: Chibok girls’ rescue vindicates Oby Ezekwesili’s unending campaign

She has been described by many as a rabble-rouser.

Her repeated calls to the government to ensure the return of the 276 girls abducted from the Government Girls’ Secondary School, Chibok, by Boko Haram terrorists in April 2014 has been seen by others as an unnecessary distraction. They have accused her of wasting the nation’s time calling for the rescue of girls who many have written off as dead.

They have called her unrealistic for refusing to back down from her promise not to be quiet until parents get closure, as they should. She has been attacked for having no end-game, as those uncomfortable with this symbol of national failure wish to move on from our collective guilt.

Yet. She has refused to back down. This, despite loud calls from supporters of both the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) – who believe she had a political agenda; and the All Progressives Congress (APC) – who believe President Buhari should be given more time to fulfil his promise of bringing the girls back.

But with the discovery of Amina Ali Nkeki around the borders of Sambisa Forest, and the rescue of another Chibok girl, Serah Luka on Thursday morning by Nigerian troops, we can safely say Oby Ezekwesili has been vindicated. The former education minister and her civil society pressure group, #BringBackOurGirls, has been justified on two fronts: the Chibok girls issue has clearly been confirmed not to be a ruse created by those who wanted former president Goodluck Jonathan out of Abuja; and that we have no time to waste in bringing back the remaining 217 abducted girls – alive.

Ezekwesili along with other leaders of the #BringBackOurGirls group have, together, been a lonely voice in the wilderness; organising sit outs, staging marches and tweeting daily on the need for the government to put all its resources together in ensuring the release of the Chibok girls, and it appears their doggedness is finally paying off. Girls who would have otherwise been forgotten are now top of the global agenda for three days running this week.

But she’s not planning to hang her gloves yet. The quintessential maverick continues to push for more action on the part of government.

“The government needs to just get all of its international partners, all of the other countries, with all the capabilities they have into the strategic situation room where they can analyse the kind of information that this young woman is able to provide, and then make a decision as to how to effect the rescue of the rest of the girls,” Ezekwesili said to YNaija after she received news of Amina Ali’s escape.

“We can’t wait one day extra, that is needless. Any needless time of waiting should be avoided. We can’t wait one more day in getting to a place of strategic decision as to what to do next by those who have the right information.”

We totally agree with her. The military now has probably the best leverage it needs in locating the abducted girls. A quick and efficient debriefing of Mohammed Hayatu, the Boko Haram abductor found with Amina Ali two days ago should serve as valuable source of intelligence needed to attempt a rescue effort.

Now is the time to leave all the politics aside; put the abducted young girls out of their unnecessarily prolonged misery, and put the Boko Haram terrorist sect out of business.

Ezekwesili, a former World Bank Vice President for Africa, and her army of patriots have, for the last two years made the rescue of the Chibok girls her primary objective, leaving everything else in the back burner.

We cannot afford to let them down. We cannot afford to let down the 217 Chibok girls who, with many others who have also been abducted, look across the sandy Sambisa horizon daily hoping that today will be the day that they smell the air of freedom and reunite with their families.

Let’s make this happen. And may this model of activism and patriotism remain a template that restores the power and dignity of the Nigerian life.

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