YNaija Editorial: Where Mr. President missed it on Malala

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The President’s ill-advised decision neither to visit the parents of the missing girls, nor their crisis ravaged community, months after the event over security concerns has done nothing but breed mistrust and cast doubts on the nature of our government’s intentions. 

It is almost a hundred days now since over 200 schoolgirls were abducted from the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, Borno state by members of the terrorist group, Boko Haram. This dastardly act happened during a state of emergency that has been in place in that state. Despite sustained national outrage, and continuous pressure from the international community, the fate of the girls remains unknown, with conflicting reports and hardly any positive stories emerging from Borno in that time.

The Goodluck Jonathan Administration’s failure to take responsibility for the security of the lives and property of the citizenry and its dismal approach to the Chibok tragedy was highlighted shamefully by the visit of a child, Pakistani child education activist Malala Yousafzai, to Nigeria.

The 17 year old Yousafzai who grabbed global attention in 2012 after surviving a gunshot wound to her head for defying another insidious terrorist group, the Taliban, in her bid to get an education, was in town to use her influence to aid rescue efforts and draw attention to the plight of the missing girls. Unfortunately, her visit, which was meant to provide a ray of hope was soon turned cloudy by the government’s usual bit of mishandling.

The President’s ill-advised decision neither to visit the parents of the missing girls, nor their crisis ravaged community, months after the event over security concerns has done nothing but breed mistrust and cast doubts on the nature of our government’s intentions. Tone deaf and initially reluctant to even accept that the girls were missing in the first place, the delayed intervention to the tragedy is perhaps most responsible for the recalcitrance.

Even after a presidential committee which was set up to investigate the saga has submitted its report, Mr President has been loathe to commiserate with the victims and their parents save for broadly outlined press messages that say precisely nothing. This, coupled with the government’s distrust and thinly veiled hostility to the #BringBackOurGirls protesters led by former Education minister Obiagaeli Ezekwesili – a group that has so far proven to be above board and most effective in keeping the missing girls at the front burner of national issues- has made this a near-disastrous government response to this national tragedy.

Choosing to summon the parents of the missing girls to Abuja only after meeting with Malala and then blaming the #BringBackOurGirls group for the failure of the said meeting to take place is another example of our government’s insensitivity and total disregard for Nigerians who have for months been calling for such a reconciliation.

Instead of accepting blame in mismanaging the meeting, government officials have gone to town with shameless propaganda, further alienating the victims and citizens that should ideally stand together at times like this. Truth be told, our government’s response to the Chibok tragedy, from start to finish has been a colossal fail. From a lying military to a first lady basking in denial; a president that just won’t lead and government spokespersons that spew more harm than good.

It is a crying shame.

It is a shame that a democratically elected government constituted by full grown adults would wait around for a 17 year old girl to prompt it to do the needful and inspire hope among some of its most vulnerable citizens.

Since President Jonathan, and his team of clueless aides, will rather listen to a foreign teenager who has no direct link to the crisis in the North East of our country, than to the voices of the 170 million people who make up the electorate that is going to be responsible for re-electing him next year, this board leaves him with these last words from the 17 year old Malala,

“My message to the Honourable President Mr Goodluck Jonathan is that he should realise that people have elected him and it is his responsibility to listen to his people who are asking ‘bring back our girls’.”

It is all we have been saying.

 

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