Nigeria: What Happened to Promises On Leah Sharibu?

Leah Sharibu.
14 February 2019
editorial

When will several promises made on the release of Leah Sharibu be fulfilled? Where is Leah Sharibu? Is she alive? It is unfortunate that the answers to these questions are still blowing in the wind barely two days to the elections despite growing expectations that she would be released before the 2019 elections.

In October last year, President Muhammadu Buhari consoled Leah's family and assured her parents that the Federal Government would do its utmost for the safety and security of their daughter. Then, the president was quoted as telling Mrs Sharibu: "I convey my emotion, the strong commitment of my administration and the solidarity of all Nigerians to you and your family as we will do our best to bring your daughter home in peace and safety."

Despite the president's assurance to Rebecca Sharibu, mother of Leah, the Dapchi secondary schoolgirl kidnapped by Boko Haram terrorists, the Leah Sharibu albatross still hangs on the neck of government as the hapless girl is still being held in captivity.

As a result, Leah's mother had cried out again to Buhari to do all within his power to ensure her safe and speedy release, since the number one citizen has been silent on the issue. So, it has become pertinent to ask Mr President, what happened to his promise on Leah? Are Leah and the rest Chibok girls buried in the cacophony of political campaigns? Is it all politics and elections, while neglecting other weightier matters of humanity and governance?

Buhari should note that Leah is Nigeria's daughter and the nation's attention and action concerning her should not be less. The life of Leah, the only kidnapped Dapchi schoolgirl not released because of her faith as a Christian, should continuously be on the front burner. Therefore, it is worrisome that it is taking another round of appeal from the family of the girl for the nation to be reawakened that she is still in the hand of the heartless abductors.

This is unfortunate because as it seems, there appears to be no indication of serious engagement in Abuja, in this regard; as there is no status report on Leah apart from debunking the social media reports that Leah might have been killed by her abductors. Government had merely described the reports as "absolute fake news."

That is why we join others to remind Nigeria's leader that citizen Leah is still in the hands of her abductors, who abducted 110 girls from the Government Girls Science and Technical College in Dapchi, Yobe State on February 19, 2018. The Boko Haram terrorists were reported to have made the renunciation of her faith a precondition for her release but she declined and so was held hostage while 104 of her colleagues were released on March 21, 2018. Five of the hapless girls died in captivity.

It is unfortunate that Leah, The Guardian '2018 Person of the Year,' was held back by her abductors on account of her heroic refusal to renounce her Christian faith when the government negotiated the release of the Dapchi girls. So, Leah at the moment is the face of the perceived conflict between religions in Nigeria; by telling her to renounce her faith. This is a dangerous mix in the raging battle for nation building.

Indeed, it is inexcusable that the Federal Government has not been able to secure Leah's release. This may account for the resentments by various individuals and groups within and outside Nigeria and aptly captured in an earlier editorial, 'Mr. President, where is Leah Sharibu?'

Also, it would be recalled that in April 2014, over 270 schoolgirls were kidnapped by the Boko Haram terrorists from Government Girls Secondary School in north-eastern town of Chibok, Borno State, part of which 163 were freed by Buhari administration.

Authorities in Abuja should continue to reflect on the consequences of Leah's capture and her continued detention by Boko Haram insurgents. It is legendary and it will continue to re-echoe a bright message of love, selflessness, courage and hope to our nation.

Leah, 'goddess of resistance to terror' by her principled stand is now the number one soldier on the frontline in defence of Nigeria's integrity and values and aspirations to unity, peace and progress. She is a true heroine.

That is why we are re-appealing to the president and his men to intensify efforts to rescue her from the abductors. As long as Leah remains in captivity, the reproach will continue to haunt the government of Buhari.

Similarly, other Nigerian state actors with conscience, should rise up to the situation, as the non-release of citizen Leah remains a moral guilt hanging over the Nigerian state's duty-bearers and should not be treated like 'June 12, 1993 election,' where the country attempted to 'atone' for its sins after 25 years.

Again, the Nigerian state should stop being territorial and should seek help from other countries that have the expertise as in the case of the Thai boys, until every school girl abducted is accounted for and Boko Haram is conquered.

All duty bearers should not rest on their oars until the Leah is rescued! This is the only way we can fully clear the moral guilt that hangs over Nigeria on this issue. Mr. President, Nigerians are waiting to say thank you for keeping your promises to rescue Leah and the remaining Chibok school girls alive and for conquering Boko Haram that has become a huge embarrassment and a distraction.

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