A Nigerian Horror Story With No End in Sight

In the early evening of April 14, 2014 at a secondary school in the serene village of Chibok in Eastern Nigeria, all hell broke loose. As students were finishing final exams in their one story school, the balmy twilight silence of the enclave was shattered by the rat-a-tat of gunfire and roar of truck engines. The sounds were terrifyingly loud and the voices that called out to them sounded like gruff sirens from hell.

A gang of Jihadists known as Boko Haram (defined as "western education is a sin") swarmed the building wielding AK 47s, and demanding that all the girls climb into trucks or be killed. About 50 girls managed to escape into the bush, but the others, crying and screaming, did as ordered. In a matter of minutes those who escaped were scurrying into the woods and running as they held their skirts above their ankles fleeing like breathelss young antelopes into the looming darkness with the moon providing the only illumination for the path into the village and safety. When they finally arrived in the village, in terrified voices, they reported to neighbors the horror of what they had just experienced.

Word of the horrific kidnapping quickly spread. It summarily arrived in the Capitol, Abuja, and within days to the West through multiple media outlets. It took however, two weeks before President Goodluck Jonathan offered any comments about the ghastly attack. And another couple of weeks before he proffered any government action. His matter of fact demeanor on both occasions presented no sense of urgency or resolves to find the girls or the perpetrators of the terrorist attack.

It has now been nearly four months since the kidnapping. My captured sisters are still hidden by Boko Haram in locations that could be as far away as Chad and Cameroon or as near as the Sambisa Forest several kilometers to the north. The purported leader of Boko Haram has issued a couple of videos offering to exchange the girls for release of some of his cohorts. This was declined by the Nigerian state.

The United States offered assistance in locating the girls and the Nigerian military has indicated they know where the girls are being held. But no deals have been made, no surreptitious capture plans have been leaked, and President Jonathan has remained amazingly quiet about his next moves.

Similar heart breaking attacks on schools and homes in towns and villages across Eastern Nigeria have played out over the last three years reportedly killing thousands. On July 22, Boko Haram attacked another village killing at least 51 people. The killing and mayhem goes on.

The Economist has labeled President Jonathan "as incompetent." That's the strongest "outrage" I've read about a leader who appears to be, as the saying goes "fiddling while Rome burns." Many people, including me, have participated in demonstrations in Chicago and globally calling out "Bring Back Our Girls."

Perhaps this refrain has not been loud enough. Or maybe we should ask, "does the Nigerian Government care?" I only wish I had been in Washington last week to ask President Jonathan that question.

Pat Johnson
Grannies on Safari