On May 9, 2014, Amnesty International released a report stating that the Nigerian authorities were informed about the potential attack of Boko Haram’s planned raid on the school and failed to act on the warning. In fact, Amnesty International revealed that the Nigerian security forces specifically knew that Boko Haram had been planning a raid, and did nothing to prevent it.
Once the kidnapping had occurred, the international community took very little notice to the horrible kidnapping of these innocent girls, until Oby Ezekwesili, vice president of the World Bank for Africa, gave a compelling speech in Nigeria demanding the Nigerian government to step up and to essentially “Bring Back Our Girls”. This sparked the infamous #BringBackOurGirls, which as a result sparked international scrutiny to force the hands of the Nigerian government.
Many witnessed, the tears of the first lady of Nigeria shed for the abducted Chibok girls exactly two weeks after they went missing, while her husband, President Goodluck Johanthan went on a political rally advocating his re-election as if nothing had happened. In the meantime, social media networks blew up with the demands to #BringBackOurGirls, which included many celebrities and political figures such as Michelle Obama.
The Nigerian government influenced by the social media movement (BringBackOurGirls) had finally listened, and even offered a reward while also accepting international aid to help locate the missing women. The power of international scrutiny is impressive as the Nigerian governement initially did nothing to prevent this kidnapping from happening or after the girls were reported missing.
And yet, I am pleased with the effect social media has had on the movement and remain hopeful for the safe return of these girls, however I cannot help but wonder what happens next? The movement #BringBackOurGirls does not change the fact that the Nigerian government failed to intervene initially by essentially doing their job of preventing harm to their citizens in the first place. The silence of the Nigerian government displayed, to me that is, implied consent. It has become more than evident that the corruption of the government has indeed eroded the system of governance to the point that innocent victims are being targeted due to their greed as well as a lack of security implications.
The U.S. State Department’s 2013 country reports on human right practices found that in Nigeria, “massive widespread, and pervasive corruption affected all levels of government and the security forces.” Thus, outlining an immediate link between violence, extreme fundamentalism and corruption being that poverty invites corruption, while corruption deepens poverty, and that is the issue that needs to be dealt with immediately to prevent these situations from ever happening. The reality of this situation is that the persistence of government corruption, police impunity and regional conflicts in Nigerian continue to undermine any sort of reform efforts that can ever happen in Nigeria.
For the #BringBackOurGirls to be a successful campaign, it needs to be morphed into a real movement for the Nigerian people by the Nigerian people to underline the pragmatic fundamental issue within Nigeria and demand changes. The campaign needs to be directed towards the government and the laissez-faire Nigerian society to remind them that this can happen to them as well. Nobody is safe unless real change can happen within the structure of governance.
The campaign proves to be fairly limited and offers some sort of agency to the Nigerian people, but also truly underlines the reality that the Nigerian people have more or less a real lack of agency when it comes to address, tackling and dealing with any challenges pertaining to their alleged democratic institution. The sad reality of this movement is that if and when the girls return what happens next? The government remains the same and so do the social challenges. It is time for real change in Nigeria.