In April 2014, Boko Haram terrorists stormed a secondary school in Chibok, a small town in Northeastern Nigeria, and took a couple of girls. Few of them escaped but the terrorists were able to abduct 219 girls who have been kept in captivity ever since. From the first day throughout the entire period, the global community rallied to support the Nigerian government and security forces in effecting the release of these poor girls. But some people were ready to face the whole world and doubt this whole story. This is what I call Chibok denial.
Chibok denial is the position that the Chibok girls were never abducted and it’s all propaganda. From the first day of the abduction, some people have rejected the truth of the story. The abduction happened under President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and the supporters of the then president pointed accusing fingers at the then opposition party as the perpetrators of the scam. Those in Chibok denial accused the opposition of trying to harass Jonathan’s government out of power, trying to shame the security efforts of Jonathan’s government, and trying to make money out of a scam.
That the global community accepted the story as true didn’t matter to those suffering from Chibok denial. That all heads of nations the world over commiserated with Jonathan and promised to support him in recovering the girls also didn’t matter. That Jonathan himself, their principal, confessed that the story was true wouldn’t deter these people from continuing suffering from Chibok denial. One major victim of this psychological state called Chibok denial is Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State, who even in March 2016, two years after the incident, still denied the truth of the story.
However, three days ago, one of the abducted girls was rescued in a village in Borno State. Nineteen year-old Amina was found with a four month-old baby and her alleged forced husband who must have been a Boko Haram militant. Yet those in Chibok denial still won’t give up on their lost cause. Other conspiracy theories came up. Then it was the opposition party that propagated the rumour. Now it’s the ruling party that’s spreading the rumour. They went, ‘Why did it coincide with labour strike? They’re trying to distract us from the labour strike again?’ Blah blah blah.
I can understand where some of them are coming from. The Nigerian military and even government have been unimpressive with information dissemination. Propaganda has been used time and time again to mischievous ends by politicians. This has made people lose the trust in government. For this reason, someone may decide to disbelieve the government’s version of any story.
However, this is a totally different scenario. We’re talking about lives here, lives of innocent girls who were trying to get an education. Even if you think it’s a myth, why not err on the side of caution? If it was your daughter or sister that was similarly kidnapped, what would you think of someone who’s vehemently denying the reports?
And these denials are not without their dangers. The Chibok girls couldn’t be rescued because the Jonathan government also suffered this Chibok denial. How could the president of a nation deny this kind of report? In retrospect, we can only imagine if the then president had taken the report very seriously early on. Perhaps we could’ve rescued the girls early on? The first few days of an incident like this matter. But our government then spent those golden first few days basking in Chibok denial. By the time they would wake up to their responsibility (somehow linked to their desire to retain power), it was too late.
This is why we should stamp out things like this from our brains. The same kind of denial is beginning to rear its ugly head again over the Fulani herdsmen saga. Instead of everybody to take the issue seriously and work towards addressing the issue headlong, some people are busy denying again.
It’s mischief. Total mischief is the only thing that can make anyone suffer Chibok denial or any kind of denial for that matter. Every single person that has manifested the symptoms of Chibok denial is a ‘wailing wailer’ — the crop of Nigerians who were loyal to Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and are still licking their wounds more than a year after the defeat at the polls. They’re simply trying to perpetrate the hate they have for the incumbent government, something they had embarked upon since the present ruling party was in the opposition. But once again, why such people think the best toys to play politics with are the lives of innocent girls is still a mystery. How heartless!
It’s everywhere. In the wake of the September 11 attacks in the US, some people believe that al-Qaeda was a myth perpetrated by the US government itself. I even encountered people who said it was the US government that carried out those attacks just to cast a bad light on the Muslim world. We also have the climate change deniers — folks who strongly believe that climate change is a myth being perpetrated by some people for personal gains. These kinds of denials are based on dishonesty and general tomfoolery.
The news has just broken again that yet another member of the abducted Chibok girls’ group has been rescued. I’m sure the Chibok denial still continues in the lives of those suffering from it. But here’s the good news. They’re gradually reducing in number and their voices are totally inconsequential as the whole world led by the Nigerian government is defying these deniers and working hard towards rescuing all of these girls.