Abuja Goes Red, Stands Still For Chibok
Ever since the hashtag #BRINGBACKOURGIRLS saw the light of day on social media on 23rd of April. 2014 and the first march and sit out was organised on the 30th of April, 2014 at the Unity Fountain, FCT, Abuja by a group of sympathetic, concerned and worried mothers. The #Bringbackourgirls campaign has hit crescendo topping the chart world over on the news agenda ensuring that government across the world has not only shown solidarity with the government and the people of the federal republic of Nigeria but have shown support through military intervention, emergency management and a conference for Nigeria and his governing States. In a bid to find these girls, identify Boko Haram enclave and possibly bring to an end a brutal treacherous and fundamentalist insurgency that has not only taken its toll on the good people of Nigeria especially the North-East but also the Federal Budget wherein about 2.3trillion naira is set to have been spent on security mostly on the matter of insurgency in the North-East of Nigeria.
Why Google analytics have shown that the campaign is losing its essence with fewer people still talking about #BringBackOurGirls globally, it is not the same in Nigeria especially Abuja where there has been a consistent rally for the past 23 days in a bid to pressure government to take decisive action to #BringBackOurGirls Now and Alive. On the 22nd of May, 2014, they gathered again in their now traditional red colouring, and delivered a letter to the President of the Federation.
While the expectation of protesters was to march all the way to the Presidency, the procession was halted by riot police, which cordoned off the road leading to the Presidency, and forced the protesters to camp between Eagle Square and the Federal Secretariat. Within minutes the Secretary to the Federal Government, accompanied with the Ministers for Women Affairs, Information the FCT, Minister for State, FCT, Mrs. Sarah Jibrin, Dr. Doyin Okupe, Mr. Reuben Abati and other dignitaries in the Government. The letter was delivered by Mrs. Maryam Uwais, ten protesters asked questions and a couple of comments were aired by protesters, including a man who was kidnapped by Boko Haram, saw his friends killed in a bomb, and was carried around in the trunk of a car, while soldiers at checkpoints collected N100 from insurgents while they moved him in to the Sambisa forest.
The Minister for State, FCT; who was representing the President, made reference to bomb blasts in China, insurgency in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and sought for support for the government from the people rather than the apathy currently shown towards it. At the end of the march, the leader of the protesters, former Minister Oby Ezekwesili asked for another opportunity for protesters to meet with the President in person. However, sections of the protest, showed discontent in the response from the government overall in dealing with insurgency, equipping of soldiers and the rally which was meant to gain assurance from the government.
Words by Kolo Kenneth and Olorisupergal