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Promoting Good Governance.

Chibok Girls: Lagos Adds A Touch Of Drama

BY ABIOSE ADELAJA ADAMS

Commuters plying the Lagos Third Mainland Bridge early Tuesday morning might have been surprised at the sight that greeted them, but the message on the placards and the drama that played out between the two young men soon made clear what this was about.

“Bring back our girls,” “Never to be forgotten”, “What if they were your daughters, would you give up?” screamed the posters at passing motorists, as the young men mimed a kidnap act.

This was how Damilola Apotieri, a dramatist and his colleague, John Okocha, joined the rest of the world to mark one year of the abduction of more than 200 school girls in Chibok, Borno State, on April 14, 2014.

Right by the roadside, with the placards as backdrop, they acted out the drama of kidnapped girls’ plight, what they may be going through and the mental trauma and social consequences of their abduction.

Some vehicles slowed down to watch this performance that lasted about two hours.

Apotieri, who uses his art for social change, said he decided to put up the show to awaken the society’s consciousness to the fact that the kidnap was real and Nigerians should not remain quiet about it.

“I am doing this to remind the general public that we should not keep quiet about it. What if they were our sisters, cousins, relatives or family members? What happened to them could have happened to anyone,” he said.

Apotieri contends that many Nigerians still do not believe that the girls were ever kidnapped.

“A lot of people believe that it has a political undertone. But we have seen girls who have escaped tell us their story, so it is real,” he stated.

The young man, who also works for the Center for Media Change and Advocacy, said this is one out of the seven interventions he had staged while expressing optimism that if the girls are still alive, they will be found and rescued.

“The final phase of my performance will be when the girls are back. We can only pray that they come back,” he said.

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As their performance ended by 9.00 am another ceremony to commemorate one year of the girls’ abduction began at the Airport Hotel, Ikeja, where Joe Okei Odumakin convened an event through her NGO, Women Arise Initiative.

It featured prominent personalities such as Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka, Pat Utomi, Nollywood celebrity, Foluke Daramola, Lagos Lawmaker Funmilayo Tejuoso, renowned sports journalist, Aisha Falode, daughter of Fela, the Afro beat legend, Yeni Kuti, and wife of late human rights lawyer, Mrs Ganiyat Fawehinmi.

“Our gathering here is to give hope to the innocent Chibok girls,” Odumakin said.

Even as the sadness, pain and anguish of the abduction were expressed, faith and hope was palpable in the air as each took turns to express their views.
Odumakin began by calling on the outgoing government to follow up on its promise to bring back the girls despite having only about six more weeks to hand over to the incoming government.

While calling on the incoming administration to work with its predecessor on the girls’ rescue, she expressed hope that they would be found alive.

“We believe that there is still hope; the parent and family of the girls still have hope that the girls will be reunited with them. All over the world, the international community has hope, it is our prayer that their hopes will not be dashed,” she said.

In his opinion, Soyinka said that the government can do much more than it has done.

“We call on the Nigerian government to increase effort and everyone volunteers and ensures we find these girls,” he stated.
Daramola said she is still in shock that the girls are missing.

Meanwhile Tejuosho, a lawmaker and member of the Lagos House of Assembly, believes only God can bring them back through prayers.
“We must not lose faith, for God does not do evil,” she stated.

She added, however, that all hands must be on deck. “When we talk about the girl child, it is important we put everything aside.”
Pat Utomi, however. thinks that our sensitivity as a nation to the girls is not humane enough.

“Our attitude to the Chibok story is a test of our sense of humanity,” he said succinctly.
Falode on her part shared a personal experience of how the government is not doing enough to ensure safety and security of its citizens,

“I lost my own son in Dubai, we know the killers, but this government would not do anything about it,” she lamented.

The theme of hope also resonated at a solidarity walk with young girls held by Betty Abah, executive director of Centre for Children’s Health Education, Orientation and Protection, CEE-HOPE, Nigeria, in Makoko, a popular shanty community in Lagos mainland, in honour of the girls.

“All hope is not lost. If we can’t get all of them, we can at least get some of them,” Abah said

“What we are doing is a show of solidarity to keep these girls in consciousness of the world and in the conscience of political leaders and many other public leaders who have the responsibility to safeguard lives, to ensure that this never happens again and to let them know that the eyes of the whole world are watching,” she stated

Abah called on the incoming president to make the rescue of the girls a priority.

“This is also a task ahead of the incoming president. He has a duty to perform and that is prioritizing the return of these girls.

Meanwhile, president – elect Muhammadu Buhari in a statement marking the girls’ one year in captivity has said that his administration will do everything possible to defeat Boko Haram.

“We will act differently from the government we replace. This new approach must also begin with honesty. We do not know if the Chibok girls can be rescued. Their whereabouts remain unknown. As much as I wish to, I cannot promise that we can find them. But I say to every parent, family member and friend of the children that my Government will do everything in its power to bring them home.”

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