Gone Without Grins

Sejal Agarwal '20

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On Monday, February 19, 110 school girls from the district of Dapchi, Nigeria are taken by a jihadist group, presumably Boko Haram. Monday was a testing day for the youth residents of Dapchi, Nigeria. Many female students had assembled at the Government Girls Science Technical College to take their exams. However, even before the girls could begin their test, the militant group raided the classrooms and school premises. After the break-in, 110 girls were nowhere to be found. At first, government officials declared that the group was only looking for supplies and food, and that the girls had not been taken and would reappear soon. Parents, feeling frustrated and impatient, formed a group and brought to the government’s light a list with the names of the 110 missing girls. Only after that did the government acknowledge their oversight.

The global public fearfully noticed the correlation of this event to the 2014 Chibok kidnappings. In 2014, over 200 school girls were kidnapped by Boko Haram which had lead the public to trend the hashtag #BringOurGirlsBack on every corner of the Internet. Another appalling similarity was that even in 2014, government officials had denied that any girls had been kidnapped until matters worsened. The Nigerian public are flustered by the government’s indifference and stagnant reaction to such high-priority events. “The government is clearly not acting quickly enough,” Liam Michels ’20 comments. “[In 2014] By the time they admitted that the girls had in fact been kidnapped, Boko Haram had already taken them to Chad and other neighboring countries.”  Michels brings up a good point, and the same can be said for the current situation; the militant group could have already taken and hidden the girls in the labyrinth Sambisa Forest.

Not only is the government slow to react, but it has not increased its security in perilous places. On the day of the kidnapping, the Government Girls Science Technical College had no soldiers or maintenance of any sort monitoring the premises. On the same topic, Megana Gummadi ’21 asks a critical question, “But if an event like this has happened in the past, why would the parents send their children to unsafe places like these?” The question spurs two responses; the parents are desperate for their children to receive education and the parents had more confidence in the government after the election of Muhammadu Buhari. Nigerian parents, like any other parents, want their children to have a brighter future and they know that in today’s times it is impossible to succeed without an education. Additionally, they truly put their faith in Buhari’s presidency and that he would help bring safety to their country. It is evident that his presidency has not been effective and this has left the public distraught. Not only that, but also his failure for action is also allowing groups like Boko Haram to have more power over countries such as Nigeria.

While the Nigerian public are doing everything they can to solve this issue, the same cannot be said for its government. Citizens from all across the globe send their well wishes and prayers for the families that are suffering. The US has yet to offer military aid to help retrieve the missing girls but it has offered support in terms of intelligence and crisis management. No other countries have come forward to help, but the public speculates that some countries, like Canada, will put forward their assistance as well.

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