One of the biggest historical ironies of all time took place at Abuja at Aso Rock . His Excellency President Muhammadu
Buhari hosted the family members of
Martin Luther King Jr. the World’s
greatest champion of freedom, justice
and equality ever known. The timing
and the optics were hilarious at best,
but deeply ominous. While Dr. Mrs.
Naomi Barbara King was posing with
the Nigerian President and turning her
cheek for a presidential kiss, in far
away North Eastern Nigeria, a defiant
fourteen year school girl child, Leah
Sharibu, was left in the hands of her
captors, the dreaded behemoth of evil
called Boko Haram: vicious blustering,
gloating and imperious terrorists. Her
schoolmates, her school and her
government abandoned Leah. Alone in
the hands of her captors, Leah did not
flinch nor beg for mercy but defiantly
refused to convert to Islam from her
Christian faith. Her God alone is with
her now as she faces death, threats of
death, slavery, or other horrendous
possibilities of mutilation, defilement,
and transgression.

Each second is life and death to this child while the nation gleefully celebrates the return of her Muslim mates and the government congratulates itself. The shame of the nation is that we are too blind and too deaf and dumb to perceive that a star is born, a new World icon of no less significance than Martin Luther King Jr. Rosa Parks, and Malala Yousafzai,
whose actions and conduct changed the
World. The Christians who are
clamoring for the speedy release of
Leah have sadly missed the point. She
is now also a symbol of defiance of the
moderate Muslims too who are against
extremism. Leah is now a World icon.
The whole World should rise up and
demand for her release. But whether
she is released today, or tomorrow,
whether she is killed, defiled and
married off as a sex slave, her singular
action of defiance has put her in the
World’s Hall of fame as a champion of
life and freedom for all those who
suffer oppression. Her refusal to
passively accept the life imposed on
her by her captors, and to opt to live the
one she desires should make her an
icon for all girls, women, youth and the
downtrodden. She is a symbol of the
women’s liberation struggle against a
patriarchal society that dehumanizes
women. She is a gauntlet against neo-
feudalism and the Somalization of
Nigeria. Leah has challenged all of us
who are silent in the face of egregious
evil around us. She is a challenge to
the mates who could have refused to
leave until Leah was also released. She
is a challenge to those who see her as
a nuisance, and expected her to have
verbally abandoned and compromised
her faith and returned home .

She is a challenge to her government which could have negotiated for her too and demanded that the Boko Haram should return all or no deal. Nigeria committed a moral indiscretion and error to celebrate the release of the other girls
to the exclusion of Leah. Leah is a
reproach to the Dapchi parents who
were celebrating and thanking the
terrorists and the government that
gives them amnesty and negotiates
favorable terms for them. She is a
challenge to people who preach
peaceful co-existence but their actions
speak otherwise. The Dapchi girl’s saga
has exposed the sinister side of
government propaganda. One thing is
clear. The war against Boko Haram is
far from won. If anything the Dapchi
saga has shown the terrorist gaining
ground by using soft power. Their
invincibility is seen when the Dapchi
residents are seen celebrating the
militants for returning their children.
The release of the girls is still shrouded
in convoluted mystery and a portfolio of
narratives that don’t add up. Are we
going to win the war against terror by
killing all Boko Haram terrorists? This
is not possible!

Should we give them amnesty, and absolve them in the Nigerian army? God forbid! We could crush Boko Haram within the period of 3 months that this administration had boastfully promised if we aimed at destroying their strategic assets. But where political will is absent the citizens imagination runs riot and they begin to think that perhaps the war on terror is in reality the setting up of a
government ATM machine to pull out
large sums of money for politics by
other means. That Boko Haram festers
and the herdsmen killers thrive is a
reproach on us all! Nigerians have also
become aware of incompetence that
was carefully hidden, silently tolerated,
but which is now painfully visible. This
incompetence evokes nothing but
spittle. Finally the nation is shamed
when we no longer admit that Right and
Wrong exist.

The true test of theNigerian civilization is not the size ofLagos or the flyovers in Abuja. The truetest of our civilization is the kind of men and women we turn out. We are fakely cruel and fakely callous. Our nation has devolved to this docility in
the face of the clash between barbarity
and humanity. But amidst all this
rottenness we have become the
manure where Leah Sharibu has turned
out to be a shining star and an icon for
the new greater Nigeria. She is the icon
for the movement for the restoration of
morality, decency, integrity and
freedom to all Nigerians. I salute the
new face of change: Leah Sharibu!

Iyorwuese Hagher,
writes from
Leadership Institute Jos.
Iyorwuese Hagher

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