Saturday, 28 May 2016

Chibok Girl Amina Ali Nkeki, a wake up call for Our General Buhari 

By Muhammadu Kabiru M. Gwangwazo

Saturday, May 21, 2016/Sha'aban 14, 1437 A.H.
General Muhammadu Buhari, our President was quite emotional on receiving Amina Ali Nkeki, one of the more than 200 abducted Chibok girls who have been held captive by Boko Haram for over two years.
He announced his regret that the Nigerian Government can't turn back the hands of the clock and undo the harrowing nightmares she had gone through over the period of her captivity at the hands of the terror group. But that the Federal Government will do all it can to ensure her life turns a new leaf. That she gets a better life than she has had thus far.
Listening to Mr. President, knowing his passion for seeing all Nigerians, especially the commonman, get the best of what Nigeria can offer I was struck by the irony of it all. It is sad and unfortunate that Amina Ali now has a baby. And to add to her misery that she was rescued with someone, one Muhammad Hayatu, in tow who claims he was her husband and father of her 4 month old baby.
It is ironic that she doesn't look any worse than the generality of other girls of her age who are not under Boko Haram captivity. In fact she does look better cared for. And this is despite the harrowing experience of kidnap and forced marriage to someone who may be a terrorist in a state of war, in a crude and raw environment with the daily fear of terror and sudden death. Yet, in such a state she lived some form of life, and even ran a household of sorts even on the run, with a husband and now a baby.
The main irony for me though is that other girls her age, many younger, many apparently much poorer live a more crude life than she may have led in their supposed freedom. A life of daily horror caused by poverty and its many soldiers. A life where the lucky that go to school, government school, hardly have any appreciable education to speak of.
The stark and painful irony is that many who live life in free Nigeria get married off at Amina Ali Nkeki's age or a lot younger to fellow poverty smashed Nigerians. Mark you, I am not on about the age of marriage at whatever age but the causes and experiences of those forced by poverty and ignorance and culture into such marriages.
Many of the young and many more of those who are older who have no real education are married off and live what passes for a life without gaining much from those government schools they go to. 
While many more, in the north don't even go to schools run by government. 
They only go to almajiri schools. For such of them who are lucky to escape poverty of the grinding type the majority are condemned to when the girls have to deliver their litter of babies the lucky ones among them patronize government hospitals in such of the villages and cities they may live in in supposed freedom. Such hospitals invariably deliver dead babies and send forth dead mothers to the great beyond.
That invariably is the story of girls who are wives of the Amina Ali Nkeki type living in freedom. Where they invariably have a fifty-fifty chance or worse odds of delivering the kind of baby Amina Ali delivered for her consort ("husband") Muhammad Hayatu. 
Her consort's baby was delivered in the bushes of Sambisa. And looks obviously healthy for a 4 months bundle of joy, hopefully. You see her photos veiling herself to suckle the tot right there in the Presidential Villa when she called on Mr. President.
For me her case is a violent wake up call for Mr. President. That Amina Ali Nkeki is not just alerting us of what in a way are the "lucky" Chibok girls who have been the celebrity toys of the elites of Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG).
It is a wake up call that there are probably thousands of other kidnapped persons of different ages who don't have the luck of a celebrity studded campaign led by the privileged children of yesterday's Nigeria who had the best education Nigeria could offer and some of the best opportunities too. 
Of course that is not to say the effort they put in in the Chibok case is not commendable. They have done well. But the issue at hand that we need to address as a nation is the fate of the thousands of others who have no voice of the BBOG type. And of the internally displaced persons (IDPs). And more issues of us, and other poverty ravaged Nigerians, who like Amina Ali are left to fend for ourselves.
The case of Amina of Chibok is a violent alert for Mr. President to take the next step after his successful demystification of the thieving Nigerian elite in Government. 
It is the theft and misapplication of our commonwealth over the past 30 years since Buhari's last time in government that is at the root of our inexplicable mass poverty. It is at the root of creation of the Boko Haram nightmare. The failure to tackle it and the terror of the Fulani herdsmen and those who use that cover to unleash mayhem in the North. It is also the cause of the Niger delta terrorism trying to bring Nigeria down since their bosses lost power with the fall of PDP.
The Amina Ali Nkeki alert should remind Mr. President of the very weighty and historic role God has bestowed on him, the role that Nigerian masses voted him for. Hoping that the mess and rot he met in the system has not so overwhelmed him over the past one year of his stewardship.
He must use whatever time he has left to reverse the trend that still leaves our hospitals, including teaching hospitals as next to useless "mere consulting clinics".
That was what then Brigadier-General Sani Abacha told us of our health services sector on the December 31st 1983 Buhari coup day speech, for those who may have forgotten. Our President must change our schools from breeding grounds for ignorance to true citadels of learning.
He must make Nigeria worth dying for by its people. He must make life more abundant such that others won't be tempted to feel Amina Ali was lucky to have been abducted. 
The sad and ironic reality of the brutish Hobbesian Nigeria of the 16 and 30 years past is that abducted Amina Ali may not have had any better life even as a freeborn living in free Nigeria.
As a free person poverty is her potion and that of whoever she would have gotten married to unless she or her husband or father were an Air Marshal Alex Badeh, a Lieutenant - Colonel Sambo Dasuki or a Petroleum Minister Alison Diezani or one of the many others before them whose only ticket to wealth is the public trust they had the good luck of managing ostensibly on our behalf.
General Muhammadu Buhari as President must do all he can to come up with a coherent and sustainable structural plan to stop thieving. To stop the rot in the political recruitment process that churns out the type of rotten leadership we have had over the past 16 years. 
As President, General Muhammadu Buhari needs to confirm all the hope we have always had in him, these past 14 years of the struggle to get him to be President, in the remaining time he has -- 3 or more preferably 7 years in the two terms of 4 years each we sincerely pray he completes in God's name in good health and sound intellect.
The time may seem inadequate. But it is enough to ensure the General restructures our health service such that it truly serves the people. And that is at all levels right down to the Ward level.
The time he has is enough to concretize the laudable health insurance schemes started by governments past. Time enough to make it universal. To cover even unemployeds all over the federation.
It is enough to start the painful journey to change education into a tool for national development.
It is time enough also to return agriculture to its status in years past as the mainstay of our economy.
The remaining seven years of the Buhari Presidency should be enough for us to look back with pride at a redesigned Nigeria where no captive Amina Ali of Chibok will ever again be the envy of other freeborns in a free Nigeria. 
Unlike captive Amina Ali Nkeki how many Nigerians have the good luck of a one on one tete-a-tete with the President and the pledge of a better life for the rest of her life from such a man of honour.
General Muhammadu Buhari is known to honour his words no matter how long it takes. He did so with the World Golden Eaglets, Nigerian footballers he announced honors for in the twilight of his military presidency in the mid 80s. Subsequent governments refused to deliver on his pledge for the 30 years he had been away from the presidency only for him to return and redeem the Government's pledge to them some time last year.
The remaining seven years of Buhari should see a start with the Amina Ali Nkeki alert that Nigerians of all ages who are not Dasukis or Badehs and Diezanis or their relatives and friends and associates are all in the same comfortably caring Presidential boat with her.
That they can expect Nigeria to serve them well for all of their days on earth. 
Such a start should be seen from the ways and means of the 2016 budget. This budget must not be  permitted by Mr. President to dictate to us as an irrevocable totem. It should be open to rejigging when/if the need for doing so arises. 
After all, Amina Ali for instance was not in the budget and now she is an item for the whole of her life.
All of us who are lucky not to have been abducted and yet not as lucky as she is to have had her plight made public are perforce also items on the budget who must be attended to. 
We must be supported to feed, clothe, house, educate and provide health services for us and our families as the basic security consideration we expect of a Buhari Presidency.

Muhammadu Kabiru M. Gwangwazo (, a journalist and APC politician writes from 244 Gwangwazo, Kano City. He is also (since 2009) Chairman, Coalition Committee for Buhari Groups (CCBG), Kano

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