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Another Easter without Leah Sharibu

In the Yoruba-speaking part of Nigeria, it is believed that it is better for a child to be dead than missing. The thought of the…

In the Yoruba-speaking part of Nigeria, it is believed that it is better for a child to be dead than missing. The thought of the possibility of Leah Sharibu suffering daily sexual assault, risk of being killed, the possibility of not being seen again and other fears envelope them.

But they are not alone in the dark cell of misery. In April 2014, the sleepy town of Chibok was shot to national and international limelight for the wrong reason when Boko Haram elements invaded Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, Borno State, stealing 276 girls in the same manner the Dapchi abduction happened in 2018. Five years down the line, the tears provoked by the abduction have not dried for 112 girls are still missing.

Consistent with its regular practice of reeling out excuses in soulless statements to hide its failings, the presidency had argued that the delay in reuniting Leah with her family was occasioned by the fear of her abductors, explaining that they fear that the heavy military presence in the areas where they previously moved about freely could affect their safety on returning her to the government. They can tell that to the marines.

It is hard to shake off the feeling that if Leah was the daughter of one of those in the power loop, she would have long regained her freedom. It must be said that no excuse will suffice for failing to secure the release of Leah, especially from President Buhari who once promised Nigerians their children would be safe in our schools when he wanted former President Jonathan’s job after Chibok happened. It is incumbent on the Buhari government to step up measures to prise Leah out of the stained hands of her abductors.

However, in a country where 10.5 million children are out of school with 69% in the north alone, according to the United Nations International Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF).It is safe to say 7,425,000 children in the north have lost out on hope and the future they can have for themselves, making them easy prey for Boko Haram terrorists.

We may funnel billions of dollars into buying arms because we intend to win the war against kidnapping and terrorism, but we will not win the peace if we fail to invest in free and compulsory education, especially in the north take off the time bombs in our faces away from the street.

Leah and other missing girls deserve freedom and an outlet to showcase their talents to the world. As long as they remain under the firm grip of their abductors, a ring of guilt will continue to hang on the neck of everyone who swore to protect us but has failed to make Nigeria livable for a great number of Nigerians.

Ladesope Ladelokun, Lagos

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