Dapchi and the ‘Leave Our Daughters Alone’ fiasco. By Zainab Suleiman Okino

Last Monday, the 19th of March, marked exactly one month that Dapchi girls had been gone—whether missing as government propagandists would rather describe it or abducted by Boko Haram as part of the re-enactment of their well-known tactics.
The pain and agony on the faces of parents of the girls are reminiscent of the tears and sorrows that the followed Chibok, episode of April 14, 2014, plus the growing concern about the increasing vulnerability of school girls, and women and the future of the girl-child education in the North.
The fact of government’s seeming helplessness despite their best efforts is further proof of the danger we live in.
Besides the politics and conflict of interest underscoring the blame game and shadow boxing, it is worrisome how susceptible the nation is.
Gradually, there is less talk, less focus and less attention on Dapchi as we have since moved on to old past-times— Buhari; to run or not to run, NASS-Executive faceoff over everything under the sun and which between PDP and APC is worse at managing Boko Haram and their abduction antics, living the real issues to continue to fester.
I do hope the Dapchi girls have not joined a long list of frightening statistics of abductions, modern-day slavery and abuses now more prevalent and which have made us qualify for a place in Hobbes’ State of Nature where life is nasty, brutish and short and with no civilisation, government, law and power to restrain.
With compelling circumstances in the aftermath of the Dapchi abduction and the closure of the affected school, the nearby Borno state had to close down all female boarding schools in 25 local governments in the state.
Due to a combination of factors such as poverty, economic deprivation, early marriage, cultural and religious misinterpretation, 60 per cent of out of school children in the North are girls according to the UN.
Here is a region with abysmal statistics in the number of girls not going to school, a phenomenon with far reaching negative consequences.
It has added another unenviable feather to its inglorious cap and has to contend with the frequent abductions of those whose parents have somehow been liberated from the mentality that the education of women is an effort in futility.
Using Chibok and Dapchi as case studies, the First Lady, Aisha Buhari spoke out forcefully against perpetrators of abductions, rape and all forms of harmful practices with the launch of “Leave Our Daughters Alone” at an event to mark the 2018 International Women’s Day on March 8, 2018.
“The message must echo through all corners of Nigeria and be on everyone’s lips.
Leave our daughters alone, leave our daughters alone, leave our daughters alone… As a mother, I share the sorrow and agony of the parents at this time, it is my sincere hope that efforts by government will soon lead to their release’’, the First Lady said.
Unfortunately, the First Lady’s catch phrase is yet to reverberate across the nation, perhaps because we don’t trust our politicians and Mrs Buhari happens to be one, being wife of the president, known for her politically incorrect outspokenness despite her husband’s efforts to confine her to the other room.
Going by the exigency of the moment and the aptness of the catchphrase, the idea ought to have resonated with the CSOs, the international community and Nigerians generally.
Notwithstanding the lull that followed the launch, I still think it is a damn good idea we should take to the world, promote and use to seek for help for the release of the Dapchi girls, the remaining Chibok girls and the liberation of women generally in a society held back by forces of evil like Boko Haram and those in the business of abducting women for the purpose of violating them.
Indeed, to say that our society is not fair to women, debases and treats them like scums and only good as objects of pleasure is an understatement.
In November 2015, when my house was burgled, my main concern and prayer point was for them not to try to rape the teenagers I had then in my house.
Whether it was out of magnanimity or the sneaky feeling I had the burglars were people we had helped around the neighbourhood, we were lucky they only made away with valuables.
Many are not that lucky.
So, I can relate to the real fears of parents in an event of burglary in homes and kidnapping on the roads.
Such was the indignation I saw in a man being interviewed on NTA the other day, after robbers/abductors went to his dingy house, took his daughters away and raped them before they were freed on payment of ransom.
Those violated girls are broken and shattered for life, not just because of the rape but their woes are compounded by a society that blames and stigmatises victims like them.
The brazen harassment, physical attacks and abduction of female students from schools without any let or hindrance are clear signals of a country unable to come to grips with internal insurrection.
Extra measures must be taken to protect female students before girl-child education becomes history in the North-east.
While the search for Chibok and Dapchi girls continues, the “Leave Our Daughters Alone” campaign should be an all-encompassing, enduring and sustainable movement that focuses on all forms of abuses of women and girls including rape, killing, battering, abduction and even unjustified treatment meted out to women in divorce or going through divorce.
No one is better suited to lead the way than the nation’s First Lady.