A former Minister of Education and Co-Convener of the “Bring Back Our Girls” movement, Oby Ezekwesili, has implored Nigerians to assist in solving the problems confronting the country.
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She also explained how the #BBOG# was able to use the social media to sustain the agitation for the release of 21 of the over 200 students of the Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, who were abducted on April 14, 2014.
According to her, Nigerians should “become a better voice for the society to grow.”
Ezekwesili spoke in an interview with journalists on Wednesday in Abuja, after delivering a keynote address during the opening ceremony of the second edition of New Media, Citizens and Governance Conference, organised by a group, Enough Is Enough Nigeria, in collaboration with the Paradigm Initiative Nigeria and BudgIT.
She was reacting to questions on why the BBOG team restricted its agitation to the Chibok girls but had kept silent on the travail of 14-year-old Habiba Isiyaku, who was abducted by Jamilu Lawal in Katsina State and converted to Islam.
Ezekwesili also recalled how the BBOG team used the social media to sustain the tempo for the release of the abducted Chibok girls.
She said, “You will recall that advocacy for our Chibok girls started as an online advocacy in the first 15 days. It was on the social media that we kept demanding that they should all be rescued alive. It was only on April 30 that a physical protest about our Chibok girls started.
“So, the social media was ahead in the society in terms of placing a call on government for our Chibok girls to be rescued. Social media was what took the language of the call for the Chibok girls to be rescued. It turned into a hashtag (#BringBackOurGirls#), which galvanised the rest of the world.
“It amplified the voice of a few people that were originally talking about the girls to the whole world. So, it was a powerful tool for creating awareness and organising the global attention that was necessary. That attention then compelled action; for action to be is not sufficient because action must be sustained until it produces results.
“If we have absolute disregard for our own human capital, such that they can be taken away, killed, maimed and it didn’t matter to anybody, it is suggestive of the fact that we are in a society that will only operate at the lowest levels.
“So, our Chibok girls represent the symbol of the determination that this nation must come to where it respects its human capital. We must respect our human capital by insisting that girls who went to school were not abandoned.”
Reacting to the insinuation that the BBOG had been silent on various kidnappings in the country, Ezekwesili said the insinuation was untrue.
She said, “As regards the incident in Katsina State, I am not going to tell you what I am doing on it. When the appropriate time comes, I will open up. The insinuation that the BBOG team restricted its activities to the Chibok girls is very wrong.
“The BBOG team cannot become the only group solving the nation’s problems. People have formed the habit of saying, ‘What has BBOG said about all those other matters?’
“The rest of you (Nigerians) should become a better voice for the society. That is the way that societies grow. The BBOG movement has actually been the movement that brought attention to what was going on in the North-East, the calamities in the North-East were not being reported and talked about. It was through the activities of the BBOG that attracted focus to the North-East.
“Nobody heard about the communities, the only identity that we still have about people that were abducted were the Chibok girls because we heard the noise concerning them, their parents were there. They could identify and say ‘our children went to school and they have been taken.”