Welcome Address: BBOG Commemorative Event
BBOG Commemorative Event
It is my singular honour to welcome everyone here, on behalf of the BBOG family, in Abuja, and indeed, Nigeria and the world. It is now 381 days since our Chibok girls got abducted by those brutes, and precisely one year, today, since we began advocating for their rescue. We decided to hold a commemorative event for our Chibok girls today primarily to ensure that they do not get forgotten in the consciousness of Nigerians, and indeed, the world. Nigeria is such a vibrant country, and with ‘breaking news’ ‘per second, per second’, we can easily lose sight of one of the most significant challenges of our times.
On behalf of the BBOG family, therefore, I say a hearty thank you to everyone here for joining us today. I also would want to convey our sincere gratitude to everyone out there who has continued to support this cause, in whatever form or manner. The support for the rescue effort for our girls, from Nigerians, and the world over, has truly been unprecedented.
The fact that the BBOG family is standing strong still, one year after, illustrates the resilience of the Nigerian spirit of unity, patriotism and citizenship as a peoples with a shared humanity, without artificial boundaries or divisions. It is proof that we have come of age. It certainly has not been easy advocating for these girls, sitting out every single day, holding sundry activities, irrespective of our daily schedules, reaching out to whomsoever we believe can support the rescue effort, in spite of the regrettable (and totally unnecessary) often defensive and hostile reactions from certain quarters. As the BBOG family, we are agreed that we cannot give up, simply because we do not have a choice in the circumstances.
We have refused to accept the narrative that we must first ask ourselves what religion we proffer, or what ethnicity we belong to, before speaking out on behalf of these innocent Nigerian girls. We have rejected the narrative that we cannot be compassionate or have empathy as human beings, because we also play sundry roles in our daily lives. For us, it is perfectly possible, and indeed, feasible, to be whatever we choose to be; housewives, public servants, politicians, private citizens and even former Minsters or wives of public officials, and at the same time demand for the swift rescue of our dear sisters in captivity. We absolutely oppose the assertion that we can only have empathy for fellow human beings if we can demonstrate that we share distinctive blood ties with them. That we must have an underhand motive for speaking out and demanding for the rescue of our girls, quite different from the obvious fact that they have been abducted and have been in captivity, for merely wanting to improve themselves and better their lives. Those that expect us to be otherwise than what we are, are SO wrong.
The question I continue to ask is; do these doubting Thomases not have children, or sisters, or mothers, or siblings? Would they not appreciate support if their own were in such distressing circumstances? When a girl gets abducted, how can it even begin to be about where she is from, or where we are from? What language we speak, or what religion, culture or class we belong to? How can we keep silent as Nigerians, where the majority of those whose children were captured, are helpless and feel so pained and abandoned?
The BBOG family has merely done what is needed, as citizens of this great country. As Nigerians, we are determined to remain firm and resolute in demanding for accountability from those who govern us; whom we have trusted with our votes to protect and assume responsibility for the welfare of all of us. So long as those girls are with those brutes, irrespective of the particular individuals in authority, we shall keep demanding for their return, from those who swore to protect us. Why else do we have a government, if it cannot be accountable to its citizens?
I welcome all of you, and thank you SO much, for honouring our invitation with your presence. For those watching this event, please remain glued to your TV sets. Our profound gratitude also goes to our keynote Speaker, His Grace, Cardinal John Onaiyekan, and our erudite panelists, Hajiya Bilkisu Yusuf, Mr Chude Jideonwo, Ms Yemi Adamolekun and Dr Allen Mannasseh, who accepted to participate in these discussions, at such short notice.
I ask that you relax and listen to the conversation this morning, if only to explore how best we can assure the safe return of our girls and reach out to their long-suffering families. How we can offer assistance after their homecoming, and support efforts at rehabilitation and reintegration. How to cope with the unfolding tragic events in the North East and how to enable displaced people pick up pieces of their lives, when all is safe and back to normal. Our prayer is that God Almighty will reward us all, with the swift and safe rescue of our 219 girls, as well as all the other persons, girls and boys, still in captivity. The end of the insurgency is nigh. In sha Allah, it is just a matter of time.
God bless you all, amen.
30th April 2015