I got off work yesterday evening and on my way home, I went through my twitter timeline to catch up on what I'd missed during the day. A particular tweet caught my eye and my entire senses were heightened in what I can at best describe as a pleasantly-anticipated-shock-belief. I couldn't believe my eyes as I read that there was a possibility that some of the missing Chibok girls, that triggered the worldwide #BringBackOurGirls online campaign, had been released and sighted in a convoy. The first thought that came to mind was the fact that accurate information in Nigeria is very tricky to believe and rely on. For some weird reasons, our government, media, etc always seems to furnish us with very believable lies to keep us sated while they carry out or cover up more sinister things/issues. I didn't want to believe this story but by Jove , it was what we have been waiting on for FIVE months.
I speedily scrolled through my timeline to ascertain the truth in this news. My heart palpitated faster and I felt like my head would explode as I pondered on how those poor girls who had been in captivity would be so delighted that finally, Nigeria came through for them by negotiating their release. I prayed and willed yesterday evening to be the day that we would finally #BringBackOurGirls. The optimist in me refused to be suppressed.
I imagined the unspeakable delight of the parents and the girls siblings. I imagined how the girls would feel, having proper hot meals to eat within the comfort of a home. I imagined the feel of having clean and hot water to take their baths with. I imagined how they would feel with freshly pressed clean clothes on their backs. I imagined the effect having access to privacy and use of proper sanitary towels would have on their psyches. I imagined how they would feel having the arms of their loved ones around them, telling them how much they had been missed and how much they are loved. I imagined how giddy with delight they would be at having access to music to soothe their frayed nerves. I imagined the country and the rest of the world going agog with sheer delight at victory of their return. I imagined much more and I tweeted about my poor heart not being able to take it if the news turned out to be false. I imagined that surely, no sane person would make a show out of such a fragile issue, on which lives depended.
So many press handles (local and international) covered this news, some of them quoting sources from Nigeria's defense ministry. They claimed some of the over 200 kidnapped girls had been freed and that there was an "ongoing operation". I was ecstatic and I imagined how the direct relatives to this girls would feel. They would have probably abandoned what they were doing immediately, dressed up and stood outside their doors clutching their phones in their hands waiting for the call to come see their long lost children.
Despite being warned and advised by a few people not to believe or jubilate over anything Nigerian media/government releases on national issues until after 72 hours, I couldn't hold back nor keep still. These girls have been gone for over 160 days and it would have been cruel not to hold on to or rejoice over any glimmer of hope, thought my ever optimistic self. It would have been beyond pure evil for anyone to have made up such a hoax in the light of the sensitive nature of the case. I dared to hope and believe in Nigeria, in our defense ministry and in both the local and international media which made this claim of the release. I dared to dream and hope and sadly, I was terribly disappointed.
Less than an hour afterwards, news was circulated about a "misunderstanding and case of mistaken identities" about the girls sighted. I couldn't breathe. I felt badly hurt and angry, and I can only imagine the utter anguish of the parents of these girls. It is very irresponsible of anyone to inform media houses and alert them to the fact that there was a sensitized "ongoing operation" without concrete proof. It is cruel to raise the hopes of people and dash these hopes without even a small bit of success on the matter. We cannot continue to tinker with the emotions and intelligence of an entire country and its citizens. Time and time again we have been lied to and our intelligence played upon without so much as one person paying for these tomfooleries.
We cannot say one thing and then at our own convenience, retract our statement when the proverbial shit hits the fan. The essence of professionalism is for issues to be clarified appropriately before being churned out in a bid to claim temporary glory or victory. I believe someone should be held accountable for last night's gaffe. In some Asian countries, you cannot embarrass the nation like this and keep your job or even your head. What is our problem on this side of the world that we believe it is actually "ok" for someone to make this sort of error and not pay for it? We cannot keep making excuses and allowances for pathetic gaffes like this one, enough is enough please. It is high time we wake up and smell the coffee and realize that there's more to life and living than making do with mediocrity.
Nonetheless, we will not give up on our Chibok girls. We will keep doing all we can until we #BringBackOurGirls. We will sing a new song of freedom upon their release. We will not stop hoping for their safe return.
p.s here is an audio from a radio station claiming that's General Olukolade confirming that some of the girls had been released before he retracted the statement. I've tweeted at him to confirm whether or not that's his voice on tape. I'm not holding my breath though.