Photograph — www.newsflash.com.ng

Following Tuesday’s treatment of the BBOG group by the Nigerian government, the importance of the #BringBackOurGirls (BBOG) campaigners is once again emphasised.

The BBOG campaigners were barricaded from leaving their daily meeting venue, the Unity Fountain in the capital city of Abuja by members of the Nigerian Police force. The group eventually barged through after showing their permits to the police. After that, they proceeded to the presidential villa (although the president was in Edo state), to continue the protest for the release of the kidnapped Chibok girls. But their progress was obstructed by another protest group, who called themselves the “pro-Buhari protesters.” This group branded the #bringbackourgirls movement “a scam”, evoking memories of the previous Nigerian administration.

In 2014, over 200 school girls were kidnapped from their dormitories in Chibok community, Borno state, Nigeria, by Boko Haram. This ignited a widespread protest both in Nigeria and around the world. The protest birthed the #bringbackourgirls movement, led by Nigeria’s former Minister of Education, Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili. Parents of the kidnapped girls were also a part of the movement. Back then, there were allegations that the BBOG movement was a tool used by the then opposition party, APC, to discredit the Goodluck Jonathan-led administration.

Now, these same allegations are reemerging. This time around, they come from the same people who claimed to have sponsored the movement in the previous administration. The pro-Buhari protesters (we are unsure what their purpose is since it is their first time in the limelight) blocked the rally of the BBOG group yesterday. They called the group a scam and accused them of being sponsored to undermine the administration of APC. “We are for peace, Buhari is a man of peace” the anti-BBOG Group chanted yesterday, according to Punch.

Tuesday’s incident seemed to confirm that the BBOG group was not sponsored by the APC. However, on the other side, we can’t say the same for the APC government. This government seems to be toeing the same line as the last administration by employing both security agents and sycophants to cover up for its incompetence in rescuing the kidnapped Chibok girls.

By using the police to stop the BBOG rally, and calling them a “scam” and “the work of the opposition”, this administration is no different from the last one; preying on an honest campaign in order to score cheap political points.

The BBOG campaigners are holding President Buhari to his words. During his presidential campaign, he promised he would do all that is within his power to rescue the Chibok girls  Like some of his other promises, he is yet to fulfill that. The campaigners feel he hasn’t done enough to find the missing girls. The Nigerian Army may be winning against Boko Haram, but the parents of the Chibok girls are not winning.

The BBOG group seems to defy the Nigerian mentality of “shuffering and shmiling.” The buzz created by the caffeine which is the BBOG movement won’t be going away soon, and it shouldn’t. It’s the only thing keeping all Nigerians awake now, without which we would all slip into the abyss of apathy. #Bringbackourgirls is not, and should not be a passing fad. We need them to stay.

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