Contrary to the pessimistic and cynical views expressed by some Nigerians on the practical relevance and functional usefulness of the very historic visit to Nigeria by Malala Yousafzai, the home truth is that the struggle for the release of the over 200 Chibok girls from the excruciating captivity of Boko Haram has taken a new dimension.
Born on 12 July, 1997, Malala Yousafzai, a spirited Pakistani teenager is a school pupil and education activist from the town of Mingora in the Swat District of Pakistan's northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. In the afternoon of Tuesday, 9 October, 2012, Malala had boarded her school bus when a gunman asked for Malala by name, pointed a Colt 45 at her and fired three shots, she survived. Her offence was defying the Taliban's ban on girls from attending school.
That singular incident altered the status of Malala from a local Pakistani school girl to a global icon of resistance against the anti-western education dogma of Islamic extremists.
In keeping to her earlier promise to visit Nigeria in solidarity with the over 200 Chibok school girls who were abducted on 14 April while writing examination, Malala arrived Nigeria in the early hours of Sunday, 13 July, and met the organizers of the # BringBackOurGirls campaign and relatives of the abducted school girls.
Today, 14 July, she met with President Goodluck Jonathan. Incidentally, her visit coincides with her 17th year birthday which is also Malala Day, a day set aside by the United Nations for the world to focus on putting all girls to school. The visit of this global voice of resistance against anti-western education to Nigeria is significant for plethora of reasons, few will suffice.
Firstly, it is apparent that the agitation for the release of the Chibok girls has gone down. We seem to had resigned to fate given the body language of the federal government which suggest indecisiveness and disinterestedness in the matter. The media, especially the main stream media seems to have moved on to more news worthy issues. Evidently, the visit of Malala has reawaken international consciousness to the precarious condition of the abducted girls. It has re-ignited the agitative spirit of the #BringBackOurGirls campaigners who have been serially intimidated, insulted and blackmailed by the forces of retrogression.
Secondly, the Nigerian president who in the last three months have been exuding a nonchalant disposition in rescuing our girls has suddenly demonstrated modicum of responsibility. The President has finally pledged to meet with the relatives of the girls and to provide scholarship for the girls, he has equally promised to launch a Support Fund for victims of terror. Malala herself has pledged a contributory sum of $200.000 to the education of the Chibok girls. These are appreciable steps towards assuaging the restive mood of the parents of the girls and the nation.
Thirdly, Malala's visit has once again brought to the fore the cancerous character of the Nigerian state. It has placed our nation on the global map of failing states. Ours is a nation of lost glory, a nation destitute in conscience, justice and responsible leadership. It has exposed the crass failure of our institutions in protecting the poor, weak and vulnerable. It has shamed the Nigerian political class whose penchant for corruption, tyranny and ethno-religious chauvinism has driven our nation to the precipice.
Lastly, this epochal visit will to some extent undermine the atavistic and imbecilic doctrinaire of the murderous Boko Haram sect. Being herself a Muslim girl from the Middle East, a part of the world where the orgies of Islamic extremism appeals to many, and having survived the onslaught of the Taliban, a radical Islamic sect, which like Boko Haram, is opposed to western education, especially by women and girls, Malala is most eligible to send a message to the women and girls in Borno, Yobe, Adamawa and other warring places in the North where Boko Haram has succeeded in intimidating women and girls out of school; a message that western education is not evil, a message that Muslim women and girls have the right to education, a message that it pays to educate the girl child.
As a people and nation, it is advisable for us to utilise Malala's visit for self-censorship, the leadership of this country should be circumspect. Let us ruminate on why it took the visit of Malala for President Jonathan to make commitment of meeting with the parents and relatives of the Chibok girls.
The federal government and the opposition should desist from dancing on the graves of those innocent Nigerians who have been murdered by Boko Haram. The dirty politics must stop now. Those sponsoring Boko Haram must be identified and brought to justice. To Malala, be rest assured that your place in history is secured. #BringBackOurGirls.
Inibehe Effiong is a Human Rights Activist. He can be reached via +2348065142135, or firstname.lastname@example.org