“Congratulations Nigeria: Nigerian troops rescue 43 kidnapped people, recover 500 cows from Boko Haram”—News flash, Premium times.
On a certain Monday morning, I woke up to this news which left me emotionally perplexed. On one hand I was pleased for the people rescued and reunited with their families as well as the message of hope which the rescue effort tends to spread. On the other hand, I was deep in thoughts wondering if so much has already been lost.
My reality lives ever with me, reminding me constantly that the most valuable asset I have remains the love from my family. No deep offshore accounts in Panama, no rich godfathers, the only people that remember my name is my family. Yes, I am the common man!
If I were kidnapped in Nigeria, the first thing I would know for sure is that help will certainly not come quickly enough, or may not even come at all. This could be because the people who I placed my trust in to be in a position to intervene (dare I mention the government?) in such situations either don’t think me important enough, or put simply, just don’t have what it takes to actually save the situation in a timely manner. Maybe I have lost faith in governance. Yes, I am the common man!
How I dream of a time when the loss of/threat of loss of a single Nigerian life regardless of class, status, ethnicity or gender leads to a swift response from the government in recognition of the value of our humanity. Yes, I am the common man!
Imagine I was a girl child growing up in a community called Chibok, if I were kidnapped in the year 2014; I could have lost count of the number of men that could have defiled me repeatedly. I could be nursing as many as my second child born to unknown terrorist rapists, in the worst imaginable conditions. I may have lost count of day and night, waiting and praying for something miraculous to happen. I may have given up on hope, I may have given up on crying and lost all desire to be found or rescued. I may have been broken. I may have given up all resistance and accepted life the way it is offered. I may have chosen to live like my captor. I may have become my captor. But that is only if I find the strength to cling onto dear life. Yes, I am the common man!
On the commemoration of the International day of the Girl Child, my thoughts are with the kidnapped Chibok school girls who have spent over 900 days in captivity. I still shudder at the deeper implications of this abduction which speaks more to the status of women and girls in today’s society— a soft target for abuse, a property to be owned for the satisfaction of carnal desires and domestic toil, relegated to the background and has little power to contest issues and influence decisions.
Yes I am a girl child –the common man –and I need to be heard. I need to trust again and I need a government that inspires belief.
On this day, October 11th, the call for strengthening governance processes in Nigeria takes on even greater importance and strengthening citizen’s voices remains key to achieving this. Bringing governance closer to the people is a good start; perhaps only then will the voice of the girl child –the common man –be heard. Thanks to an active civil society, the seeds of change have been sown and with relentless nurturing, this seed will blossom and one day, we will all see the society of our dreams. #DayofTheGirl #IDG2016 #Nigeria.
Written by Kenny Oleru-Activista