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Mrs Laila St Matthew-Daniel is one of the voices fighting against abuse of women in Nigeria. She is a Life Transformation Strategist and founder of ACTS Generation, an NGO against domestic violence.She is championing the ‘Bring back the abducted Chibok girls’ campaign held in Lagos. In this interview, she speaks on the abduction.
The abduction of the Chibok girls happened in a state under emergency rule while another eight were kidnapped. What is your take on the situation?
How could this happen in a state under emergency rule? Terrorists had four hours operation and carted away the girls without help from anybody after which they journeyed into the forest. Remember the principal was said to be there; and the next minute, they said she was at her daughter’s place. There is discrepancy about the number of the kidnapped students. At times you wonder if we have leaders.
The hatch tag, “Bring Back Our Girls”, was initiated by a South African activist on social media. She was just wondering how, in the 21st century, people could go into schools and cart away students. So she said everybody should begin to say it and, when we had our rally, we decided to use it, and before we knew it, it went viral.
My take is that this is beyond Nigeria. Everybody must work together to bring back the girls and I am happy that the international community including the non-English speaking countries are ready to work with us to bring back the girls
President Jonathan said while inaugurating the Chibok girls rescue committee that, “we must bring back our daughters”. I think he is optimistic that the girls will be rescued.
One is happy to hear that but saying that we are not prepared for this type of terrorist attack shows how unserious we are as a nation. Remember they said they want to turn this country to an Islamic state. We should note that they attack in different ways. Most times they attack the soft targets and as you face the soft targets, they launch another terrible attack. I am happy that government instead of allowing pride to take the better part of them accepted help from outside.
The US anti-terror experts are here already but some northern leaders say they should stay away promising to negotiate with Boko Haram to bring back the girls.
It is too late to do that. What have they been doing going to four weeks? So, they can negotiotiate and hundreds of lives are lost everytime? The US officials are here and many will come. The incessant killings must stop. I know US is not only going to ameliorate what has happened but will also find out what is on ground. It is sad that leaders like them could come out at this time to stop help that can end the insurgency in the North. All we want is peace.
What can you say about the boldness of the Boko Haram leader, Shekau, saying he will sell the Christian girls and the Muslims among them, he will marry them out?
That is why we need international help because it is beyond Nigeria. If there is an international market where human beings are sold, then it should be exposed.
We need to continue to pray and also put pressure on our government because we don’t have arms and ammunition but our voices. We are the voice for those who do not have voices. Some people said the parents of the kidnapped children should be more inspired, How? You know their culture about women. They have been facing this problem for years and nothing has been done. Trust has broken down totally. We don’t know who to trust again. We don’t know who to believe. The parents said they went to Sambisa forest and they didn’t see any soldier on their way? There are so many questions to be asked. We have gotten to the point that nobody should be afraid because people want answers to the challenges posed by terrorism. Our leaders should begin to respect the people and the people themselves should begin to demand for explanation. Why should a protest march be stopped in Kogi State by the police?
Our President too said he cannot negotiate with the people he doesn’t know because nobody has come out to take responsibility for kidnapping the children; shortly after, Shekau released a video. I was thinking Madam Jonathan will mobilize women on the streets and carry placards but instead she said they should not protest.
Shekau got that confidence because he could see that we are toothless bull dogs. He can see that we are busy fighting ourselves as Christians and Muslims. No respect for women. What they think women are for is to make babies. They don’t want them to have education because they know if they do, they will refuse the demonic power the men have over them. They don’t even want their boys to go to school. They don’t want Western education, yet the guns they use, the armoured tank in the video he released are the products of the West; what about their means of communication? Are they not from Western education? It is just more than that
We are celebrating Children’s Day on May 27. We do hope the children will be back before then.
It has never happened in the history of Nigeria that our girls will not be celebrating. So we are hopeful they will be back with everybody working together including the international community. Our girls must come back. The position of Nigeria women is that all these girls should be brought back alive. That is when Nigerians will believe that our government is serious and will gain our confidence again.