A Message from Our Nigerian Colleagues
The abduction of nearly 300 girls from the Chibok secondary school in northern Nigeria has the world reeling. Parents and communities are suffering. Questions are going unanswered. And the world is aching for action, resolution, and the safe return of the girls to their families.
Nigeria’s Civil Society Action Coalition on Education for All (CSACEFA), a national coalition of civil society organizations working on education issues in Nigeria, has released their second statement on the kidnapping and trafficking of the Borno State secondary school girls (coverage of the first statement is here). As members of the Global Campaign for Education, RESULTS and CSACEFA share similar missions to ensure that all children enjoy a free, quality education, and the two organizations have collaborated closely on various initiatives in the past.
CSACEFA’s statement speaks deeply to the unacceptable normalization of violations of women’s rights — an issue not outside the realm of U.S. influence with the International Violence Against Women Act introduced in the Senate last week. It is also a plea from citizens to their government for answers to some of the most basic yet most troubling questions about how this was allowed to happen. Finally, CSACEFA calls on the government of Nigeria to intensify its efforts to safely return the girls to their families, provide adequate security to communities and schools in threatened regions, and, with the assistance of the international community, create schools as safe places for children, especially girls.
Below is CSACEFA’s press release, repeated in its entirety:
May 12th, 2014
CIVIL SOCIETY ACTION COALITION ON EDUCATION FOR ALL (CSACEFA):
PRESS RELEASE ON THE ABDUCTION OF THE CHIBOK GIRLS
May 14th, 2014 will make it one month since over 200 girls were abducted from Government Girls Secondary School (GGSS) Chibok, Borno State by the Boko Haram members, a group that has claimed responsibility for several killings, abductions, and bombings in various parts of the country. Since the abduction of the girls, several civil society and interest groups, individuals, and the government at the national and international level have shown concern for the release of the girls by this dangerous sect that believes western education (Boko) is forbidden (Haram). There have been press releases, campaigns, petitions, and a Twitter handle (#BringBackOurGirls) created in a bid to demand the immediate release of the innocent girls.
The Civil Society Action Coalition on Education for All (CSACEFA), a coalition of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), community-based organizations (CBOs), and faith-based organizations (FBOs), working in the area of education in the 36 states of the country and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), issued a press release on the 15th of April 2014, demanding the immediate release of the girls by the Boko Haram sect and pleading that the federal and state government should intensify effort towards ensuring the security of children, especially the girl-child, in schools. Since then, the coalition has joined various interest groups in organizing rallies and campaigns for the release of these girls, and CSACEFA members across the country have also embarked on several campaigns and rallies in this respect.
Gradually, girls are becoming an endangered species prone to abuse and violence whenever there is conflict or crisis in the society. They are becoming the most vulnerable in all aspects of life with little or no attention paid to their well-being and existence. Presently and in the past, the women and girls have always been at the receiving end in times of conflict and war. They have undergone several violent traumatic experiences such as rape, killings, kidnapping, and abductions. It is becoming a norm in time of conflict for girls and women to be raped and maimed, and nobody talks about the experiences, neglect, and trauma they pass through. How long should we allow our girls, mothers, sisters, nieces, and cousins to be victims of war and crisis?
THE RIGHTS OF WOMEN AND GIRLS SHOULD BE PROTECTED AT ALL TIMES. THEY ARE NOT SACRIFICIAL LAMBS IN TIMES OF WAR AND CONFLICT. #BRINGBACKOURGIRLS
For the Chibok girls, these are innocent children that have equal opportunities like their male counterparts as regards access to education. Abduction of these girls will definitely slow down the progress made in the campaign for girls’ education, especially in the north. With various issues surrounding the abduction of these girls, we ask these big questions:
- Why the attack on girls?
- Why didn’t the school heed the advice of the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) to send the girls to neighboring schools/ states to sit for their exams where adequate security is guaranteed?
- Where were the security personnel when the lorries [trucks] carried the girls from the school to the Sambisa forest?
- Why was security not intensified for the school children even after the gruesome murder of 59 pupils in Federal Government College (FGC) of Buni Yadi in Yobe State in northeast Nigeria on February 25th, 2014?
- Inconsistency in giving accurate number of girls abducted—some say 200, 100, 234, 278, etc. Why is it difficult to get an accurate number of the girls abducted from the school?
- Despite the huge security votes [budgets] given to the states, why can’t the federal and state government secure the release of these girls for close to one month now?
While appreciating the efforts of various groups, individuals, and personalities within and outside the country and most especially the international communities towards raising the momentum for the release of these girls, we therefore demand that:
- The committee set up by the federal government on the Chibok girls should go on a fact-finding analysis on why the girls were abducted in a security-tight state with ease.
- Adequate security should be provided in all schools, at all levels, especially in the northeast, as a matter of urgency.
- The security of lives and properties in the country should be taken as an utmost priority by government. We say “no” to politicking of security of the people by the government.
- The government, at all levels, should intensify efforts towards ensuring the safe release of the girls.
- Efforts should be made towards addressing the needs and post-traumatic experiences of the girls, mothers, and communities.
- The international community should assist the government in creating a safe place for schooling for pupils, especially girls.
- The $10 million pledged by Gordon Brown, the UN Special Envoy for Global Education, and the Global Business Coalition for Education during the 24th World Economic Forum on Africa (WEFA) for the Safe Schools Initiative should be adequately utilized and monitored through the involvement of civil society organizations (CSOs).
Ms. Chioma Osuji
Ag. Policy Advisor