Afri-Dev condemns abduction of Chibok school girls

Afri-Dev links Boko-Haram to the socio-historical abuse of female rights.

The Africa Health, Human and Social Development, Afri-Dev, on Wednesday condemned the abduction of over 250 girls in Chibok, and eight more in Gwoza, both in Borno State.

It also condemned the threat by the Boko Haram to sell the girls and called for their immediate release.

In a statement, the Afri-Dev Coordinator and Editor of Afri-Dev.Info, Rotimi Sankore, said the abductions and threats to sell the girls as slaves is “a fallout of misguided long term tolerance of successive Federal and State Governments for forced ‘marriage’ of underage girls”.

This, he said, leads to the increasing gender based violence especially against girls that brave the odds to seek an education.

Mr. Sankore also blamed the past and present governments of the North East and North West states for failing to invest in education and endangering the minority literates who he says have to face “a wide and growing social base of antagonism against schools in general, and girl education in particular”.

He said with only a little over 30 per cent of both boys and girls in schools, the three states under emergency rule have become a fertile ground to harbour extremism which stems from an ignorant mind. This, Mr. Sakore, said, is the reason “groups like Boko Haram have a wider social base in North East and North West states from which to recruit people to set schools ablaze, murder male students, and abduct girl students with impunity threatening to sell them into sexual slavery and servitude”.

“The data and statistics demonstrate that successive generations of political elite, and especially Governors and political representatives of North East and North West states have failed to develop their communities. It is now universally clear that poor governance, and failure to invest in human and social development has serious consequences not just for immediate communities, but also wider society. The resulting almost failed states and disaffection has been harnessed by militant extremist groups to attack human development, and destabilise the country,” Mr. Sankore said.

Mr. Sankore said Boko Haram, having existed in socio-cultural settings that promote under-age forced marriages and female servitude, does not think it is doing anything “wildly out of the ordinary”.

Citing an example of the documented 1987 murder of 12-year-old Hauwa Abubakar who was brutally killed because she attempted to resist forced marriage and sexual assault by a 40-year-old Shehu Kiruwa in Bauchi State, Mr. Sankore said Boko Haram’s philosophy can be traced to a history of female rights abuse.

“Must almost 300 girls suffer the same collective fate as Hauwa before the Presidency, and National Assembly declare zero tolerance on forced ‘marriage’ of underage girls and close all legislative and so called cultural and religious loopholes? We should never have forgotten Hauwa, but it seems we have, and in 2014 we are brutally reminded of the historic failure to act.

“In 1987 there was no You Tube. Now the mass abduction girls is accompanied with impunity of global video terrorism threatening to sell them into slavery, and the world is waking up to a more violent and more publicised manifestation of a long standing trend,” Mr. Sankore said in his statement.

He said with 25 per cent of over 33 countries in Africa engaging in forced marriages, especially in countries bordering Nigeria including Niger, Chad and Cameroon, the continent and Nigeria’s future is at stake.

He said a way to stability is “a combination of constitutionally guaranteed protection of girls from forced and underage ‘marriage’, strict law enforcement, and improved overall investment in education, human and social development.”

“It is imperative that all African parliaments hold public hearings on the status, rights and development of girls and youth as recommended by two successive sessions of the Pan African Parliament. A Heads of State Summit on the theme of Girl’s and Women’s Development is long overdue,” he said.

WEF on Africa

Mr. Sankore warned Nigerian and African decision makers as a whole, to not be deluded with the World Economic Forum on Africa coming to Nigeria.

He said “narrowly based economic growth indicators which have no real impact on human and social development cannot ensure long term stability and sustainable economic development”.

“It is globally acknowledged that poor governance, and a combination of certain sets of poor socio-economic indicators facilitate failed states, fertile ground for barbarism, violence against women, and variants of extremist groups to emerge and destabilise wider society.

These conditions are mirrored to different extents across several African countries”.

Mr. Sankore warned of the impeding peril if nothing is done to abate terrorism.

“By 2025 in about 10 years – Nigeria’s population will rise to about 239 million – and by 2050 in about 36 years is estimated to rocket to about 440 million. Africa’s overall population is expected to double from current 1 billion to 2 billion the highest global population growth rate. At current rates of low education and high youth unemployment – with runaway fertility rates and no improved investment in population based development policies – much more serious instability could emerge and degenerate into wider ethnic and religious based conflict across Nigeria and Africa.”

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