What’s the number?

I thought I knew what to write.

Last week, I was going to write about my thoughts on an article by Mark Amaza demystifying Northern Nigeria to other people – target audience being the southerners of Nigeria, but I think it’s a good read for everyone.
The next day, I was going to write about the press coverage of the on-going national conference, popularly known as ‘Confab’ going on in Abuja, Nigeria. The aim of this conference is largely to create a space of honesty and dialogue where representatives of all parts of Nigeria come together to proffer solutions to the country’s current dilemmas. To say that the conference is trending towards abysmal failure is giving it a pass mark.

As you can tell from my archives, I did not write about any of that.

In the background of all of this, April 14 2014 happened. A group of girls were taken from a high school in Chibok, a small community in Borno, a North-Eastern state in Nigeria.

Several appalling observation points have arisen since the mysterious disappearance of the girls. Some of which include the very fact that over two hundred girls could be bundled up and made to disappear from a high school without anyone noticing, the fact that the president of the country – up until this moment is yet to give an official address to the nation concerning this event and the fact that peaceful protesters denouncing the aforementioned act were tear-gassed.

However, I don’t want to talk about these observations. I want to talk about something else that’s been bothering me since April 14 2014 – the number of girls missing.

By April 17, the number missing was 129, by the time of the protests on May 1, 2014 in Lagos, the number being touted was 234. Today however, the number has risen to 276. This number increase is the cause of m agitation. How do these people know? What is causing ‘them’ to come up with these numbers and most importantly, how can the numbers be confirmed?

From my perusal of various newspapers, no official pictures and names of missing girls have been released. Perhaps the media/government has some reason for this, but names? Come on.
Each family that grieves is yet to account for missing persons.
All over social media are recycled pictures of grieving parents and protesters, but not a conclusive number of Nigeria citizens missing.

So for now, they remain a group of girls in the forest, being married off for two thousand naira.

If this is the case, I have the following questions:

1. If we do not know how many are missing, how can we hold the government accountable for the full return of these girls? If the number is higher or lower than the ‘official’ number, how do we know if we are to keep putting pressure on the government to locate these young Nigerian citizens?

2. Does the government/police/military know who to look for if they cannot agree on a number?

3. How many families have really been affected? What is happening to the mental state of the parents whose kids have not been taken into account?

I guess my three questions really boil down to accountability.

We need their number. We need their names. We need them found.

#Sidebar1: I actually read Mark’s article in Thisday newspaper, but I cannot find the link anymore, so I’ve put a link to his blog with the same article – turns out it was written a while ago.

#Sidebar2: This link provides a summary of the disappearance of the girls and other upsetting events happening in Nigeria.

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