For more than a year, the plight of the kidnapped 200-plus schoolgirls in the war-ravaged settlement of Chibok, Borno State, has remained on the front burner of Nigeria’s political discourse. For more than a year, recrimination between All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party over who’s behind #BringBackOurGirls, a social-media-driven pressure group that has consistently agitated for the return of the girls to their forlorn community, has persisted.
Since the girls were kidnapped, BBOG has gained immeasurable political relevance from both within and outside of Nigeria. As BBOG grows from strength to strength, it was becoming even more apparent that the group’s popular campaign is becoming a public relations nightmare for the administration of President Goodluck E. Jonathan, while the APC continued to adopt the group’s media activities as its talking point.
Against this backdrop, many in the PDP began to publicly allege a working relationship between the APC and the BBOG. But the two maintained, and still maintain, there’s no connection whatsoever between them.
“The BringBackOurGirls is a propaganda arm of the APC just like most of the Nigerian media,” said Mr. Adeyanju Deji, a PDP strategist cum presidential aide, in a statement last September.
As the 2015 campaign season drew closer, APC and BBOG pushed back hard against this narrative, and countered that the “PDP and President Jonathan are trying to divert the public’s attention from an insecurity nightmare they’re presiding over in the country.”
Shortly thereafter, as if by providence, Chief Audu Ogbeh, a chieftain of the APC, said, “I want to thank members of the BringBackOurGirls group which is being led by members of our party,” in one of the most remarkable Freudian slips of the 2015 campaigns.
The APC swiftly repudiated Ogbeh for his statement and the elder statesman was forced to not only issue a public apology but also recant the statement.
PDP would accuse top members of the BBOG, which include Mrs. Obiageli Ezekwesili, a self-acclaimed loudmouth, whose typical day seems incomplete without disparaging Jonathan, all the while publicly hobnobbing with the APC, of their association with the APC and Buhari campaign throughout the 2015 electioneering. Every allegation was often met with vehement denial from the APC. Now, the campaign is over, the president under whom the girls were kidnapped and BBOG became a worldwide phenomenon has been ousted. General Muhammadu Buhari, the APC presidential candidate, is now the president-elect.
Asked to present his transition committee in order to aid the smooth transfer of power as promised by President Jonathan, Buhari listed Ms. Hadiza Bala Usman, who rose to fame as the founder of #BringBackOurGirls, as member of his transition team. These stuffs cannot be made up.
In his first impression as the new Nigeria leader, Buhari vindicated the narrative of the PDP.
The moral standing, or lack thereof, of Mr. Buhari’s appointment and Ms. Bala Usman’s acceptance of it is expected to dominate political bickering this weekend. But in the meantime, Mr. Adeyanju, in an oxymoronic mood of bitter-sweet, took to the micro-blogging Web site, Twitter, to express his vindication: “We had reasons to believe they (BBOG campaigners) were being sponsored by the APC through Hadiza Bala (Usman) for cheap political gains. We are vindicated today.”