Nigeria Never Brought Back The Missing Girls

Ezinne Ukoha
Apr 6, 2016 · 5 min read

Almost two years ago, when the Chibok girls were snatched from their beds in the darkness and tossed into oblivion — I penned an essay that basically thwarted any hopes we had for their safe return.

But prior to that — about a week before the unthinkable transpired — I had an insightful conversation with a good friend of mine about the country of my heritage.

Nigeria. There is no specific way to establish the bipolar relationship I have for a nation that treats its citizens with such disdain.

It’s basically the god-awful boyfriend who deliciously turns you out in bed but also leaves you battered and bruised.

You want so badly to dump him and save yourself — which would be the more sensible option — but he is such a part of your life that despite the dangerous flaw — you can’t leave him.


Growing up in Nigeria taught me to truly appreciate the fact that I was also American. I knew there would be a way out when I was all grown up and ready to claim my birthright.

Funny thing is that now that I’m all grown up and claimed what’s rightfully mine — there is still the feeling of not belonging.


But that’s a whole other session with the guru of my choice.

To be honest, I had a healthy childhood. My parents did an excellent job facilitating my ability to adapt to my new and imposing surroundings.

I adjusted quite well after moving from Kansas City, Missouri at the age impressionable age of eight — to the thriving metropolis of Lagos, Nigeria.

But the eighties were a gangster period in our history. Military coups, bribery and corruption, rampant assassinations and the overall assumption that the government was overrun with power-hungry mercenaries — created a climate of hopelessness and nonchalance.

Nigerians have been trained to accept the facts of life as it pertains to our daily disposition.

We are proud of who we are and where we come from and the truth is — there is plenty to celebrate.

It is no secret that Nigerians are brilliant minds and that’s the irony of it all.

There is an abundance of wealth sweltering in our culture, resources and breathtaking landscape.

But somehow, we’ve managed to remarkably punish ourselves for being so blessed.

Instead of respecting and honoring the blessings that are so starkly highlighted for our benefit — we’ve opted to deprive ourselves of the luxury of comfort.

I was raised with the understanding that consistent running water and electricity isn’t as basic as it sounds.

Like most third world countries — unless you had the good fortune of dwelling in a household that was supported by educated and sophisticated civil servants — you were undoubtedly going to bear the brunt of being a typical Nigerian.

The only other alternative would be to submit to the chore of being a “house girl” or “house boy” which meant living with your privileged relatives and taking care of their home and everyone in it.

Most of the time those arrangements worked out well since the pay back usually involved being trained in the apprenticeship of your choice.

But, even in the very best of circumstances — living in Nigeria demanded and still demands a level of tolerance and adherence to supernatural reinforcements — in order to maintain a boost of sanity.

It’s been a long while since I’ve spent an extended period time in the place that hosted my formative years — but disappointingly clear that nothing much has changed.

Except of course the aesthetics in the form of bigger, better and plenty. More night lounges, bigger and better hotels to host rich foreigners. Better, bigger and plenty of restaurants and supermarkets carrying goods that could rival any store in London or New York.

Those things matter and are essential as marks of progress which every nation has to aspire to and eventually achieve.

It is also hard to accommodate the glitzy affair of a gorgeous night on the town when not too far away — almost 300 innocent lives became instruments of mishandling under the tutelage of street thugs gone bad.

Boko Haram.

Brings me back to the conversation I had with my friend a week before the kidnappings.

I was frustrated and annoyed after reading another article describing the brutal reign of the relentless militants who began their deadly agenda back in 2009.

I cursed out our then president Goodluck Jonathan for his lack of leadership and cowardice in the face of such blatant terror.

My friend seemed confused that I was so dismissive of our head of state, and wondered if maybe he was doing all he could and perhaps Nigerians like me were being impatient by harboring unrealistic expectations.

Then the girls disappeared.

It became readily clear after weeks passed with still no sign of the school girls or concrete leads — that Nigeria’s supposed leader didn’t have a firm grasp on the dire events.

She was stunned. And I’m sadly validated.

Our government has never been very good at governing. It’s always been about self-indulgence and executing mighty power and powerless nationals.

Never about being committed to the sacred oath of performing the duties required to ensure the safety and well-being of a people that for the most part don’t need very much to be satisfied.

Some years ago, CNN declared Nigerians as one of the happiest people on earth. That’s not hard to imagine even when the circumstances of every day life can be devastatingly exhausting.

Nigerians have a way of making the best of a nasty situation. It’s second nature to laugh off the abominable and focus on the greatness of life.

Good food, great company, unrestricted spaces to play, a pillow to lay our heads and people to exchange tales with.

That’s it in a nutshell.

But, that isn’t a fair deal. We should have the quality of life that our counterparts in civilized quarters enjoy without contemplation.

And when that’s not provided we should be willing to fight for it. We should never be okay with the fact that just because we can afford to buy our way out of slumming it — we don’t have to be outraged that electricity and running water still haven’t become the standard in many households.

And we can’t dress our way out of the reality that our government continues to fail us.

And presently, young Nigerian girls are being groomed to fight on our behalf.

They are being torn to pieces. Boko Haram is winning the war on terror and the new president, Muhammadu Buhari who swore to defeat them has failed.

He will fail until he is ousted. And his successor will also fail.

Failure is the endearing theme in Nigeria and only a revolution can save us.

Until then — Nigerians remain in denial, frozen in time or stuck in neutral.

And those poor girls remain lost. They are never coming back.

Neither are we.

aKoma Media

Carefully curated stories from talented writers and creators on Africa. Be part of shaping the narrative on our wonderful continent. aKoma is a digital content and storytelling platform to make Africa come alive. Visit for more stories and information

Ezinne Ukoha

Written by

Juggling Wordsmith. I have a lot to say!

aKoma Media

Carefully curated stories from talented writers and creators on Africa. Be part of shaping the narrative on our wonderful continent. aKoma is a digital content and storytelling platform to make Africa come alive. Visit for more stories and information

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